Sports Car Racing News

20.10.2012LMS 2013 calendar unveiled(Le Mans)

The European Le Mans Series will have new style of race weekend in 2013 with five high profile meetings in the UK, Italy, Austria, Hungary and France. Each of the five race meetings will be held over two days, with practice on Friday and qualifying a 3-hour race on Saturday, and will be held alongside another high profile championship or series. The season will start at Silverstone in the UK on the 13 April, joining the season opener for the FIA World Endurance Championship. On 18 May the ELMS will race in the grand surroundings of Imola in Italy with FFSA GT Tour. After the Le Mans 24 Hours the ELMS resumes at the Red Bull Ring in Austria on the 20 July for the first of three events with the World Series by Renault. The next event is just across the border in Hungary with a 3 Hour race on the Hungaroring near Budapest on the 14 September. The 2013 ELMS will conclude in the south of France at Paul Ricard on the 28 September.
14.10.2012Second WEC win for Toyota(International)

Very interesting 6-Hour race, the penultimate round of the newly established World Endurance Championship, was won - in front of about 50.000 spectators - by the single Toyota in the race. The win was even more important for Toyota than usually. Not only because it was held on their home Japan ground but it was held on the Toyota-owned track Fuji. The race had similar progress as the last few WEC races, i.e. Toyota, this time starting from the pole position, took an early race lead and while having slightly higher fuel consumption, they tried to create a big enough lead to afford an extra pit stop. Despite the fact that both Audis had collided with slower cars and thus lost some time and an advantage of a lower fuel consumption, Audi number 1, after its last pit stop, still appeared to be relatively close behind the Toyota. And it seemed that if the Toyota did not run quicker, Audi no.1, earlier delayed even by Stop & Go penalty, could still won the race. However even in the final stages the Toyota increased its lead to almost 45 seconds before the final splash & dash. When back on the circuit, the Toyota was followed by Audi no.1 four seconds back. And that was enough for Toyota win their truly home race, and a second WEC race in its modern history.
30.9.2012Audi double & Strakka on podium in Bahrain(International)

The next World Endurance Championship event in Bahrain started similarly as the last one. The Toyota soon got to the lead and increased its lead to over 30 seconds. When the darkness set over the circuit, one of the Audis (no.2) had already been delayed after problems with the headlights, the other Audi started catching leading Toyota. But the duel was broken once the Toyota lost four laps in the garage only to fix the race number panel. The lighting making the number visible in the dark was malfunctioning. So despite both, the Audi no.2 and the Toyota, were outside TOP5 at one point, they soon managed to return behind the problem-less running Audi no.1 and had one and two laps disadvantage respectively. The LMP1 race came to a practical end once the Toyota collided with fourth running Strakka Racing HPD and retired. This accident paradoxically helped the Strakka team gain the podium finish, the first for a private LMP1 team since Sebring, where however, only two factory LMP1 took the start. Audis then finished one and two. Excellent race had the LMP2 category and after some bad luck of championship leading Starworks, the win was taken by Pecon Racing Oreca. In GTE, Aston Martin had a good race at the beginning, leading the class, but later it was AF Corse Ferrari that took not only the race but already the championship title.
28.9.2012WEC calendar for 2013 released(International)

FIA and ACO announced dates for the next season. Unfortunately, instead of trying to replace its weakest venues with something famous on its own, the exact opposite happened. Sebring 12 Hours, the race with longest tradition (not counting Le Mans of course), was removed from the calendar and replaced with quite unknown race at Austin. In the U.S. they could have hardly chosen a track with even more nil tradition in sports car racing than this one ...
15.9.2012First WEC win for Toyota(International)

A lone Toyota driven by Alexander Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre beat both factory Audis in Brazilian Interlagos race, the fifth round of the new World Endurance Championship. After achieving first pole position for the new Toyota in its only third WEC race, Alexander Wurz took the lead from the start and with his co-driver maintained the lead for entire race, lapping faster than both of the factory Audis. Only higher fuel consumption of the Toyota was some chance for the Audis, which were taking the lead only during the pit stops. But by the middle of the 6-hour race the lead of the Toyota was so big that even during the pit stops it was not overtaken by the Audis. The Audi number 2 was lapped during the single safety car period, which this time helped a little to Toyota, however had no real impact on the final results. The Toyota was simply the best car on the track despite its provisional fastest lap was improved by Brazilian Lucas di Grassi, who was making his debut in Audi. It was during the final hour when the temperature were lower and the Toyota was in one lap lead and had no need to run at the limit. The LMP2 class was won by the championship leading HPD of Starworks Motorsport and GTEs were lead by Ferrari once again after some nice early race battles with Aston Martin.
5.9.2012Grand-Am & ALMS merger now confirmed(ALMS)

Over the past few days it became obvious something great is being prepared on the American side of sports car racing. Today it was confirmed that since 2014 there will be just one top class sports car championship in the USA, which will emerge as a new series based on current ALMS and Grand-Am. As this was confirmed that all existing cars will be able to participate as well as the link to ACO racing will be maintained, it is a great news for sports car racing in America and also worldwide. First reactions of team and ACO are positive, so we can only wait for further details of the new series which will feature famous races Daytona 24 Hours, Sebring 12 Hours and Watkins Glen 6 Hours under one roof after more than a decade. No details are known yet, we assume that IMSA could/should stay as an organising body due to its more than 40 year tradition and American Le Mans Series title would well fit the ACO efforts in Asia and Europe as well. We will see whether Bill France, the Chairman of the new organisation, would agree this. Don Panoz, a founder of ALMS, will be a Vice Chairman of the new organising body.
26.8.2012Toyota almost wins WEC race!(International)

Surprisingly well running Toyota was very close to winning the Silverstone 6 Hour race, the fourth round of the new WEC championship. It was only Toyota's second race after their more or less successful Le Mans debut. After third grid position, when the team concentrated more on race setup during practice sessions, Alexander Wurz moved the car to the second place after the start and soon overtook even the leading Audi. The Toyota was simply the fastest car on track this Sunday, set the best lap of the race, almost half second better than race winning Audi Hybrid, but it had also notably higher fuel consumption than both diesel Audis. However it was the incorrect using of safety car periods that on both occasions delayed the Toyota in favour of the winning team. Not only those periods helped Audi to save one further refuelling but during the second period the Toyota was incorrectly taken by the second Safety Car and thus lost contact with the leading Audi, despite before they regularly swapped position during the pit stops. The third was another Audi, more-standard non-hybrid Ultra. Rebellion Lola no.13 was best of the privateers. Very close was also the battle for the LMP2 win. It was won by ADR-Delta Oreca, which was taken to the finish by Jan Charouz only five seconds ahead of Sarrazin in the only HPD in the class. They finished 8th and 9th overall behind all present LMP1 cars. The GTE class was won by two Ferraris ahead of factory Aston Martin after temporary leading Porsche had to the garage for rear suspension repair.
21.7.2012Le Mans Series races cancelled(LMS)

Remaining two European Le Mans Series planned to be held in Brno and Algarve were cancelled by today's announcement by Peter Auto and ACO. A chain of bad decisions from the last year led to a field of only 13 in the last race at Donington and the organisers came to a conclusion it is not worth to try to continue this season and instead invited the ELMS teams to Petit Le Mans to bolster the grid of that race which is going to suffer by its exclusion from the World Championship/ILMC concept. Teams will be given double points but a question is how many of them would actually appear there, especially when apart from the LMP2, there was hardly any competition in other classes. And what is the point of travelling for double points to an overseas event when there is nobody to fight with. Expect half dozen of LMP2s probably travelling there, but is this really what Patrick Peter wanted when he aimed for separate races from ILMC/WEC per his announcement last year? He could have asked us or read our news comment from 12.3.2011, how bad we felt about his ideas. Fortunately there are still plans to continue the ELMS concept next year and hopefully the interested parties would come with a package that would not be destined to death even before the first race, just like current ELMS or World FIA GT...
19.7.2012FIA GT1 and GT3 dropped for 2013(FIA GT)

SRO finally announced that they would not be promoting the GT1 World and GT3 European Championships next year, which effectively means they will ceased to exist as the current season ends. It is explained mainly by economic climate but considering how successful current Blancpain Endurance Series at the same time is, it is clear that the format which was Ratel pressing against the will of many really does not work and could not work in longer term. Return to three-hour endurance races with the BES clearly proved that.
16.6.2012Mazda LMP2 Sky-Active engine(Le Mans)

With the announcement of the new LMP rules earlier this week, one of the significant changes was an option to run a diesel powerplant in a LMP2 chassis, which would be followed by a notable manufacturer announcement on Saturday. Our immediate thought was the new Mazda Sky-Active engine used in the coming generations of road going Mazdas. And it was really confirmed today. Mazda along with Speedsource will make the new production-based Sky-Active Diesel 2.2 liters engines available to customer at the beginning of the 2013 season when the new LMP2 rule change will be applied. It will be initially tested in a Lola chassis.
16.6.2012Lotus will build own LMP2(Le Mans)

Recent announcement from Kadewa, the team currently campaigning Lola-Lotus, confirms they will develop a new LMP2 for the 2013. Along with the factory outfit, there will be also full customer programme with paddock support in WEC races. The new car is a coupe and it was also announced that a new LMP1 cars will follow. The new LMP1 cars from 2014 will be mandatory as coupes but their width will be reduced to 1900 mm.
21.4.2012Le Mans Series accepts GT3 cars(LMS)

Most of the latest news here are related to the struggling Le Mans Series. This time in a bit positive way as they finally accepted the GT3 class, something we suggested a long time ago... The aim is to have 25 cars on the grid, which should be now fulfilled as there are apparently number of GT teams interested in entering the Le Mans Series in this class.
2.4.2012Le Mans Series in crisis?(LMS)

While it was clear that the entry for the European Le Mans Series was not satisfactory and original claim of additional 6-8 LMPC cars did not materialize, so during the first meeting with only 21 involved in the race, it was decided that only 19 entries is not sufficient number for a 6 hour race and the race, scheduled in Zolder, was cancelled. Entrants were encouraged to take part in the Spa WEC 6 hour race, with the LMP2 teams receiving a financial support. But Le Mans Series remained with only 4 races in 2012 and generally unclear future despite ACO seems to have a real interest in the series and its prosperity. However there is an aim to have at least 25 cars for the currently second race in Donington. While there is no word of an inclusion of LMP1 cars, the other mistake, the GT Cup class, might be slightly revised and allow new type cars.
10.2.2012LMS entry list released(LMS)

ELMS released today entry list for the coming season along with their press release. This states it is the first season of the new European Le Mans Series championship, something that was here already in 2001 under the same name but different organisation. The entry seems good in the premier LMP2 class with 13 full season entries. Another 6 to 8 prototypes are expected in the LMPC class (former FLM) but the final entries will be known after testing in Paul Ricard, which was postponed because of snow to 23th and 24th February. Then the final LMPC entries would be known. While the prototype entry looks generally strong by current standards, the GT part is largely disappointing. Only 9 full season entries in three (!) classes is well under the expectations. A complete failure seems to be the new GT Cup entry, which was criticised by us since the rules were released and were not based on currently most popular GT3 class. Some race by race entries are expected so the average grid should consist of about 35 cars, which would be OK. ELMS should become a feeder to the new WEC championship and we wish them and hope a great future with entries near the track limits as it has been over the past few seasons before splitting with ILMC/WEC. It seems generally that there are more Prototype entries available than ever.
8.2.2012New entry to World GT Championship(FIA GT)

SRO announced today a fifth team to enter their premier championship. It will race Ferraris, the team name is to be announced yet. Thus the World GT1 Championship has 10 cars entered and there is a prospect of a few more.
18.1.2012Peugeot announcement(Le Mans)

Peugeot announced today they are stopping their Endurance programme with an immediate effect. There will be no factory car either in the new WEC or in Le Mans.
16.1.2012Morgan back to Le Mans(Le Mans)

According to today's press news from OAK, the 2012 OAK-Pescarolos will be entered as Morgans trying to emulate the achievement of the Morgan Super Sport that took class victory at the 1962 Le Mans 24 Hours. The cars will be manufactured by Onroak Automotive, OAK Racing’s constructor department. One Morgan LMP2 will be entered in this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship. From the press release is not quite clear how the customer cars will be branded, but in any case another manufacturer with a long history is officially joing the LMP field.
2.12.2011World GT Championship goes GT3 route(FIA GT)

Despite Stephane Ratel claimed two years ago that it was needed to have unique cars in the World Championship, which are not raced in common national championships to make it worth the title and attract spectators, now he released quite opposite idea: "The unification of the GT1 World and GT3 European Championships' technical and sporting regulations is the best solution to guarantee the growth of the sprint format for GT cars and progress toward the ultimate goal of 10 teams representing 10 brands in the World Championship". This means that GT1 cars are no more and the GT3 specification cars would race next year for the World Championship crown. This seems to be a good idea, though GT2/GTE would probably be better, however all that could have been in place two years ago, had Ratel listened to arguments of all other interested parties. Similar clearly wrong decision was made by the SRO head already in 1999 when he claimed that it is better for the FIA GT Championship to field just one class (following a demise of his GT1/LMP Sprints). This did not work well and after a single season a new N-GT was added along with quite contradicting arguments he had had a year before. Can you remember anybody making such obviously bad decisions requiring such opposite corrections, and at the same time keeping himself at the top sports car business for so many year more or less successfully? Other announced change is that the unbeloved Qualifying/Championship Race format will be adopted also for the FIA GT3 European Championship. The reason might be an expected lack of entries in both championships and possible joint race meetings. Should this kind of changes continue for several more seasons, we may expect even more teams opting for Blancpain Endurance series, which has already become the most interesting SRO championship in its first season anyway.
12.11.2011WEC calendar published(Le Mans)

Recently published race calendar of the new FIA World Endurance Championship revealed a few surprising things which may not have been expected. We would say that only positive change is increase of the number of races from sever to eight. But apart from that, it is very disappointing not to have the Petit Le Mans race there. Moreover it is clashing with a WEC race in Bahrain, which has absolutely no tradition in the world of endurance racing, similarly as several other venues. We also expected that if there is a Brasilian race, it would be the Mil Milhas with a tradition longer than half century, not a completely new 6 hours of Sao Paolo. China could also see a race on a new (to endurance racing) track in Shanghai, though it is not yet confirmed. On the other side, another highlight of the calendar is a return of Fuji 6 Hour race in Japan, which was part of the WEC since 1982 and usually faced best WEC entries outside the Le Mans 24 Hour. Generally, despite a good news about establishing the new World Endurance Championship after 20 years, we have some mixed feelings about the selection of the races. Back in 1953 when the first World Championship was started, it was based on great, well established and visited events, while now it seems they are trying to establish some of the events by inclusion them into the championship, while some widely established races are ignored. Time will tell whether this was a good decision.
11.11.2011LMS race in Brno confirmed(LMS)

The Le Mans Series race in Brno is now confirmed and it will be held on 9th September 2012.
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