Sports Car Racing News

21.7.2011Level 5 Motorsport switch to HPD(LMS)

The team that almost won the LMP2 in the last ILMC race at Imola with their Lola Spyder announced today that they switch to the latest HPD chassis called ARX-01g. First two cars built will be reserved for the Level 5 team. The new car will conform with the latest ACO cost-capped rules that were introduced this season, which gives the team better chances for class victories. Two cars will be fielded in two American Le Mans Series races, Petit Le Mans and 6 Hours of Laguna Seca. The plan is, of course, to continue this partnership with Honda in 2012. Does it mean the end of coupe cars in LMP2, or will Lotus LMP2 emerge soon? So far, information is that Lotus coupe project, which was due by end of the year, is delayed.
3.7.2011Peugeot wins 6 Ore di Imola(LMS)

Endurance racing returned to Imola this weekend after more than a quarter of century (last 1000 km race here was held in 1984 and was won by a famous group C Porsche 956 driven by Stuck/Bellof ahead of seven identical cars and a Lancia LC2). This year it was part of the new ILMC cup, which joint with the Le Mans Series attracted a full grid of 48 cars. One more was withdrawn following a crash in practice. Several other cars were also withdrawn, already before the meeting. This allowed all reserves to take part in the race. The Imola track is shorter than for example Spa, so both championships originally attracted larger entry than Imola can accommodate. The most notable early withdrawal was the Oreca Peugeot, which was not fully prepared after the Le Mans race and the team opted to skip this race despite starting the ILMC season with an overall win at Sebring. Peugeot and Audi, both took two cars and they were of course clear favourites for the podium. Both makes originally seems to be well matched and they ran ordered as #7, #1, #8 and #2 from the grid and early in the race. Unfortunately Audi were not able to keep the pace in the middle of the race, so Peugeots lapped Audi #2 during the 3rd hour and the remaining Audi #1 in the next hour and it was decided. At least between Peugeot and Audi. Both manufacturers then provided some close inter-marquee battles, which finally saw Bourdais and Davidson as winners. Rebellion Lola took other two places after some early battle with an OAK Pescarolo #15, which later disappeared from TOP10 but still finished 33rd. Factory Pescarolo was a bit outpaced but still gathered nice seventh position in the finish. The LMP2 class was long led by Oreca TDS #46 but they suffered troubles in the fifth hour. This resulted in a surprising leader of the class - the Level 5 Motorsport Lola Spyder, which replaced their usual nice but slow coupe (low because of the rules handicap it). Unfortunately some 30 minutes before the finish the car suffered engine problems and after couple of pit stops slowly finished the race but Bouchut at the wheel was happy to secure the third place in class ahead of another Lola Spyder. First place belonged to the Zytek of team Greaves ahead of Signatech Oreca Nissan, the only surviving Oreca 03 after having dominated early stages of the LMP2 race. The GTE class was originally controlled by the two factory BMWs but later they faded away to allow two Ferraris of AF Corse take the honours. One BMW grabbed remaining podium finish ahead of Porsche duo (Felbermayr & IMSA Matmut). The amateur part of the class had two Porsches at the top followed by a lone Corvette in the race. Sadly both nice new Lotuses Evoras retired within the first hour of the race after keeping the very last positions. Further reports and photos from the race meeting will follow at the end of the next week.
1.7.2011Porsche announces LMP1 factory programme(Le Mans)

Yesterday Porsche officially revealed they are planning to entered sports prototype racing with a factory LMP1 car and the target is another win in Le Mans - officially 17th, though three of the wins counted to Porsche were scored by other makes - twice TWR and once Dauer. So more correctly Porsche make won Le Mans 13 times followed by ten Audi and nine Ferrari victories.
12.6.2011Audi wins Le Mans in a closest finish since 1969(Le Mans)

The only surviving Audi R18 driven by Benoit Tréluyer, Marcel Fässler and Andre Lotterer won the famous Le Mans 24 Hour race in a closest finish here for many decades. After a huge accident of McNish at the end of the first hour followed by another big Audi crash before the midnight, it really did not look well for the Audi team despite they seemed to be slightly quicker than the Peugeots. However the remaining Audi ran quite trouble free, it was usually lapping faster than the Peugeots and the advantage of Peugeot, which was a lower fuel consumption, was partly eliminated by unfortunate timing of the several safety car periods, which in the end might have decided that Peugeot, which finished only 13 seconds behind the winning Audi, lost the race once again. Other three Peugeots took the next positions, with the private Oreca car fifth. It was a sad day for the returning Pescarolo team, which ran well fifth overall some two hours before the finish, when a slight rain fell on the track and Collard crashed the car hitting a wall. Greaves Zytek won the LMP2 class ahead of Signatech Oreca Nissan, which was faster but suffered two major punctures, and surprisingly Lola Coupe of team Level 5 Motorsports. Unfortunatelly well running OAK Pescarolo suffered a broken suspension in the final lap and lost its fourth position in class and dropped two places in overall standings actually finishing 14th. The GT class was won by a factory Chevrolet Corvette C6 after their first car crashed when Magnussen lost control over the car taking one of the Felbermayr Porsches along to the wall. The Corvette was followed by a Ferrari, BMW and three Porsches. A good result in GT also belonged to new Lotus, which finished seventh, and a Ford GT, which took a podium in a separate amateur GT classification behind winning Chevrolet Corvette and a Porsche 997, both entered by Larbre Competition.
4.6.2011FIA World Endurance Championship announced!!(International)

After twenty years of hiatus, the official FIA World Endurance Championship is back next year! This great news is a result of yesterday's meeting between FIA and ACO held in Barcelona. It was also announced that a new GT World Class will be created to replace currently defunct GT1 group. This class will consist of balanced GT1, GT2 and GT3 cars and will compete in revamped FIA GT World Championship. GTE class remains as a separate GT class for endurance races, while the GT World will be still competing in two 1-hour sprints. There are no any further details about the new World Endurance Championship but it would be very similar to the current ILMC schedule, i.e. about seven races including the Le Mans 24 Hour as its highlight of the season.
14.5.2011Change in FIA GT1 World Championship?(FIA GT)

Latest rumours suggest that the World Championship for GT cars might see not only GT1 cars next year. In fact to allow GT2/GTE or GT3 cars seemed to have been the only solution to save this championship as the entry had shank from last year's 23-24 cars to 17-18 this year and there are no new cars in sight to be built. Honestly, this could have been expected already before the introduction of the new GT1 class when all manufacturers but Nissan expressed their interest in GT2-like cars, not in GT1 with almost no market.
12.3.2011Le Mans Series split from ILMC in 2012?(LMS)

The Le Mans Series season has just started with a testing weekend and it has already been announced that the organisers are aiming for a completely separate schedule from ILMC next year. The given reason is that more than half of the LMS races are part of ILMC. So, if the plans go ahead and there would be two ACO-based races at the same track and different dates as currently suggested, could we then see for example two Spa 1000 Kilometres races in a single season? We really do not like this idea. It is always better to have stronger field and to see one great race than to travel day and night twice to see two average races. If Patrick Peter wants to have more ILMC-independent races than those that are part of ILMC, a full schedule of 7 or more LMS races per season would be more sensitive option, we believe.
17.9.2010Aston Martin LMP1(Le Mans)

Factory Aston Martin recently confirmed their LMP1 two-year programme. Unfortunately the new car is not a coupe, which appears to be too complicated for the small factory, but at least we can expect a true Aston Martin in the top class, which should now pursue a more level playing field between the diesels and petrol engined cars. The problem is that the diesel technology progressed much quicker over the past few years while there was not the same space for an improvement of the classic engines.
24.7.2010Ford GT for Le Mans(Le Mans)

Matech Racing, the team, which after a long hiatus returned a famous Ford make back to the Le Mans 24 Hour race this year, was found disappointed by a fact that their current GT1 cars will not be eligible for Le Mans 2011. So they decided to built a new car for the new Le Mans GT Endurance category in order to be able to continue in ACO racing. The new Matech Ford GT will be based on the current car and the delivery will start in December later this year. Estimated price will be €500 000.
14.6.2010Audi wins at Le Mans(Le Mans)

After a trouble free run all three factory Audi R15 TDI's finished on the podium. The Le Mans 2010 winners are Bernhard, Dumas and Rockenfeller. The race was a disaster for most of other favourites, namely the quartet of the Peugeots, which dominated all practice and qualifying sessions as well as the first part of the race. Early in the race there was no Audi within the top 3. This would change during the eighth hour when the Peugeot no.1 was delayed due to repairs while the Peugeot no.3 had already been retired due to suspension failure in the early hours. During the night the Oreca-Peugeot had to be pushed into the garage for repairs to return after about 5 laps, so the Audis moved to 2nd and 3rd. This situation continued until the beginning of the seventeenth hour which started by a fire from the exhaust of the leading Peugeot no.2. So Audis moved to 1st, 2nd and 4th while Peugeot no.1, which was running notably faster than the Audis, tried to catch the leaders. It even ran second for a moment but with slightly more than two hours to go it retired with the same problem as no.2 - Turbo. It was Audi 1-2-3 since then despite the private Oreca-Peugeot effort. It had some very good chances for a podium finish but just like as no.2, it was slowed down, fire went out of the exhaust and the race for the Oreca-908 was over. The Lola Aston Martin no.009 then moved to fourth but also failed to finish. Thus the 'best of the rest' was the factory Oreca followed by the LMP2 winner, Strakka Racing HPD and the remaining Lola Aston Martin no.007. The GT1 class in its last race was taken by an aging Saleen, for the first time and a great battle in the GT2 ended by a Porsche win ahead of a Ferrari after leading Corvettes had retired from the race. It was a great race with plenty of dramas and unexpected changes, hardly any other race format would bring. Moreover all three of the finishing Audis broke the 39-year old absolute distance record when averaging 24 hour at 225.228 km/h, 224.659 km/h and 223.524 km/h respectively. To be honest we have been waiting for this historical moment since the mid 1980s and year after year we hoped this might have happen one day. Especially during the late 1980s, when the Group C became very quick and there were no chicanes, both Jaguar in 1988 and Sauber-Mercedes one year later were rather close to the 1971 record (222.305 km/h) but then the Hunaudieres was split by the chicanes and once the even quicker 3.5-litre Group C cars in 1992-93 did not brake it and 'half-minute-per-lap' slower cars appeared next, we were afraid the 1971 achievement would retain unbeaten forever. By 2008 when the big Diesels were undoubtedly fastest ever machines circulating at La Sarthe, our hopes were destroyed by a bad weather and a huge crash of Oreca causing a long night caution. Then the rules were changed to reduce the power and our hopes were gone again - now two decades later. This year something unbelievable happened and both Peugeot and Audi were able to produce almost as quick cars as in 2008, despite being a subject of much more restrictions, the weather was great and despite four full-course cations this year the real reliability of the Audis, which were pushed hard by the Peugeots for most of the race, made our dream finally become a reality. Many thanks to Audi team for this great achievement. This is we believe the greatest Audi victory ever.
13.6.2010Would the 1971 record be broken?(Le Mans)

There have never been such quick cars racing in Le Mans as during the last three seasons, so the absolute distance record set in 1971 came into the question: may the current cars brake it? It was very actual back in 2008 before restrictions of the current cars were applied but rain spoilt all chances for covering more than 5335 kilometres within 24 hours, which was set by Helmut Marko and Gijs van Lennep in a Porsche 917K. The average speed then was 222.305 kph. Back then, the track was much quicker, there were no chicanes splitting the Hunaudieres straight, there were no speed limits in the pits and of course there were no annoying safety car periods but pure racing only. When we saw yesterday a SC in place within the first 20 minutes of the race, it looked very unlikely the record could be broken but now after three quarters of the race and after four safety car interventions, we have still top three cars in higher average speed than the record from 1971, so the chance is still alive. The leading Audi was running at 223.717 kph after 18 hours, the second Audi at 223.600 kph and the best of the Peugeots running third at 222.573 kph is still above the almost 40 year old record. Let us pray there is no more safety cars and also the weather would stay as good as until now because this is probably the last chance of braking the aging record since the next year the new rules make the prototypes very slow compared to the current cars and thus running near 400 laps per 24 hour would become quite impossible.
12.6.2010First 8 hours in Le Mans(Le Mans)

As expected, Peugeot took the first four positions after the start of the Le Mans 24 Hour race and began to move away from the three factory Audis. It was very disappointing when organisers called in a safety car period very early in the race and split Audis and Peugeots by two different safety cars, actually breaking the battle Audis and Peugeots after less then 20 minutes in the race. When the safety cars were called off, Peugeots behind one safety car were more than a minute ahead of the Audis released by another safety car. There was no direct battle between the two main manufacturers since then. One Peugeot was retired soon after suspension mounting had broken. It was then Peugeot 1-2-3 and Audi 4-5-6, when Kristensen in Audi no.7 spun off course to avoid slowly moving BMW. After having been recovered and while being checked in the pits, it was overtaken by the two factory Lola-based Aston Martins. When the leading Peugeot suffered electrical problems and had to be taken into the garage for repairs, Audi finally moved to a podium position for the first time in the race. There was now only one factory Peugeot left at the top, running ahead of the private Oreca-entered car and the Audis. The repaired Peugeot returned behind the Lola Aston Martin. Before the midnight, the delayed Audi and Peugeot easily overtook petrol fuelled Aston Martins so the positions at the midnight are: Peugeot, Oreca-Peugeot, Audi, Audi, Audi, Peugeot and two Aston Martins.
11.6.2010Second practice day in Le Mans(Le Mans)

Two 2-hour qualifying sessions were on the programme yesterday. The first one started on a wet track, so it took some time before the time from the first night session were getting improved. But none from the top runners made an improvement, so at the top it was the same as Wednesday final provisional grid: 3 factory Peugeots, Oreca Peugeot, 3 factory Audis, 2 factory Lola-based Aston Martins, private Lola Aston Martin, factory Oreca and two private Kolles Audi R10s. The second part started promising, under ideal conditions but at the time the top teams, especially Audi were preparing for attack, rain started to fall on some part of the track and until the last quarter of the session, when it dried, nothing special happened. The end of the session was interesting, all Audis improved by 1 or 2 seconds, Peugeots set even quicker time but with no direct time improvement, so the final sort on the grid remained unchanged at the top. Behind the Kolles Audis, there was a top of LMP2 class, where the two HPDs improved and swapped positions a few times, Lola-HPD moved to the third in the class. Also some slower LMP1 cars improved and mixed with these fast LMP2 cars. In the GT1 class Tomas Enge maintained the class pole, in fact his sixth GT1 pole out of his seven GT1 races here at Le Mans. It would be his final one because, as ACO announced yesterday, this class will cease to exist in Le Mans racing series. Other GT1 cars, especially Ford GTs were much closer to Enge's Aston Martin yesterday. in the GT2 class, we had four cars under 4 minutes: Ferrari, two factory Corvettes and another Ferrari. There is also one withdrawal: One of AF Corse Ferraris crashed on Wednesday and since the chassis was damaged above a repair, it is withdrawn. It is bad because we could have had 56 starters, the largest number since 1955, when 60 cars were permitted to race.
11.6.2010Manufacturers with a history returns to Le Mans(Le Mans)

Having looked into our most extensive sport car racing database we can confirm that most of the manufacturers with a real sports car history are back in Le Mans this year. Hardly any season at Le Mans we had so many important sports car manufacturers present in Le Mans 24 Hour race. Let us have a look at the top 10 manufacturers ordered by the number of total entries in any of the sports car events in our database: 1) Porsche 51000+, 2) Chevrolet 15000+, 3) Ferrari 14750+, 4) BMW 12900+ (all those present in 2010). Three makes not currently active follows: MG 12000+ (mainly MG TC, MG TD and MGA in the 1950s, still present in Le Mans in the early 2000s), Lotus 11000+ (still present in the 1990s, may return to Le Mans soon) and Alfa Romeo 10790+ (not active in sports car racing since late 1970s, created a Group C prototype in 1989 but never raced it). The final three makes from the TOP 10 follows, two of them are new in 2010: 8) Jaguar 8350+, 9) Ford 8180 (many of those were Escort or Capri touring cars) and finally 10) Lola with 6905 registered participations in our database. We do not think there were many Le Mans editions like this one, with so many traditional and notable manufacturers present.
9.6.2010First practice day in Le Mans(Le Mans)

During the first practice and then qualifying sessions it became apparent that Peugeots are dominant over Audis, just like in Spa earlier this year. The final qualifying practice still continues and Peugeots are on the first four positions, with the private Oreca car at the top. The best Lola Aston Martin is sixth ahead of two factory Audis. We have seen already three red flags during today's sessions - all of them caused by much slower GT cars. This means that slowing down prototypes will not necessary mean less or lesser accidents. The new prototype rules have not been announced yet but they are supposed to be revealed tomorrow. With about an hour to go, Audis have still some chance to close the Peugeot. There was a forecast of rain but so far all practice sessions enjoyed dry conditions.
23.4.2010Peugeot enters Intercontinental Le Mans Cup(LMS)

A good news comes from France: Peugeot announced this week that the factory team will participate in the new ILMC series, which will consist of three races at the end of the year, one held in Europe (1000 km Silverstone), one in America (Petit Le Mans) and final in China (yet to be announced). With much more races expected next season, this Cup has a good potential to become a future World Championship for Sports Cars.
21.3.2010Peugeot wins Sebring(ALMS)

After the decision that the Audi will not be permitted to race at Sebring because their updated 2009 car was still not fully compliant with the 2010 regulations, the main opposition to the factory Peugeot team came from the factory Aston Martin Racing, this year still featuring updated Lola Coupe. The race ended up with an easy win of the Peugeot couple while the last podium position belonged, as expected, to the Lola Aston Martin. The only other contender for any result was the new Drayson Lola Coupe. Early in the race, when driven by Pirro, it was capable of running second overall among the Peugeots but unfortunately it faded soon after. Then, for most of the race then it was keeping the sixth position behind the Porsche RS Spyder and HDP ARX-01c, the only LMP2 cars in contention (the third one, the Dyson Lola, stayed in the garage for about 80 minutes for repairs and there was no other car in the class). In the final stages of the race the Drayson team car suffered further problems only to finish deeply among the GT class field. The new LMPC Orecas FLM09 made their ALMS debut here but it was far from success. The cars were exceptionally equal in practice and qualifying - nothing unexpected for a spec. class - but in the race they proved to be unreliable and often also bad driven. Most of the yellow periods were caused just by spinning Orecas and all of them but one either retired or finished at the end of the field. ALMS is really struggling. Apart from the GT2 class, which is very strong, there is almost nothing else to watch. All podium finishers overall were European teams just testing for their Le Mans effort with no intention to continue in ALMS regularly and the only other LMP1 car featuring in the race was also European-based. It was the Drayson Racing Lola Coupe, but all that is really nowhere near what it has been a couple of years ago. Adding spec. classes did not help much but to increase overall numbers to catch up with Grand-Am. Hopefully the situation will improve next year when the new rules will take the place and the cars would not become obsolete after a season or two.
4.3.2010FIA GT2 Championship cancelled(FIA GT)

Fruits of too ambitious plans of SRO are now getting concrete shapes. The first victim is the GT2 class and its European Championship, which is 'postponed' as per official press release. This also means that we lost the last signs of endurance spirit from SRO-controlled series and that the FIA GT also lost its biggest race, the Spa 24 Hours, as it was planned only for the GT2 Championship. So FIA now has a championship for GT1 cars, which were generally unwanted by most of the protagonists of the GT racing (Ferrari, Chevrolet, Porsche, Aston Martin), who wished to have a single category similar to the current GT2 class. Now we have an artificial GT1 class instead, consisting mainly of cars that were destined to die by the end of 2009, and the rest mainly from second level builders plus only serious factory effort by Nissan, which should normally blow away from the rest had there be no equivalency, etc. ballast.
3.2.2010LMS entry list released(LMS)

Today the Le Mans Series entry list was released. It contains 44 cars, most of which are in LMP2 (16) and GT2 (15) classes. Only two Saleens are listed in GT1. In GT2 there is a factory BMW Schnitzer entry among cars usual in previous seasons. In LMP1 the Pescarolo team now disappeared completely while rather surprisingly factory Audi R15 is listed with two cars. All other entries were more or less expected with a single exception, the Lola B10/60 Coupé of Noël Del Bello Racing, which is a welcome addition. Altogether there are four Audis against four Lolas and lone Peugeot, Oreca and Zytek. One of the Lolas is last year's Aston Martin incarnation. At the same time with the full season entry factory team Audi confirmed they plan only three races at the moment: Paul Ricard, Spa and Silverstone. The LMP2 class sees a return of MG Lola but with AER engine, debut of HDP (ex-Acura) and a good selection of various other makes seen in the past: Lola, Zytek, Radical, Zytek, Courage, Pescarolo and Lucchini.
2.2.2010Aston Martin Racing programme(Le Mans)

Aston Martin Racing team announced their plans recently. The focus will be the Le Mans 24 Hour race where the team did surprisingly well the last year when the best car finished fourth. But there will be more races. Sebring 12 Hours and the second ALMS race are on their schedule. Then the factory team take one car to Paul Ricard for the first Le Mans Series race. No more races are planned before the Le Mans race but there are some likely races in the second half of the season, to be announced later. Generally we can follow a tendency of big factory team to contest only selected rounds of various series rather than competing for titles in individual championships. While last year factory Acura concentrated and won ALMS, and Aston Martin did the same in the Le Mans Series, this year the title would most likely go to privateers, but factories will add some attention here and there. So it seems that first LMS race will see Aston Martin racing against privateers, while in the second LMS race at Spa a battle between factory Audi and Peugeot is possible. Hopefully the planned International Le Mans Challenge might bring the factories together to fight for one world crown.
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