Sports Car Racing News

29.9.2009Dr. Ullrich about ACO rule changes(Le Mans)

Last weekend Dr. Ullrich from Audi spoke about planned rules changes in LMP racing. It seems that if organising bodies would continue with their irrational and unpredictable changes, current prototype renaissance will transform into LMP death like we saw in the early 1990s with the Group C. But then it was intentional. Regarding ALMS equalisation of LMP1 and LMP2 for the next year, Dr. Ullrich correctly points out that why would a manufacturer build much more expensive LMP1 car if it is then restricted to LMP2 speed... Bigger problem is however continuous year by year change of the rules for the Le Mans itself (and for endurance LMS series). It is becoming difficult to convince the board to build a new car every year for three races (in case of Audi) and thus we may see no Audi LMP1 racing next year. Dr. Ullrich says: "The main issue now is to convince the guys from the ACO that in times like this stability is even more important than before. To go the other way is the most counter-productive thing they can do." (more on Aston Martin factory is another manufacturer that already confirmed no entry next year in the top prototype racing.
27.9.2009Disappointing Petit Le Mans(ALMS)

The best sports car entry seen this year outside Le Mans was put together at wrong place and wrong time. After 90 minutes of true racing, mainly in wet, which saw Audis running away from anything else and Peugeots being overtaken even by the LMP2 Porsche Spyder, the race became a complete disappointment. Within the next few hours it was only a slow running from yellow to yellow (full course cautions) and all that was ended up by a heavy rain. The final classification, which saw two Peugeots ahead of two Audis, was just a result of good luck as the race was stopped before its half when nobody expected this, and was never restarted again. So any tactics and strategies were gone. A few laps before the red flag Audi span when the heavy rain started and thus lost everything they have built earlier. While the last year the safety car periods helped Audi to gain two laps and win PLM, this year the advantage built by Audi during the first hour and half was spoilt by the cautions, one Peugeot gained a lap and Audi lost victory. Had all those cars met together at the Nürburgring or Silverstone during the previous two ACO-based endurance races, it might have been great flag-to-flag racing...
26.9.2009Drayson confirmed full ALMS campaign(ALMS)

Drayson Racing, which is debuting their new Lola B09/60 this weekend in Petit Le Mans, announced that they will run a full ALMS 2010 programme with their prototype, effectively becoming the first team fielding a closed LMP1 prototype regularly in the U.S.
19.9.2009Aston Martin LMP1 for 2011(Le Mans)

Aston Martin team confirmed last weekend they had already been working on a completely new car for two months. It would be fitted with a new Aston Martin engine and is aimed to be raced in 2011. This means most likely that the next year we will not see the factory team racing in LMS and possibly not also in Le Mans because the plan is to sell current cars to private teams and help them to run them. Perhaps Charouz Racing might be among the first candidates but who knows? The new cars, now fully Aston Martins, will be campaigned as a part of a three year racing programme.
19.9.2009Only 20 cars for Algarve(FIA GT)

The next FIA GT race has only 20 cars on its entry list. This is the lowest number in the series history matching only Adria race in 2006. Among the missing teams there is the last race winning K plus K Saleen, which after the disqualification decided not to contest in the next race. Thus the battle is left to the three Maserati Vitaphones against various Corvettes because there is no competitive Saleen entered while Aston Martin has not appeared this year at all. Considering a fact that all these cars should be the base for the next year World GT1 Championship, originally designed for the new generation of cars, which all major GT manufacturers refused to support from the very beginning, and with only nine of those GT1 cars on the list for Algarve, it might yet create interesting situations the next season. But it is also worth to say that Algarve usually does not attract big entries for a sports car race. Last month the first Le Mans Series race there had only 35 starters, the third lowest in the series history, comparable only with the less successful Istanbul races and, of course, that almost ignored fly-away race in Interlagos 2007.
12.9.2009World GT Championship with old cars(FIA GT)

Highly promoted idea of new GT classes since 2010, originally to be based on the current GT3 cars, proved to be unrealistic and currently it seems that even the new World Championship will be very similar to the current FIA GT series, just without GT2 cars and with shorter races. FIA saw a lack of interest from the new manufacturers so they adopted most of the current GT1 cars to race next year. After the Aston Martin DBR9, it was the Corvette C6.R to be allowed next, the Maserati MC12 followed and a recent confirmation of the oldest Saleen S7-R finalised the farce, which is about to bring back the title World Championship into the realm of sports car racing. With already confirmed Nissan, Ford GT and Lamborghini, we have now seven makes in the series, so probably that bad idea to have strictly four cars of each type was fortunately abandoned as well - probably the only positive news around there.
25.8.2009Audi to enter Petit Le Mans(ALMS)

Audi Sports Team Joest is after Peugeot and Oreca another European team, which confirmed its participation in Petit Le Mans next month with two cars. If we add the Acura factory teams, this would be probably the best supported Petit Le Mans event so far since its creation in 1998.
22.8.2009ACO announced 2010 rules(Le Mans)

During yesterday, ACO presented their view of 2010 regulations. Apart from usual equalisation between various types of engines (diesel, production-based and racing engines), all other changes, despite proclaimed to be in the name of safety, are generally bad, as it became common in this century. Instead of returning back to proper rear wings and making the cars really more stable, safer and less predisposed to fly, rear ends will be even more restricted. It seems that the rule makers are always far more innovative than we could even imagine in our bad dreams. Last year, instead of nice closed coupes, we were forced to accept ugly narrow rear wings, now, if we understand the rules correctly, all rear part of bodywork behind rear axle (viewed from the side) should have a convex shape, which would mean that all nice solutions seen for example at Pescarolos, Aston Martins or Zyteks will be banned since 2010 - apparently to save costs... If that was really the truth, why would they force the teams a few months ago to adopt current narrow wings? Why would the suffering IMSA still allow original wings in LMP2? We really cannot understand thinking of current bosses, personal discussion was for nothing, so the only way is to accept uglier and less safe cars once again.
17.8.2009ALMS class structure in 2010(ALMS)

New class structure in the American Le Mans Series, which was announced last weekend, will see a merge of current LMP1 and LMP2 classes into a single LMP class. GT2 will be renamed as a GT class in reaction on GT1 class death around the world. Unfortunately, despite Mr. Atherton's nice sounding words that the new class system "will create more opportunities for ... manufacturers to participate", the reality is that half of the classes will be challenge single make formulas, at least for the time being. LMP Challenge seems to be nothing else then Le Mans Formula spec. cars while GT Challenge will see 'more versions' of 911 GT3 Cup cars. To make things even more complicated, the two major endurance races, Sebring and Petit Le Mans, will follow standard ACO classes, at least regarding the recognition of the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.
31.7.2009Various news & RSC taking a break(Other)

Until now we have been very busy with various updates, now it is time to have a rest, so RSC is taking a break. In the meantime Peugeot confirmed its 2-car assault in Petit Le Mans while BMW withdraw from Formula 1 since 2010 but at the same time assured that their Sports Car and Endurance racing campaign will continue (currently present in ALMS). On the other side Mr. Ratel of SRO announced that the Spa 24 Hour race will be converted to a secondary level event since 2010, without any GT1 cars or a World Championship status.
26.7.2009Le Mans Series to Brno?(LMS)

As reported by the local press and per our information, Brno is still trying to get a 1000 Kilometer Le Mans Series race to the Czech Republic. This is the third consecutive year that Brno tries to get LMS race after they lost it in 2009 to a quite new Algarve track, a night race, which appears not to be much popular among the entrants, at least considering entry is down to 37 cars after phenomenal and record Spa 51-car entry. Regarding the Brno race, the decision should be done by end of this month. Other option for Brno is the new World GT Championship. But honestly..., hopefully that will not be needed and LMS negotiations would go well.
20.7.2009KpluK withdrew from Spa 24 H(FIA GT)

A new system for the FIA GT Championship was the main reason for the team's decision. Unlike in the past, when half points were awarded for positions after 6 and 12 hours, now the points are given only for the final positions, which is absolutely inadequate compared to the fact that the same portion of points a team can get for a 2 hour race. Moreover only 3 engines per season are allowed to be used without penalty. The team also considered the situation in GT1 class where the race is likely to have not more than eight cars, three of which would be Vitaphone entries, while among the other entries there are some teams not racing regularly, so the point loss for KpluK should not be that big. With even much shorter races the next year and new GT1 cars built primarily for sprints, we cannot imagine how SRO wants to keep the race alive at this level for another decade. Inclusion of the 24 Hours of Spa into the FIA GT Championship was really a nice idea almost 10 years ago and the race with a long tradition immediately became the most important and best visited event of the championship.
18.7.2009de Ferran Acura wins at Lime Rock(ALMS)

American Le Mans Series continued after a long break, caused by the Le Mans event in June. Two new significant cars were entered. In LMP2 it was van der Steur Radical making its first appearance this year. In the LMP1 class Ginetta-Zytek re-appeared, now for the first time in a full hybrid trim. But nothing could change Acura LMP1 duo domination. De Ferran/Pagenaud won over Brabham/Sharp by almost a lap. The next nearest car was the Ginetta-Zytek full seven laps behind, followed by the LMP2 winner, the Dyson Lola no.20. This was the first class victory for the Lola-Mazda Coupe. The Radical was also among the finishers and thus scored points for the third place in class, though classified almost behind entire GT2 field but still ahead of all so called Cup class, which is added by IMSA as a reaction to the fact that in ALMS it is hard to attract 20 ACO-spec cars to the grids apart from their principal and longer races, like Sebring or Petit Le Mans. They should probably adopt the LMS format, i.e. lower number of really important, great and long-distance races with some tradition, importance and history.
14.7.2009Aston Martin GT1?(FIA GT)

After hearing wishes of their current customers, Aston Martin Racing may prepare a DBR9 for the new World GT1 Championship. It would be similar car as we have seen in GT1 racing over the last five years but with a new upgrade package to fit in the new regulations. After Nissan, Ford and Lamborghini it is already the fourth potential contender of the new championship. It is known that the big four, the Porsche, Ferrari, Corvette and Aston Martin, expressed they wished a single GT class and were not going to support the new GT1 class. Now because of demand among privateers Aston Martin may become the first of the current principal GT manufacturers to break this unofficial alliance, even if not with a really new car.
12.7.2009Peugeot confirmed its PLM participation(ALMS)

Team Peugeot confirmed they would race in Petit Le Mans. It would have been a good news, if at the same time the message would not mean that Peugeot will not be seen in any of the remaining LMS races as well as in Laguna Seca as expected. It was Petit Le Mans last year in which Peugeot lost its victory to Audi, just because of too many cautions making the race everything but fair endurance affair. Probably Peugeot had forgotten or the new management does not care. There is still no word of Audi regarding PLM or other late ALMS races.
6.7.2009SRO sells its Belgian subsidiary(National)

We remember reading about a year ago that the way SRO controls the Belgian GT scene, it would not survive next too seasons. This year the grids were really poor so it was not a big surprise to read that Stephane Ratel will sell SRO Belgium to a new subject. The new promoter is going to be the PRC Group, represented by Christian Lahaye, current promoter of the BTCS. The agreement between the two parties contains a clause that the championship will have to continue strictly international GT3 and GT4 rules. The new body will take over the championship since the next race, which is scheduled on 11th-12th July in Spa. It is sad how this strong national championship with semi-endurance races, strong fields of cars ranging from big GT1 Corvettes and Porsche Turbos through various GT2 and Cup cars progressed under SRO direction.
24.6.2009FIA confirms GT1 World Championship(FIA GT)

Today it has been confirmed by the FIA that current FIA GT Championship will end after 13 more or less successful seasons, during which we saw decline of great old GT1 cars, an arrival and development of a new N-GT class (soon to be become GT2), and recently some questionable performance balancing adjustments, which often substantially influenced the final championship titles. Instead of it a new FIA GT1 World Championship and a FIA GT2 European Championship would be formed. Not sure how many cars can we expect the next year but it is a bit strange to split a field of about 25 cars into two separately-run championships and make half of the field obsolete at the same time (all current GT1 cars). We could well imagine a formation of World LMS and European LM Series where the organisers had even to refuse some entries due to oversubscription but still enjoy twice more entries than the current FIA GT. Moreover as true sports car fans we prefer longer multi-class races. Closing date for the GT1 entries is the end of November. Good luck to SRO and Stephane Ratel.
22.6.2009Return of Porsche RS Spyder(ALMS)

Team Cytosport, seen with Lola in ALMS last season, opted to continue in renewed Trans-Am Championship this year but announced recently that they would return to ALMS with ex-Dyson no.20 Porsche RS Spyder. The car will be factory-backed and should race first in Mid-Ohio. If things go well, the team could be present in Le Mans next year.
17.6.2009Tréluyer unhurt in dangerous LMP(Le Mans)

Benoit Tréluyer, who was at the wheel during the huge accident of Pescarolo-run Peugeot in Le Mans last week, is fortunately quite well and will race in Super GT race in Japan next weekend. What's however disturbing is a fact that even Benoit confirms what we were afraid just after seeing the destroyed car. The car suddenly went light and snapped sideways, there was no chance to slow down as the car took off.... How many accidents of LMP cars would be needed that current rule makers recognize what we claim since 2004 that the current cars are dangerous and the aero rules are too restrictive and bad? And with the small rear wings this year the situation seems even worse and we had never seen so many destroyed chassis as this year.
16.6.2009Bucharest race cancelled(FIA GT)

It was now officially announced that the Bucharest FIA GT race, the fifth round of the championship, will not be held as originally scheduled on 9th August 2009. A likely replacement now seems to be a race in Hungaroring in the last week of August. It is a subject for approval by the FIA World Motorsport Council. A good news is that the two race format will be abandoned for the Hungarian event and the race would be ran as a two-hour event.
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