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Thread: 2015 WEC/ELMS&TUSC news.

  1. #331
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    World Endurance Championship – Bruni and Vilander’s Ferrari takes victory at Silverstone

    Silverstone, 12 April – The season could not have gotten off to a better start with Ferrari AF Corse World Champions “Gimmi” Bruni and Toni Vilander taking class victory in the first race of the 2015 World Endurance Championship season. The result was particularly sweet as winning the 6 Hours of Silverstone seemed hard to predict after very tricky qualifying on Saturday… But that is, of course, the beauty of endurance racing.

    The race. Things went horribly wrong for the no. 51 Ferrari at the start as “Gimmi” Bruni had to slam on the brakes to avoid a prototype which had spun across the track. Consequently, the Italian driver had to fight his way up from the very back. Out in front the Aston Martins were dominating the action followed by the Porsches. However, a yellow flag as the one-hour mark approached mixed things up nicely: Calado in no. 71 dodged in for a full pit-stop with refueling, tyre change and a swap-over with Davide Rigon, while no. 51 just topped up its tank. Around 30 minutes later, the yellow flag was shown again, at which point no. 51 pitted and Toni Vilander jumped into the driver seat. When the green flag came out again, the group was being led by Rigon’s no. 71 458 Italia ahead of the Porsche of Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki, and Vilander. The Aston Martins, which had pitted under green flag, then found themselves having to give chase. No. 71, had adopted a different strategy to the rest of the class and so, just after the second hour of the race sounded, Rigon went back in to hand over to Calado again.

    Halfway point. At the halfway point of the race, the Porsche of Pilet was leading Bruni, now back at the wheel of no. 51, and Rigon who had just taken over no. 71 from Calado. But shortly after, the German car had to pull in with a problem, leaving the way free for “Gimmi”. With 2 hours and 50 minutes of the race left, the latter handed over the car to Vilander. At that point, the Finn was a handful of tenths ahead of Rigon but over 20 seconds in front of the no. 91 Porsche. From that moment on, the no. 51 Ferrari hung on to its lead and not even the comeback by the Porsche of Christensen and Lietz could worry the reigning world champions. The German car managed to leapfrog the no. 71 Ferrari in the pits at one point but couldn’t take the lead away from no.51 at the last pit-stop when Bruni went back out with a 13-second lead and brilliantly controlled his position all the way to the chequered flag.

    GTE Am. In the GTE Am class, the AF Corse no. 83 Ferrari turned in a very solid performance to finish second behind the Aston Martin 98, thanks to the skills of Emmanuel Collard, François Perrodo and Rui Aguas. Viktor Shaitar and Alexey Basov drove SMP Racing’s no. 72 very well indeed with Andrea Bertolini turned in a blistering performance in the final stages. His extraordinary comeback saw the Ferrari working its way up to third place. The overall winner of the race was the Audi of Marcel Fassler, André Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer. The next round in two weeks’ time at the legendary temple of motorsport of Spa-Francorchamps.
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    KEEP CALM AND LOVE FERRARI


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    Watching the battle between #51 and #71 from the pits, was, lets say, interesting. Reminded me of Hamilton and Rosberg fighting. Amato and Toni came running, i mean running into the garage. Fantastic.
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    INFO PRESSE
    Le Mans, 15 avril 2015 - April 15th 2015

    Photo Finish at sensational 4 Hours of Silverstone.

    The Greaves Motorsport Gibson 015S-Nissan driven by Gary Hirsch, Bjorn Wirdheim and Jon Lancaster scored a thrilling victory in the first round of the ELMS at Silverstone. After some frenetic racing throughout the four hour race, the Gibson LMP2 car crossed the finishing line just 0.370s ahead of the Jota Sport Gibson-Nissan.

    The pulsating climax of the 4 Hours of Silverstone came after a second safety car period with 90-minutes remaining, bunching the field up and ensured that a three-way battle for the win played out in a sensational final thirty minutes of racing with the leading Thiriet by TDS ORECA 05 losing the lead after contact while being challenged by Lancaster dropped the French car to third.

    There was a final twist in the epic contest, as the JOTA Sport Gibson driven by Harry Tincknell fought all the way to the chequered flag, to finish right on Lancaster’s tail. It was the closest margin of victory in the history of the ELMS.
    The all-new LMP3 class provided some great action with Sir Chris Hoy and his talented young team mate Charlie Robertson ensuring they will go down in history as the first ever winners of the LMP3 class.

    The LMGTE class saw a popular home victory by the Gulf Racing UK squad with Adam Carroll completing the victory after making an incisive move on the JMW Ferrari to take the win. The GTC category as won by the TDS Racing crew of Dino Lunardi/Eric Dermont and Franck Perera who clinched a clear victory in their BMW Z4 GT3.
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    JOTA SPORT CALLS UP TINCKNELL FOR SPA FIA WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP RACE

    British youngster to race sportscar at Spa for second consecutive year with JOTA

    JOTA Sport has recruited the services of Harry Tincknell for the next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (2 May). Nissan NISMO “factory” driver Tincknell joins Simon Dolan (GB) and Mitch Evans (NZ) in the Gibson 015S Nissan for the Six Hours of Spa Francorchamps – the British team’s first of two WEC appearances this year.

    The reigning Le Mans 24 Hour LM P2 champions have been able to draft in the 23-year-old Briton for the race in Belgium because Tincknell’s LM P1 NISMO race programme does not begin until Le Mans in June. Harry, who also competes for JOTA in the European Le Mans Series this year, plus Simon and Marc Gené, posted a fine second in class result in last year’s corresponding Spa race.

    The Six Hours of Spa Francorchamps will mark Evans’ WEC debut and maiden sportscar race. New Zealand’s single-seater multi-race winner has only tested the Gibson on one occasion with Tincknell’s inclusion looking to assist the transition for ex-Formula One race winner and Porsche “factory” driver Mark Webber’s protégé.

    The Spa race comes in between last weekend’s ELMS “opener” at Silverstone – in which Tincknell, Dolan and Filipe Albuquerque finished second – and the next ELMS race at Imola in Italy (17 May) – a corresponding race 12 months ago the trio won. Albuquerque is unable to compete at Spa, and at Le Mans, for JOTA due to his Audi Sport “factory” commitments.


    Simon Dolan (GB). Age 45. Born: Chelmsford, Essex. Lives: Monaco (MC):
    “It’s always a privilege to share the car with the legend that is Harry Tincknell! With Harry and Mitch in the JOTA Gibson, we should be able to really take the challenge to the regular WEC LM P2 teams and give them a great race.”

    Harry Tincknell (GB). Age: 23. Born: Exeter, Devon. Lives: Sidmouth, Devon (GB):
    “I’m delighted to be called up for Spa and obviously have good memories, last year finishing second in my first race at World Championship level. I also believe the new Gibson update will suit Spa very well. Simon drove really well there last year considering it was only a few weeks after his massive Silverstone shunt. There is no doubt that Mitch will be fast so we go to Belgium with a very strong package. JOTA has worked very hard over the winter and the guys were absolutely supreme in the pit-stops at Silverstone.”

    Mitch Evans (NZ). Age: 20. Born: Auckland, New Zealand. Lives: Aylesbury, Bucks, UK:
    “It will great to have Harry alongside Simon and myself for Spa. It’ll be hugely beneficial for me to learn from them after their successful year in 2014. It will allow me to pick their brains to fast forward my [sportscar] preparation as I haven't had much running in the Gibson. I'm looking forward to working with Harry before he begins his Nissan NISMO LM P1 race programme at Le Mans.”

    Sam Hignett. Partner, JOTA Group:
    “For us as a team, it’ll be great to have Harry onboard at Spa. Harry’s inclusion can only help Mitch too in his preparation for Le Mans. JOTA Sport finished second [in LM P2] last year before winning [LM P2] our only other FIA World Endurance Championship race at Le Mans so this time our aim is to go one better especially after our recent Silverstone performance.”
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    A Viper at the start!

    The Riley team will take part in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours on 13-14 June following the withdrawal of a car in the LM P2 category. The ACO has received 65 entries for the test day held two weeks before the start of the 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours.

    The no. 53 SRT Viper GTS-R entered by the Riley Motorsports-Ti Auto squad will be on the grid for the Le Mans 24 Hours on 13th June at 15h00. This car is taking the place left vacant by the withdrawal of one of the two cars, the no. 39 Morgan Evo-SARD, originally entered by the Sard Morand team. The Viper’s last outing in the Le Mans 24 Hours was in 2013 when SRT Motorsports entered two GTS-Rs.

    The nominated driver in this car is Dutchman, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and he will be racing in his eighth Le Mans 24 Hours in which his best result was sixth overall in 2011 in a Rebellion Racing Lola.

    There are still five cars on the list of reserves: two LM P2 and three LM GTEs.

    Prior to the Le Mans 24 Hours the test day will take place on Sunday 31st May 2015. The ACO has received 65 entry requests. At present the entry list accepts 64 cars. All those entered for the race are down to run in this free practice session as well as the two current reserves in the LM P category (the no. 44 Ibanez Racing Oreca 03R-Nissan and the KCMG Oreca 03R-Nissan). Two reserves in LM GTE (the no. 60 Formula Racing Ferrari 458 Italia and the no. 86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche), and two additional Ferraris run by AF Corse with the numbers 81 and 82.

    As the new LM P3s are allowed to take part in the test day (but not in the Le Mans 24 Hours), the two LNT Ginetta-Nissans have been selected with the Scuderia Villorba Corse as a reserve. It will be allowed to participate if a place becomes free in the pits. This is a big test for the teams and their drivers to get to grips with the Le Mans 24-Hours circuit. Among the drivers is Sir Chris Hoy, the most-titled British sportsman in the Olympic Games with six cycling gold medals between 2004 and 2012. The Scot is currently making a brilliant career change swapping to motor racing. He is entered in the European Le Mans Series Championship, and on Saturday 11th April he won the first round of the LM P3 category on the Silverstone circuit.


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    These pix are fantastico..Thank you..n I loves dem 458's.

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    SPORTS CARS USING THE FORCE...

    Are this year's WEC cars out of this world? R2D2 seems to think so...

    Don't go to the Dark Side, but do come to the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps from 30 April to 2 May and see for yourself. Among the 34 cars battling for victory will be a magnificent ORECA 05 LMP2 like these fine examples above.

    Use the force, live the WEC!
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    Le Mans 24 Hours
    Hülkenberg at school!



    In compliance with the Le Mans 24-Hours sporting regulations Force India F1 team driver, Nico Hülkenberg, who will race for Porsche in the forthcoming blue-riband event in the FIA World Endurance Championship on 13-14 June, had a specific training session on a simulator.

    Although you may well be one of the big hopes in world motor sport with 81 Formula 1 Grand Prix under your belt you find yourself having to follow a driver training course!

    This is what happened to Nico Hülkenberg on Wednesday in Saint-Pierre-du-Perray in the Parisian region when he had a session on the AOTech company’s simulator on his way back from taking part in the Bahrain F1 Grand Prix, via a stopover at Paul Ricard, where Porsche was testing its LM P1 cars.

    In compliance with the Le Mans 24-Hours sporting regulations a debutant driver in the event, or one who hasn’t raced in it for more than five years, must spend a day there to familiarise him/herself with the innovative safety procedures in place during the Sarthe classic.

    As Hülkenberg has never raced on the big Le Mans 24-Hours circuit, he had to do three-hours driving divided up into six 30-minute sessions in this machine to learn the layout and its traps, familiarise himself with the positions of the marshals’ posts, manage the traffic, discover the safety car and slow zone procedures at daytime and at nighttime, and pass the ‘surprise’ tests like a sudden change in grip on a section of the track, which often happens at Le Mans. It’s an excellent form of apprenticeship and a big gain in time for the day when he will be at the wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid LM P1.

    Every evening, AOTech sends the reports on each debutant to the ACO. These documents give the Le Mans 24-Hours sports management a different take on the on-the-spot behaviour of these debutants during the test day (this year on 31st May), in which they must take part before they can hope to be allowed to compete in practice and then in the race itself.

    This highly-developed professional tool has nothing to envy the aviation simulators or the ones developed by the big F1 teams. AOTech, in collaboration with the ACO, is already working on a new version in which the drivers will be installed in cockpits very close to those in LM P and LM GTE, whereas today they are strapped into a single-seater chassis. In 2014 some 40 drivers in the Le Mans 24 Hours passed the test and this number should be fairly similar for this year’s event (the full list of drivers taking part in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours will be announced at the end of May).

    The German driver enjoyed himself very much during this special day, and said that he was now looking forward to tackling the real, and not the simulated version, of the Le Mans 24-Hours circuit: “Over the past four or five years I’ve become very interested in endurance racing,” he summed up, “ and above all the Le Mans 24 Hours. I’m impatient to measure myself against the challenge posed by the circuit."

    Hülkenberg will find out what it’s all about on 31st May during the test day. But before that he still has two grand prix (Spain and Monaco) in front of him, and then between the test day (31st May) and the Le Mans 24 Hours (13-14 June) the Canadian Grand Prix.


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    FERRARI RED GOES IMSA GREEN

    RISI COMPETIZIONE WINS BACK-TO-BACK DEKRA GREEN CHALLENGE AWARDS

    Risi Competizione is celebrating today’s Earth Day by proudly displaying the back-to-back trophies for winning the DEKRA Green Challenge Award at both Sebring and Long Beach.

    While the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer finished second in the Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase, the team was presented the DEKRA Green Challenge Award in post-race ceremonies. Risi Competizione also won the coveted award after finishing second in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

    “It all points to the maintenance of the car in the pit stops and fuel consumption and everything that goes with the performance of the team,” team manager David Sims said. “It's really special.”

    The Corvette Racing No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe opened the year by winning the first DEKRA Green Challenge Award following the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

    The DEKRA Green Challenge Award is presented to the most environmentally clean, fast and efficient GTLM competitor at each TUDOR Championship race. The DEKRA Green Challenge award is determined through Green Racing protocols established by the United States Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International as part of an overarching strategic alliance with IMSA.
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    RISI COMPETIZIONE CAPTURES BACK-TO-BACK PODIUM FINISHES

    The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia had a near perfect race today in the exciting Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach, Calif. , Round 3 of the 2015 IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season. The popular Ferrari team finished in second place for the second race in a row, having had the same result at Round 2’s 12 Hours of Sebring race in March.

    Qualifying driver Giancarlo Fisichella had an excellent start to the 100-minute sprint race when he managed to jump into the lead from the third starting position early on the first lap. He led the GTLM class for the first 31 laps of the race and approximately 45 minutes. The Risi Competizione team had a perfect pit stop and managed to maintain the lead after their quick stop for fuel, tires and a driver change to teammate Pierre Kaffer.

    Long Beach Grand Prix April 17-19 2015
    Kaffer drove an excellent stint and was able to hold off the hard-charging efforts of both the BMW and Corvette teams until Lap 66, when a Prototype car struck the wall in front of Kaffer and he had to maneuver off the racing line to avoid contact. In doing so he collected off-line debris on his tires which slowed his pace, allowing eventual class winner Dirk Werner (with teammate Bill Auberlen), in the No. 25 BMW, to pass him and maintain the class lead for the remaining 12 laps.
    The Risi Competizione team won the DEKRA Green Challenge Award for the second race in a row, having won it in Round 2 at the 12 Hours of Sebring, due to their excellent pit stop. The award is given to the team who exhibits the cleanest, fastest and most efficient pit stop performance.

    Giancarlo Fisichella, qualifying and starting driver, No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia:
    “It was a great start to the race and great reaction time and maybe even the better straight finish line speed. I was quite comfortable for the first part of the race and then the tire pressure went up a bit and the car was sliding slightly more on four wheels. The BMW were better in the mid-field but I was able to keep them behind me. We did a great pit stop and Pierre was doing well. Unfortunately, with about ten minutes to the end, the BMW was catching him and overtook him at the end. Yeah, it’s disappointing but it’s another great result. The crew did a fantastic job and I’m looking forward to the next race in a few weeks.”

    Pierre Kaffer, driver, No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia:
    “I think this race was a bit unlucky in the end. It was a race of the boys. I think we made an awesome pit stop. It was perfect. Everything was under control. Unfortunately, the DP car crashed in front of me into the wall and I collected a lot of pick-up debris. In that moment, the BMW was behind me and he was miles faster than me. I was struggling to keep the car on the track. I have to say, congrats to BMW. They were the fastest car on the track today. So, now we’ve finished two times in a row in second place, which is very good for the Championship. I’m really proud of the whole Risi Competizione team. They’ve been very strong and I’m really satisfied with the second place finish. I’m already looking forward to Laguna Seca in two weeks. I think we will have a strong car and our Ferrari will be in good shape there. We will have the new aero dynamic, which will help us in the end of our stint. And I’m really excited for Laguna Seca, which is one of my favorites.”

    Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:
    “It was looking pretty good initially. Fisichella got a fantastic start and was able to hold the BMWs off. The BMWs obviously had pace on us at this track, two or three-tenths a lap. In a straight fight they would have beat us but we held them off. We got into the pits and the boys did a good pit stop. It was two seconds better than anyone else’s and that kept us in front. Then Pierre has managed the gap very well. I was telling him lap times for every lap. He got behind one of the prototypes coming off Turn 9 and one of them hit the wall there. He tried to get around him and they slowed him a bit so he had to get out of their way and dodge them and had to go off line. Once he got around them he had a bunch of pick up on the tires and he couldn’t get it off and Werner in the BMW got around him. Before that we thought he had enough of a gap that we thought he could hold him off and without the traffic from the prototypes it would have been very, very difficult.

    Long Beach Grand Prix April 17-19 2015


    They both did a good job. He brought the car home without a scratch. Second place is pretty good and we can’t complain about that. We’ll go on to Laguna and hope we get a better result there with the new aero package we have for that race.”

    Dave Sims, team manager, No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia:
    “We were leading for about ninety minutes of the race. Fisichella was fantastic from the start and had a perfect stint. He didn’t put a wheel wrong, looked after his tires and didn’t get into a bit of trouble. It really looked like good things were to come. When he pitted, the guys did a fabulous stop. We beat the BMW out and were back into P1 (first position). Towards the end, the Bimmers (BMWs) were starting to catch us but we looked pretty comfortable and thought Pierre could have held them off. A prototype hit the wall in front of him and, avoiding that incident, put him back four seconds, as he had to go on the dirty rubber line and that made the car slide all over the place but there’s nothing he could do about it. But he brought it home in P2 and we’ll take it. This put us up in the Championship a bit, which is a positive.”

    _TH19067-ct-2
    “As with Sebring we won the Dekra Green Challenge again. It all points to the maintenance of the car in the pit stops and fuel consumption and everything that goes with the performance of the team. It’s really special. We’ll take it every time!”

    The television broadcast of the Tequila Patrón Sports Car Showcase at Long Beach will be aired in the U.S. on Sunday, April 19 on FOX Sports 1 from 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. EDT.

    The next race for the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari Team will be the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix sprint race, Round 4 of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in Monterey, Calif. on May 2-3, 2015.

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    NEWS ALERT
    Spa-Francorchamps - 27 April 2015
    Hello Mr Robert Allum,

    JARVIS - “THE 2015 LMP1 CARS ARE GOING TO BE FANTASTIC AROUND SPA"


    Oliver Jarvis may have come away from the last round of the WEC at Silverstone with only fifth place points on the board, but the British racer still had plenty to be encouraged by at his home track.

    Contact between the #8 Audi R18 etron quattro, at the time driven by team mate Lucas Di Grasssi, and the Abu-Dhabi Proton Porsche of Klaus Bachler, saw the Audi endure a lengthy stop for bodywork repairs. By the time Jarvis was strapped into the cockpit, any chance of a podium position was long gone.

    “It was still a very good opportunity for me and the team to learn more about the package,” states Jarvis. “I actually completed the fastest average stint of the whole race and we learnt a great deal about the potential of the car. True, we all came away disappointed not to be able to challenge the #7 car, but at the same time it was great to show we can match their pace.”

    Jarvis, like most of his team mates at Audi Sport Team Joest, has filled the time between Silverstone and Spa with the annual endurance test at Paul Ricard, where the low-downforce spec Audi R18 e-tron quattro was put through its paces.


    “It was a useful few days running and we evaluated lots of aero data and also endurance tested many parts,” says the 31-year old from Cambridgeshire in England. “It is going to be an incredibly tight battle for both the WEC title and Le Mans this year, and as always Audi Sport Team Joest is leaving no stone unturned.”

    Jarvis heads to Spa next weekend with a good record at the venue, having finished 3rd on his only other visit to the track in an LMP1 car back in 2013 when Audi took a clean sweep of the podium.

    “Spa is a track that is often compared to Le Mans in some aspects but, actually, it is completely unique,” he says. “The 2015 LMP1 cars are going to be fantastic around Spa next weekend. I actually believe that sportscar racing in the WEC is now better than it has ever been, probably even going back to golden days of Group C. The level is incredibly high and it is an absolute pleasure to be racing with Audi against some very tough and experienced competitors.”
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    NEWS ALERT
    Spa-Francorchamps - 27 April 2015
    Hello Mr Robert Allum,

    ALL SET FOR SPA: LMGTE PRO PREVIEW

    On the evidence of Silverstone, it would be easy to presume that nothing has changed in LMGTE Pro in 2015; reigning champions and the all-round ‘Superteam’ of Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander swept to another victory in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia three weeks ago.

    It was an impressive win for the Italian/Finnish alliance that is digging deep into their capabilities to defend their hard-won 2014 title. After being delayed by the spinning OAK Ligier-Nissan LMP2 car on the first lap, they fought back superbly.

    Bruni will be going for a third straight victory at Spa this weekend and his 12th in a remarkable WEC career.

    Aston Martin Racing had held what looked to be a commanding 1-2-3 in the early stages last month at Silverstone, but they ultimately lost out during the two Full Course Yellow periods. The three AMR-run Vantage V8s will be hungry for revenge at Spa, but again the Ferraris could have the upper hand during a full race distance.


    Rob Bell joins Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke in the #97 Aston Martin. The British racer, who drove for AMR at Le Mans in 2013, will get re-acquainted with the Vantage V8 in preparation for La Sarthe next month, the third round of the 2015 WEC season.

    Porsche Team Manthey will be keen to consolidate its points haul in the first round of the WEC. The team fields a changed driver line-up this weekend as Jörg Bergmeister and Patrick Pilet are on TUSC duty at Laguna Seca in California.

    In the #91 Porsche 911 RSR that finished in second place at Silverstone will be Sven Müller and Kevin Estre; both drivers make their WEC debut at Spa. In the #92 car are Porsche regulars Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz.

    Last years pole time: Bruni/Vilander 2m32.338s – 4 lap average, damp conditions

    Last years winners: Gimmi Bruni/Toni Vilander AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia

    Fastest Race Lap: Davide Rigon AF Corse Ferrari458 Italia, 2m19.624s

    The track action begins with Free Practice One at 12.00 local time on Thursday 30th April
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    JOTA SPORT RETURNING TO SPA IN SEARCH OF AN AMAZING FOURTH CONSECUTIVE ROSTRUM FINISH

    British team also uses 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps as Le Mans “dress rehearsal”

    The 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps on Saturday (2 May) gives JOTA Sport the rare opportunity of bidding for FIA World Endurance Championship category honours while at the same time preparing for a successful defence of its Le Mans 24 Hour LM P2 title.

    The European Le Mans Series title protagonists make their first of two WEC appearances in 2015 beginning at Spa then at Le Mans in June – with the second ELMS race in between. JOTA’s ELMS regulars Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell are joined by sportscar race and WEC debutant Mitch Evans in the Gibson 015S Nissan for Spa. Evans, the 20-year-old protégé of Porsche “factory” driver Mark Webber, also races for JOTA at Le Mans with the third berth for the French “classic” still vacant due to factory Nissan NISMO loanee Tincknell being recalled for the Japanese manufacturer’s maiden LM P1 race.

    Incredibly, JOTA start the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps bidding for a fourth consecutive LM P2 podium finish in the annual Belgium race. A LM P2 victory in 2012 (Dolan/Sam Hancock), third in 2013 (Dolan/Oliver Turvey/Lucas Luhr) and second last year (Dolan/Tincknell/Marc Gené), each in the Nissan-powered Zytek (now rebranded Gibson), is already a phenomenal achievement by the small but massively dedicated British team.

    Practice begins for the 30-plus car field on Thursday with qualifying around the magnificent 20-corner, 4.352-mile Spa circuit with its legendary elevation changes and ultra-fast curves, on Friday evening. The race is scheduled to start at 1.30pm (UK time) on Saturday afternoon.

    Simon Dolan (GB). Age 45. Born: Chelmsford, Essex. Lives: Monaco (MC):
    “Spa offers us a great ‘dress rehearsal’ opportunity for Le Mans – in terms of Mitch and myself for JOTA – but we’ll also be flat out for a rostrum finish. We’ve a great record in this race having achieved first, third and second placings over the last three years. Spa will give Mitch vital experience in traffic which will be crucial for him. Like most drivers, Spa is one of my favourite tracks. It’s got such a great flow, stunning scenery, elevation changes, and is really, really quick with the exception of all but the last corner.”

    Mitch Evans (NZ). Age: 20. Born: Auckland, New Zealand. Lives: Aylesbury, Bucks, UK:
    “I've raced at Spa a number of times in GP3 and GP2 so I have good knowledge of the circuit and what to expect but obviously I’ll have to adapt to a sportscar around there. That said, I am sure I will be able to get up to speed. I love Spa. When I was a kid I always got up in the middle of the night for F1 back home in New Zealand. It was quite surreal when I drove it for the first time and didn't realise the amount of respect you had to give the circuit as it can bite you back. I want to get comfortable in the car and acquainted to the different style of racing a sportscar requires. Frequently overtaking GT cars but also keeping out of the way of the LM P1 cars! My goal is to leave Spa knowing I am ready to tackle Le Mans.”

    Harry Tincknell (GB). Age: 23. Born: Exeter, Devon. Lives: Sidmouth, Devon (GB):
    “It will be very interesting to see how we fair against the WEC’s LM P2 ‘regulars’ – the competition is definitely stronger than last year but I'm confident we'll be able to fight with the best of them. My aim is to help JOTA achieve a top result while at the same time help Mitch acclimatise to sportscars in any way I can. I believe the lower drag of the revised Gibson will definitely help in the first and the last sectors of the Spa track while we were already strong in the middle sector last year. It should definitely help and we saw gains on the straights at Silverstone which are a lot shorter so the benefit should be increased for Spa.”

    Sam Hignett. Partner, JOTA Group:
    “Spa is a Le Mans dress rehearsal for JOTA Sport but in reality we strive to win every race we enter. The latest Gibson updates will improve our pace, especially our straight-line speed, and it’ll be interesting how we fare against the Ligiers. In the three years we have done this race we have always been on the podium and we’ll be trying very hard to keep that sequence intact.”


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    SPA BECKONS FOR THE WORLD CHAMPIONS
    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing makes the short journey to Belgium for the second round of the World Endurance Championship, the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, this weekend.

    The team is based at TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH in Cologne, Germany, approximately 120km away from Spa, which is considered the first of three home races alongside Fuji and Nürburgring.

    Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, in the #1 TS040 HYBRID, started the season with a podium finish for third place in the Six Hours of Silverstone earlier this month. Anthony and Sébastien won in Spa 12 months ago.

    A fourth place for the #2 car of Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway completed a satisfying points haul for the team at Silverstone, meaning TOYOTA goes to Belgium second in the manufacturers’ standings, eight points behind leaders Audi.

    The Spa event represents the 10th race for the TS040 HYBRID; at least one car has stood on the podium in each of those races while the car has won five of them.

    As in the opening race, the team will again use the high-downforce TS040 HYBRID, although the peculiar demands of Spa mean downforce levels will be set lower than at Silverstone in order to achieve higher speeds on the long Kemmel Straight.

    Unlike previous years when all action was crammed into two hectic days, the Spa weekend follows a three-day format. Practice begins on Thursday (12.00-13.30 and 16.30-18.00) and concludes on Friday (14.00-15.00) prior to qualifying (18.35-19.00). The race begins on Saturday at 14.30.

    This week, the reigning World Champions are competing for the first time with the name of ‘TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’, which reflects a TOYOTA Motor Corporation philosophy to emphasise motorsport as a tool to make ever-better road cars.

    This philosophy is already embraced by the WEC programme, with hybrid technology transfer from the race track benefiting road car development since the beginning of the project in 2012.

    The GAZOO Racing name is used in Japan for various grassroots motorsport activities and has been seen in Europe at the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

    Toshio Sato, Team President: “Spa is an important race for us, not only because it is one of our home events. It is also the last race before Le Mans so it will be very important to get plenty of data and fine-tune our car to help with our Le Mans preparation. We won this race last year and that is our ambition again, although we know our opponents are strong. Everyone has worked extremely hard after Silverstone to be ready and we will be fighting for victory.”

    Anthony Davidson (TS040 HYBRID #1): “I’m looking forward to racing again at Spa as it’s a track I enjoy and one where we won last year. Hopefully we will be more competitive there than we were in Silverstone. The weather is always unpredictable at Spa; you never know what’s coming and that can definitely affect the results. The track itself is really fascinating and driving through Eau Rouge is much more challenging with an LMP1 car than an F1. On a good day it’s just about full throttle so it means you are always on the edge through there.”

    Sébastien Buemi (TS040 HYBRID #1): “Spa is a fantastic track, definitely one of my favourites. Driving through the high-speed corners like Eau Rouge feels amazing in our LMP1 car so I‘m looking forward to going back there, especially after our victory last year. The track should suit our car better than Silverstone so I’m confident we’ll be able to fight for the win. It will not be easy against the other LMP1 manufacturers so we have to be very focused in practice to get the most from our car. We are motivated and looking forward to the challenge.”

    Kazuki Nakajima (TS040 HYBRID #1): “I really enjoy racing at Spa; it’s such a fantastic circuit for a driver. I know the team has worked hard back in Cologne to prepare for this race and we expect to be more competitive than we were at Silverstone. I am sure it will be another close race which is great for the fans. Last year was my first time on the podium at Spa, but still I have never won there. This year would be the perfect time to change that!”

    Alex Wurz (TS040 HYBRID #2): “Spa is a nice track with some really cool corners. The weather can be a question mark; last year was great but we have all experienced how changeable it can be. As well, Spa is also special in terms of tyre choice. It can be particularly challenging so we need to work hard in the practice sessions to make sure we get this right. We’ll be hard at work to make the most of the time available and I hope it will pay off.”

    Stéphane Sarrazin (TS040 HYBRID #2): “I am looking forward to Spa which is one of my favourite tracks; it’s very exciting and challenging for a driver. There is a special atmosphere there as it is an old-style circuit, which is longer than most others. I am really motivated to get a strong result this weekend. It’s the final race before we go to Le Mans so you always want to fight for the win to put everyone in a positive frame of mind. I’m sure we can get a good result.”

    Mike Conway (TS040 HYBRID #2): “I haven’t raced at Spa since 2008 in GP2. I’ve been away far too long! It was one of my favourites so I am definitely looking forward to racing an LMP1 car there; I expect it will be a great experience. We made a reasonable start to the season at Silverstone but I think Spa will suit us better so I expect we will be stronger. It’s another race which we won last season so we want to defend that title and give ourselves the perfect platform to prepare for Le Mans.”

    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at Spa-Francorchamps:
    2013 #7: Qualifying 4th; Race DNF (mechanical). #8: Qualifying: 5th; Race 4th.
    2014 #7: Qualifying 4th; Race 3rd. #8: Qualifying: 2nd; Race 1st.
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    Tequila Patrón ESM Tests Ligier J2 P2 Prototypes

    Riviera Beach, Fla., – April 27, 2015 – In a season of firsts, Tequila Patrón ESM added another to that list today – first laps in the Onroak Automotive Ligier J2 P2 prototype race cars.

    Tequila Patrón ESM brought the brand new racing machines to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours in central France today to conduct its first official shakedown and laps with the Ligiers. Today’s test kicks off a week of on-track action that concludes with Round 2 of the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Beligum on Saturday.

    The No. 30 and No. 31 Tequila Patrón Ligier J2 P2 prototypes are powered by Honda HR28TT V6 engines, the same powertrain the team used for the 2013 and 2014 seasons of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the first two rounds of the 2015 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring) and at the WEC season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 12.

    “It was cold and rainy in Magny-Cours today but that didn’t dampen Tequila Patrón ESM’s shakedown of our new Ligiers one bit!” said Scott Sharp, driver/owner of Tequila Patrón ESM. “The entire team is impressed with the build and finish on the Ligier. All of the drivers remarked how confidence-building, even in the wet, the car was! It’s a very refined and balanced piece. We can’t wait to take it to Spa his weekend!”

    Before heading to Belgium, Tequila Patrón ESM completed the one-day shakedown to ensure all systems are functioning properly. The all-new Tequila Patrón-sponsored, Honda-powered Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier J2 P2 prototypes will make its public debut at Spa.

    Tequila Patrón ESM team principals Sharp and Ed Brown turned laps in the Ligier for the first time during The Prologue preseason test at Paul Ricard in March. Sharp, Brown and fellow Tequila Patrón ESM drivers Ryan Dalziel, Johannes van Overbeek, Jon Fogarty and David Heinemeier Hansson participated in today’s shakedown test at Magny-Cours.

    “The car was really good. All drivers had positive things to say today at Magny-Cours,” said Brown, president and chief executive officer, Patrón Spirits International. “We drove in the rain all day so we really couldn't do a whole lot with speed, but if a car is that good in the wet it will be good in dry conditions. We ended early so the guts can head to Belgium. We’re excited to see what the future holds with the Ligier, Honda and Tequila Patrón ESM.”


    About Tequila Patrón ESM
    Founded in 2010, Tequila Patrón ESM is one of the premier sportscar teams in the world. Tequila Patrón ESM’s record includes two GT wins with the Ferrari Italia F458 (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road Atlanta, 2012), two LMP2 wins (Long Beach, 2013 and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 2014) two GT pole positions, four LMP2 pole positions and a combined 22 podium finishes.

    For 2015, Tequila Patrón ESM competes in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with two Tequila Patrón-sponsored LMP2 prototypes and drivers Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Ryan Dalziel, Jon Fogarty, and David Heinemeier Hansson.



    ** This version contains an additional quote from Onroak Automotive's Philippe Dumas and photo of the No. 31 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2 prototype

    Tequila Patrón ESM Tests Ligier Prototypes

    Riviera Beach, Fla., – April 27, 2015 – In a season of firsts, Tequila Patrón ESM added another to that list today – first laps in the Onroak Automotive Ligier JS P2 prototype race cars.

    Tequila Patrón ESM brought the brand new racing machines to Magny-Cours in central France today to conduct its first official shakedown and laps with the Ligiers. Today’s test kicks off a week of on-track action that concludes with Round 2 of the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC), the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on Saturday.

    The No. 30 and No. 31 Tequila Patrón Ligier JS P2 prototypes are powered by Honda HR28TT V6 engines, the same powertrain the team used for the 2013 season of the American Le Mans Series, the 2014 season of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, the first two rounds of the 2015 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring) and at the WEC season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 12.

    “It was cold and rainy in Magny-Cours today but that didn’t dampen Tequila Patrón ESM’s shakedown of our new Ligiers one bit!” said Scott Sharp, driver/owner of Tequila Patrón ESM. “The entire team is impressed with the build and finish on the Ligier. All of the drivers remarked how confidence-building, even in the wet, the car was. It is a very refined and balanced piece. We can’t wait to take it to Spa his weekend!”

    Before heading to Belgium, Tequila Patrón ESM completed the one-day shakedown to ensure all systems are functioning properly. The all-new Tequila Patrón-sponsored, Honda-powered Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier JS P2 prototypes will make its public debut at Spa.

    Tequila Patrón ESM team principals Sharp and Ed Brown turned laps in the Ligier for the first time during The Prologue preseason test at Paul Ricard in March. Sharp, Brown and fellow Tequila Patrón ESM drivers Ryan Dalziel, Johannes van Overbeek, Jon Fogarty and David Heinemeier Hansson participated in today’s shakedown test at Magny-Cours.

    “The car was really good. All drivers had positive things to say today at Magny-Cours,” said Brown, president and chief executive officer, Patrón Spirits International. “We drove in the rain all day so we really couldn't do a whole lot with speed, but if a car is that good in the wet it will be good in dry conditions. We ended early so the guys can head to Belgium. We’re excited to see what the future holds with the Ligier, Honda and Tequila Patrón ESM.”

    Onroak Automotive’s Philippe Dumas was pleased with today’s test session.

    “The Tequila Patrón ESM Onroak Automotive adventure started only six weeks ago and we are already on track together!” said Dumas. “I can’t wait to see those two beautiful Ligier JS P2 Hondas this weekend at Spa, for the second round of the FIA WEC. I am sure it will be successful! Thank you to Scott Sharp, Ed Brown and all the guys involved in the Tequila Patrón ESM team for their trust in us. Everything went well today for the shakedown. The Onroak Automotive crews did a great job last past weeks!”


    About Tequila Patrón ESM
    Founded in 2010, Tequila Patrón ESM is one of the premier sportscar teams in the world. Tequila Patrón ESM’s record includes two GT wins with the Ferrari Italia F458 (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road Atlanta, 2012), two LMP2 wins (Long Beach, 2013 and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 2014) two GT pole positions, four LMP2 pole positions and a combined 22 podium finishes.

    For 2015, Tequila Patrón ESM competes in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with two Tequila Patrón-sponsored LMP2 prototypes and drivers Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Ryan Dalziel, Jon Fogarty, and David Heinemeier Hansson.

    ####
    Last edited by Rob; 28th April 2015 at 13:23.
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    Tequila Patrón ESM Set to Battle in Belgium with Ligier


    Riviera Beach, Fla., – April 29, 2015 – Less than six weeks ago, Tequila Patrón ESM announced it would transition to the Onroak Automotive Ligier JS P2 prototype machines. This weekend the Florida-based team will compete in its first race with the Tequila Patrón-sponsored Ligier JS P2 prototypes at the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

    Outfitted with the latest in sportscar technology, Tequila Patrón ESM will be in the thick of the LMP2 battle with two identically equipped Ligier JS P2 prototypes, powered by Honda HR28TT V6 engines. A bright spot on the grid, the Tequila Patrón ESM Ligiers are livered with contrasting black and striking Patrón green featuring the signature Tequila Patrón bottles and trademark Patrón bee. To distinguish the two machines from each other, the No. 30 will feature black mirrors and the No. 31 will have Patrón green mirrors.

    Following a brief shakedown on Monday at Magny-Cours, Tequila Patrón ESM heads to eastern Belgium for the second round of the eight-race WEC season. Situated in the picturesque region of the Ardennes, the 20-turn, 4.352-mile (7.004-kilometer) circuit is another new venue for the only American team fielding season-long two LMP2 entries in WEC.

    Before the season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone, Tequila Patrón ESM drivers Scott Sharp, Ed Brown and 2012 WEC LMP2 champion Ryan Dalziel made a short trip to Spa to run a few laps to familiarize themselves with the circuit. The trio logged laps in Radical Sportscars to get a sense of the fast, hilly and winding corridors of the historical track.

    Competition continues to be fierce in the LMP2 category. Often classified as the precursor to the 24 Hour of Le Mans, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps sees higher car counts. For this round of competition, there are 10 LMP2 cars listed on the entry list, two more than Silverstone, for a total of 34 cars on the grid.

    Two of Spa’s infamous and high-speed sections include the Eau Rouge (Turns 3, 4, 5) and Blanchimont (Turn 17). Eau Rouge is a fast left-right-left, high-downforce chicane that crests into a blind uphill section of the track. Mastering this section sets the driver up for the long Kemmel Straight, an ideal passing zone. Blanchimont is a high-speed left-handed kink ahead of the final chicane before pit straight. Mastering these two challenging sections of the circuit will be key in setting a solid qualifying lap and optimal locations for passing during the race.

    Sharp, Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson, co-drivers of the No. 30 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier, enter Spa-Francorchamps determined to continue the WEC podium finishes set in 2014, a third-place finish at the 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas and then a runner-up finish during the 6 Hours of Shanghai. The trio proved to be quick at Silverstone and ran a consistent pace.

    Johannes van Overbeek returns to co-drive the No. 31 Tequila Patrón ESM Ligier with Ed Brown and Jon Fogarty. Van Overbeek was sidelined for the 6 Hours of Silverstone due to a non-racing related rib injury, but returns to the No. 31 team and the all-new Ligier with determination. On the first weekend in May 2014, Brown and van Overbeek earned their first overall pole position and win during the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The duo will channel that energy into every lap this week at Spa.

    Tequila Patrón ESM on Track
    Thursday’s two free practice sessions start at noon and 4:30 p.m. CET – Central European Time/6 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. ET.

    Friday’s on-track activity includes the hour-long practice session starting at 2 p.m. CET/8 a.m. ET. LMP2 qualifying begins at 6:35 p.m. CET/12:35 p.m. ET on Friday.

    Green flag for the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps takes place at 2:30 p.m. CET/8:30 a.m. ET on Saturday.

    Where to Watch
    The 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will be televised globally and on the FOX Sports Network of channels.

    For U.S. viewers, the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will air on Saturday, May 2:
    8:30 – 11 a.m. ET — FOX Sports 1
    11 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET — FOX Sports 2
    1 – 2:30 p.m. ET — FOX Sports 1

    The race can be viewed via the FIA WEC second screen app or online at www.fiawec.com.

    To listen to the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, tune into Radio Le Mans at www.radiolemans.com.


    About Tequila Patrón ESM
    Founded in 2010, Tequila Patrón ESM is one of the premier sportscar teams in the world. Tequila Patrón ESM’s record includes two GT wins with the Ferrari Italia F458 (Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road Atlanta, 2012), two LMP2 wins (Long Beach, 2013 and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, 2014) two GT pole positions, four LMP2 pole positions and a combined 22 podium finishes.

    For 2015, Tequila Patrón ESM competes in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with two Tequila Patrón-sponsored LMP2 prototypes and drivers Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Ryan Dalziel, Jon Fogarty, and David Heinemeier Hansson.
    ####

    SCOTT SHARP

    “I've been watching Spa on television ever since I was a kid racing karts. I’ve always been in awe of the speed, elevation and beauty of the track. Now I’m incredibly excited to take our new Tequila Patrón ESM Ligiers to the fight this weekend.”

    ED BROWN

    “I’m super excited to get into our new car and especially to race it at the world famous Spa! As a team it is important for us to learn the car as quickly as we can. Our goal this weekend is to earn as many points as possible and prepare for Le Mans. I’m so glad to have my teammate Johannes back in the car with us this weekend. Maybe we can recreate the magic that we had a year ago when we won at Laguna!”

    RYAN DALZIEL

    “Spa is one of those tracks as a driver you dream of racing on. Then when you get the opportunity to race the first time, you literally count down the days until you can race there again. I was fortunate enough to race at Spa in my 2012 FIA WEC championship season in the Starworks P2 Honda ARX-03b, so I’m somewhat familiar with driving there, although that was my one and only time competing at the track.

    “This weekend will be our first race with the all-new Ligier powered Hondas and I can’t wait to see what this car drives like. I’ve heard so many great things from the drivers who have driven it. I think the hard work from the Tequila Patrón ESM crew, and help from Onroak, we are ready to get back on the WEC podium, but hopefully this week on the top step. I cannot thank our Patrón ESM guys enough for getting this car ready in such a short time frame.”

    JOHANNES VAN OVERBEEK

    “It’ll be great to get back behind the wheel. Spa will be very challenging as we have a new car and the track is new for Jon and me. We’ll have to lean on Ed, Ryan, David and Scott for track knowledge.

    “I’m really looking forward to driving the Ligier. I’ve raced against it a few times and it seems to be quick and reliable. In a few days’ time we'll get to experience the Ligier, what it's like as a package and against the competition. Hats off to the Onroak and Tequila Patrón ESM guys for getting these cars built and prepped in such a short period of time. I’m really looking forward to racing the newly-minted Patrón Liger at Spa with Ed and Jon this weekend.”

    JON FOGARTY

    “We have witnessed the performance of the Ligier in many different series (TUDOR, WEC and ELMS), engine configurations (Honda, Nissan) and tires (Continental, Dunlop) and it has always been exceptional. I can’t wait to give it a try.

    “We will have cooler conditions at Spa so the coupe will be comfortable. The turbulence of the open cockpit will be gone, which is nice when you are in an endurance race. I think that we will adjust to the visibility quickly.

    “For Tequila Patrón ESM we need as much running with our new cars as possible, so this is a very important weekend to iron out the details before heading to Le Mans. We need to be very aware of every element of the race weekend. We have to focus on many other things other than just pure pace.”

    DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSSON

    “Eau Rouge is one of the greatest thrills on the calendar. No matter how many times you take that turn, it still – quite literally – takes your breath away. So Spa is a pleasure to visit just for that corner alone, and then the rest is just a bonus. I’ve had good runs at the circuit the last two years; finishing second in GTE-AM last year and second in LMP2 in 2013. So hopefully we can do it one better this time in our brand-spanking new Ligiers and regain some of the points terrain lost at Silverstone. If in doubt, go flat!"

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    WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps

    General rehearsal time!

    The Le Mans 24 Hours (13-14 June) will be at the forefront of the minds of the 34 entrants for the Spa-Francorchamps round of the WEC, the second race in the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship, which will take place on Saturday 2nd May on the famous Belgian circuit.

    Their aim on the undulating layout in the Belgian Ardennes will be to score the best possible result while preparing cars, drivers and engineers for the blue-riband rendezvous in the Sarthe.

    Some teams will arrive with the driver line-ups foreseen for Le Mans. In the LM P1 category (nine entries) Audi and Porsche have entered a third car for Felipe Albuquerque - Marco Bonanomi - René Rast and Earl Bamber - Nico Hulkenberg - Nick Tandy respectively. The performance of Hulkenberg, the young German F1 driver with the Force India team, who will be at the wheel of the Porsche 919 Hybrid in which he will be making his debut in endurance, will be watched with particular interest.

    As Rebellion Racing will not be making its competition debut until Le Mans, the only privateer LM P1 is the CLM P1/O1 AER entered by the Team Bykolles squad.

    The field in the LM P2 category in the WEC will be boosted with the arrival of British team Jota Sport, victorious in the category in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours, and a regular in the European Le Mans Series. Note the presence at the wheel of the no. 47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan of Nicolas Lapierre, winner of the Spa 6 Hours in 2014 at the wheel of a Toyota: he replaces Nick Tandy called up by Porsche.

    Swiss team SARD Morand will make its debut in this year’s world championship in Belgium with a Morgan Evo SARD, while the American outfit, Extreme Motorsports, will give their Ligier chassis powered by the Honda HPD engine their first outing.

    In LM GTE Pro (7 entries) Ferrari, victorious at Silverstone, is hoping to make it two on the trot on a circuit that suits the AF Corse-run works 458s down to the ground. Porsche has tweaked its driver line-ups in the 911 RSRs because of a clash on the sporting calendar. Frédéric Makowiecki and Richard Lietz will team up in no. 92, while no. 91 will be driven by German Sven Muller and Frenchman, Kevin Estre, both of whom have been given a great opportunity to impress.

    Aston Martin Racing has again entered three Vantage V8s. Note the arrival of Rob Bell in no. 97 to help him prepare for Le Mans with Stefan Mücke and Darren Turner.

    And in LM GTE Am there are eight cars as the no. 55 Ferrari of AF Corse (Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin, Alexander Mortimer) has joined the seven cars entered for the year. A few days after his spectacular and highly-pubilicised exit from the series Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey in the no. 97 Porsche will be the object of close media attention in Belgium.

    A reminder: Audi triumphed in LM P1 in the first race of the season (Silverstone 12th April) thanks to the 3-time Le Mans winning trio of Benoît Tréluyer-Marcel Fässler-André Lotterer. In LM P2 victory went to the Ligier JS P2 driven by Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal and Sam Bird (G-Drive Racing). In LM GTE Pro the Ferrari 458 Italia of Gianmaria Bruni-Toni Vilander (AF Corse) came home first, and in LM GTE Am the Paul Dalla-Lana-Pedro Lamy-Mathias Lauda Aston Martin Vantage V8 entered by Aston Martin Racing came out on top.

    While the Spa-Francorchamps 6 Hours is the big rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the latter event poses its own particular challenges and often throws up a result that’s very different to the one in the Belgian Ardennes.

    In 2014, for example, Toyota won in Belgium only to be beaten by Audi at Le Mans. G-Drive Racing dominated the LM P2 category but retired in the Sarthe where victory went to Jota Sport. At Spa AF Corse and Ferrari clinched the only win in LM GTE that escaped Aston Martin. Only Bruni and Vilander (AF Corse Ferrari) came out on top in LM GTE Pro in both Belgium and France. Thus Le Mans retains its specific character. In what looks like a thriller on Saturday the capricious weather in the Ardennes could play a major role in deciding the outcome.

    The start of the race will be given at 14h30 on 2nd May with qualifying taking part the previous day (1st May) between 18h00 and 19h00.

    On 13-14 June the 34 cars in the Spa-Francorchamps 6 Hours will arrive at Le Mans and join up with the other 22 entries to form the grid for the 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours.
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  24. #354
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  25. #355
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    NEWS ALERT
    Spa-Francorchamps - 29 April 2015
    Hello Mr Robert Allum,

    VARIETY IS THE SPICE - LMP2 PREVIEW



    If the level of competition in LMP1 has increased in potency then the same can very much be said in the LMP2 class at Spa this weekend.

    On top of the hugely competitive fight for supremacy in LMP2, the class will see an additional two high quality entries and a new team/chassis partnership.

    The Tequila Patron ESM team arrives in the Ardennes fresh from shaking down its pair of brand new Ligier JS P2 cars. Completed in an incredible six weeks, the two LMP2 coupes will take to the track on Thursday with just a few miles on the clock after a shakedown test at Magny Cours. But the slickly-run US team is more than capable of pulling off an impressive debut result on its first visit to Spa this weekend.

    Emerging as the early season pace setter at Silverstone was the G-Drive Racing squad and its pair of Ligier-Nissan LMP2 cars. Sam Bird, Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal headed home stablemates Pipo Derani, Gustavo Yacaman and Ricardo Gonzalez for a convincing 1-2 finish and the best possible start to 2015. The Russian entered team will again be strong at Spa and will draw upon a fine win here last season in a bid to extend an early season points advantage.



    In hot pursuit of the G-Drive cars at Silverstone, until it lost time in the pits, was the KCMG Oreca 05-Nissan. Matt Howson and Richard Bradley are joined in Belgium this weekend by former Toyota LMP1 racer Nicolas Lapierre, who makes his first race start since COTA last autumn.

    Making its usual cameo appearance at Spa is the popular JOTA Sport team with an updated Gibson 015S-Nissan. JOTA has an excellent record at Spa with a victory in 2012 followed by a third in ’13 and second last year.

    Full season ELMS drivers Simon Dolan and Harry Tincknell are joined by current GP2 frontrunner Mitch Evans. The Kiwi racer will make his endurance racing debut this weekend to ensure that he will share the same track as his mentor, Mark Webber.

    Making a welcome WEC debut will be the Team SARD Morand team from Switzerland. 2014 ELMS champion Oliver Webb is joined by another ELMS champion, Pierre Ragues. GP2 racer Zoel Amberg makes his WEC debut after getting valuable miles in the Morgan Evo-SARD at the Prologue test last month.

    With Silverstone podium visitors Strakka Racing gaining speed lap by lap with its Dome S103, Signatech-Alpine keen to fight back after a tough Silverstone race and OAK Racing making it five Ligiers in the field, the LMP2 class has never been as competitive and as diverse.
    CAVALLINO RAMPANTE PER SEMPRE

  26. #356
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    FIA WEC: four AF Corse Ferrari 458’s Italia in the “6 Hours of Spa”

    SPA, April 30th – Following three podia at Silverstone, opening race in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) 2015, the AF Corse Ferrari 458’s are ready for Spa and its six-hour race.

    GTE Pro category – The reigning champions among the GTE Pro drivers, Gianmaria Bruni and Toni Vilander, take on this new challenge from the first position in their classification (25 points) thanks to the victory in the “6 Hours of Silverstone”. Bruni e Vilander will race in the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia #51.

    The third spot in GTE Pro Drivers standing (15 points) - gained with the same position in the first race of the WEC – strengthens the ambitions for the championship of Davide Rigon and James Calado in the Ferrari 458 Italia #71; in 2014, the duo gained five podia out o f eight races of the WEC.

    GTE Am category – Francois Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Rui Aguas started their story in the FIA WEC with the second step of the podium at Silverstone. At Spa, in the 458 Italia #83, the trio want another great perfomance aiming for the top positions in the GTE Am (actually, they are second in the championship with 18 points).

    In the AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia #55, Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Alexander Mortimer will debut in the FIA WEC.

    On the eve of the second round, Ferrari has the head of the GT Manufactures Championship with 40
    points; AF Corse is first among the GTE Pro Team (25 points) and second in the GTE Am Teamclassification (18).

    The race will start at 2.30 pm, Saturday May 2nd.

    AF Corse Press Office - Riccardo Delfanti
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  27. #357
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    Can't wait to go there! Will be my first endurance race ever! Only 2 days to go! Forza AF Corse
    Maurizio Arrivabene fanpage:www.facebook.com/maurizioarrivabene

  28. #358
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    Quote Originally Posted by fratelliferrari View Post
    Can't wait to go there! Will be my first endurance race ever! Only 2 days to go! Forza AF Corse
    Jealous you going to Spa t watch this race. Enjoy it, the noise is, amazing. The 458 engine noise, awwwwwwwww heaven. Just keep ear out (excuse pun) of the Labre Vette, feel you organs shack when that thing roars past.
    CAVALLINO RAMPANTE PER SEMPRE

  29. #359
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    TOUGH START FOR TOYOTA GAZOO RACING
    Thursday 30 April 2015

    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing endured a difficult start to the Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps weekend due to a heavy accident for the #1 car in terrible conditions.

    Opening practice for the second round of the World Endurance Championship took place in continuous rain which contributed to an accident for Kazuki Nakajima, who hit the back of a slow-moving Audi #8 on the fast Kemmel Straight.

    The impact damaged the monocoque but more significantly caused injury to Kazuki. After complaining of back pain immediately after the incident, he was assessed at the circuit medical centre then transferred to hospital in Verviers for precautionary checks. Unfortunately those checks have revealed a fractured vertebra.

    Kazuki will remain in hospital for treatment, supported by team personnel, and will not participate this weekend. Further medical analysis in the coming days will determine if there are consequences beyond this weekend’s event.

    The #1 car will therefore be driven by World Champions Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi this weekend, but the pair was unable to participate in second practice, due to the time required to change the monocoque.

    That left Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway in the #2 as the only TS040 HYBRID on track. They continued a programme of set-up evaluation, with conditions continuing to be a challenge.

    Practice concludes on Friday (14.00-15.00) prior to qualifying (18.35-19.00) while the race begins on Saturday at 14.30.

    Toshio Sato, Team President: “We are all upset to hear about Kazuki’s injury. It is a very disappointing situation for all of us, but most of all Kazuki. The team will support him in these next days as he recovers in hospital before returning to Japan at the first opportunity. It is too early to speak about the future; we will fully analyse the situation and the possibilities before making a decision. Right now our priority is to make sure Kazuki is okay. Looking at the video of the accident it is clear he had no chance; the visibility was very poor due to the spray and there was nothing Kazuki could do.”

    TS040 HYBRID #1 (Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima)
    Free practice 1: 2nd (2min 17.117secs), 20 laps
    Free practice 2: Did not participate

    Anthony Davidson: “It was obviously a very difficult day for our side of the garage. Kazuki suffered a high-seed incident so at the moment our main concern is his well being. We are all with him and supporting him through this tough time. The car, for what it’s worth, felt good in the wet conditions today and we were able to set some pretty competitive lap times. But I hope we can have some dry weather for the race to see where we are before we head to Le Mans.”

    Sébastien Buemi: “It is very unfortunate what happened and it’s obviously not a good start at all to the weekend. We all hope Kazuki will be back with us very soon. We will go and see him in the hospital later to keep him company. It’s a pity that we had to change the monocoque and missed the second session. This meant I didn’t do any laps at all today. If the race is dry it’s not a huge loss but still we have to refocus as much as possible and try to get the best result we can.”

    Kazuki Nakajima: “First of all I want to say thanks to the race director Eduardo Freitas and his safety crew at the circuit as well as the doctors at the hospital here in Verviers who have taken great care of me. Everyone has been extremely professional and I know I am in safe hands. Unfortunately the x-ray shows a fracture in one of my vertebra. It’s unbelievably disappointing but there’s nothing I can do now; I will just focus on coming back as soon as possible. There’s not much I can say about the accident. I was on the straight and suddenly through the spray there was a car right in front of me; I had no time to react.”

    TS040 HYBRID #2 (Alex Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin, Mike Conway)
    Free practice 1: 7th (2min 22.232secs), 18 laps
    Free practice 2: 6th (2min 28.732secs), 10 laps

    Alex Wurz: “It was not an easy day in the office today and of course we are all thinking about Kazuki. As we expect the race to be in better conditions, we didn’t drive so much in the second session. After the incident with car #1 we didn’t want to take any risks. Let’s wait to see what the weather will bring for the rest of the weekend. It will be challenging because no one has had any dry running so we will try to squeeze all preparations into a short third practice tomorrow.”

    Stéphane Sarrazin: “Today it was a difficult day for us with Kazuki’s incident. It is really sad for the team and especially for him. We set up the car in wet conditions during the two sessions today. We are quite happy with the balance but it looks like being dry for the race so we will see. It will be another game I would say but we are ready for whatever comes.”

    Mike Conway: “We had tricky conditions all day with the rain, which was very heavy at times. That reduces the visibility and increases the chance of aquaplaning so it was quite treacherous out there. It was a case of trying to learn as much as we could to improve the balance of the car, which changed depending on how much water was on track. We all hope Kazuki gets better soon; it’s a real pity for that to have happened.”

    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing at Spa-Francorchamps:
    2013 #7: Qualifying 4th; Race DNF (mechanical). #8: Qualifying: 5th; Race 4th.
    2014 #7: Qualifying 4th; Race 3rd. #8: Qualifying: 2nd; Race 1st.
    CAVALLINO RAMPANTE PER SEMPRE

  30. #360
    Join Date
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    CAVALLINO RAMPANTE PER SEMPRE

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