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Thread: 2017 WEC, IMSA&ELMS thread.

  1. #91
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    Francesco






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    TOYOTA GAZOO RACING INSPIRED TO WIN IN 2017
    Friday 31 March 2017

    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing revealed today the updated TS050 HYBRID race car which will carry its hopes in the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).

    Monza in northern Italy hosted the first public appearance of the new car, presented alongside team management and the drivers of the three TS050 HYBRIDs which will compete this season.

    Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López race the #7 for the full season, alongside Sébastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima in the #8. Stéphane Sarrazin is joined by Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre in the #9 at Spa-Francorchamps and Le Mans.

    The team has a clear target to earn its first Le Mans victory following an extraordinary near miss in 2016. That requires a combined effort at its technical centres in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne, with upgrades in every area of the TS050 HYBRID.

    The 2017 car features a 2.4litre V6 turbo-charged petrol engine combined with 8MJ hybrid system. Significant effort at Higashi-Fuji sees the introduction of a new engine, optimising thermal efficiency by increasing the compression ratio via development of the combustion chamber, cylinder block and cylinder head.

    The hybrid system too has been optimised. Motor generator units (MGU) have been reduced in size and weight while the high-powered lithium-ion battery has been developed further. Those advancements in hybrid technology will directly benefit TOYOTA customers on the road, combining with the knowledge gained by powertrain engineers to create ever-better cars in the future.

    To complete a wide-ranging update for the new season, engineers in Cologne have optimised virtually all areas of the TS050 HYBRID chassis, working as one team with colleagues from Higashi-Fuji.

    WEC regulations for 2017 target a reduction in aerodynamic efficiency, to increase the Le Mans lap time by several seconds for safety reasons. This is achieved by raising the front splitter by 15mm in combination with a narrower rear diffuser.

    Using tools such as computational fluid dynamics and wind tunnels, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has modified its aerodynamic concept to meet this challenge; a raised nose and sharp undercut to the sidepods are the most noticeable modifications.

    According to new regulations, teams are limited to two aerodynamic configurations per season, reduced from three in 2016, with the low-downforce TS050 HYBRID launched today. Tyre usage is also restricted, with each car limited to four sets, plus two spare tyres, for qualifying and six-hour races. The team has worked with Michelin to meet this challenge, including new compounds and constructions, as well as optimising the suspension geometry to limit wear.

    Other rule changes are designed to enhance safety. Side mirrors now need to pass a wider visibility field test while hybrid cars must display lights to indicate normal powertrain behaviour. If the green safety light is not illuminated during a race, a car will be forced to pit for repairs.

    The 2017-specification TS050 HYBRID has already recorded over 30,000km in testing this year, comprising five tests, at Paul Ricard, Motorland Aragon and Portimao, and including four 30-hour endurance tests.

    With an updated car and a driver line-up including former World Champions and multiple WEC race winners, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing heads to the season opener on 16 April at Silverstone with great determination, but expecting a close and exciting nine-race LMP1 battle with Porsche.

    Toshio Sato, Team President: “The whole team is motivated and determined for this season. We want to win, there is no doubt about that, but we know it will be a tough fight with Porsche. The team in Higashi-Fuji and Cologne has worked incredibly hard to update the TS050 HYBRID and the first indications are encouraging. Having a third car is an additional opportunity and we will do our best to again deliver a great spectacle for the fans at Le Mans. We know from painful experience that Le Mans is a very difficult race to win, but that is our target. Everything - the car, the team and the drivers - has to work perfectly to achieve our goal. We will see in June if we have done enough.”

    Histake Murata, Racing Hybrid Project Leader: “Although the TS050 HYBRID shares the same name as the 2016 car, its performance has been greatly improved by reviewing the powertrain and enhancing efficiency in all areas. TOYOTA GAZOO Racing’s biggest goal for this year, as always, is winning Le Mans. The team in Higashi-Fuji has worked ceaselessly since Le Mans last year to develop a powertrain which will deliver performance over one lap and over a full race distance, enabling us to compete at the front. This has resulted in a new engine, plus modifications to the motor generator units and battery. The first results are very encouraging but we will continue to fine-tune so we are ready.”

    Pascal Vasselon, Technical Director: “Our 2017 TS050 HYBRID represents a significant update; the only item which is not changed is the monocoque. At several races last year we showed the potential of our car with strong performances. But to achieve our targets we need more, so as well as big aerodynamic changes, we have optimised each area for performance and weight. What happened at Le Mans last year was painful so we gave extra attention to quality management. Zero risk doesn’t exist so we operate according to a given level of risk, which this year we have reduced. Pre-season testing has gone well in terms of performance and reliability so we feel positive but we also know we face a tough competitor.”

    Rob Leupen, Team Director: “This is a big season for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in WEC and we are ready for the challenge. The team at Higashi-Fuji and Cologne have worked in tandem to update all aspects of the TS050 HYBRID whilst also preparing for the challenge of running three cars at Spa and Le Mans. Our targets are once again very clear; we want to compete at the front and ultimately win Le Mans and the World Championship. These are ambitious targets when faced with a formidable competitor and we know we must be on top form, with no mistakes or weaknesses. We don’t race to finish second; we race to win. We embrace this challenge and working as one team will give us the best possible chance.”

    Mike Conway (#7 TS050 HYBRID): “I like the new car a lot; right now it feels very good. Now we need to see what our competitor is going to do. I feel good about the season and our car crew. I learned a lot in 2015-2016 and it has been a good journey for me so far. This season we will fight for every podium and will do our best in the #7 car. I’m sure it will be an interesting year and I’m happy as well to welcome José in our car, it’s good to have him on board and hopefully we will have a good year, especially with focus on Le Mans.”

    Kamui Kobayashi (#7 TS050 HYBRID): “After last year, when we had a few disappointing races, the target is clearly to win Le Mans; that’s the first priority. And if we win Le Mans I think we have a big opportunity to win the championship as well. Both are my targets. It’s nice to be finally back in the car after the winter break. The 2017 TS050 HYBRID looks pretty good and it feels neutral in balance, which is great. I’m pretty happy, that we didn’t lose a lot due to the regulation changes. It feels that we already have a good package.”

    José María López (#7 TS050 HYBRID): “My biggest target this season is to learn as quickly as I can and to do the best with the team together. Driving in endurance is a first for me, especially with the traffic; I’ve never experienced that before. All of it will be an interesting challenge and I’m very much looking forward to it. It’s a bit difficult to say before the beginning of the season but I want to give everything and win races. This year’s car feels very good and it’s a lot of fun to drive an LMP1 car, it’s very powerful especially with the hybrid system.”

    Sébastien Buemi (#8 TS050 HYBRID): “The new car feels great, obviously it’s an evolution; last year it was a revolution. The change of regulations has triggered this, as we will lose a lot of downforce, so the team worked hard to compensate this. It feels good and we are on the level we’ve expected to be at this early stage of the season. This year the only target can be to win Le Mans finally. So the hopes and expectations are very high, hopefully we will have worked hard enough during the winter to have a decent package to fight for the win at each race.”

    Anthony Davidson (#8 TS050 HYBRID): “It’s always exciting getting in a new car for the first few times. We’ve had a change of regulations regarding the performance of the car, which was quite a big change – aerodynamically mainly. And you can tell that the engineers did a great job so far making the car feel similar to drive compared to last year, which is a good sign I think. I’m very excited to drive the car in a race, especially in Le Mans to see how it performs there. It is a one-on-one fight in LMP1 this season; we will do the best job we can with the target to win.”

    Kazuki Nakajima (#8 TS050 HYBRID): “My first impressions of the 2017 car are very good. It actually feels like a new car as the characteristics have improved. I think we will be able to fight for the championship, although we don’t know where our competitor is at the moment. I think we had the right approach as drivers and as a team in 2016; we just need to continue and always fight to get the best possible result. It was a difficult year results-wise but that only increases my motivation to challenge at the front this season.”

    Stéphane Sarrazin (#9 TS050 HYBRID): “I hope that we will again have the pace we showed last year at Le Mans, where we were the fastest car. My aim is to have a strong race and fight for the win again. We have kept the very good team spirit and this is very important; we are one team, not three car crews, so we all work well together. I am looking forward to racing again with Nicolas and getting to know Yuji. I will try to share my experience as much as possible with everyone in the team, to give us the best chance of achieving our targets.”

    Yuji Kunimoto (#9 TS050 HYBRID): “The TS050 HYBRID is a fun car to drive. I don’t have a comparison with last year’s car but I am really impressed by the acceleration and downforce; I cannot wait to race this car for the first time. I am constantly learning about LMP1 and it is also a new experience for me to be racing in Europe. It is a really exciting time and I know I have a lot of preparation to do in the next weeks. But I am happy to drive alongside Stéphane and Nicolas as I think I can benefit a lot from their experience of Le Mans.”

    Nicolas Lapierre (#9 TS050 HYBRID): “It’s great to be back and I am really looking forward to being part of the TOYOTA team again. I’ve already had a warm welcome from everyone; it’s nice to work again with some familiar faces and also get to know new team members. On car #9 we have a different schedule to the other cars so we are working hard to prepare ourselves first for Spa then our main focus, Le Mans. I have enjoyed winning the LMP2 class at Le Mans for the past two years so I want to be on the podium again, this time in the TS050 HYBRID.”
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    Porsche 919 2017




    Last edited by Rob; 31st March 2017 at 23:33.
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    JRFX1078.jpg

    Side by side, the Toyota and Porsche look very similar, this could get confusing very quickly...

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    Can't wait to see the 2017 Audi

    Oh yeah... right
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    PRODUCTIVE PROLOGUE FOR TOYOTA GAZOO RACING
    Sunday 2 April 2017

    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing completed a productive and positive official start to the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season during the two-day Prologue test at Monza, Italy.

    The team brought two updated TS050 HYBRIDs to Monza for the public launch of the car on Friday followed by two days of testing in the presence of all other WEC competitors.

    It therefore represented the first opportunity to compare performance with LMP1 rivals Porsche, although outright fastest lap times were not the top priority on a weekend of testing various set-ups and settings.

    Over five sessions over two days, including a night test on Saturday, the TS050 HYBRIDs recorded a combined 642 laps, 3719km, and set the overall fastest lap of the event, on Sunday afternoon with Nicolas Lapierre at the wheel.

    This weekend also marked the first public appearance of Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto as a TOYOTA driver in WEC, while Nicolas made his return to the team he last drove for in 2014. Both showed that they are integrating quickly, with Yuji also making continuous progress behind the wheel on his first-ever visit to Monza.

    Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, in the #7, were on hand to fine-tune settings of the low-downforce TS050 HYBRID which will make its race debut in the second round of the season, at Spa-Francorchamps.

    Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima represented the #8 crew, with #9 drivers Nicolas and Yuji gaining valuable running time before their race debuts at Spa. Sébastien Buemi, José María López and Stéphane Sarrazin appeared at the car launch on Friday but departed early to compete in the Mexican round of Formula E.

    With five tests and over 30,000km already achieved with the new car this year, the Monza test was the final chance to gain additional data prior to the opening race of the season at Silverstone in two weeks.

    While the team has not previously visited Monza as part of its hybrid WEC project, the circuit holds happy memories for TOYOTA as the scene of its first-ever World Championship race win, when Geoff Lees and Hitoshi Ogawa drove the TS010 to victory in the 1992 Monza 1,000kms, part of the World Sportscar Championship.

    There are only a few days until departure for Silverstone, so the team will return to its base in Cologne to study the data from this weekend’s test and put the finishing touches to its preparations for the 2017 season.

    Toshio Sato, Team President: “It has been nice to visit a new circuit and this gave us an opportunity to test our low-downforce car at a very high-speed track. This is good preparation for Le Mans so it was important that the cars ran reliably, to help us get as much data as possible. Thanks to the fans who came to watch the Prologue; they provided a nice atmosphere and really helped create excitement for the start of the season. Now we are looking forward to fighting with Porsche from the first round of the season. We have seen encouraging signs here in Monza with our low-downforce car, now we will be working flat-out to prepare our high-downforce package for Silverstone.”
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    RISI COMPETIZIONE POST QUALIFYING REPORT FOR LONG BEACH

    Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM No. 62:
    Giancarlo Fisichella (ITA), Toni Vilander (FIN)



    (Long Beach, California, April 7, 2017)... TheNo. 62Risi Competizione Ferrari team used Friday's early morning two-hour practice session to set up the popular Prancing Horse and allow the drivers, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander, to get acclimated for tomorrow's BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix on the streets of Long Beach, California. The 100-minute race is Round Three of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, scheduled to run from 1:05-2:45 p.m. PDT Saturday.

    Toni Vilander was the qualifying driver for the brief 15-minute sessionGTLM and was quick out of the box in the Ferrari 488 GTLM. The Finish driver qualified on the second row, in the third position on the grid, with a time of 1:17.043.

    Vilander experienced a slide into the tire wall on the sixth lap at the end of the seaside turn, where it had been difficult under braking for a number of cars today. Fortunately, he had only slight damage, although the Risi team will do a thorough check this afternoon in preparation of tomorrow's 100-minute race.

    Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:
    "Qualifying went pretty well except for the late tire wall contact at the end. But when you push on a narrow street circuit you take that risk. The damage didn't look significant but the crew will dig into it tonight and see what we have and I'm sure we'll be ready to race tomorrow. It was a very tight qualifying with only .5 seconds top to bottom. It's hard to have a closer field then that. We made a few small changes between the last practice and qualifying and generally I think they were positive. I think we'll have a good race car tomorrow and I think P3 is a good place to start."

    Toni Vilander, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
    "We had a good car for qualifying. I had one Corvette in front of me at the start of qualifying and I could see the distance in different laps but we had a fast lap right away. We made a few changes on the car before qualifying and the Michelin tires were working really well. I went into the tires [tire wall] not because it was slippery but there is only one racing line. I was still on it and repeating my fastest lap time. I had three corners to improve my time. I saw I was not able to keep on the racing line so I made the car spin. I hope we did not get too much damage. When I drove it back to the pits it didn't make any strange noises so I hope there's no damage. You don't have much time in qualifying so you just go for it. The gaps are really close...just a 100th of a second to P2. I'd made great improvements on my lap time. I don't know how but I did it. I'm really happy for the crew because we have had some ups and downs both last season and this season in qualifying. Today was just me trying to gain lap time and trying to push. We'll check the car and then we'll think about the race."


    Giancarlo Fisichella, driver, No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTLM:
    "We made a couple of adjustments on the car before qualifying. It was very important to us to get a good set up for the race. It's very competitive [in the GTLM class] and we need to score points. We feel we have a good car. The circuit can be slippery and bumpy but car looks right. It's a good set up for the race and we'll see tomorrow what will happen."


    The history of the Risi Competizione team at Long Beach includes one victory (2007) in the Ferrari 430 GT and six additional podium finishes in nine attempts, with two of those years being a two-car team entry.

    The 100-minute race around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit is Round 3 of the 2017 International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series, where the Risi team has collected third place finishes at both the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring for the first two rounds during the year of the 70th year anniversary of Ferrari.
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    TOYOTA GAZOO RACING ALL SET FOR SILVERSTONE
    Monday 10 April 2017

    TOYOTA GAZOO Racing begins its challenge for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) with a new car and revised driver line-up for the season-opening 6 Hours of Silverstone this weekend.

    A heavily-modified TS050 HYBRID, featuring upgraded hybrid powertrain plus mechanical and aerodynamic updates, will make its competitive debut in the first of nine endurance races which will decide the 2017 championship.

    With only two aerodynamic packages permitted in 2017, TOYOTA will bring the high-downforce version of the TS050 HYBRID to Silverstone, where it has finished on the podium in each of its five previous visits so far.

    The 5.901km Silverstone circuit, one of the most historic on the WEC calendar having been opened in 1948, is famed for its sweeping corners which put a premium on downforce rather than outright top speed.

    With around 35,000km of pre-season testing under its belt, including the two-day Prologue event at Monza earlier this month, the team heads to Silverstone ready to take on LMP1 rivals Porsche in a two-way battle for World Championship honours.

    Behind the wheel, three-time World Touring Car champion José María López makes his TOYOTA race debut in the #7 TS050 HYBRID alongside Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi, race winners and title contenders in 2016.

    In the sister car, the #8, Anthony Davidson, Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima are reunited for a third consecutive season. Anthony and Sébastien have driven together since 2013 and won the 2014 title wearing the #8.

    Home heroes Anthony and Mike have enjoyed their share of success at Silverstone down the years and both are previous winners of the Richard Lloyd Trophy, presented to the highest placed member of the British Racing Drivers’ Club.

    Track action begins on Friday with two 90-minute sessions, while a final hour-long practice on Saturday morning takes place before qualifying. The six-hour race, which last year saw 1,144km completed by the winning car, begins at midday on Sunday.

    Toshio Sato, Team President: “The start of a new WEC season is always an exciting time and we will travel to Silverstone with plenty of hope and expectations. I would like to thank the team for their strong effort over the winter to introduce our updated TS050 HYBRID and prepare it for the new season. It is a very intense period for the whole team but I am proud of our preparations and I believe we have done everything in our power to be ready. Now we will see how we compare with Porsche; we will be pushing to the maximum to get a strong result.”

    Mike Conway (TS050 HYBRID #7): “Silverstone is my home race; a track I raced on many, many times. I really like Silverstone because it’s fast flowing and good fun. It will be a tricky race especially with traffic but I think we have a competitive car and we arrive there well prepared. Even though it’s hard to tell at the moment where we are compared to our main rival, I’m sure we will see a tough battle so I’m really looking forward to it and I’m optimistic.”

    Kamui Kobayashi (TS050 HYBRID #7): “It’s a great track with a lot of history, especially in endurance racing, and I enjoy racing in front of the British fans. They are real motorsport enthusiasts and we usually see a big crowd. We are here to win races so that is the target at Silverstone. It will be challenging as always in WEC but we want to show our performance after a positive winter of testing. It’s gone well so I’m confident we can put on a good show.”

    José María López (TS050 HYBRID #7): “I am very much looking forward to my first-ever race in an LMP1 car and my first race for TOYOTA. Testing has gone well and I feel at home in the team already. With Mike and Kamui, I have quickly developed a strong relationship; I can’t wait to race together this weekend. It’s a long time since I raced at Silverstone but it will be good to go back. It’s a high-speed track and I’m sure the TS050 HYBRID will be a lot of fun there.”

    Sébastien Buemi (TS050 HYBRID #8): “Silverstone is a high-downforce circuit and I think our car can be strong there. I have nice memories of racing there; I had my first podium in WEC in 2013, we won the following year and I had another podium in 2015. All in all it was usually a good race for me so I hope we can repeat that again this year. I like the atmosphere as well at Silverstone; they are really enthusiastic so it’s always nice to come back. It’s hard to say what we can expect. Looking at the Prologue results we believe we are competitive; now we need to confirm it.”

    Anthony Davidson (TS050 HYBRID #8): “There’s a lot to look forward to this season. Obviously Silverstone is truly my home track as I live very close by and I’ve driven there in all kinds of cars over the years. It’s a great circuit to drive which really highlights the performance of modern LMP1 cars, especially in the fast, flowing corners where you take advantage of the downforce. The championship battle starts in Silverstone and I believe we’ve got the car to fight at the front.”

    Kazuki Nakajima (TS050 HYBRID #8): “Personally I like Silverstone a lot. It’s a nice lay-out which is fun to drive and the combination of high-speed corners from Copse to Maggotts is one of the best sections on any circuit in the world. We go to Silverstone with the clear aim of winning the race. It’s difficult to predict the competitiveness of the two LMP1 manufacturers but I’m excited by the challenge. I think we are ready to get the season started.”
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    A good race and pleased to see Toyota win. The Porsche looks very quick especially considering it was running in low downforce trim at Silverstone. I don't miss the diesels but having a third team in there would be useful. Unlike past years, I couldn't peel my eyes away from the F1 race running at the same time. Regardless, it's still shaping up to be a great WEC season.

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    Quote Originally Posted by The Architect View Post
    A good race and pleased to see Toyota win. The Porsche looks very quick especially considering it was running in low downforce trim at Silverstone. I don't miss the diesels but having a third team in there would be useful. Unlike past years, I couldn't peel my eyes away from the F1 race running at the same time. Regardless, it's still shaping up to be a great WEC season.
    Well said, but those damn Ford GTs are a nuisance and that new mid-engined 911 will be a threat to the AF Corse boys. P2 in GTPro was a great result all the same, and an F1 win wrapped the day up nicely! Bravo ragazzi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wisepie View Post
    Well said, but those damn Ford GTs are a nuisance and that new mid-engined 911 will be a threat to the AF Corse boys. P2 in GTPro was a great result all the same, and an F1 win wrapped the day up nicely! Bravo ragazzi.
    The chat was more of the Ford GT cars. How they are more like prototypes than GT cars. But it is what it is.

    This year was first time going on Friday. 10 pound tickets booked in advanced 15 on door. My mother inlaw and father inlaw came as did my daughter Keira. They loved every minute. She was chuffed as Sam too her off put her n #71 car they had little chat, she sat also sat in #51 My good buddy Luca got Keira and put her in #51. Was so so much fun. Met Francesco sat in #54. Thanks to all my good friends in the team. I got alot of pictures, will upload asap. Been bit busy.
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    Keira in #51




    Was standing out the back of the pits, Sam walk up, me and him started chatting, Keira came stood by my side, he looked at Keira, said Keira? she said, yeah and Sam took her hand, said come on...



    Last edited by Rob; 18th April 2017 at 22:18.
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    Francesco took this picture, he asked Keira if she wanted to get in, she got all shy and said no. So, i asked, ok for me to jump? He spoke to Fabio, he is one of #54 mechanics, and said sure no problem. So in i went. Dream come true.



    Last edited by Rob; 20th April 2017 at 10:38.
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    with Ale just after podium


    Valentino, he pulled bicep on Friday. But still gave it his all with his arm in a sling

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    Valentino, Ale and Seb, Seb is on the wheel gun for #51


    James getting ready to go to the grid


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    You are a lucky boy, Rob, being on the inside of it all must have been brilliant and the guys seem to be very approachable, but you have friends in high places which helps!! Hope the Keira and the family enjoyed it as much as you did, I'm surprised fratelliferrari didn't try to gatecrash!! Thanks for sharing the pics and those Fords do look more like LMPs to me too.

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    Awesome pics Rob!

    I'm extremely jealous!
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    Thanks for the pictures.

    How was the mood in the team? Whenever they switched to the GTE Pro battles, it always seemed to be a Ferrari being either hounded or overtaken by a Porsche or even Ford. It did not seem a particularly auspicious start to the season.

  23. #113
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    Quote Originally Posted by 458 Italia View Post
    Awesome pics Rob!

    I'm extremely jealous!
    Thankyou iam very grateful to all my friends at AF Corse, for the cracking weekend we had with them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Architect View Post
    Thanks for the pictures.

    How was the mood in the team? Whenever they switched to the GTE Pro battles, it always seemed to be a Ferrari being either hounded or overtaken by a Porsche or even Ford. It did not seem a particularly auspicious start to the season.
    All honestly it was good, really good. Close hard racing all race. What helped was the free splash of fuel during the SC period that helped us get P2. Was speaking to James after he got out, he thought best we would do was 4th maybe 3rd. But Ale, put in some cracking laps, and quick splash for fuel helped get P2. Atmosphere, in the team, pits all weekend, positive and all happy to get back racing. After last years, hard season, they all up this this season so much. The whole team vibe, from Friday and raceday, was happy, positive and 120% game mode. But, in that, they all open, happy to stop and chat. Even Luca, in the heat of the battle near the end. I caught his eye as he passed, i put both thumbs up mouthing everything good, he stopped mouthed all good my friend.
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  25. #115
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    Luca getting #51 crew ready for pitstop practice.



    Last edited by Rob; 21st April 2017 at 21:04.
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  26. #116
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    Sorry, no idea why these pictures have rotated like this.



    Last edited by Rob; 21st April 2017 at 21:12.
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    Last edited by Rob; 21st April 2017 at 22:11.
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    Silverstone nail-biter proves wrong WEC's naysayers

    An entertaining finish to last weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship opener at Silverstone proved that two LMP1 manufacturers are enough for the series to thrive, writes Jamie Klein.

    Toyota arrived at the 6 Hours of Silverstone in the unusual position of being the overwhelming favourite, but the Japanese marque’s route to an 11th WEC triumph was anything but straightforward.

    A heavy crash for newcomer Jose Maria Lopez in the #7 Toyota meant the squad’s hopes rested solely on the #8 car of Sebastien Buemi, Anthony Davidson and Kazuki Nakajima, and it was only with 12 minutes left that a pass from Buemi on Brendon Hartley’s Porsche sealed the deal.

    The Silverstone paddock and press centre certainly felt less busy without Audi present, and the rather ominous-looking gap between the Toyotas and the Porsches in qualifying will no doubt have left some wishing that a couple of R18s had been present to fill the breach.

    But after the arrival of rain spiced up the action from the third hour onwards, the action fans were treated to was certainly a match for more or less anything the Porsche-Toyota-Audi era produced.

    In the end, just six seconds split the leading two cars at the flag, closer than every finish from the 2016 season barring Fuji.

    Porsche makes up for lack of outright pace

    Qualifying had threatened a Toyota whitewash, with the two TS050 Hybrids clearly in a class of their own on the front row with the best of the Porsche 919 Hybrids more than a second back.

    Porsche’s Andreas Seidl even admitted after qualifying the Japanese cars would be “untouchable” in the race, and for the first hour it seemed as if that gloomy prediction was bang on the money.

    But, as is so often the case in endurance racing, it takes more than out-and-out speed to win the day, and in fuel efficiency and pitwork, it was Porsche that held a decisive edge.

    The one area where Porsche went wrong was its call to bring in both its cars for intermediate tyres in the third hour when the rain arrived, but Lopez’s crash at Copse and the subsequent safety car effectively cancelled out the disadvantage of the extra pit-stops to switch back to slicks.

    From there, Brendon Hartley did a stellar job to keep the #2 Porsche close enough to Kazuki Nakajima’s #8 machine to be able to attempt a strategic roll of the dice for his final stop.

    Granted, a gap of just over eight seconds with 30 minutes left on the clock was never going to be enough to repel an inspired Sebastien Buemi on fresher tyres, but the point was that Hartley and Porsche were strong enough in the closing stages to force Toyota to do it the hard way.

    Buemi himself spoke afterwards of how we was shocked that he ended up eight seconds in arrears after his last stop, having expected to be only four behind – a testament to the excellent job Porsche did in the pits – and said the narrow margin of victory “scared” his team.

    Giving Toyota a run for its money at Silverstone
    Even Davidson admitted afterwards that he doubted the win was in the bag until his Swiss teammate crossed the line, the bitter taste of Le Mans last year still in the back of his mind.

    "Brendon was flying all weekend, when I saw him out front I doubted Seb would be able to catch him," Davidson admitted to Motorsport.com. "But then the times started to come down.
    Last edited by Rob; 25th April 2017 at 21:01.
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    SMP Racing will perform in ELMS and in the Le Mans 24 with Dallara

    SMP Racing will take part in the legendary "24 Hours of Le Mans" race and in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) on the Italian sports prototypes Dallara in the LMP2 class. The line-up will include young drivers from SMP Racing Russian motorsport development program.

    SMP Racing will take part in the key endurance races of the 2017 season – “ the 24 hours of Le Mans” and the ELMS. The line-up for both will consist in drivers of SMP Racing Russian motorsport development program. Meanwhile it will be a debut in endurance races for two young drivers of the program in ELMS. They will be accompanied by an SMP Racing driver who has already participated in endurance races. The 4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring will be the first race of the European Le Mans Series where the Russian team will take part. Full list of drivers is to be announced later.

    "The main goals of our program are to support and develop Russian racing drivers," said Boris Rotenberg, founder and head of the SMP Racing. – Yes, we want to see our drivers taking part in all the important races, including the European Le Mans Series. I am sure they will do their best to achieve all the results that will be set for them. Of course, we also do not forget our main project - the BR1 sports prototype that we build together with Dallara to participate in the 2018 FIA WEC. Considering that our drivers will perform in ELMS and in Le Mans with Dallara thus we also will be able to gather more information for the future car."

    “24 hours of Le Mans” race starts on June the 17, 2017.

    “4 Hours of the Red Bull Ring” will be held on July 23rd.
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    Karun Chandhok: “There’s a lot to look forward to”

    Karun Chandhok is back in endurance racing after a lengthy break. The charismatic British-based Indian, who has become part of UK television’s Formula One broadcast team alongside Mark Webber over the last year, will race at Spa and Le Mans this season.

    Competing in the Tockwith Motorsport Ligier-Gibson, Chandhok will join teammates Nigel Moore and Phil Hanson at Spa next month. Chandhok has previously raced in the ELMS for Murphy Prototypes and he also made his Le Mans debut for JRM in 2012.

    “They wanted a driver with a bit of experience and I love Le Mans and have had a good result there, so it all fitted together,” said Chandhok. “Doing the WEC race at Spa next month was a no-brainer as we need to know the level and what is to be expected before we head to Le Mans in June.”
    Chandhok believes that the LMP2 class this season is possibly the strongest ever and thinks that the only Ligier in the category will be able to mix it with the ranks of ORECAs this season.

    “The ORECA has shown it is very strong but, as we saw in the ELMS race at Silverstone, the Ligier can be a real force,” said Chandhok. “I think we can develop things nicely. Spa will be a crucial weekend for more data gathering and learning where we can aim for. There are a lot of unknowns for Le Mans as no one has run the lower drag kit yet. There is a lot of work to do but also a lot to look forward to.”

    The LMP2 class will feature 11 entries at Spa as the second Signatech Alpine of French duo Nelson Panciatici and Pierre Ragues together with Brazilian former GP2 driver André Negrão joins the class ahead of a planned rest-of-the-season campaign.
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