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Thread: 2019 WEC,IMSA and ELMS&MLC thread.

  1. #121
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    CAVALLINO RAMPANTE PER SEMPRE

  2. #122
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    great opening stint from Manu
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  3. #123
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    yeeeeessssss Ferrari 1-2 ELMS, Luzich #51 win and Kessel #83 2nd and what a great result for the Kessel girls. Brilliant.
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    FERRARI ONE-TWO IN THE 4 HOURS OF LE CASTELLET
    media

    Le Castellet, 14 Apr 2019 – Ferrari enjoyed a dream debut at the 4 Hours of Le Castellet, the opening round of the European Le Mans Series. It came courtesy of an authoritative one-two recorded by the 488 GTE of Luzich Racing and the all-female crew of Kessel Racing. After winning the International GT Open last year with Mikkel Mac and the invaluable support of official Competizioni GT driver Alessandro Pier Guidi, the Swiss team pulled off a perfect series debut. Its drivers Alessandro Pier Guidi, Fabien Lavergne and Nicklas Nielsen dominated from the light to the chequered flag. The three women behind the wheel of the Ferrari no. 83 of Kessel Racing clinched a deserved and much-desired result, after a practically flawless race. There were excellent performances overall from the other Maranello cars in the French race, which finished fourth, fifth and ninth.

    First hour. After his amazing start in the Le Mans Cup, Fabien Lavergne repeated the feat in the European Le Mans Series taking the overall lead. Behind him came a trio of Porsches and the three Ferrari 488 GTEs of Wei Lu, Manuela Gostner, Duncan Cameron, all bunched tightly together. Lavergne was the only one who gained ground over his rivals and so could manage the pace right from the start. The Ferraris lapped quickly and moved into the leading positions. The sole exception was the 488 GTE no. 60 of Kessel Racing, which went into a spin after colliding with a rival it was attempting to pass.

    Second hour. The start of the second hour saw two Ferraris in the first two places. The no. 51 of Luzich Racing led, followed 31 seconds later by the no. 66 of JMW Motorsport. Then came the 488 GTE no. 55 of Spirit of Race, just one-tenth of a second ahead of the Porsche no. 77. Kessel Racing’s all-female Ferrari crew put in a great performance in sixth with some excellent times, just seven seconds off the podium. The twin car no. 60 was attempting a difficult comeback. With a decidedly aggressive and fast stint, Wei Lu moved past the Porsche into second.

    Third hour. At the stroke of the third hour, the 488 GTE of Luzich Racing was still in the lead followed, depending on the pit stops, by the Porsche no. 77 and the Ferrari no. 66 of JMW Motorsport. With the various pit stops over, the Ferraris again held the top three positions, with a particularly good performance from Frey who, however, collided with a prototype while attempting to pass it on one of the turns on the final mixed stretch. Ahead the final hour, the all-female crew was in second, 23.5 seconds off the race leader Nicklas Nielsen, while the trio of Spirit of Race no. 55 was in third, a lap behind the frontrunner.

    Fourth hour. The last part of the race began with pit stops, including driver changes and the usual tyre replacement and refuelling operations. Andrea Piccini climbed into the 488 GTE no. 60, still facing a tricky comeback, while the leading car now had Competizioni GT driver Alessandro Pier Guidi at the wheel. Michelle Gatting replaced Frey in car no. 83, while Cressoni ploughed on in car no. 66. Matthew Griffin took the wheel of Ferrari no. 55 of Spirit of Race for the final stint. The chance of a Ferrari one-two-three faded 26 minutes before the chequered flag, when Cressoni yielded to Matteo Cairoli, in the Porsche. However, the Ferrari drivers and teams still celebrated a one-two, rounded off by JMW Motorsport’s fourth place with Segal, Lu, and Cressoni, Spirit of Race’s fifth with Cameron, Griffin and Scott and the ninth of Schiavoni, Pianezzola and Piccini in the second Kessel Racing car.

    Next round. The next race of the European Le Mans Series will be held on the weekend of 12 May at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
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    Dragonspeed Wins 4 Hour of Le Castellet
    ELMS

    The no21 DragonSpeed Oreca 07-Gibson took the first victory of the 2019 European Le Mans Series at Le Castellet with Ben Hanley crossing the finish line ahead of the nearest rival, the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca of Paul Loup Chatin. It was the first win for the no21 DragonSpeed, and Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley, since Spa in 2016
    The LMP3 victory went to the no17 Ultimate Norma of Matthieu Lahaye, a debut ELMS win for the all French team of Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and François Heriau. The Ultimate Norma finished ahead of the no11 Eurointernational Ligier of Mikkel Jensen and Jens Petersen.

    The LMGTE victory went to the no51 Luzich Racing Ferrari with reigning FIA World Endurance GTE Champion Alessandro Pier Guidi taking the chequered flag for a debut win for the Swiss team with Fabien Lavergne and Nicklas Nielsen.

    In second was the no83 Kessel Racing Ferrari with Michelle Gatting crossing the finish line for a debut podium for the all female driver crew alongside Rahel Frey and Manuela Gostner.

    Four Hours of Uninterrupted Racing Action

    The 4 Hours of Le Castellet started with the sun in the sky and the large 41 car field ready to give the large crowd a great afternoon of racing. The no27 IDEC Sport Oreca had to start from the pitlane after missing qualifying with a gearbox issue and they were joined at the end of the pitlane by the no34 Inter Europol Competition Ligier, which slowed on the formation lap.

    Roman Rusinov led in the no26 G-Drive Racing Aurus into the first corner, with the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca of Paul Lafargue and the no21 Dragonspeed Oreca of James Allen snapping at the rear wing of his car. The Russian driver led for the first nine laps of the race before Allen went around the G-Drive Aurus on the outside of the penultimate corner to take the lead after passing Lafargue into Signes corner three laps earlier.

    The no11 Eurointernational Ligier of Mikkel Jensen went from 5th on the LMP3 grid into the lead by the end of the opening lap, ahead of the no19 M Racing Norma of Lucas Legeret and the no17 Ultimate Norma of Jean-Baptiste Lahaye. Lahaye lost two place on lap two with David Droux slotting in behind the two leading cars in the no9 Realteam Racing Norma.

    By lap 5 the top five LMP3 cars were split by less than four seconds before Jensen managed to pull out a small gap to the battling pack behind him.

    In LMGTE the no51 Luzich Racing Ferrari of Fabien Lavergne got ahead of the pole sitting no77 Dempsey-Proton Competition Porsche of Christian Ried on the opening lap and the French driver then started to open a gap to the chasing pack or Ried, Edigio Perfetti in the Project 1 Porsche, the no88 Proton Competition Porsche of Horst Felbermayr, the no66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Wei Lu and the no83 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Manuela Gostner.

    Perfetti passed Ried for second place but by this time Lavergne had opened up a five second gap and was pulling away. Fabien Lavergne had a scare when the Ferrari was clipped by the no32 United Autosports Ligier which was lapping the French driver. There was minor body damage and the door mirror was hanging down. But this didn’t seem to slow Lavergne as he continued to lead the category.

    Back at the front the no21 Dragonspeed Oreca continued to lead and by lap15 Allen was nearly 20 seconds ahead. The no25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca of reigning ELMS Champion Andrea Pizzitola, which had started the race in 12th place, was up to second, with a two second gap to the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca of Paul Lafargue. Rusinov had dropped back to 5th place, behind the no30 Duqueine Engineering Oreca of Pierre Ragues, the French driver on a charge up the field. Ragues moved ahead of Lafargue and then Pizzitola and by lap 19 he was second but 24 seconds behind Allen’s Dragonspeed Oreca-Gibson.

    While Jensen continued to lead the LMP3 class, the no9 Realteam Racing Norma of David Droux closed to within two seconds but the Dane was able to hold the lead from the Swiss driver.

    In LMGTE the no66 Ferrari and no77 Porsche were side by side into Signes, battling for third, but there was contact. Both cars ran wide but managed to stay out of the barriers and stay in contention.

    After the first stops Henrik Hedman took over in the no21 Dragonspeed but after the pitstops the gap had shrunk to three seconds, with Pierre Ragues, who had stayed in the no30 Duqueine Engineering Oreca at the stop closing and passing the Swedish driver. Roman Rusinov, who had handed the no26 G-Drive Racing Aurus to Job Van Uitert, said that he had been losing grip in the front tyres during his stint, with the team changing the front left tyre at the pitstop.

    Pierre Ragues started to pull out a 20 second gap to Paul Lafargue in the no28 IDEC Sport, with Hedman falling back to 6th. The Swede handed the car back to James Allen on the next pitstop after completing the mandatory minimum driving time.

    Mikkel Jensen continued to lead the LMP3 category after the first stop with David Droux in second and the no10 Oregon Team Norma back up to third in the hands of Damiano Fioravanti . Droux and Fioravanti battled for several laps, swapping places a couple of times but ultimately allowing Jensen to open up a ten second gap at the front of the LMP3 field.

    Fioravanti’s race suffered a blow when the no39 Graff Oreca cut across his Norma to enter the pitlane, causing the Italian to spin and lose time. The Graff Oreca was served a drive through penalty for crossing the pit entry white line as a result of the incident. The Graff team suffered a further blow when the rear bodywork had to be replaced when the rear light was not working, dropping the French team out of contention for the podium.

    The no51 Ferrari was nearly a minute ahead of the LMGTE field as the two hour mark approached with the no77 Porsche, no66 Ferrari, no83 Ferrari of Rahel Frey and no80 Porsche of Fabio Babini all in contention for the other podium position. Frey was passed by Babini’s Porsche, dropping her to 5th, just as the leading no51 Ferrari was instructed to repair the damage incurred in the earlier incident at the next pitstop.

    Fabien Lavergne handed the no51 Luzich Racing Ferrari over to Nicklas Nielsen, with the team working quickly to repair the bodywork damage. After the pitstops Rahel Frey was up to second in the no83 Kessel Racing Ferrari after passing Christian Ried’s no77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche.

    Frey had a scare when she clipped the no8 Nielsen Racing Ligier of Nobuya Yamanaka into a spin. The Ferrari was only slightly damaged but the Swiss driver was reported to the stewards. However a black and white warning flag was the only penalty as Frey pitted to hand the car over to Michelle Gatting to compete the race.

    With just over an hour of the race remaining the battle for the LMP2 victory was just as hot with Nicolas Jamin in the no30 Duqueine Engineering Oreca leading the race but with Ben Hanley closing in the no21 Dragonspeed. Jamin had to stop for fuel, putting Hanley’s Dragonspeed Oreca back in the lead with a 47 second gap to the no28 IDEC Sport Oreca of Paul Loup Chatin, with Norman Nato in the no26 G-Drive Aurus and Richard Bradley in the no30 Duqueine Engineering Oreca right behind.

    Hanley was able to hold the lead position until the chequered flag while Bradley passed the Nato in the final 20 minutes to take the final podium position behind Paul Loup Chatin, who finished second 16 seconds behind Hanley’s Dragonspeed Oreca.

    The no11 Eurointernational Ligier, with reigning Michelin Le Mans Cup Champion Jens Petersen was being caught by the rapid Matthieu Lahaye in the no17 Ultimate Norma-Nissan. The German driver was unable to keep the more experienced Frenchman at bay for long and Lahaye swept into the LMP3 lead to take his, and his teams, debut ELMS class victory. Petersen finished just ahead of Nigel Moore in the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier.

    Alessandro Pier Guidi completed a perfect afternoon for Luzich Racing, bringing home the no51 Ferrari one lap ahead of the no83 Kessel Racing Ferrari of Michelle Gatting, the first podium for an all female crew in ELMS history and 12 seconds ahead of the no77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche.

    The next round of the 2019 European Le Mans Series will be the 4 Hours of Monza on Sunday 12 May.
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  6. #126
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  7. #127
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    [url=https://postimg.cc/d7fyF64B]

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    [url=https://postimg.cc/wtFdR4SX]



    Last edited by Rob; 14th April 2019 at 20:07.
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  9. #129
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    Thanks Rob, at least Ferrari can still win something, maybe they should abandon F1 and leave it to Merc and Red Bull. Great pics as always.

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    ^^^^Nice pics Rob^^^^


    2019 24 Hour of LeMans

    provisional entry list....62 cars

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D4Q2YklXoAAAamd.jpg

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/D4Q2wdhW0AA7gQ_.jpg
    It's not how start but how you finish.

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    SMP Racing enters Stoffel Vandoorne for Spa

    Belgian racing star Stoffel Vandoorne will make his WEC debut with Russian team SMP Racing at the upcoming TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and 24 Hours of Le Mans replacing Jenson Button in the No. 11 car.

    Vandoorne – who competed in Formula 1 with McLaren for two years - will be an extremely popular addition to this year’s event as the Belgian driver was born in Kortrijk and grew up in Flanders.

    Indeed, he will be one of only two Belgians racing on home soil next month as the 27-year-old prepares to make his WEC debut in front of a passionate home crowd.

    Vandoorne is no stranger to the challenges of Spa-Francorchamps having already raced at the circuit several times before, and the Belgian pro will be buoyed by the fact he can rely on the experience of his Russian team-mates Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin when getting to grips with the LMP1 machinery.
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    Stoffel Vandoorne: “A podium is possible”

    In just under a week, Stoffel Vandoorne will make his WEC debut with SMP Racing in front of a passionate home crowd for the TOTAL 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

    We caught up with the former Formula 1 driver who hails from Kortrijk in Belgium to hear what the 27-year-old had to say about his foray into the world of endurance racing…

    Hi Stoffel, welcome to WEC! What are you most looking forward to about the upcoming Spa-Francorchamps?

    “I’m really looking forward to the challenge. Fernando [Alonso] sent me a message after the announcement and told me that I’d really enjoy WEC so that was reassuring. Fernando has a lot of experience switching between the cars and he’s found it very enjoyable so I’m looking forward to giving that a go myself.”

    How do you think the LMP1 machinery will compare to the Formula E and Formula 1 cars you have driven more recently?

    “Well, I haven’t had much experience of cars without a roof to be honest! In fact, Baku [Baku World Challenge in 2013] has been my only one. I’ve had a seat fit with SMP which is the only time I’ve had to get to grips with the car. After Paris for Formula E this weekend, I will be fully focused on WEC.”

    You’ve obviously got plenty of experience of the Spa circuit, but what can you tell us about the track and why is it so special?

    “I’ve raced lots of different cars here – F1, GP2, Formula Renault… but the first time with WEC. I thought I wasn’t going to be racing at Spa this year so to be back here at my home race is a great feeling. Spa is one of my favourite circuits and I’ve had good results here in the past. It’s a track that suits me too, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.”

    Given the fact you won’t test the SMP Racing car ahead of Spa, what are your expectations from the event?

    “I don’t know what my exact mindset is. I’ve not spent enough time with the team yet to know but anything can happen. The main thing will be to learn as much as I can, to finish the race and then I think a podium is possible.”

    Following Spa, you’ll also return to WEC for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans. How will you prepare for the ultimate test in endurance racing?

    “Well, I’ll take part in the simulator day of course. But the plan is to learn as much as I can at Spa in order to prepare for Le Mans. I want to get as much mileage as I can under the belt and get to know both the car and team properly – then we can look to Le Mans.”
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    Wednesday 1 May 2019
    Toyota Motor Corporation
    GAZOO Racing Company

    FERNANDO ALONSO HANDS OVER TO BRENDON HARTLEY

    Two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso will pursue new motorsport challenges following the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours, handing over his place in the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing team in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) to Brendon Hartley.

    Fernando, who will explore new motorsport adventures within the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing family, will conclude his time in WEC when he and his World Championship-leading team-mates Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima defend the Le Mans crown they won together last June.

    New Zealander Brendon, who became a two-time WEC champion and 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours winner during four seasons with Porsche prior to a stint in Formula 1, will begin the transition when he makes his first public appearance behind the wheel of a TS050 HYBRID at the Le Mans test day on 2 June.

    Brendon will join Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi, José María López, Sébastien and Kazuki as a race driver for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in WEC next season, which begins on 1 September at Silverstone and concludes on 14 June 2020 at Le Mans. The driver line-up of each TS050 HYBRID will be confirmed later.

    The WEC team expresses its sincere thanks to Fernando for the valuable contribution he has made to an historic and unforgettable season for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing and wishes him an exciting and successful future.

    Hisatake Murata, Team President: “I would like to welcome Brendon to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. For many years we have respected him as a tough competitor but now I am excited to have him as a TOYOTA colleague. He is a team player so I expect him to fit in very quickly and become a valuable part of our team. On the other hand, I am sad to say goodbye to Fernando and would like to thank him a lot for his contribution to this fantastic season during which he has written his name in TOYOTA’s motorsport history. His passion, desire to win and willingness to chase his dreams is truly impressive. We will enjoy working together for the final two races when I know we all share the same target of winning Le Mans and both World Championships.”

    Brendon Hartley: “A big thanks to TOYOTA GAZOO Racing for giving me this opportunity. I know how professional and motivated this team is following my years competing against them in WEC, so I am fired up and am very happy to be joining them. I believe I am returning to WEC an even stronger driver following my experience in Formula 1 and I look forward to getting on track and building a strong relationship with my new team. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the TS050 HYBRID; the first tests can’t come soon enough.”

    Fernando Alonso: “I have enjoyed being part of TOYOTA GAZOO Racing in WEC but this chapter is ending. Winning Le Mans is one of the highlights of my career as part of my Triple Crown challenge and I will always remember that victory which we achieved together as a team last year. Now is a good time to take on new challenges and there are many interesting opportunities to explore within TOYOTA GAZOO Racing. I wish Brendon all the best for next season and I would like to thank all the team members for the big effort they continue to make to achieve success in WEC. We still have two important races remaining as we are still in the fight to become WEC World Champions and I will be pushing hard to win both of them. I would love to put an end to this super season by celebrating a new world title with all the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing family. Finally, I’d like to take the opportunity to say thanks to all WEC and ACO members for such a warm welcome and experience.”
    Last edited by Rob; 2nd May 2019 at 22:14.
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    Return of successful IMSA/WEC double-header fan favorite.

    The FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and International Motorsports Association (IMSA) today announced that, following the tremendously successful combined race weekend at Sebring International Raceway in March, the event will return to the iconic circuit on March 18-21, 2020.

    The second edition of the Super Sebring weekend will feature the WEC’s 1,000 Miles of Sebring on Friday, March 20th and the 68th Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday, March 21st, once again giving fans the opportunity to witness two world-class sports car endurance races on consecutive days.

    “The 2019 Super Sebring weekend exceeded expectations by every measure, and we look forward to working with the World Endurance Championship and Sebring Raceway staffs to enhance the experience in 2020 for everyone involved,” IMSA President Scott Atherton said.

    WEC CEO Gérard Neveu commented: “The Sebring event this year was greatly enjoyed by competitors and fans alike, and it’s a real pleasure to come together again with our partners at IMSA and Sebring Raceway to put on an even better show for 2020,” .

    “A tremendous amount of work by the Sebring team and all parties involved went into making the 2019 Super Sebring weekend a success, and our goal is to build on that and again surpass the milestones established this year,” said Wayne Estes, Sebring International Raceway president and general manager.

    Ticket and schedule information for the 2020 Super Sebring weekend will be announced in the near future.
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    what a crazy race. Snow hail rain all within the first 2 hours.
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    A shame about the lack of green flag running, but spectacular nevertheless to see cars at racing speed in the snow.

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    FERRARI GETS TWO CARS ON PODIUM AT A SNOWY SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS
    ferrari-media

    Spa-Francorchamps, 4 May 2019 - Ferrari leaves Belgium with a second place in the penultimate race of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) 2018/2019 Super Season in the GTE-Pro class courtesy of the AF Corse number 51 488 GTE and a third in GTE-Am, down to Clearwater Racing’s number 61 car. The Spa-Francorchamps 6 Hours will be remembered as one of the craziest races ever, as it actually snowed several times during the day, affecting the race result on the Ardennes track. In these conditions, the Balance of Performance (BOP) had less of an effect than usual and the 488 GTE was very competitive, after having had a difficult time in qualifying.

    GTE-Pro. Alessandro Pier Guidi and Sam Bird took the start in the 51 and 71 cars respectively. The first neutralisation came after just three laps, with the first rapid and unusual snowfall. The restart came after 30 minutes and Bird was flying, working his way up into a podium position. Pier Guidi however, lost ground, his tyres not working so well in the wet. The order kept changing throughout the day, with ice and snow repeatedly requiring the Safety Car to be sent out. During the flurry of neutralisations, both Ferrari cars led at some point, although the #71 car was sent out of the running for victory when it got a puncture, which left Davide Rigon to try and fight back from the rear of the field. In the end, the Italian driver came home sixth. The number 51 488 GTE fought for the win all the way to the end. The race got going again after yet another Safety Car with just 30 minutes remaining, when James Calado was second behind the Aston Martin of Maxime Martin and Alexander Lynn. The chances of winning were great at this point, as the leading Belgian would have had to pit one more time before the chequered flag. However, that flag was replaced by the red one with 15 minutes to go, which froze the positions. Calado and Pier Guidi therefore had to settle for second place, although that was more than could have been hoped for after Saturday’s qualifying.

    GTE-Am. The 488 GTE was also a protagonist in the GTE-Am class. The Clearwater Racing #61 car led the race for a long time with Luis Perez Companc, Matteo Cressoni e Matt Griffin and, despite a drive-through penalty for an infraction under the Safety Car, it came home third, with the win going to the Porsche of Pera-Ried-Campbell. Fourth was the Spirit of Race car, with eighth place going to MR Racing. The overall winner of the race was the Toyota of Alonso-Buemi-Nakajima.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Architect View Post
    A shame about the lack of green flag running, but spectacular nevertheless to see cars at racing speed in the snow.
    considering how the weather was, got more than thought would. Hats off to the Eduardo and his team. Never see cars racing in those conditions. Amazing.
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    ACO promises closer LMP1 contest at Le Mans in 2019

    The Automobile Club de l'Ouest, organiser of the Le Mans 24 Hours, has promised a closer fight between Toyota and the LMP1 privateers for this year's edition of the French classic.
    Toyota was the only manufacturer entry in the top class at Le Mans last year, and duly crushed its non-hybrid LMP1 opposition to score its first triumph at La Sarthe by a margin of 12 laps.

    Since then, the World Endurance Championship's rulemakers, the ACO and the FIA, have tried to bring the privateers closer to Toyota with a series of Equivalence of Technology (EoT) changes, although these have not succeeded in stemming the Japanese marque's dominance.

    Last weekend's Spa race was the first occasion of the 2018/19 superseason that Toyota did not lock out the top two positions (excluding its Silverstone double disqualification), and a privateer has not yet finished a WEC race on the same lap as the leading TS050 Hybrid.

    ACO President Pierre Fillon said during a press conference on Monday that the huge gulf in performance between the dominant Toyotas and the other LMP1s that existed at Le Mans last year will be "corrected" for the 2019 race.

    "It's true that the Toyota is probably one of the most sophisticated racing car nowadays," said Fillon. "It's not easy for private teams to match Toyota.

    "But the technical teams [of the ACO and FIA] did a lot of calculations, they watched all the races. Last year, it's true that the gap was still too big, so it's something that will be corrected this year.

    "Toyota remains the favourite because it's a factory team, because they have the resources, because in the pits they may be more efficient. But in terms of performance the cars are very close, and if there is the slightest hitch, there will be people behind."



    ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil added that it is partly the responsibility of the leading privateer teams, Rebellion Racing and SMP Racing, to step up to the mark and challenge Toyota.

    "The gaps have narrowed significantly," said Beaumesnil. "I think Rebellion and SMP have been doing a lot of work for the past year. They were told, 'You have to improve, EoT is not there to do everything'. They have clearly made progress.

    "Today, they are more than challengers, they are clearly [ready to] ambush and Toyota will not be allowed to make mistakes. It's really the result of a lot of work.

    "I believe that Rebellion and SMP are teams that have become references in endurance [racing] through their work. We have seen a progression curve and we can trust them.

    "They showed that they were there in Spa, the gap was much smaller than last year. We're really going to see their true potential in Le Mans, we have a lot of expectations of that."

    Beaumesnil also said he is expecting another close fight between the two Toyota crews, who were free to race for the win between themselves for much of last year's race.

    "It's clear that the two Toyotas do not give each other any gifts, which is already very exciting to see," he said. "I can tell you that the #7 has shown at Spa that they still have a strong desire for victory and revenge.

    "They had no luck with mechanical problems but they are able to be in front, and we can see that there is an internal fight."
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    Spa weather saved Ferrari from finishing "absolutely last"

    Last weekend's terrible weather during the Spa FIA World Endurance Championship round saved Ferrari from finishing "absolutely last", reckons factory driver James Calado.
    The Briton finished less than a second behind the winning Aston Martin in the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE he shared with Alessandro Pier Guidi in a race affected by snow and rain.

    But the 2017 WEC champion believes that the two factory Ferraris were not capable of finishing any higher the ninth and 10th positions in which they qualified at the back of the class field had it been a dry race.

    "The team played it really well on the strategy and the car was very competitive in the rain — that's what got us up there," Calado told Motorsport.com. "You have to be happy if you if start from P9 and finish second."

    The sister AF GTE Pro entry driven by Sam Bird and Davide Rigon ended up sixth, and asked where the Ferraris would have finished in dry conditions, Calado replied: "Absolutely last - ninth and 10th."

    The rain allowed the Ferrari drivers to overcome its straightline speed deficiency under the current Balance of Performance.

    "We didn't go to Spa believing we could challenge for the victory, because sectors one and two are all about straightline speed," he said.

    The Ferrari drivers have complained that they are unable to pass GTE Am cars on the straights as a result of the BoP.

    Calado believes that he could have challenged the winning Aston Martin with Maxime Martin at the wheel had the race not been red-flagged with just over 11 minutes of the six hours remaining.

    "A couple of laps more, and I would have been in a position to have a go at the Aston," he said.

    Calado remains hopeful that the BoP for next month's Le Mans 24 Hours, which is not covered by the automatic system used in the shorter WEC races, will allow the Ferrari to be competitive.

    The results of Spa mean that he and Pier Guidi can no longer retain their WEC crown: the GTE Pro title battle is now between the two factory Porsche crews of Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz and Gianmaria Bruni.

    Estre and Christensen lead by 36 points with only 39 left to play for at Le Mans, after Bruni and Lietz were demoted from a podium finish by a post-race penalty for contact with Giancarlo Fisichella's GTE Am class Ferrari.
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    Great images Rob, thanks as usual, and what a race, shame about the championship but that BOP nonsense is a pain in the culo!

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    Looking Ahead to Monza with Alessandro Pier Guidi

    Reigning FIA World Endurance GTE Drivers Champion Alessandro Pier Guidi is racing in the 2019 European Le Mans Series with Swiss team Luzich Racing and along with teammates Nicklas Nielsen and Fabien Lavergne won the opening race of the season at Le Castellet.

    Now the driver from Tortona in Piedmont will return race at his home track of Monza as a reigning World Champion for Ferrari and also as the ELMS championship leader. We spoke to Alessandro ahead of the 4 Hours of Monza about his home race.

    Q: As an Italian Ferrari works driver, how special is it to race at Monza?

    “Everytime is special! You never get used to racing at Monza because of the history, because I am Italian and driving a Ferrari there is a lot of fun everytime. So you feel important, you are aware of the history and it is always a pleasure to drive at the Temple of Speed. I can’t wait to put the tyres on the road.

    Q: Le Castellet was a good result for the team. How important was it for you?

    “Of course it is always good to start the season with a victory as it is the first step of the goal to win the championship. It’s a new team and a new name in the ELMS, Luzich Racing. I raced with them in another championship last year and we won the championship. So I hope we can do the same here in ELMS, but we know it will be very difficult.”

    Q: While the LMGTE grid features ten cars, there are a lot of quality teams and drivers. Is that an important factor for you as a driver?

    “Yes, the level of the championship is not made by the number of cars on the grid; it is made by the level of the cars and the level of the drivers and the team. You can have a lot of cars but this doesn’t necessarily mean it is a high level championship. I prefer to race in a championship where all of the drivers can win and all of the teams are very strong, which makes it more challenging. We definitely have this in the ELMS this year.”

    Q: Because the FIA WEC Super Season hasn’t yet finished, you will race at Monza as a reigning FIA World Champion with Ferrari for the first time since winning the WEC title in Bahrain 2017. Will this give you an extra boost for the 4 Hours of Monza this weekend?

    “It is nearly one and a half years since I won the title with James (Calado) but we still have the title until after Le Mans. I will try to push more and to show why we won the world title. I always push so perhaps it will give me some extra motivation to do well at my home track.”

    The 4 Hours of Monza will take place on Sunday 12 May, which will be Round 2 of the 2019 European Le Mans Series.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wisepie View Post
    Great images Rob, thanks as usual, and what a race, shame about the championship but that BOP nonsense is a pain in the culo!
    thankyou Andy. My pleasure.

    Its been hard year or so, but AF Corse crews have done best they can with what been dealt. Hardest part to swallow was ACO/FIA not allowing the full EVO kit on the car. But loved this year racing. Had some nice results. Hope, we can get nice BoP break for Le-Mans they always have their own BoP. So
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