Tuesday 31 May 2011

24 Hour Le Mans: Peugeot Sport-« Our programme is geared towards Le Mans 24 hours »

Peugeot's challenge

image Not only is Le Mans the highlight of Team Peugeot Total’s season, but it is also an event apart on the motor racing calendar. It is an unpredictable and merciless competition which calls for meticulous preparation. The objective of the three new 908s will be to recover the trophy which the team won in 2009.

« Our programme is geared towards Le Mans 24 hours »

Coming to terms with this unique circuit is an incredible challenge which calls for meticulous, rigorous planning. The drivers, cars and technicians are subjected to an unrelenting test for the duration of the event which just has to be the toughest in the world. Peugeot has won Le Mans on three previous occasions: in 1992 and 1993 with the petrol-fuelled 905, and in 2009 with the diesel 908 HDi FAP. These successes enabled the brand to showcase the benefit of technologies which also feature on its road cars. Peugeot’s wide-ranging commitment to motorsport allows it to promote its values worldwide and the entire company shares the emotions which Peugeot Sport’s activities inspire. image

Our programme is geared towards this one race,” says Olivier Quesnel, the Director of Peugeot Sport. “Le Mans is magical; a legend; a myth, endurance’s racing’s Everest. It is a competition apart where nobody can afford to take anything for granted. That’s what makes defeat so cruel and victory such an elating experience. Just as we do every year, we have done everything in our power to arrive at Le Mans with the most competitive car possible and a fully-prepared team. We know that anything can happen in this race and we will need to produce a faultless display if we are to be first past the flag on Sunday afternoon. image

The early life of the Peugeot 908

To prepare for the new 2011 regulations that were due to come into effect, Peugeot Sport’s technical staff started to work on the current car immediately after the team’s victory at Le Mans in 2009. The following July, the main lines of the newcomer’s design were agreed and the V8 HDi FAP engine roared in anger for the first time on the bench at the team’s base in Vélizy, near Paris, on January 25, 2010. Six months later, on July 29, 2010, the car that would be unveiled as the ‘908’ on February 3, 2011, made its track debut at one of the PSA Group’s test circuits. image

Since then, the Peugeot 908 has taken part in 15 test sessions, including seven endurance runs, clocking up some 45,000 kilometres. Venues visited included Aragon, Le Castellet, Monza, Sebring, Magny-Cours and Le Mans. The 908 has also contested two races: the 12 Hours of Sebring and, as a final dress rehearsal, the Spa-Francorchamps 1,000km, on May 7. The Belgian classic saw the 908 claim its first outright win and the first one-two finish of its career. “Our car was above all designed for Le Mans,” underlines Bruno Famin, Technical Director. “It was competitive out of the box, and our priority throughout its development was to optimise its reliability. I believe we are close to achieving that objective, but you can never control absolutely everything in a race like the Le Mans 24 Hours. Every edition produces its share of surprises, and our hope is that we will have fewer surprises than has been the case in recent years, despite the fact that the 908 is an all-new car.” Judging by the 2011 season’s early races, the gap compared with the competition is particularly narrow and the changes made to the regulations shortly before Le Mans week are likely to produce an extremely close-run fight. “We don’t know who will be the fastest in practice. To get an accurate idea of how we compare in terms of performance, we will need to wait until the first stintof the race on Saturday afternoon,” observes Bruno Famin. image

We have always kept to our game plan by remaining focused on our preparations and objectives, without monitoring and analysing what our opponents have been up to,” insists Olivier Quesnel. “At the pre-Le Mans test day on April 24 we stuck to our programme, and the same will apply during the two days of practice during race week, because once the race is underway we will need to be in a position where we can fight for the win. We are aware that even the slightest mistake at Le Mans can be extremely costly, whether it involves the drivers’ job out on the circuit, our car or our pit-stop work. For that reason, we will need to produce an impeccable performance, in every domain. That is the mission for which we have prepared, but it’s a long, long way to the chequered flag. image

The Peugeot 908 in detail

Bruno Famin:We opted again for a closed-cockpit because there is no difference between opened- and closed-cockpit cars as far as their aerodynamic performance is concerned. With regards to the engine, we have capitalised on our experience by opting for a turbocharged diesel V8. Its characteristics are very close to those of the last V12, while the ‘vee’ angle is 90 degrees compared with 100 degrees previously, in order to optimise balance. The 3.7-litre V8 HDi FAP delivers 550 horsepower. To counter this significant power deficit which stems from the 2011 regulations, it was necessary to rework the aerodynamic package in order to significantly reduce drag. Last but not least, we have worked closely with our partner Michelin to produce a specific range of tyres.” The latest car is the third-generation Peugeot endurance prototype to race at Le Mans after the 905 (1991 to 1993) and the 908 HDi FAP (2007 to 2010). image

Three quality driver line-ups

The nine drivers who form the Team Peugeot Total’s line-up are the same as those who raced for the team in 2010, and they count among endurance racing’s very best. Throughout the past 12 months, they have been actively involved in the testing programme. They have also contested two races since the beginning of 2011 and attended a series of physical fitness programmes in Toulouse, which culminated in a final, open-air team-building week in Chamonix! “They know each other very well,” says Pascal Dimitri, Team Manager. “However, it is vital that they work and spend time together away from the racetrack a little. Forging a solid bond between them is primordial. Despite their strong individual characters, they form a very united squad.” image

Peugeot 908 N°7 (blue mirrors) : Alexander Wurz (AUT) – Marc Gené (ESP) – Anthony Davidson (GBR)
Alexander Wurz is the Peugeot driver who has enjoyed the most success at Le Mans. His four starts to date have harvested two wins: in 1996 with TWR, and in 2009 with Peugeot. The Austrian is still the youngest ever driver to have won Le Mans. Spaniard Marc Gené won in 2009 at third attempt after claiming second place in 2008. Anthony Davidson joined Team Peugeot Total in 2010. This will be the Briton’s fourth participation in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Peugeot 908 N°8 (white mirrors) : Franck Montagny (FRA) – Stéphane Sarrazin (FRA) – Nicolas Minassian (FRA)
These three French drivers boast 30 Le Mans starts between them, including 10 for Franck Montagny who has finished on the podium three times. His team-mates Nicolas Minassian and Stéphane Sarrazin have contested the French race 11 and 9 times respectively and have been stalwarts of the Peugeot Sport line-up ever since its return to endurance racing in 2007. Stéphane posted the fastest time in qualifying three years in a row, in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Peugeot 908 N°9 (red mirrors) : Sébastien Bourdais (FRA) – Pedro Lamy (POR) – Simon Pagenaud (FRA)
The 2010 pole-winner Sébastien Bourdais was born and raised in Le Mans. This will be his 10th participation in the race. Portugal’s Pedro Lamy will be racing in La Sarthe for the 12th time. His best result to date was second overall in 2007 with the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. The youngest member of the squad is Simon Pagenaud who has rapidly carved out a reputation for himself in endurance racing both in Europe and in the USA. This will be his fourth participation.

In addition to these nine drivers, the team’s reserve driver is Jean-Karl Vernay. Team Peugeot Total’s latest recruit completed the 10 mandatory laps at the pre-Le Mans test day on April 24 in order to be ready to step in if required. Finally, a fourth Peugeot will contest this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, namely the 908 HDi FAP which is run by Team Oreca-Matmut. The 2011 12 Hours of Sebring winners Panis/Lapierre/Duval will be an additional asset. image

24 Heures du Mans : round 3 of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup

For the first time, the Le Mans 24 Hours will count towards the ILMC (Intercontinental Le Mans Cup). After March’s 12 Hours of Sebring (USA) and early May’s Spa 1,000km (BEL), Peugeot enjoys a 17-point lead at the top of the provisional Manufacturers standings, while Team Peugeot Total tops the Teams’ order by eight points. “Our primary aim is to win Le Mans which is the most prestigious race in the world,” stresses Olivier Quesnel. “However, we will do all we can to defend our ILMC crown, too.” After Le Mans, which will earn double points, the calendar features four more races: Imola (ITA) at the beginning of July, Silverstone (GBR) in September, Petit Le Mans (USA) in October and Zhuhai (CHI) in November. image

Manufacturers :
1. Peugeot, 55 points
2. Audi, 38 points
Teams :
1. Team Peugeot Total, 27 points
2. Audi Sport Team Joest, 19 points
3. Team Oreca-Matmut, 18 points
4. Rebellion Racing, 12 points

Le Mans week highlights not to miss
- Monday, June 6: Chartres to Le Mans by bike*
At 8:30, all nine drivers and Olivier Quesnel, the Director of Peugeot Sport, will set off on a cycle ride from Chartres to Le Mans. This united, determined group will cover approximately 120 kilometres en route to scrutineering and documentation formalities at Le Mans (Place des Jacobins). (*Weather permitting).

- Thursday, June 9 (10:00): the 2009 Le Mans-winning 908 HDi FAP will take up residence in the Le Mans 24 Hours museum. During the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s press conference Peugeot will donate a replica of the 908 HDi FAP which won the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours in the hands of Wurz/Gené/Brabham.
- Thursday, June 9 (9:15) and Saturday, June 11 (12:10): EX1 demonstration lap. Within the framework of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s ‘Le Mans vers le Futur’ programme, the Peugeot EX1 electric concept car, which holds several records, will run a few laps on the 13 km circuit.
- Friday, June 10 (12:00): Peugeot press conference. Peugeot’s pre-race press conference will take place at its Parc du Raccordement hospitality facility, with Vincent Rambaud, the General Manager of Peugeot, Olivier Quesnel, Bruno Famin and all nine drivers in attendance.
- Saturday, June 11 (12:45): Peugeot RCZ parade laps. 10 Peugeot RCZs will lap the 13 km circuit with VIPs and drivers from Peugeot subsidiaries’ motorsport programmes on-board, including some of the drivers who are campaigning 207 Super 2000s in IRC (Intercontinental Rally Challenge) and national rally championships. They include Thierry Neuville (Belgium/Luxemburg), Bruno Magalhaes (Portugal), Guy Wilks (UK) and many others.

Follow the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours through the Peugeot Web TV

Introduced in 2010, Peugeot Web TV will once again provide fans with the opportunity to follow the race with Team Peugeot Total. Coverage will include behind the scenes glimpses, refuelling stops, on-board cameras and race action, plus the positions of the four Peugeots in real time, with commentary in French and English, starting from 14:00 on Saturday, June 11. www.peugeot-sport.com

It will also be possible to follow Le Mans week via Twitter, thanks to the Peugeot Sport app available for iPhone and Android smartphones, as well as via Facebook, not to mention the TV coverage of Eurosport and France Television.

Interesting Peugeot statistics for Le Mans :
- 1,680 guests
- 9,565 sq. metres of hospitality facilities
- 50,000 posters and 30,000 postcards

Team Peugeot Total’s programme
Monday, June 6
15:10 / 15:20 / 15:30: administrative scrutineering (cars N°7, N°8 and N°9)
15:40 / 15:50 / 16:00: technical scrutineering (cars N°7, N°8 and N°9)
Tuesday, June 7
15:00 to 15:30: media spot (Peugeot Sport motorhome)
Wednesday, June 8
14:00 to 14:30: media spot (Peugeot Sport motorhome)
16:00 to 20:00: free practice
22:00 to 00:00: qualifying practice 1
Thursday, June 9
15:30 to 16:00: media spot (Peugeot Sport motorhome)
19:00 to 21:00: qualifying practice 2
22:00 to 00:00: qualifying practice 3
Friday, June 10
12:00: Peugeot press conference (Peugeot hospitality area, Parc du Raccordement)
18:00: drivers’ parade
Saturday, June 11
9:00 to 9:45: warm-up
15:00: start of the 79th Le Mans 24 Hours
Sunday, June 12
15 :00 : end of the 79th Le Mans 24 Hours

Info and Photos: Peugeot Sport/Acreditated and Autorized Media Press.

Sunday 29 May 2011

24 Hour Le Mans: Dindo Capello : « Le Mans, it's a legend »

Dindo Capello : « Le Mans, it's a legend »

On 11th and 12th June, the Italian driver will race the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the thirteenth time. Throughout his twelve entries, the 3 time winner at Le Mans has been remarkably consistent.

Fourth in only his second Le Mans in 1999, he has never known anything other than the podium since 2000, and only two retirements. His first victory in 2003 left him with a very special memory.

Dindo Capello: "Winning for the first time at Le Mans driving a Bentley really helped me understand the story of 24 hours. This success evoked the early years of this legend to all the fans and the team members. It was really great to feel in tune with this epic story, and it made ​​us even more proud that Bentley launched the new Continental GT at that time. For me, Le Mans, it really has to do with the legend. In all motorsport movies I saw in my youth, there was always talk of Le Mans at one time or another. But I never had the opportunity to go before racing my first 24 hours in 1998, in the McLaren F1 GTR. "

Dindo Capello : « Le Mans, it's a legend »
Dindo Capello won again in La Sarthe in 2004 and 2008, this time for Audi. For the 2011 race, it will be for the conquest of a fourth success at the wheel of the R18 with Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish: Thirteen wins in the 24 hours between the three of them!

Jean-Philippe Doret
Photo : Dominique BREUGNOT - ACO/Nikon

Photo: CIRCUIT SPA-Francorchamps (Belgium), 1000 KM OF SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, May 7, 2011. With Kristensen and McNish, Dindo Capello gets the best result for the Audi R18 for its first race (3rd).

Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup: René Rast hits the jackpot in the Principality

Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, round 3 at the Formula 1 race in Monte Carlo/Monaco

René Rast hits the jackpot in the Principality

Stuttgart. When the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup took off into the most prestigious race of the year in Monte Carlo, the world-famous Casino was still closed. But still René Rast found his luck. In the picture postcard setting of the Principality on the Cote d’Azur, the German won round three of the world’s fastest international one-make series on Sunday at the wheel of VELTINS Lechner Racing’s 911 GT3 Cup. With this, he repeated his triumph of last year.

The race in the glamour world of the rich and beautiful is a unique challenge. The narrow street circuit is unforgiving of mistakes. Run-off zones are virtually non-existent, instead there are walls and crash barriers. Full concentration is needed from start to finish – this is the only way to get through the twisty labyrinth between luxury apartment blocks and high class boutiques safely. To finish the 16 laps sticking to the ideal line is gruelling work. Drivers change gears 34 times per lap, that’s about every 2.8 seconds. Ex-Formula 1 world champion Nelson Piquet once compared driving through the maze of streets to “flying a helicopter in the living room”. No one is immune to the fascination of this race. Driving in Monaco, say the pilots unanimously, is a fabulous experience. To win in Monaco is a dream.

On Sunday, René Rast fulfilled this dream for the second straight time. And hit the jackpot: Fastest in free practice, pole position, race winner and fastest race lap – with this, the reigning champion announced his comeback to the title fight impressively. Putting in a cracking start and following up with a solid drive at the highest level, he held off an attack from arch rival Nick Tandy. The Konrad Motorsport pilot from Great Britain again had to settle for second place at round three, but with this performance snatched the points’ lead to rank first overall ahead of his compatriot Sean Edwards. Driving for the Abu Dhabi by tolimit squad, Edwards, resident of Monaco and winner of Barcelona, saw the chequered flag in third place.

Jeroen Bleekemolen’s hopes of being the first Supercup pilot to win three races in Monaco were dashed this season. The Dutchman of Abu Dhabi by tolimit yielded fourth. Behind the double Supercup champion came Kuba Giermaziak from Poland. In the cockpit of VERVA Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, he took up the race from third on the grid, only to make a mistake in the first lap while accelerating out of the famous St. Devote and was unable to regain his lost positions over the rest of the race. Still, he was the leader of a group of pursuers with Sebastiaan Bleekemolen and Norbert Siedler. Driving for Team Bleekemolen, the Dutchman clinched sixth place, his best so far this season, while the Austrian competing for VELTINS Lechner Racing finished in seventh. Scoring his first top-ten result this season was Italy’s Alessandro Zampedri (Team Bleekemolen) in eighth, with Poland’s Robert Lukas (Hermes Attempto Racing) in ninth ahead of Supercup returnee Matt Halliday (MRS Team PZ Aschaffenburg) from New Zealand, 2009 winner of the BBS rookie classification.

Kévin Estre from France did not see the flag. After a strong start to the season, the ball in the race roulette of Monte Carlo rolled the wrong way for the newcomer and he retired early on in the race after an accident.

René Rast (winner): “What a great race. The boys in my team put a fabulous car on the track for me today. Thanks guys. I was able to pull away in the first laps and drove consistently fast times right to the flag. It feels really good to climb to the top of the podium again. We can keep doing this. Now we’ll continue the hard work and I’m already looking forward to the race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.”

Nick Tandy (second): “Second place and leader of the championship – not bad. As far as I’m concerned I can be second at every race as long as I can take home the title at the end. This is the first time I’ve led the series. René drove a great race, unbelievably precise, just millimetres away from the crash barriers. It was impressive. We were both faster than the rest today and that makes me optimistic.”

Sean Edwards (third): “A good start is decisive in Monaco. I got away well, but then I shifted to second gear too early and lost contact with the others. Still, third in Monaco is a great result. René was much quicker than all of us. I could match Nick’s times but he was too far ahead for me to have any real chance at second place.”

Race result
1. René Rast (D), VELTINS Lechner Racing, 26:05.841 minutes
2. Nick Tandy (GB), Konrad Motorsport, + 4.392 seconds
3. Sean Edwards (GB), Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit, +9.273
4. Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit, + 13.516
5. Kuba Giermaziak (PL), VERVA Racing Team, + 24.582
6. Sebastiaan Bleekemolen (NL), Team Bleekemolen, + 24.885

Drivers’ standings after 3 of 9 races*
1. Nick Tandy (GB), 54 points
2. Sean Edwards (GB), 52
3. René Rast (D), 43
4. Kuba Giermaziak (PL), 37
5. Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), 36
6. Christian Engelhart (D), 34

* It has yet to be decided if and when there will be a replacement for the cancelled Formula 1 race in Bahrain with two rounds of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup.

Round 4 of the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup takes place on 25 June as part of the Porsche Carrera World Cup on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife.
Public Relations and Media Motor and Sports Press Oliver Hilger

VLN: Efficiency yields first race win

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid

Efficiency yields first race win

Stuttgart. Refuel less, drive longer: That’s the recipe for success of the further developed 911 GT3 R Hybrid: At the wheel of the Version 2.0 race car, Porsche works drivers Richard Lietz (Austria), Marco Holzer (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) clinched the first victory for the innovative race car from Weissach at round four of the Nürburgring Long Distance Championship. While almost all other direct opponents had to pit three times to refuel, the Hybrid-911 made only two stops and with this yielded the first victory for a Hybrid-Porsche. Well known for its efficiency, Manthey Racing’s Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with Porsche factory drivers Marc Lieb (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) as well as Manthey pilot Lucas Luhr (Switzerland) also managed with two pit stops and made Porsche’s double victory perfect.

The second race outing of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid in the 2011 Long Distance Championship marked the successful conclusion to intensive preparations for the Nürburgring 24 hour race on 25/26 June. “We’re very pleased with the technical level of the vehicle and the reliability of the hybrid system,” says Hartmut Kristen, Head of Motorsport at Porsche. “Compared to our rivals, we saved one pit stop and with less external energy input our lap times were just as quick. This is what we mean by Porsche Intelligent Performance. I’m particularly thrilled that Manthey Racing’s 911 GT3 RSR also underlined the famed efficiency of the Porsche 911 models and clinched second place.”

Priority in the further development of the 911 GT3 R Hybrid was clearly on increasing efficiency. For this, the weight of the vehicle, including the hybrid components, was reduced from 1,350 to 1,300 kilograms. The weight of the hybrid components was reduced by 20 percent through targeted optimisation. The general hybrid layout was adopted from the 2010 model.

The output of both electric motors in the portal axle increased from 60 to 75 kilowatts each. For seconds at a time, pilots now have about 200 hp more at their disposal, which equals ca. 23 kW (32 hp) of additional conventional power per Nordschleife lap. Depending on the programming, this electrical power is automatically activated through use of the throttle pedal. Moreover, hybrid pilots can manually call up this extra power, for instance when overtaking. With the portal axle driving the front wheels, the four-litre, now 465 hp six-cylinder boxer engine, which drives the rear axle, was reduced in power and optimised with respect to fuel consumption.

“Our Hybrid-911 ran like clockwork,” says Marco Holzer. “Aside from the reliable technology and low fuel consumption, the key to success today was that we all drive at similarly high speeds and we didn’t make any mistakes,” adds teammate Richard Lietz.

The yellow and green Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR also drove a faultless race. Trailing by just seven seconds, Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Lucas Luhr claimed second place. “That race was almost perfect. Unfortunately our 911 GT3 R, which I shared with Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas, was shunted rather roughly from the track by a competitor,” says double-starter Marc Lieb.

Public Relations and Media
Motor and Sports Press
Oliver Hilger

Thursday 26 May 2011

24 Hour Le Mans: Audi connect also in Audi R18 TDI

Audi connect also in Audi R18 TDI

• Only two weeks remain until the 24 Hours of Le Mans
• Motorsport also a pioneer for connectivity solutions
• Audi connect ensures greater active safety

Ingolstadt, May 26, 2011 – the brand with the four rings bundles all applications
and developments connecting today’s and future Audi models with the internet,
the owner and the infrastructure under the term “Audi connect.” Motorsport is
also a pioneer in the area of connectivity solutions.
Communication between the car and pits is of great importance – especially at the
24 Hours of Le Mans. Audi connect also plays an important role in the active safety
in the new Audi R18 TDI fighting for overall victory at Le Mans on June 11/12.
As early as 2001 Audi Sport developed, in cooperation with tire partner Michelin, a
system that warns the driver of pressure loss in a tire. A sensor fitted to every Audi
R18 TDI wheel constantly monitors the tire pressure and transmits this data to the
car’s central electronic unit. If the pressure falls, a red warning light illuminates on
the high-tech steering wheel. The engineers in the pits are also warned immediately.
“Since the introduction of this technology, tire failures due to pressure loss and
subsequent potential accidents, have been completely avoided,” says Joachim
Hausner, Head of Complete Vehicle at Audi Sport.
No less than 1,005 data channels are permanently recorded on the Audi R18 TDI,
monitored and transmitted to the pits by telemetry. At Le Mans, about 16
Megabytes of data are accrued every lap which are then evaluated with the help of
state-of-the-art computer technology. Additionally, each time a car passes the pits
high frequency “burst” data recorded during the previous lap is transmitted which
helps engineers in their analysis thus guaranteeing the vehicle parameters are
always correct.
Theoretically the technicians could also control the most important vehicle
functions by telemetry from the pits with Audi connect. However, the Automobile
Club de l’Ouest (ACO) regulations prohibit this. For this reason radio traffic between
driver and pits plays an important role. Based on this data, which is studied and
interpreted by data and engine engineers, the race engineer gives the driver
instructions by radio. The brake balance between the front and rear axles, traction
control (ASR) and the engine maps (MAP and MIX) are changed the most frequently
while driving. These functions are all integrated into the steering wheel on the
R18 TDI. “We don’t have to take our hands off the steering wheel while driving,”
says Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen.
“Switch to MAP 3” or “Use ASR 10” are typical instructions given to the drivers from
their race engineers during the race. Every member of the crew is also connected by
radio and is therefore ready in a flash should the car make an unscheduled pit stop.
Audi connect is also used during pit stops: after an incorrectly fastened wheel nut
cost Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish almost certain victory at Le
Mans in 2007, a system that monitors the wheel gun tightening torque was
developed with partner Megaline. “In this way it’s guaranteed that no car leaves the
pits with the wheel nut torque too low,” confirms Joachim Hausner. Audi connect
helps active safety here as well.
The organizers are also permanently connected with the Audi R18 TDI: they monitor
the maximum permitted turbo boost pressure and compliance with the maximum
cockpit temperature. The fans also benefit from connectivity solutions: Three LED
modules fitted to the side of each car indicate which cars currently hold one of the
top-three positions in each class. The identity of the driver currently sitting at the
wheel is transmitted directly from the car to the electronic timing system and is
visible on the monitors.
Audi goes one step further: guests of the brand have been able to view the most
important telemetry data for years – and like the engineers in the pits also follow
the car on a digital image of the track which shows exactly where each car is at that
moment. The images from the onboard cameras are also broadcast live. For the
future Audi is also working on making the data and images available via Apps for
users of smartphones, iPads and internet websites – this also stands for Audi

Info and Photos: Audi Sport/acreditated media press.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

24 Hour Le Mans: Jan Charouz joins OAK Racing

OAK Racing just completed their driver line-up for the Pescarolo-OAK prototype #49 , the team's fourth car entered for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2011. Joining Nicolas De Crem and Shinji Nakano is Jan Charouz, reserve driver for the F1 Team Lotus GP.

In the 24 Hours 2010, the 23 year old Czech driver distinguished himself at the wheel of an LM P2 prototype of the French team: he finished 2nd in class and 7th overall, along with Matthieu Lahaye and Guillaume Moreau.

Francois Sicard (CEO of OAK Racing): "It was natural that Jan Charouz joins the drivers of #49. Given his performance on the LM P2 #35 last year and his title in the Le Mans Series 2009, and more generally of his career in single seaters, Jan is a welcome addition. It will have a role to play in ensuring continuity in LM P2 with the 'new' drivers Shinji Nakano and Nicolas De Crem. "

Jan Charouz: "As in 2010, I'll be at OAK Racing, a very professional team, able to bring a car able to win. My teammates are fast and experienced and I am confident we can get a very good result. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is an exceptional event and I look forward to being there! "

24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011 will be held on 11th and 12th June. Click here for entry list.

Jean-Philippe Doret (From press information of OAK Racing)


Photo: Photo : Clement MARIN - Oak Racing

Photo: NEVERS-MAGNY COURS CIRCUIT (FRANCE), 24TH MAY 2011. OAK Racing's fourth car, pictured in private testing, in the original pink and black colors of the French team.

VLN: Fantastic field for the fourth round of the season

Fantastic field for the fourth round of the season

The 53rd ADAC ACAS H&R Cup race will come up with a fantastic grid. More than 200 teams have submitted their entry to the fourth round of the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring 2001. The start of the race over four hours and running on the 24.360 kilometres long combination of the sprint circuit and the Nordschleife will be given on Saturday, 28th May at 12 o’clock exactly. According to the provisional entry list, the strongest category will be the class of GT3 cars which figures 27 teams. There will however also be at least three dozen of top cars all of which may well finish on the podium. The spectators may look forward to an exciting race with cars chasing for the overall victory but the cars in the middle field of this most popular endurance racing series in Europe, too, will fight for top positions in their respective classes. The entrance all around the Nordschleife is free. Tickets with admission to the paddocks and to the starting grid as well as to the open grandstands at the Grand Prix Circuit will be available at the box offices at the family-friendly price of 12 Euro. A 30 minutes summary will be shown in the TV channel Sport1 on 4th June at 19:00hrs.

The start list figures a great variety of sports cars and dream cars. The Aston Martin V12 Zagato for example will make its world debut in racing. The super sports cars based on the V12 Vantage was prepared for racing in Italy by the design workshop with the same name and it was presented to the public not until last weekend. A limited edition is planned for the year 2012. With the participation at the Nordschleife, Aston Marti remains in line with its company policy to test standard production cars extensively under racing conditions at the “Green hell” before their release. Aston-Martin chief engineer Chris Porrit, Richard Maeden and Peter Cate (all from Great Britain) will share the cockpit in this powerful race car.
In preparation of the ADAC Zurich 24h Race, the Audi factory team will come to the Nürburgring with the teams of Abt Sportsline as well as Phoenix-Racing and four R8 LMS and a number of strong drivers. Well represented will also be the Need for Speed Team Schubert which has entered three BMW Z4 GT3 with a 2011 upgrade kit. The armada of SLS AMG GT3 from the House of Mercedes-Benz will be completed by Heico-Motorsport. The regular teams of the gullwing race car, Black Falcon, Horn Motorsport, Mamerow Racing and Rowe Racing will of course also join the event. Ferdinand and Johannes Stuck (both fro Austria) will furthermore compete for the second time at the Nordschleife in the Lamborghini LP560 GT3 of the team Reiter Engineering. The group of Porsche race cars will be very strong as usual, in first place Manthey Racing from Meuspath near the Nürburgring. For the H&R Cup race, the team around team manager Olaf Manthey has planned a direct comparative test with the ‘911 GT3 R’ entered in the GT3 class against the ‘911 GT3 RSR’ in the class of VLN Special up to 4000 cc cylinder capacity. Both car models have scored one podium position respectively at the second and the third championship races. The comparative test shall help to decide within the team which of the cars will be entered as spearhead for the 24h Race. In addition to further customer teams, Manthey Racing will also be responsible for the participation of the Porsche 911 GT3 Hybrid. This second generation of the innovative sports car with the energy recovery system will be driven by Marco Holzer (Lochau/ Germany), Patrick Long (USA) and Richard Lietz (Austria).

An appearance of a special kind will be provided by Michael Bäder (Mössingen/ Germany) and Tobias Hagemeyer (Cologne) with their BMW Z4. The team will bring the very popular V8 self-construction sports coupé race car to the start in class SP7. The last time that the crew raced together in the endurance racing championship was in 2009 at the 6h Race.

The Nordschleife attracts participants from all over the world
Since a long time, the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring has finished to be just an insiders’ tip. Participants from all over Europe have meanwhile regularly joined the series. But the number of entries from the rest of the world is nowadays also constantly increasing, a fact which is certainly a consequence of the professional organisation and the international communication of the series, but which is also due to the unique appeal of the Nordschleife. The provisional entry lists includes participants from Australia, Ecuador, Japan, Jordan, Canada, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. With Warren Luff and Craig Lowndess from “down under”, a very special team will have the longest journey to travel to the Nürburgring. The two stars of the V8-Supercars Series celebrated position two with their Audi R8 LMS of the team Audi race experience at the 12 Hour Race in Bathurst Australia in February. A lasting experience, as the return visit to Germany will now follow in less than six month time. “I hope that this was not my last start in an Audi R8 LMS”, said Luff at that time. “The R8 LMS must be the best race car I’ve ever driven. Audi has a great tradition in endurance races and I hope I may become part of it.” They both will now have the chance to do so at the 53rd ADAC ACAS H&R Cup race, when they will make their debut at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

Info and Photo: vln.de

24 Hour Le Mans: Former winners at the start-line.

Photo : Pierre BARRAU - ACO/Nikon

Twelve former winners will be at the start line on the 11th and 12th June. Some of them share their successes at Le Mans.

Dindo Capello has three victories with Tom Kristensen. Guy Smith was their team-mate in 2003, while Allan McNish won in 2008 with Capello and Kristensen. Ten years earlier, at the 24 Hours 1998, the Scottish driver shared with Stephane Ortelli in his most recent win at Le Mans for Porsche. Lately, Alexander Wurz and Marc Gené won overall in 2009 in a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. Audi's Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller were winners in 2010, they will be teammates again this year driving the new R18.

Tom Kristensen (Audi R18 n°3, LM P1) : 8 wins (1997-2000-2001-2002-2003-2004-2005-2008)
Dindo Capello (Audi R18 n°3, LM P1) : 3 wins (2003-2004-2008)
Alexander Wurz (Peugeot 908 n° 7, LM P1) : 2 wins (1996-2009)
Allan McNish (Audi R18 n°3, LM P1) : 2 wins (1998-2008)
Jan Lammers (Oreca-Swiss Hytech n°5, LM P1) : 1 win (1988)
Christophe Bouchut (Lola-Honda n°33, LM P2) : 1 win (1993)
Stéphane Ortelli (Ferrari 458 Italia n°59, LM GTE Pro) : 1 win (1998)
Guy Smith (Lola-Toyota n°13, LM P1) : 1 win (2003)
Marc Gené (Peugeot 908 n°7, LM P1) : 1 win (2009)
Timo Bernhard (Audi R18 n°1, LM P1) : 1 win (2010)
Romain Dumas (Audi R18 n°1, LM P1) : 1 win (2010)
Mike Rockenfeller (Audi R18 n°1, LM P1) : 1 win (2010)

Jan Lammers, who celebrates his 55th birthday on the 2nd June, is the 'senior' former winner at the start of this year's race. Raced his first 24 Hours in 1983, the year Mike Rockenfeller was born, who will be 28 on the 31st October.

You can see the entry list here.

Jean-Philippe Doret


Photo : Pierre BARRAU - ACO/Nikon

Photo: 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, PODIUM, June 13, 2010. Who will succeed Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas and Mike Rockenfeller? We will find out on 12th June at 15:00 at the finish of the 24h 2011.

Le Mans 24h: Schedule of events

The city of Le Mans prepares to live to the soundtrack of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A full programme of exciting events awaits spectators of the greatest endurance race in the world.

Practical Information : access to the circuit ; tickets ; maps of the circuit

Sunday 5th June
14h30 – 18h50 : Scrutineering
In the city centre of Le Mans, Place des Jacobins. A chance to see cars and drivers close-up. Entry free.

Monday 6th June
09h30 – 17h30 : Scrutineering

Place des Jacobins. Entry free..

Tuesday 7th June
17h00 – 18h00 : Autograph Session
Sucessful last year, autograph sessions return in 2011. It takes place in the pit lane. Access is free to holders of « enceinte générale » tickets
22h00 – 00h00 : Showing of the film Le Mans
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film's release, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest and CBS/Paramount Home Entertainment present the film in full. Rendezvous in the centre of pit straight. Access free to all holders of « enceinte générale » tickets.

Wednesday 8th June
16h00 – 20h00 : Free Practice
24 Hours of Le Mans (Entry List)
20h30 – 21h30 : Free Practice Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli
21h00 – 00h00 : Concerts

Raphaël and Sarah Bessie are on la scène near the Dunlop bridge, on the outfield of the circuit. Access open to all holders of « enceinte générale » tickets.
22h00 – 00h00 : Essais Qualificatifs 24 Heures du Mans (Liste des engagés)

Thursday 9th June
16h00 – 17h00 : Qualifying Le Mans Legend
17h30 – 18h30 : Qualifying Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli
19h00 – 21h00 : Qualifying for 24 Hours of Le Mans (Entry list)
21h00 – 00h00 : Concerts

Julian Peretta and Mia Wallas are on la scène near the Dunlop bridge, on the outfield of the circuit. Access open to holders of « enceinte générale » tickets.
21h15 – 21h35 : Demonstration 'Le Mans towards the future'
22h00 – 00h00 : Qualifying 24 Hours of Le Mans (Entry List)

Friday 10th June
10h00 – 20h00 : Pit Walk.

Pit lane open all day to see final preparations of the teams. Access open to all holders of « enceinte générale » tickets.
18h00 – 20h00 : Drivers Parade
Celebrate of the heros of Le Mans in a festive style. Spectators come from all over France, but also British, Dutch, Germans, Danes, Italians, Spanish, and even a few Americans and Japonese… The event takes place in the city centre of Le Mans. Free access.

Saturday 11th June
09h00 – 09h45 : Warm-Up for 24 Hours of Le Mans (Entry List)
10h05 – 10h50 : Race Le Mans Legend
11h15 – 12h00 : Race Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli
12h10 – 12h30 : Demonstration 'Le Mans towards the future'
14h22 – 15h00 : Start procedure begins for 24 Hours of Le Mans
15h00 : Start of 79th 24 Hours of Le Mans (Entry list)
21h00 – 24h00 : Concerts

Razorlight and Concrete Knives on la scène stage near the Dunlop bridge, on the outfield of the circuit. Access open to all holders of « enceinte générale » tickets.

Sunday 12th June
15h00 : Finish of 79th 24 Hours of Le Mans (Entry List)

Julien Hergault


Tuesday 24 May 2011

24 Hour Le Mans: Hope Racing join the list of teams invited to the 24 hours 201

Photo : - Julien Hergault - ACO/Nikon

Last weekend, the LM P1 Oreca (#5) hybrid prototype of the Swiss team met the approval of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.

It will be driven by Steve Zacchia in Sarthe (third appearance at the 24 Hours), Casper Elgaard (eighth appearance, winner in the LM P2 Porsche RS Spyder in 2009) and Jan Lammers (22nd participation and winner in 1988 with Jaguar). This will be the first hybrid prototype for the start of 24 Hours. It is powered by a turbocharged four-cylinder Swiss Hytech engine, combined with a kinetic energy recovery system developed in England.

Unless there are any unexpected last-minute withdrawals, the entry list of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2011 is now closed. Two cars are still in reserve: the second Ford GT of Robertson Racing and Young Driver Aston Martin Vantage of the AMR. Scrutineering will take place on the 5th June and 6th June, and the race 11th and 12th June 2011

The schedule for the week of 24 hours is HERE.

Jean-Philippe Doret

Info: lemans.org

Photo : - Julien Hergault - ACO/Nikon

Photo: Paul Ricard HTTT (Le Castellet), 6 Hours of Le Castellet, 1st April 2011. Static presentation of the 01 hybrid Oreca Hope Racing in the first round Le Mans Series 2011

Monday 23 May 2011

24 Hour Le Mans: Drummer-drivers at Le Mans

Photo : Philippe Chemin - ACO/Nikon

French singer/songwriter, David Hallyday is also a great drummer... and the third to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans over the last three decades.

David Hallyday was only thirteen when Nick Mason, the drummer for Pink Floyd, participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time, a few months before the release of the double album 'The Wall'. It was this year that the drummer-driver managed his best finish with 18th place at the wheel of a Lola T297. The following year he finished 22nd in a Lola, and one of his teammates was none other than Martin Birrane, the current owner of the British manufacturer. His last three entries (1982-83-84) resulted in retirements.

In 1987, it was the turn of Swede Slim Borgudd, the drummer of ABBA, to appear in La Sarthe in a Tiga prototype, but failed to qualify. It was his only attempt at Le Mans, but note that in 1982 he raced in Formula 1 for Tyrrell, with teammate and future winner of 24 Hours of le Mans: the late Michele Alboreto (1956-2001), the 1997 winner with Tom Kristensen and Stefan Johansson.

David Hallyday has been a recognized artist since the mid 80's during his first appearance in the 24 hours in 2003 in a Courage prototype. For his next two appearances, he entered under his real name (David Smet) in LM GT1 and twice to finished in 28th position: in the Corvette in 2007 and a Saleen in 2008. On the 11th and 12th June, he will return to the prototype of Team Oreca Matmut, who won the opening round of the 2011 ILMC at Sebring with Peugeot 908 HDi FAP. A comeback that honors the legacy of Nick Mason, pioneer drummer-driver in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Jean-Philippe Doret

Info: Lemans.org

Photo : Philippe Chemin - ACO/Nikon

Photo : LE MANS (FRANCE), TECHNICAL VERIFICATION OF THE 2008 24 HOURS, 9TH & 10TH JUNE. David Hallyday (centre) with his team mates Christophe Bouchut (left) and Patrick Bornhauser (right).

24 Hour Le Mans: Dr. Ullrich: speed and ease of repair ...

For now, the score of the match between Audi and Peugeot at Le Mans is 2-1 to the German manufacturer after the victories of 2008 and especially the magnificent triple in 2010. However, the Ingolstadt based manufacturer, whose racing department is headed by Dr Wolfgang Ullrich did not rest on its laurels during the off-season. Early 2011, in compliance with new regulations in LMP1, the R15 plus made its final appearance at the Sebring 12 hours, giving way to the R18.

"The R15 had the hardest life", confided Dr. Ullrich, "because it was an open car, and even when the car made its first appearance, it was already clear that the closed prototypes had the advantage. The car was never at its peak, yet it won Le Mans, " he added with a mischievous smile.

While the R15 was not the fastest car in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2010, it still broke the distance record which dated from 1971. Like its predecessors, the R8 and R10 and its replacement the R18, it was designed around the compromise between speed and ease of operation. This last feature has often been admired, not only fans but also competitors. Remember that the complete change of gearbox had been reduced to 8 minutes on the Audi R8 before the amendment of the regulations, but also that victims in 2004 of an exit from the circuit in the same corner after a competitor has covered the track with oil. JJ Lehto and Allan McNish managed to bring their damaged cars to the pits before returning and finishing the race, with a podium finish for the Finn.

"In endurance, it is important to make a repair in one or two laps," said the Head of Audi Motorsport. "With the level of competition today, major interventions are impossible without significant loss of position. "

Finally, will the German carmaker follow the lead of French rivals with a hybrid prototype? The response of Dr. Ullrich was clear: "No, for me, the hybrid, it's just marketing! "

We should therefore see the great German diesel engine for a long while. The R18 has already set itself apart from its ancestors: it did not win at its first race, the 1000 km of Spa. Is that a good or a bad omen? We will know the answer on the 12th June at 3pm ...

Interview by Cécile Bonardel


Photo : Nicolas COUSSEAU - ACO/Nikon

24 Hour Le Mans: Lola Aston Martin returns to La Sarthe

Although Aston Martin seem to have some difficulty in the development of the new AMR-One, the withdrawal of the Honda of Highcroft Racing will allow the Lola-Aston Martin coupé to appear in La Sarthe on the 11th and 12th June. It carved out a remarkable series of successes under the legendary blue and orange colours of Gulf Oil in 2009 and 2010.

In 2009, it won in its first season in the Le Mans Series., with two victories in five races. Aston Martin Racing Team won the LM P1 classification with Tomas Enge, Stefan Mücke and Jan Charouz driving. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the same trio had a superb fourth place that year behind two Peugeot 908 HDi FAP and an Audi R15. In 2010, Stefan Mücke, this time with Harold Primat and Adrian Fernandez, took sixth place.

Besides the presence of Kronos Racing 24 Hours 2011, this beautiful coupé, including the front grille reminiscent of the beautiful road-going Aston Martins, has continued its career in the U.S. under the banner of Team CytoSport, a favourite of the American Le Mans Series: The U.S. team won the second round in 2011 at Long Beach (California).

Jean-Philippe Doret

Info: lemans.org


Photo: LOS ANGELES, California (USA) CIRCUIT OF LONG BEACH, April 16, 2011. Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr take the last victory of the Lola-Aston Martin.

Porsche Mobil1 Super Cup: Green light for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the world’s fastest city traffic

Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup, round 3 at the Formula 1 race in Monte Carlo/Monaco

Green light for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup in the world’s fastest city traffic

Stuttgart. They are the craziest days of the year. When the Grand Prix circus descends on Monaco, the Principality on the Cote d’Azur is turned upside down. First flower tubs, parking meters and traffic signs are removed to make room for barriers, concrete blocks and high fences and create the world’s most famous city circuit. With this perfect backdrop, the Porsche Mobil1 Supercup holds its third race of the season on 29 May.

“Driving in Monaco is fantastic, and to win here is the ultimate,” says two-time Supercup champion Jeroen Bleekemolen, who has had the pleasure of this sensation twice. For the race in his adopted home where he knows every kerb and corner well, the Abu Dhabi by tolimit pilot from the Netherlands has particularly big plans: “No one has achieved three Supercup victories in Monaco yet. I want to be the first to manage this feat.”

But it will not be easy. “You can’t afford to make one mistake in Monaco. You only have a chance when everything runs absolutely smoothly,” Jeroen Bleekemolen says about the challenging circuit with its world renowned corners like “Casino” and “Rascasse”. Run-off zones are virtually non-existent, walls and crash barriers are uncomfortably close to the ideal line. The ex-Formula 1 World Champion Nelson Piquet once compared driving in the street maze of Monte Carlo to “flying a helicopter in your living room”. Last year’s Monaco winner, René Rast (Germany) from the VELTINS Lechner Racing squad, doesn’t see it quite so dramatically. “The circuit of Monaco is actually not what drivers dream about. There are many narrow corners and masses of bumps that really shake you up. If you’re going to make a mistake then you’d better make it where there is some space beside the track, otherwise it’ll be the last mistake you make in this race. A good qualifying result is more important here than at any other race on the calendar.” Despite all the professional judgements, he simply can’t ignore the fascination of the race. “Driving with such a backdrop is something very special for us all. My victory here last year was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my career.”

Travelling to the most prestigious race of the year as points’ leader is Sean Edwards. After the Abu Dhabi by tolimit pilot claimed his first win of the season in Barcelona, the British-born, Monaco-resident is confident he can bring home more points. Also looking forward to the demanding city circuit are Konrad Motorsport teammates, Christian Engelhart and Nick Tandy. After his surprise win at the season-opener in Istanbul, the German is keen not to lose touch with the overall leaders. The Briton hopes to clinch his first victory of the season after yielding second from both Istanbul and Barcelona. Tandy too thinks a good grid position is the key to success because overtaking is very difficult in Monaco. “There are two places where overtaking might work,” he says. “But only if the guy in front makes a mistake.”

TV stations Eurosport (9.45 hrs) and Sky (9.40 hrs) broadcast the race in Monaco live. Eurosport also televises highlights of the race at 23.30 hrs in its programme “Motorsport Weekend Magazin”.

Points’ standings after 2 of 9 races*

Drivers’ classification
1. Sean Edwards (GB), 36 points
2. Nick Tandy (GB), 36
3. Christian Engelhart (D), 29
4. Kuba Giermaziak (PL), 25
5. Norbert Siedler (A), 24
6. Kévin Estre (F), 22
Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), 22

BBS rookie classification
1. Kévin Estre (F), 22 points

Team classification
1. Konrad Motorsport, 63 points
2. Team Abu Dhabi by tolimit, 56
3. VELTINS Lechner Racing Team, 45

* It has not yet been decided if and when the cancelled Formula 1 race and Porsche Mobil1 Supercup double-header in Bahrain will be followed up with a replacement.

Public Relations and Media
Motor and Sports Press
Oliver Hilger

VLN: DTM stars expected at the Ring

DTM stars expected at the Ring

The entry list for the 53rd ADAC ACAS H&R Cup race is gradually getting complete. A number of stars from the DTM will join the grid for the fourth round of the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring and the penultimate possibility to test for the ADAC Zurich 24h Race in June under racing conditions.

Mattias Ekström (Sweden) and Timo Scheider who lives in Austria will start for the Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline in an Audi R8 LMS. They will be supported by Luca Ludwig (Kempten/ Germany) and Christopher Mies (Heiligenhaus/ Germany) as well as Christian Abt (Kempten/ Germany) and Christer Jöns (Ingelheim/ Germany). The latter is a true returnee. The winner of the VLN Junior Trophy in the years 2008 and 2009 is currently competing in the ADAC GT Masters for the team Abt. Scheider has already scored a class win in the endurance racing championship whereas Ekström has so far not yet had any luck at the Nordschleife.

Another Audi works driver from the DTM will be entered by the team H&R Cup to join the grid. Edoardo Mortara (Switzerland) will share the cockpit of the spectacular Golf24 entered by Volkswagen-Motorsport with Patrick Bernhard (Magdeburg/ Germany) and Nicki Thiim (Denmark). Mortara makes his debut in DTM this year. Last year he was dominating the Formula 3 Euro Series and left his marks on the rookie series. Another debut for Mortara now in racing at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. In order to gain straightaway double experience, he is also entered in a Volkswagen Scirocco, together with the current Dakar Rally winner, Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar), the triple Formula 1 Grand Prix winner Johnny Herbert (Great Britain) and Bernd Ostmann (Gerlingen/ Germany), chief editor of the Motor Presse Stuttgart.

In addition to the current DTM stars, once again about 500 drivers will be on the entry list of the 53rd ADAC ACAS H&R Cup race, starting from ambitious hobby drivers up to professional race drivers. The start of the race over four hours will be given on 28th May at 12 o’clock exactly. The grid positions will be based on the results achieved in timed practice between 08:30 until 10:00hrs.

Info and Photo: VLN.de

Sunday 22 May 2011

Blancpain Endurance Series: Vita4One Ferrari Triumphs in Spain

Vita4One Ferrari Triumphs in Spain

The nr1 Vita4One Ferrari 458 of Michael Bartels, Frank Kechele and Nico Verdonck took their first victory in the Blancpain Endurance Series at Navarra in Spain, finishing 17 seconds ahead of the Belgian Audi Club Audi R8 LMS of Stephane Ortelli, Bert Longin and Filipe Alburquerqe. Ortelli, starting from Pole Position held the lead until Kechele took the lead on lap 17. The Vita4One Ferrari then set the pace for the rest of the race. Round 1 winners Gianluca Roda, Raffaele Gianmaria and Paolo Ruberti taking the final podium place in the AutOrlando Porsche 997 GT3 R to maintain their championship lead after two races.

The Pro-Am Cup Class was won by the nr20 SOFREV Auto Sport Promotion Ferrrari 458 Italia of Ludovic Badey, Franck Morel and Jean-Luc Beaubelique, with Morel leading the race until the final pitstops and Beaubelique taking the chequered flag in 5th overall one lap behind the leading four Pro Cup class cars. The GT3 Gentlemen Trophy was won by Round 1 winner George Cabannes in the nr31 Ruffier Racing Lamborghini, with Cabennes being joined by rally driver Fabien Michal, who was taking part in his very first circuit race.

The GT4 Cup went to the nr61 Lotus Driving Academy Lotus Evora of Freddy Barth, Rolf Maritz and Lorenz Frey after the leading Lotus Italia Evora of Greg Mansell retired with gearbox failure. The GT3 Cup De Lorenzi Racing Porsche 997 GT3 of Luigi Emiliani, Sergio Negroni and Marco Cassera struggled to reach the chequered flag after the gearbox lost 5th and 6th gears but the Italian's crossed the line to lift to take the GT3 Cup.


Thirty cars lined up on the grid for Round 2 of the Blancpain Endurance Series, with the nr 65 Gentle Swiss Racing Maserati missing from the line up with a rear axle issue. Stephane Ortelli in the nr32 Belgian Audi Club Audi R8 led the cars into the first turn as the race began, with the nr9 AutOrlando Porsche of Gianluca Roda moving ahead of Jack Gerber in the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari to take second place. The AF Corse Ferrari was also passed by Frank Kechele in the Vita4One Ferrari on the run into Turn 9, with the German closing the gap to challenge the second placed Porsche.

Ortelli continued to lead the race as Kechele challenged Roda, but it took several laps before the Vita4One Ferrari moved ahead and started to close the 3 second gap that Ortelli had managed to open up to his rivals. While Kechele was charging forward, Roda’s Porsche came under pressure from the two SOFREV ASP Ferrari’s of Ludovic Badey in the nr20 458 and Julien Jousse in the nr10 Ferrari.

In the GT4 Class the nr 63 RJN Motorsport Nissan of Alex Buncombe was being reeled in by the two Lotus Evora’s of Edoardo Piscopo and Fredy Barth and on lap 11 the Nissan slipped to third place in the GT4 Cup.

The nr24 Blancpain Reiter Lamborghini of Marc A Hayek, which had started at the back of the grid following a blown engine in qualifying, was making rapid progress up the field but Hayek’s charge was brought to a halt when the Lamborghini made an unscheduled pitstop on lap 12. The problem was traced to the battery but after several more trips to the pits the round 1 class winner was forced to retire.

Back at the front of the field Kechele was able to close the gap to the leading Audi to less than a second. On lap 17 the nr22 Sport Garage Ferrari 430 of Philip Shearer went off at the last corner and was parked at the side of the track. There was a bit of confusion when some drivers said they saw Safety Car boards being shown and Ortelli decided to slow down. Kechele, who made the decision that the Safety Car wasn’t deployed, closed right up to the Audi and swept into the lead. Kechele then set about building a 5-second lead to his rivals as the Ferrari continued to run faultlessly.

On lap 24 the Safety Car was deployed when the nr50 AF Corse Ferrari 458 of Jack Gerber went off the track at Turn 15 and hit the barriers, destroying the front end of his car and the track was covered in debris. The pitlane suddenly came alive as teams rushed to take advantage of the situation.

At the restart on lap 29 the nr20 SOFREV Ferrari of Ludovic Badey was leading the race having failed to complete its first stop. Badey continued to lead when the second Safety Car period came into force after the nr73 De Lorenzi Racing Ginetta G50 of Diego Alessi caught fire. The back of the GT4 Class car was well alight when the Italian pulled over after Turn 14 and made a rapid exit to safety. The lead Ferrari pitted and the lead went to the nr1 Vita4One Ferrari, now with Nico Verdonck at the wheel.

After the marshals had extinguished the fire and dragged the stricken Ginetta behind the barriers racing resumed. Verdonck started to pull ahead of Bert Longin in the nr32 Audi, who was being caught by the nr9 AutOrlando Porsche of Raffaele Gianmaria and the nr33 Belgian Audi Club R8 of Marcel Fassler. On lap 40 Longin was passed by the Porsche at the last corner and then three laps later fell victim to Fassler’s Audi when the Swiss driver followed two back markers who passed Longin’s Audi to un lap themselves.

By lap 51 Verdonck was a comfortable 8 seconds ahead of Gianmaria’s Porsche and 15 seconds ahead of the third placed Audi. Longin, now in 4th, was coming under pressure from the SOFREV Ferrari of Patrice Goueslard and decided to pit on lap 59 to hand over to Felipe Albuquerqe.

Verdonck pitted on lap 66 just before Gianmaria brought the AutOrlando Porsche for its second and final stop. Verdonck handed over to reigning GT1 World Champion Michael Bartels who regained the track over 15 seconds ahead of the Porsche and looked set to win his first race in a GT3 car. The nr20 Ferrari was still leading the race on the road but still had to make its final stop, but not before Bartels swept past Gouesland to take the lead on lap 72.

As the race entered the final stages only four cars were on the lead lap, the nr1 Vita4One Ferrari, the nr9 AutOrlando Porsche and the two Belgian Audi Club R8s. Paolo Roberti was struggling with the Porsche’s gearbox, which didn’t have first gear, allowing Albuquerqe in the nr32 Audi to close and pass on the inside of the first corner on lap 92.

Meanwhile disaster struck the nr70 Lotus Italia Evora of Greg Mansell. With a one lap advantage over their nearest rivals the Lotus Italia team looked set to repeat their Monza win but the gearbox had other ideas and failed on lap 89, forcing Mansell into retirement and handing the class win to the Lotus Academy Evora of Lorenz Frey.

As the final laps counted down the Vita4One team got set to celebrate and they did just that as Michael Bartels took the chequered flag to win Round 2 of the Blancpain Endurance Series in Navarra.

The next round will be the Total 24 Hours of Spa in Belgium on the 28-31 July.

CLICK HERE for the final result

CLICK HERE for the Race Facts

CLICK HERE for the Championship Positions (PDF Document)

Blancpain, a tradition of innovation for over 275 years

In 1735, Jehan-Jacques Blancpain began his watchmaking activity and installed his first workshop on the upper floor of his family home in Villeret, a village in the Swiss Jura mountains. By inscribing his name in the official communal property register, this pioneer created an establishment that is now the world’s oldest watch brand.

Throughout its history, Blancpain has succeeded in maintaining solid continuity in its capacity for innovation and its respect for traditional horological values. Whether by perfecting complications, designs and production methods, or by exploring new horizons, the Manufacture has been devoted for more than 275 years to taking the art of watchmaking to places it has never yet ventured. From the first models created in the 18th century to the prestigious timepieces currently emerging from its workshops, Blancpain has forged an authentic tradition of innovation. The key to its success lies in the mastery of all fields involved in making an exceptional mechanical timepiece – from the creation of the movement and its components through to the functional design of the watch, along with the choice of materials and the extremely refined and entirely hand-crafted finishing.

Without ever straying from its precious heritage, the brand steadfastly pursues its quest for performance, precision and elegance by offering a range of exceptional timepieces equipped with the most sophisticated horological complications. The nature of its collections – including the pure lines of the Villeret, the efficient complexity of Le Brassus, and the avant-garde design of L-evolution – is firmly rooted in watchmaking traditions while constantly pushing them towards new limits. In the same way, the ladies’ collection celebrates beauty and refinement, while the Sport collection is composed of instrument watches that are ready to face any situation on land, under water or in the air.

While remaining unswervingly loyal to its values, Blancpain regularly associates with partners that share its passion for excellence. Whether in the field of motorsports, sailing, scuba diving, or that of gastronomy and the art of living, the Manufacture is proud of its partnerships that represent far more than mere co-branding. On the contrary, Blancpain commits itself fully to such forms of cooperation by joining forces with its partners in a determination to excel and to foster both creativity and authenticity.

Info:Jeff Carter/SRO- Acreditated Press Media

Photos: © VIMAGES/Fabre and Jeff Carter/SRO.