ALMS: Fisichella/Vilander join Risi for Miller.

Risi #62, Laguna Seca 2010

Risi Competizione's Ferrari F430 during the 2010 six hours of Monterey. - Image courtesy John Dagys/Speedtv.com

Risi Competizione has recently announced the addition of a second entry for round four of the ALMS at Miller Motorsports Park, Salt Lake City. The drivers named to run the second car are retired F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella, and Toni Vilander. Both of whom are current Ferrari factory drivers.

The talented pairing currently drive for the AF-Corse team in the Le Mans series, alongside fellow works drivers, team mates, and Risi regulars, Gimmi Bruni and Jaime Melo. Making the pairing prime candidates for integration with the Risi squad.

While the announcement has fueled speculation over the possibility of a second Risi entry for the remainder of season 2010, Team owner/Manager Giuseppe Risi has responded with the following statement:  “At the present time, it is intended that the drivers will be with us for just this one race.”

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ALMS: Post Laguna Seca Race Wrap.

Guy Smith + Laguna Seca Pole

Guy Smith takes the pole for Dyson Racing during Friday qualifying at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. - Image courtesy John Dagys/Speedtv.com

Round three of the 2010 ALMS championship saw the series travel to an unusually cool Monterey for the inaugural running of the six hours of Laguna Seca.

Friday’s qualifying session featured several unexpected outcomes. The first and most notable of which being Guy Smith’s pole setting lap for Dyson Racing. With the former Le Mans winner besting the time of nearest rival, David Brabham by a convincing seven-tenths of a second. The 1:12.338 lap saw Dyson’s Lola-Mazda to its maiden pole position.

Brabham later claimed to have been satisfied with Highcroft’s setup of the ARX01c, but conceded the team’s HPD machine was unable to compete with the obvious straight-line pace of Dyson’s Mazda-powered Lola, afforded by IMSA’s recent restrictor breaks. Highcroft would later be relegated to the rear of the grid as a result of a post-qualifying penalty.

Risi leads ESM/GT2 field into turn one.

#62 Risi leads the GT field into turn one. - Image courtesy John Dagys/Speedtv.com

The GT category once again played host to a brutal onslaught of speed from all marques on display. Risi Competizione’s Jaime Melo seized class pole with a 1:22.752. Johannes Van Overbeek would spark the second upset of the session, taking the #02 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry to second place on the grid to secure an all Ferrari front row.

Despite having achieved a fast lap merely .732 sec from the pole setting time, the usually dominant #45 Flying Lizards entry of  Bergmeister/Long were left to settle for eighth place on the grid.

Six hours Laguna Seca 2010 Start

Dyson leads the field approaching turn one. - Image courtesy John Dagys/Speedtv.com

Looking set to deliver on all fronts, the inaugural running of the six hour commenced in an eventful manner. Although starting from the rear of the grid, Highcroft’s Simon Pagenaud managed to fight through a gaggle of GT and challenge class competitors to reach fourth position overall during the opening laps of the event.

In somewhat of an ALMS tradition, Intersport’s #37 Lola-AER surged to the front of the field during the opening moments of the race, leading laps 1-38, later retiring due to engine related issues.

Intersport’s premature departure would see Highcroft inherit the race lead early during the second hour, with both MuscleMilk and Dyson entries remaining in close pursuit. The MuscleMilk squad would run as high as second before suffering race-ending transmission difficulties.

Despite early race dramas Dyson would remain in close pursuit of Highcroft throughout the event, with the squad’s Lola-Mazda even soaring to the overall lead during the fifth hour.

Clever strategy from Highcroft saw Franchitti maintain the race lead following a final pit stop. Dyson would minimise the margin to Highcroft below 26sec before suffering a race-ending mechanical failure in the dying stages of the race. Allowing the Connecticut-based squad to cruise to a second victory for 2010.

Highcroft + Laguna Seca six hours.

The Patrón Highcroft squad take the second victory of the 2010 season. - Image courtesy /Speedtv.com

Marked by intense battles between the factory-supported teams of Risi, P&M, RLR, and FLM, the GT race served as a brutal reminder of the pace at which the once Ferrari and Porsche dominated class now operates.

Dominated by no single entry, the GT class saw no less than six different runners share the lead throughout the duration of the race. Heated exchanges throughout the entire field marked the opening hours. The Rahal Letterman squad would maintain the race lead for the majority of hours two through four. With the team’s #92/90 entries running in 1-2 tandem on several occasions.

Flying Lizard Porsche, Rahal Letterman BMW, Pratt and Miller Corvette, Run to corkscrew

The #45 FLM Porsche of Patrick Long does battle with RLR/P&M in the dying stages of the race. - Image courtesy John Dagys/Speedtv.com

Despite an unfortunate result in qualifying, the #45 Flying Lizard entry would gradually work its way through the GT field over the course of the event. With Bergmeister reaching third in class after half race distance.

Clever pit strategy formulated by the Lizard’s chief strategist, Thomas Blam, saw the defending GT2 series champions inherit the lead late during the fifth hour. Leaving Porsche factory ace, Patrick Long to defend against a charging Joey Hand in the #90 RLR BMW, with the #3 Corvette of Oliver Gavin in close pursuit. The trio would ultimately finish in this order, with Long managing victory by a margin of .3sec to ensure another nail biting finish for GT class runners.

LMPC entries of Level5, Genoa, and GreenEarth Gunnar battle into the darkness.

LMPC entries of Level5, Genoa, and GreenEarth Gunnar battle into the darkness. - Image courtesy John Dagys/Speedtv.com

Now very much a part of the ALMS family, the LMPC category played host to a spirited exchange throughout the six hours between

Level5, Genoa, and Green Earth Gunnar entries. Much to the dismay of onlookers, the Team Gunnar entry would experience late race issues, forcing the #99 to a premature exit from the battle for class honours, but going on to finish third in category.

The #55 Level5,  and #36 Genoa entries were remained in an all out brawl to the finish, with experience proving to be the deciding factor. Bouchut taking the victory for Level5, followed by Genoa’s Tom Sutherland who would cross the line in second, a mere  seven seconds behind the endurance veteran.

Much like their faster GT class cousins the GTC category was, at no stage of the race, a single horse show. Entries of Alex Job, TRG, Velox, BlackSwan, and Orbit all experienced a share in the class lead over the course of the afternoon.

The #54 BlackSwan entry of Pappas/Bleekemolen/Bleekemolen would ultimately prevail, taking victory ahead of Andy Lally in the TRG #63, who would later cross the line to take second, followed by the #81 Alex Job entry of Leitzinger.

Zhuhai Confirmed as ILMC Finale Host.

Drayson Racing's Lola Judd, AsLMS 2009

Drayson Racing's LMP1 Lola-Judd Coupe during the 2009 Asian Le Mans series at Okayama - Image Courtesy John Dagys/Speedtv.com

Having been the subject of much speculation for many months, the location of the Chinese ILMC round has now been confirmed. In a recent press release Michelin’s LemansLive newspage revealed the Zhuhai circuit as the host of the Chinese event, the round acting as the finale for the inaugural running of the new series.

Located in the Guangdong region, the 4.3km track has hosted both FIAGT and A1GP events in the past, and will now play host to a selection of the worlds finest LMP and GT participants. While all details are yet to be confirmed, the round will feature factory supported LMP1 entries from both Audi and Peugeot outfits, aswell as English Lord Paul Drayson’s DraysonRacing squad.

More details on this as they emerge.

LMS: Post Spa Race Wrap.

Spa start

The #1 Peugeot of Gene leads the field approaching La Source, moments before a spin. - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffroy Barre.

Round two of the 2010 Le Mans Series took place under unusual circumstances. The combined effect of wild weather conditions, regional power outages, resulting carnage, and red flag period/race stoppage occurring during the first three hours of the 1000km event made for what turned out to be an eventful afternoon in the Ardennes.

As the first in a string of many incidents, Audi’s Andre Lotterer would fall victim to greasy track conditions in, damaging the #9 R15+ during pre-race warmup. Despite sustaining damage to to the rear of the chassis, Lotterer later rejoined the race (albeit ten laps behind overall leaders).

Spinning at La Source during the opening lap, Peugeot’s #3 entry became the second victim of the day. The Oreca-entered Peugeot met a similar fate shortly after, with Panis suffering a race a ending shunt at Radion as a result of the dampened conditions. Peugeot’s charge at the head of the filed continued unhampered, cars 1/2 running in tandem, closely followed by the #7 Audi of McNish.

#8 Audi of Fassler, Lotterer, Treluyer.

Lotterer defends from Lamy after rejoining the race. - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffroy Barre.

By the close hour one, Peugeot had maintained positions 1-3.  Clever pit strategy by the Audi crew saw McNish utilise a brief caution period to take the race lead momentarily, before the race was red flagged due to a region-wide power outage. Racing resumed under green shortly after 2.5 hours. Both marques shared the lead at separate points throughout hour three, with Capello seizing the opportunity to demonstrate the Audi’s performance during rain soaked conditions.

The remaining hours of the race saw an intense chase to the flag. Pit strategy once again played a crucial role in deciding the victor. In a late race gamble, Audi would opt to return for intermediate tyres during the #7 car’s final pit stop. A move that allowed Kristensen to minimise the margin to race leader Simon Pagenaud to a mere 26 seconds before losing pace due to rapidly drying track surface.

Pagenaud pilots the #3 Peugeot during the final hour of the race. - Image courtesy Endurance-Magazine.fr/Geoffroy Barre.

The seven time LM24 champion was left with little choice but to surrender to the pace of Sarrazin during the final laps of the race, relegating the #7 Audi to third overall. Pagenaud would cross the line in first to secure a 1-2 finish for the French marque.

Having commenced the day several laps down on its competitors (due to damage sustained during qualifying) the Strakka entry would be unable to regain time lost to competitors, and would later retire as a result of insufficient spare chassis supplies. RML was left to fly the remaining HPD flag.

Facing constant competition from OAK, and Quifel entries, the British team maintained a steady pace throughout the duration of the race that would see them take second in class.

OAK 3/4 positions.

OAK Racing's #35/24 Pescarolo-Judd entries running third/fourth. - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffroy Barre.

OAK’s Pescarolo-Judd package would again be outclassed by its competitors in terms of overall speed. Despite this, the teams’ #35/24 entries would secure third and fourth position in class. 2009 LMP2 series champions, Quifel regained their status as the team to beat after taking class victory.

Mathias Beche Matech Ford GT

Matech's Mathias Beche navigating a chicane between Le Combes and Malmedy. - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffroy Barre.

GT1 saw an influx of entrants fulfilling minimum (pre-LM24) series participation requirements. Despite speed and reliability issues, the presence of the classic supercar machinery was a notable addition to an already stellar field of GT runners. Having achieved an all-Ford front row in qualifying,  MarcVDS and Matech would continue to dominate throughout the event.

Despite the (short lived) presence of seasoned Le Mans Series competitors Luc Alphand Adventures, and a pseudo-AMR factory squad (YD-AMR). MarcVDS achieved its maiden LMS class victory, with Matech finishing a close second to round out a Ford dominated weekend in the category.

#96 AF Corse entry

Bruni pilots the #96 AF-Corse F430 to victory. - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffroy Barre.

Having taken pole position during Saturday’s qualifying session, the AF-Corse entry of Melo/Bruni looked set to be the Italian marque’s best hope of taking the fight to closest rivals, Porsche and BMW. The #96 maintained the class lead for most of hour one. Before a region-wide power failure, resulting in a prolonged red flag period, saw the Felbermayr entry of Lieb/Lietz inherit first position.

Melo would later take part in a lengthy battle for second position with AF-Corse sister car of Fisichella, Alesi and Vilander in the dying stages of the race. With the Schnitzer BMW of Andy Priaulx in close pursuit.

Lieb/Lietz Felbermayr Win

Felbermayr #77 of Lieb and Lietz take their second victory of the season. - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffroy Barre.

Following the restoration of power to the circuit and its facilities, racing resumed. The #77 Felbermayr crew (having been gifted a one lap buffer on their nearest rivals) later went on to battle with both CRS and Schnitzer entries during the remaining hours. In a flawless display by Porsche factory drivers Lieb and Lietz, the reigning LMS series champions secured their second victory of the season.

While their participation at Paul Ricard yielded less than desirable results, the Schnitzer BMW Motorsport crew were able to leave Spa with a more promising outlook. Both #78/79 cars displayed vastly improved pace over the course of the event, running as high as second and third during the race. Priaulx brought the #79 chassis to the checkered in fourth position to round out a vastly improved showing for the squad.

Punching above their weight once more, Formula Le Mans class participants provided fantastic viewing for onlookers. Hope PoleVision would run as high as fourth in category (that’s LMP2) at one point of the race, taking victory over fellow FLM participants Boutsen Energy Racing, and JMB Racing, taking second and third respectively.

Images courtesy Endurance-Magazine.fr // Geoffroy Barre

LMS: Spa Qualifying Results.

Peugeot + Spa qualifying.

The #3 Peugeot of Bourdais during today's qualifying session. - Image Courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffrey Barre

LMP1:

1 #3 LMP1 – LAMY Pedro/BOURDAIS /PAGENAUD – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP – 1:57.884
2 #9 LMP1 – BERNHARD /DUMAS /ROCKENFELLER – Audi R15 TDI – 1:58.519
3 #2 LMP1 – MONTAGNY /SARRAZIN /MINASSIAN – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP 1:59.421
4 #4 LMP1 – PANIS /LAPIERRE /DUVAL – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP – 1:59.623
5 #8 LMP1 – FASSLER /LOTTERER /TRELUYER – Audi R15 TDI – 1:59.707
6 #7 LMP1 – CAPELLO /KRISTENSEN /McNISH – Audi R15 TDI – 1:59.795
7 #1 LMP1 – GENE /WURZ /DAVIDSON – Peugeot 908 HDi – FAP – 1:59.989
8 #008 LMP1 – RAGUES /MAILLEUX /ICKX – Lola-Aston Martin – 2:02.413
9 #12 LMP1 – PROST /JANI – Lola B10/60 – Rebellion – 2:02.845
11 #13 LMP1 – BELICCHI /BOULLION – Lola B10/60 – Rebellion – 2:03.143

LMP2:

10 #42 – LMP2 – LEVENTIS / WATTS / KANE – HPD ARX-01c – 2:03.135
12 #25 – LMP2 – ERDOS /NEWTON / WALLACE – Lola- HPD – 2:05.681
13 #24 – LMP2 – LAHAYE /NICOLET – Pescarolo – Judd 2:07.159
14 #40 – LMP2 – AMARAL /PLA – Ginetta – Zytek-09S – 2:07.342
15 #29 – LMP2 – FRANCIONI Filippo/PIRRI Luca ITA/ITA Lola B09 – Judd 2:08.309
16 #30 – LMP2 – GERI /PICCINI /PICCINI – Lola Coupe B09-Judd – 2:08.398
17 #35 – LMP2 – MOREAU /HEIN – Pescarolo – Judd 2:09.104
18 #39 – LMP2 – NODA /de POURTALES /KENNARD – Lola B08/47-Judd 2:09.795
19 #48 – FLM – PILLON /VERDONCK /CAPILLAIRE – Oreca-09 – 09 2:13.743
20 #27 – LMP2 – FREY /MEICHTRY /BRUNEAU – Radical SR9 – Judd 2:13.912
21 #45 – FLM – KRAIHAMER /de CREM /DELHEZ – Oreca – 09 2:14.278
22 #49 – FLM – TOULEMONDE /ZOLLINGER /ZAMPATTI – Oreca-09  – 2:14.284
23 #47 – FLM – ZACCHIA /KAUFMANN /MORO – Oreca-09 – 2:15.611
24 #36 – LMP2 – SCHELL /Da ROCHA – Courage-Oreca LC75 – 2:16.832                                                                                                                                                                                                                             26 #43 – FLM – BARLESI /CICOGNANI /CHALANDONB – Oreca-09 – 2:17.345
47 #46 – FLM – KUTEMANN /BASSO /HARTSHORNE – Oreca-10 – 2:24.505
50 #41 – LMP2 – OJJEH /GREAVES /EBBESVIK – Ginetta-Zytek 09S – 59:59.999

Matech + Thomas Mutsch

Matech's Thomas Mutsch takes second position to secure an all Ford front row in GT1. - Image Courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffrey Barre

GT1:

25 #70 – LMGT1 – LEINDERS /PALTTALA /DE DONCKER – Ford GT Matech 2:17.316                                                                                                                                                                                               27 #60 – LMGT1 – MUTSCH /HIRSCHI /BECHE – Ford GT Matech – 2:18.730
28 #72 – LMGT1 – JOUSSE /GREGOIRE /HART – Corvette C6.R – 2:19.377
29 #52 – LMGT1 – ENGE /NYGAARD /MUCKE – Aston Martin DBR9 – 2:19.595
35 #66 – LMGT1 – SCHROYEN /VAN DAM /LACKO – Saleen S7-R – 2:21.110
41 #61 – LMGT1 – ALLEMANN /FREY /ZIMMER – Ford GT Matech – 2:21.422
46 #50 – LMGT1 – GARDEL /GOUESLARD /REES – Saleen S7-R – 2:21.918

AF-Corse

Jaime Melo qualifies the #96 AF-Corse entry. - Image Courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffrey Barre

GT2:

30 #96 – LMGT2 – BRUNI /MELO – Ferrari F430 GT – 2:20.336
31 #77-  LMGT2 – LIEB /LIETZ – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – 2:20.416
32 #91 – LMGT2 – KIRKALDY /MULLEN – Ferrari F430 GT – 2:20.811
33 #94 – LMGT2 – COMPANC /RUSSO – Ferrari F430 GT – 2:20.941
34 #90 – LMGT2 – EHRET /QUAIFE /KAFFER – Ferrari F430 GT – 2:21.095
36 #88 – LMGT2 – RAGGINGER /RIED /LONG – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – 2:21.173
37 #78 – LMGT2 – MULLER /WERNER /ALZEN – BMW M3 – 2:21.257
38 #76 – LMGT2 – PILET /NARAC – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – 2:21.328
39 #75 – LMGT2 – HOLZER /WESTBROOK – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – 2:21.403
40 #92 – LMGT2 – BELL /TURNER – Aston Martin Vantage 2:21.420
42 #79 – LMGT2 – PRIAULX /MULLER /FARFUS – BMW M3 – 2:21.509
43 #85 – LMGT2 – DUMBRECK /CORONEL – Spyker C8 Laviolette – 2:21.564
44 #95 – LMGT2 – ALESI /FISICHELLA /VILANDER – Ferrari F430 GT – 2:21.750
45 #89 – LMGT2 – FARNBACHER /SIMONSEN – Ferrari F430 GT – 2:21.752
48 #98 – LMGT2 – van SPLUNTEREN /HOMMERSON /MACHIELSN – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – 2:25.468
49 #93 – LMGT2 – DANIELS /SLINGERLAND /LANIK – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – 2:25.607

LMS: Spa – Free Practice 1/2 Thoughts.

Audi vs Peugeot + Spa + Pitlane.

The Audi vs Peugeot rivalry, still very much alive. - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffroy Barre.

Practice sessions for round two of the LMS season commenced at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit today. Despite the slightly out of character weather, all teams were out and about taking advantage of the testing opportunity presented. Practice session one opened in damp conditions, with the LMP1 teams all taking to the track early.

Both teams opted for a slightly conservative approach in the opening session, the difference between start and finishing times being around 15 seconds. The Oreca Peugeot of Panis taking the fastest time of the session with a lap 2:14.068, closely followed by the two factory Peugeots and a petrol interloper in the form of the #12 Rebellion Lola. Audi opted for an even more conservative FP1 than their French rivals, deciding to keep Kristensen in the #7 for the majority of the session. The Dane would set a time of 2:18.715 before handing the reigns to Capello in the final laps of the session.

Peugeot 908 + Spa.

The #3 Peugeot of Pagenaud during free practice. - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffrey Barre.

The second practice session saw a factory Peugeot 1-2-3, with Pagenaud first to penetrate the 2:00 barrier. The Frenchman setting a lap of 1:59.826, taking the #3 to the top of the timesheet. Audi once more maintained a consistent pace throughout, using the opportunity to test differing tyre compounds. Treluyer would set the fastest lap for the Audi camp, with a 2:02.894, marginally besting the Oreca-Peugeot of Duval. Rebellion continued to maintain pace with the diesel powerhouse for most of the session. The Swiss teams’ #12/13 Lolas settling in positions 8/9 overall.

The LMP2 category saw much movement in the two sessions, the class lead changing hands on several occasions. The teams of Quifel, Bruichladdich, RML, and Strakka all shared time at the top end of the timesheets. RML’s Tommy Erdos setting the fastest time of FP2 with a lap of 2:06.858.

GT1 was a somewhat confusing affair. The field now running to FIAGT1 specifications often had difficult maintaining pace with GT2 entrants. YoungDriver AMR consistently improving pace over the two sessions, Stefan Mücke setting fastest lap of the class in the form of a 2:20.044 during the FP2 session, closely pursued Matech’s Ford GT of Beche with a 2:20.806.

Schnitzer/BMW Motorsport E92 M3

Schnitzer's BMW E92 M3 during FP2 - Image courtesy Endurance-magazine.fr/Geoffrey Barre.

Looking set to provide another epic battle, the jostling for position continued in GT2. The lead being exchanged between Hankook, Felbermayr, and JMW throughout sessions 1/2. After being instructed to ‘push the car’ JMW’s Rob Bell managed a time of 2:21.318 to take the lead in class, marginally besting the Felbermayr Porsche of Lietz, who would settle for a 2:21.561. While the names of AF-Corse, BMW-Schnitzer, and IMSA were all absent from the top end of the timesheet, GT2 continues to feel very much like the calm before a storm.

Images courtesy of Geoffroy Barre / http://endurance-magazine.fr/

ECO Racing’s Nissan powered future.

Radical-Nissan Snetterton test.

ECO's Radical-Nissan during a test at Snetterton. - Image courtesy Endurance-info.com

 

After abandoning their highly publicised, not-so successful bio-diesel programme in late 2010, the future looked somewhat bleak for ECO Racing.

This week images have emerged of ECO’s recent test outing at the Snetterton circuit, with the team’s Radical SR10 sporting Nissan decals. In an interview with Endurance-info, team manager Ian Dawson pulled the veil from ECO’s latest project, (surprise) a Nissan powered Radical.

The 4.0L Nissan engine in use is constructed by Essex-based engineering firm, IES (of Pilbeam-Nissan fame). Dawson went on to reveal the switch to a Nissan engine as part of the team’s new focus on LMP2 competition.

The Radical SR10 has been rebuilt to 2011 ACO LMP2 specifications, with the 4.0L production-based, Nissan LTR powerhouse meeting regulation requirements perfectly.

Having not yet decided between an ALMS or LMS debut, ECO Racing plans to have the Radical-Nissan turning its first competitive laps by late 2010.