GTx: GT Racing’s Imminent Unification

After multiple years of global GT racing being governed by two independent sets of regulations, the FIA and ACO have declared plans to unify the sport under a single technical-regulatory banner, potentially from 2015 onwards.

As a collaborative effort between the FIA and ACO, the new category will seek to amalgamate the ACO’s GTE class with the FIA’s GT3 class, under a single set of technical regulations, with the aim of improving accessibility between series and events previously divided by regulatory circumstance.

If successful, the unified category will form the basis for a new, global GT racing standard, with potentially more support than any other before it.

Despite wavering health under global economic pressures, GTE remains the predominant domain for factory GT competition. | Image: Aston Martin Racing.

With economic factors cited as a primary motivation behind the decision, the technical working group formed to facilitate the change now faces imminent challenges in creating a scenario of regulatory circumstance which best serves the new category, and its diverse stakeholder interests.

While GTE and GT3 share more in common than at any other time during their period of coexistence, stakeholders from each camp reasoned their involvement under one rule set over another – by however minimal a margin – due to considered benefit or advantage, on the basis of certain ideology, practices, economic realities, or outcomes enabled by one class over its alternative.

It can be reasonably stated that, via the same rationale, should a unified class not sufficiently satisfy the requirements of these stakeholders (to a similar or greater standard than its preceding counterparts), there’s lesser likelihood of said stakeholders seeking involvement in the new enterprise – in similar or greater capacity – regardless of lacking immediate alternatives.

For this reason, there’s a justifiable element of uncertainty in whether unification of the two categories can, or should be enacted.

Image: ADAC GT Masters.

GT3’s regulatory approach, in balancing relative economic conservatism and technical extravagance, has proven popular amongst privateers and manufacturers, at national and regional levels of competition. | Image: ADAC GT Masters.

The primary differences between GTE (nee GT2) and GT3 had originally concerned the nature of efforts attracted by each category; the most fundamental difference being an independence in regulatory and administrative perspective, concerning the economic, technological and sporting factors which determine the nature, technical extravagance, and costs (associated with set-term employment) of equipment required for competition.

Changes in the global automotive environment brought about by both regional growth and worsening economic conditions have influenced a blurring of lines between the two classes (with regard to the above factors) which has, at times, seen their respective rule sets vying against one another for competitors of all traditional forms, and sustained vitality.

While the current scenario sees both classes exist – to a certain extent – in a state of similarity, with regard to the nature of competitors involved, and regulatory approach (as it concerns balancing competition) employed, the solution to issues facing either class isn’t necessarily that which works for its alternative.

The ALMS GTE field continues to yield the highest volume of consistent factory participation of any GT class, globally. | Image: Extreme Speed Motorsports.

Despite this blurring of lines having occurred, distinct (albeit, at times disregarded) elements to each category remain. GT2’s existence as an avenue of greater certainty (in technical-regulatory terms) formed the explicitly-defined foundations for the environment of the current GTE class, regardless of however far detached from original form it may be.

GT3 was, is, and cemented its existence in being, in broad terms, an answer to a similar, albeit less detailed or demanding question. As an alternative route of competition, GT3 offered what GT2 didn’t (or wouldn’t) – the class was, and still is (to an extent) serving specific interests.

Whether unifying GTE and GT3 is best serving in the interests of sportscar racing as a whole, or serving in the interests of select parties is, as with certain other imminent mergers, entirely dependent on implementation.

The more important question is perhaps whether a single category – for which GTE and GT3 serve as a foundational basis – can adequately address needs served by the existing two class system. Should the unified class not sufficiently satisfy the needs of its stakeholders; alternatives will emerge to fulfill those needs – at least, if precedent’s any indicator.

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WEC: Strakka Racing announces 2012 plans; HPD LMP1 for World Endurance Championship.

HPD's latest LMP iteration, the ARX-03A; Strakka Racing's weapon of choice for the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship. - Image courtesy Strakka Racing.

Esteemed British team, Strakka Racing today revealed the highly anticipated details of their 2012 programme by announcing plans to field an LMP1 HPD chassis/engine package in the inaugural running of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Preparing for a factory onslaught against Audi, Peugeot, and potentially other marques, the 2010 Le Mans P2 champions will likely fly the sole Honda flag within the new World Endurance Championship. At least for the foreseeable future.

As part of the outfit’s long-term strategy, the multi-year, factory endorsed programme will see Strakka campaign an HPD chassis for three years. Commencing in 2012.

As with past programmes, the project will again be a collaborative development between California-based HPD and British firm, Wirth Research.

Reportedly an entirely new chassis design, the car will bear the designation ARX-03a and, according to Wirth Research founder/director, Nick Wirth, development has taken into consideration many lessons learned from past 02a, and 01e LMP1 designs.

In addition, the package will be powered by a naturally-aspirated, HPD 3.4L powerplant. Further technical details are not yet known.

The announcement marks Strakka Racing’s second foray within the LMP1 category. Following the squad’s brief utilisation of Zytek’s GZ09S LMP1 chassis during the 2009 season.

LM24: Porsche announces Le Mans return for 2014.

The 917K sports 5000 prototype of KG Salzburg; Porsche's first outright Le Mans winner. - Image courtesy Porsche Motorsport.

The 917K sports 5000 prototype of KG Salzburg; Porsche's first outright Le Mans winner. - Image courtesy Porsche Motorsport.

After years of intense speculation, Porsche AG today confirmed its long-rumoured intentions for a return to the top-tier of sports prototype racing via the release of a promotional video (see below), signaling its plans to enter the currently factory-diesel dominated LMP1 ranks as of 2014.

Porsche Motorsport revealed preliminary details of the marque’s historic return by announcing the undertaking of its LMP1 development programme, with a planned factory assault for outright honours at the the 2014 edition of the Le Mans 24 hour event.

Technical information has not yet been provided. Further details regarding the nature of the chassis, engine, or programme are yet to be confirmed.

Porsche's most recent outright Le Mans winner, the 911 GT1. - Image courtesy Porsche Motorsport.

Porsche's most recent outright Le Mans winner, the 911 GT1. - Image courtesy Porsche Motorsport.

“Porsche’s successes in Le Mans are unrivalled. We want to follow up on this with the 17th outright victory.” – Matthias Müller, President of the Executive Board at Porsche AG.

Given Porsche’s already clear desire for the development, demonstration, and motorsport application of energy recovery technologies (as evidenced by the GT3R Hybrid), the manufacturer’s new LMP is expected to be bear a petrol-hybrid powertrain. This is yet to be confirmed by official sources, and likely dependent on allowances afforded by (not-yet published) ACO technical regulations.

Porsche last raced for outright honours in 1998, when the marque’s factory lineup of McNish, Ortelli and Aiello secured the German manufacturer’s sixteenth and most recent outright victory at Le Mans.

What effect (if any) the announcement may have on the motorsport future of VAG sister company, Audi is yet to be confirmed.

Edit:

AudiSport official response:

“This is the decision of Porsche company, a decision in which Audi is not involved. Audi relishes the prospect of every strong new opponent at Le Mans and in the new FIA World Endurance Championship. Porsche’s entry into the LMP1 class is evidence of the high level of attraction of sport prototypes.”

Video:

Comments: 

Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport:

“We’re looking forward to the task of developing new technologies and to continue on with the success of the Porsche RS Spyder. After the conclusion of our works-supported sports prototype programme in the American Le Mans Series we have kept up with the latest technological advances.

Now we will begin with detailed research in order to evaluate the various concept alternatives for our new car. These obviously depend on how the regulations for the year 2014 look in detail. In principle, these regulations are interesting for us because the integration of our hybrid technology in the vehicle concept is one possible option.”

LM24: Audi survives Peugeot onslaught.

A short-lived, full-strength Audi charge leads the field for the opening lap of the 2011 race. - Image courtesy John Dagys.

After the intensity of Friday’s final qualifying session, any prediction that 2011 would be the tightest in recent history would be validated soon after. Although fraught with attrition, drama, searing intensity and many hours of caution periods, the event failed to disappoint.

Delivering stunning battles on virtually all fronts, the 2011 rendition of the race will likely be remembered for years to come as one of the closest-fought ever.

Intensity in the battle for outright honours was felt early for many at the head of the field. Audi’s hopes for defending victory suffered a massive blow during the early stages of the race.

Departure of the team’s #3 machine of McNish, Kristensen and Capello within the first hour, following a violent incident involving Luxury Racing’s Anthony Beltoise, had left many stunned. To the relief of all onlookers, McNish would walk away from the incident with little more than minor bruising.

Audi's Alan McNish walks away from Saturday afternoon's horrific crash. - Image courtesy Audisport.

Audi's Alan McNish walks away from Saturday afternoon's horrific crash. - Image courtesy Audisport.

A second horrific incident involving the #1 entry of reigning champion, Mike Rockenfeller and the #71 AF-Corse machine of Rob Kauffmann would occur during the eighth hour. The incident occurring as Rockenfeller attempted to pass Kauffmann on the high-speed section of the circuit between Mulsanne and Indianapolis.

Kauffmann later claimed the brightness of the R18’s headlights lead to his being unable to prepare for Rockenfeller’s attempted passing, and consequently made contact with the Audi driver at considerable speed. Rockenfeller would also escape from the wreckage uninjured – both incidents a testament to the build quality of Audi’s R18 chassis.

Remaining remnants of Rockenfeller's high-speed collision; Audi's second of the day. - Image courtesy Jean-Francois Monier.

Remaining remnants of Rockenfeller's high-speed collision; Audi's second major incident of the day. - Image courtesy Jean-Francois Monier.

Later analysis of the incident led officials to believe the #71 was at fault. Although allowing the AF-Corse-run entry to continue, race officials would take action against Kauffmann, excluding the American driver from the remainder of the event. The #71 would later retire.

Following the subsequent retirement of reigning champions Rockenfeller, Dumas and Bernhard, Audi’s hopes for a tenth Le Mans victory lied solely on the shoulders of young driving trio Treluyer, Lotterer, and Fassler in the #2 machine.

Audi #2 cruises Mulsanne with an evident lack of support; A much repeated scene throughout the remainder of the event. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Audi #2 cruises Mulsanne with an evident lack of support; A much repeated scene throughout the remainder of the event. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Hassled by a full-strength Peugeot onslaught throughout the remainder of the race, Audi’s young trio seldom faltered. Electing to quadruple-stint its driving trio (3-4 hours) to minimise time spent in pitlane, the marque faced an epic battle against both the scale and fuel efficiency of Peugeot’s attack.

With the French manufacturer capable of 12 lap stints, and Audi often running 11 laps within the same period, differences in operating efficiency would often be justified through outright pace and daring tyre strategy.

AudiSport pit strategy once again played a vital role in the team's success. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

AudiSport pit strategy once again played a vital role in the team's success. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Late race drives by Treluyer and Lotterer would particularly impress the scale of Audi’s undertaking. With both drivers navigating slower traffic in an almost-manic fashion, pushing the very limits of grip afforded by sections of the 13.6 km circuit.

Despite spirited efforts from the Peugeot onslaught the #2 would never stray far from the overall lead. For a short period onlookers remained silent as race officials summoned Audi #2 engineer, Leena Gade to the stewards office with a tone of urgency on Sunday morning. This would prove to be of little consequence.

Having been seemingly immune to periods of carnage affecting virtually all competitors, cracks began to appear in Peugeot’s then-unhampered showing.

Bourdais commandeers Peugeot #9; later revealed as the marque's last hope for victory. - Image courtesy FotoOlaf

Bourdais commandeers Peugeot #9; later revealed as the marque's last hope for victory. - Image courtesy FotoOlaf

As Peugeot’s efforts began to falter, the prospect of victory, regardless of how close, would begin to slip out of reach. Oreca’s privately-entered 908 HDi-FAP would prove first to stagger during the night. As rapid Frenchman, Loic Duval damaged the team’s chassis on Mulsanne. Only barely managing to limp the injured car back to pitlane for repairs.

This scenario was later repeated with little under three hours remaining, as Duval experienced a second spin at Indianapolis under dampening conditions, further damaging the rear of the chassis.

The manufacturer’s all French squad of Sarrazin, Montagny and Minassian in the #8 found themselves the recipients of a drive-through penalty for a lack of respect toward circuit limits during the early morning hours.

The #8 Peugeot crew's efforts would be hampered by a late-race penalty. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

The #8 Peugeot crew's efforts would be hampered by a late-race penalty. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Shortly after the #7 car of Davidson, Wurz and Gene would be damaged in a late race incident at Indianapolis, inflicting injury to the nose of the chassis. Enthusiastic repair efforts allowed the #7 to secure a face-saving fourth overall. Only out-placing the damage-plagued efforts of Oreca, who would manage fifth overall – marginally ahead of highest placing petrol contenders.

As the sole, remaining Peugeot on the lead lap, Pagenaud, Bourdais and Lamy – arguably the marque’s least favoured entry, found themselves in a position of opportunity. With the driver cycle broken, Pagenaud would be ceded to take the #9 to the checkered.

Lotterer brings the #2 Audi to pitlane for post-race celebrations. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Lotterer brings the #2 Audi to pitlane for post-race celebrations. - Image courtesy AudiSport.

Despite the employment of questionable tactics from Pagenaud’s sister cars in the dying stages of the race, the #2 Audi proved an unstoppable force. With Lotterer at the helm, the German marque powered to one of the closest and, with little doubt, most emotional finishes in the event’s 79 year history.

Lotterer ultimately taking victory over Pagenaud by a margin of 13.854 seconds, covering a distance of 355 laps. The win marking a record tenth victory for Audi (from twelve starts). Allowing the Ingolstadt-based marque to oust Ferrari as the second-most successful marque ever, in terms of overall victories.

Neel Jani brings the remaining #12 Rebellion Lola-Toyota to the finish in sixth overall. - Image courtesy Lola Group.

Neel Jani brings the remaining #12 Rebellion Lola-Toyota to the finish in sixth overall. - Image courtesy Lola Group.

A fierce battle would also be contested within the LMP1 petrol contingent, involving Le Mans Series regulars, Pescarolo and Rebellion. Despite a clear focus on operational efficiency, both squads would face off against one another in an intense duel, exchanging the lead on many occasions throughout the race.

Pescarolo’s prospects suffered a cruel blow in the later stages of the race. With long-time Pescarolo stalwart, Collard falling victim to a race-ending shunt through the Porsche curves within two hours of the finish.

Rebellion Racing’s remaining #12 Lola-Toyota of Jani, Prost, and Bleekemolen would inherit the position vacated by Pescarolo’s retirement. The squad going on to secure sixth overall to place highest of the LMP1 petrol runners.

Kronos Racing’s seventh overall finish salvaged much-needed pride for an otherwise underhanded showing from British manufacturer, Aston Martin. With both factory AMR entries having bowed out of the race within hour one.

Oreca's factory LMP2 efforts would ultimately be undone as a result of late-race driver error. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Oreca's factory LMP2 efforts would ultimately be undone as a result of late-race driver error. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Predictions of an attrition-fraught race for LMP2 runners would turn out be unfounded, with P2 entries providing an intriguing display of mechanical reliability over the duration of the event.

Much of the first twelve hours saw the class lead exchange hands between Oreca-Nissan entries of SignaTech and the Oreca factory, along with reigning LMP2 champions, Strakka Racing’s HPD entry.

As the race developed, favoured HPD-powered entries of Strakka, Level5 and RML experienced minor hindrances. Strakka’s demise ultimately brought about due to damage sustained to the car’s undertray and engine, the result of overzealous kerb usage employed by the team’s drivers.

Both SignaTech and Oreca would also face issues throughout the event. The latter retiring due to an arguably over-ambitious drive by French Oreca driver, Hallyday in the final hours.

A quiet performer; the Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan beat many higher-fancied entries to class victory. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

A quiet performer; the Greaves Motorsport Zytek-Nissan beat many higher-fancied entries to class victory. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Nissan’s P2 engine package turned to be an unpredicted star of the category. The Zytek-tuned engine package seeing British Team, Greaves Motorsport to its maiden class victory – affording both Nissan and Dunlop their first LMP2 triumphs at Le Mans.

Although likely costing the team a victory, SignaTech’s woes proved not to be terminal. Allowing the squad of Ayari, Mailleux, and Ordoñez to take the checkered second in LMP2. Rounding out a 1-2 finish for the Japanese auto-giant.

Level5 Motorsport trio of Tucker, Bouchut and Barbosa fought against several issues to secure third in class. Salvaging pride for HPD’s already challenging 2011 campaign.

BMW Motorsport #56 leads chasing entries of Felbermayr and Luxury Racing to the start/finish straight. - Image courtesy J. Frauca Photography.

BMW Motorsport #56 leads chasing entries of Felbermayr and Luxury Racing to the start/finish straight. - Image courtesy J. Frauca Photography.

Highlighted by heated exchanges between the Pratt & Miller Corvette outfit, AF-Corse and, of course BMW Motorsport – the now premier GT category of GTE received surprisingly little television coverage over the course of the event.

After blistering performances in the lead up to the race, and during qualifying, BMW Motorsport discovered that outright pace does not seal the deal.

Recurring difficulties and race incidents plagued the Schnitzer squad’s efforts. With both the #55/56 entries encountering issues on a number of occasions.

Having lead from pole in the early stages of the race, the team’s #56 entry of Priaulx, Hand, and (D) Müller would recover to secure a podium finish for the Bavarian marque, with third position in class. The team’s #55 sister car of Farfus, (J) Müller and Werner failed to finish.

Flying Lizard's #80 approaches Tertre Rouge. - Image courtesy Olaf Foto

Flying Lizard's #80 approaches Tertre Rouge. - Image courtesy Olaf Foto

Albeit lacking in single-lap pace, Porsche’s hopes for class victory suffered similar blows. Despite the presence of several all-professional runners within the field, the highest-placed Porsche entry of reigning GT(2) champions, Felbermayr-Proton #77 would finish fourth in class.

Fielding a two car Le Mans assault for the first time, North-American team Flying Lizards also encountered their fair share of difficulties, from tyre punctures to electrical wiring faults. The squad’s #80 GTE-PRO entry of Bergmeister, Long, and Luhr finished the event taking sixth in class. Despite technical hindrances.

Porsche’s luck (or lack of) would persist in the GTE-AM category. After having lead for much of the race, the class-leading #81 Flying Lizard entry of  Neimann, Law, and Pumpelly succumbed to mechanical difficulties in the dying hours of the event.

Late race heroics from P&M #73 narrowly saved Corvette's Le Mans victory. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Late race heroics from P&M #73 narrowly saved Corvette's Le Mans victory. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

For all the wrong, and right reasons the GT show was stolen by Corvette Racing’s Pratt & Miller-led operation. Having lead its class for most of the race, the US squad’s #74 entry of Magnussen, Gavin and Westbrook left the race in dramatic fashion during the final three hours.

Attempting to correct a corner exit leaving the Porsche curves, Magnussen collided with the #63 GTE-AM Felbermayr-Proton entry, with Felbermayr Snr then at the helm, making direct contact at a considerable speed with the drivers side door.

Magnussen would emerge unscathed. Much to the dismay of onlookers, Horst Felbermayr Snr – the oldest driver in the paddock – would slowly be removed from the battered Porsche chassis before exiting the circuit via ambulance.

Jack Leconte's privateer Larbre Competition squad secured a second victory for Corvette in the GTE-AM category. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Jack Leconte's privateer Larbre Competition squad secured a second victory for Corvette in the GTE-AM category. - Image courtesy J.Frauca Photography.

Then second in class, AF-Corse inherited the GTE-PRO lead. To the dismay of Ferrari fans, this was short lived. Determined not to succumb to a second consecutive dramatic loss, Corvette’s chances for victory improved ten-fold courtesy of a hard-charging Milner in the remaining #73  P&M Corvette.

Milner’s recovery of the class lead soon after would be maintained, securing the US manufacturer’s maiden victory under GTE regulations at Le Mans.

Although providing the new 458 a podium finish on its La Sarthe debut, the #51 crew of Ferrari factory drivers Alesi, Fisichella, and Bruni were left to settle for second-placed finish.

Success at the hands of the Jack Leconte-lead #50 Larbre Corvette squad saw the achievement of a double victory for the US manufacturer. The squad’s French lineup of Bornhauser, Gardel, and Canal triumphant in the GTE-AM category. Affording Corvette consolation for the loss of its second factory machine.

Larbre Competition’s #70 GTE-AM Porsche entry also finished second in class. Rounding out a 1-2 finish for the outfit.

US team Robertson Racing finished third to secure a podium on debut. Also providing the FordGT its first podium at Le Mans in over 40 years.

LM24: Final qualifying results; AudiSport secures Le Mans pole.

Audi drivers Lotterer, Treluyer, and Fassler celebrate AudiSport's first pole position since 2006. - Image courtesy Lemans.org

AudiSport Team Joest today rounded out the week’s third and final qualifying session to secure both the overall pole, and front row of the grid.

With just over 45 minutes remaining in today’s final session, the #2 Audi of Treluyer, Lotterer, and  Fassler rose to the top of the timesheets with a time of 3:25.728. The trio securing AudiSport’s first pole at Le Mans since 2006.

Audi’s reigning champions in Rockenfeller, Bernhard, and Dumas of the #1 sister car would secure a close second, managing a time of 3:25.799 to round out an all Audi front row.

Having moved to third during the later stages of the night session, the #9 entry of Pagenaud, Lamy, and Bourdais lead the Peugeot factory charge with a time of 3:26.010. Followed by the #8 sister car of Minassian, Sarrazin, and Montagny.

Despite a late charge for pole the #3 Audi of elder statesmen, Kristensen, McNish, and Capello would be left to settle for fifth position following a spin in the dying moments of the night time session.

Rebellion Racing’s Toyota-powered Lolas emerged as fastest runners within the LMP1 petrol contingent. Achieving a time of 3:32.883, the #12 car of Jani, Prost, and Bleekemolen would marginally oust nearest competitors, Pescarolo to manage eighth position overall.

SignaTech’s Oreca-Nissan package would prove quickest in LMP2, narrowly edging out class favourites (and reigning LMP2 champions) Strakka Racing for class pole.

After setting the benchmark for single-lap pace in earlier sessions, BMW Motorsport maintained its dominance to qualify first and third in the GTE-PRO category.

BMW Motorsport #55 of Farfus, Müller, and Werner would achieve the class pole with a time of  3:57.592. Closely followed by the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 entry of Fisichella, Bruni, Vilander, who would  secure second with a time of 3:58.040.

An eventful start to the weekend saw a highly anticipated all-professional appearance for the Flying Lizard squad suffer several setbacks. The #80 crew of Bergmeister, Long, and Luhr qualifying twelfth in class following car difficulties.

Qualifying results can be seen in full below.

  1. 2 Audi Sport Team Joest – Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer – Audi R18 TDI – 3:25.738
  2. 1 Audi Sport Team Joest – Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller – Audi R18 TDI – 3:25.799
  3. 9 Team Peugeot Total Lamy/Bourdais/Pagenaud – Peugeot 908 – 3:26.010
  4. 8 Peugeot Sport Total Montagny/Sarrazin/Minassian – Peugeot 908 – 3:26.156
  5. 3 Audi Sport North America – Capello/T. Kristensen/McNish – Audi R18 TDI – 3:26.165
  6. 7 Peugeot Sport Total – Gene/Wurz/Davidson – Peugeot 908 – 3:26.272
  7. 10 Team Oreca Matmut – Lapierre/Duval/Panis – Peugeot 908 HDI-FAP – 3:30.084
  8. 12 Rebellion Racing Jani/Prost/Bleekemolen – Lola B10/60 Coupe-Toyota – 3:32.883
  9. 16 Pescarolo Team – Collard/Tinseau/Jousse – Pescarolo Judd – 3:33.066
  10. 13 Rebellion Racing – Belicchi/Boullion/Smith – Lola B10/60 Coupe-Toyota – 3:34.573
  11. 15 Oak Racing – Monteiro/Moreau/Ragues – OAK Pescarolo-Judd – 3:34.933
  12. 22 Kronos Racing – Ickx/Martin/Leinders – Lola Aston Martin – 3:36.551
  13. 20 Quifel-Asm Team – Amaral/Pla/Hughes – Zytek 09 SC – 3:37.393
  14. 26 Signatech Nissan – Mailleux/Ordoñez/Ayari – Oreca 03-Nissan – 3:41.458
  15. 24 OAK Racing Nicolet/Hein/Yvon – OAK Pescarolo-Judd – 3:41.908
  16. 42 Strakka Racing – Leventis/Watts/Kane – HPD  ARX01d – 3:42.615
  17. 48 Team Oreca Matmut – Premat/Hallyday/Kraihamer – Oreca 03-Nissan – 3:43.098 38
  18. 39 Pecom Racing – Perez-Companc/Russo/Kaffer – Lola B11/40-Judd BMW – 3:43.223
  19. 49 OAK Racing – Nakano/De Crem/Charouz – OAK Pescarolo-BMW – 3:43.479
  20. 41 Greaves Motorsport – Ojjeh/Lombard/Kimber-Smith – Zytek Nissan – 3:43.802
  21. 40 Race Performance – Frey/Meichtry/Rostan – Oreca 03-Judd BMW – 3:44.294
  22. 007 Aston Martin Racing – Klien/Mucke/Turner – Aston Martin AMR-One – 3:45.918
  23. 36 RML – Erdos/Newton/Collins HPD ARX01d – 3:47.308
  24. 5 Hope Racing – Zacchia/Lammers/Elgaard – Oreca Swiss Hy Tech-Hybrid  – 3:47.691
  25. 009 Aston Martin Racing – Fernandez/Meyrick/Primat – Aston Martin AMR-One – 3:48.355
  26. 44 Extreme Limite AM Paris – Rosier/Haezebrouck/De Fournoux – Norma M200P-Judd-BMW – 3:48.420
  27. 35 OAK Racing –  Barlesi/Da Rocha/Lafargue – OAK Pescarolo-Judd BMW – 3:48.665
  28. 33 Level 5 Motorsports – Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa  – Lola Coupe-HPD – 3:48.863
  29. 55 BMW Motorsport – Farfus/Muller/Werner – BMW M3 GT – 3:57.592
  30. 51 AF Corse SRL – Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander – Ferrari 458 Italia – 3:58.040
  31. 56 BMW Motorsport – Priaulx/Muller/Hand – BMW M3 GT – 3:58.426
  32. 74 Corvette Racing – Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook – Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 – 3:59.519
  33. 89 Hankook-Team Farnbacher – Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen – Ferrari 458 Italia – 3:59.519
  34. 73 Corvette Racing – Garcia/Milner/Beretta – Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 – 3:59.633
  35. 77 Team Felbermayr-Proton – Lieb/Lietz/Henzler – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – 3:59.662
  36. 59 Luxury Racing – Ortelli/Makowiecki/Melo – Ferrari 458 Italia – 3:59.901
  37. 75 Prospeed Competition – Goossens/Holzer/Van Lagen – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – 3:59.962
  38. 79 JOTA – Dolan/Hancock/Buncombe – Aston Martin Vantage – 4:00.747
  39. 66 JMW Motorsport – Bell/Sugden/Maassen – Ferrari 458 Italia – 4:00.890
  40. 80 Flying Lizard Motorsports – Bergmeister/Long/Luhr – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – 4:01.024
  41. 58 Luxury Racing – Beltoise/Jakubowski/Thiriet – Ferrari 458 Italia – 4:01.176
  42. 61 AF Corse SRL – Perazzini/Cioci/Breslin – Ferrari F430 – 4:01.282
  43. 88 Team Felbermayr-Proton – Miller/Tandy/Al-Faisal – Porsche 911 RSR (997)- 4:01.752
  44. 71 AF Corse – Kauffman/Waltrip/Aguas – Ferrari 458 Italia – 4:02.216
  45. 76 IMSA Performance Matmut  – Pilet/Narac/Armindo – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – 4:02.548
  46. 63 Proton Competition – Ried/Felbermayr Jr. /Felbermayr Snr. – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – 4:03.532
  47. 81 Flying Lizard Motorsports – Neiman/Law/Pumpelly – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – 4:03.648
  48. 70 Larbre Competition – Bourret/Gibon/Belloc – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – 4:03.918
  49. 83 JMB Racing – Rodrigues/Menahem/Marroc – Ferrari F430 – 4:04.640
  50. 60 Gulf AMR Middle East – Giroix/Goethe/Wainwright – Aston Martin Vantage – 4:04.825
  51. 57 Krohn Racing – Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo – Ferrari F430 – 4:05.211
  52. 50 Larbre Competition – Bornhanuser/Canal/Gardel – Chevrolet Corvette C6 ZR1 – 4:05.955
  53. 62 CRS Racing – Ehret/Lynn/Wills – Ferrari F430 – 4:07.236
  54. 65 Lotus Jetalliance – Rossiter/Mowlem/Hirschi – Lotus Evora – 4:07.465
  55. 68 Robertson Racing – Robertson/Robertson/Murry – Ford GT-Doran – 4:08.208
  56. 64 Lotus Jetalliance – Slingerland/Rich/Hartshorne – Lotus Evora – 4:12.569

ILMC: Series poised to assume role of FIA World Endurance Championship

World sportscar racing is set to undergo dramatic change following the ACO's recently forged alliance with the FIA. - Image Courtesy EnduranceMag.fr / Geoffroy Barre

World sportscar racing is set to undergo dramatic change following the ACO's recently forged alliance with the FIA. - Image Courtesy EnduranceMag.fr / Geoffroy Barre

Having finalised 2012 plans for the various championships under its administration, the FIA today revealed details of a new partnership with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organisers of the Le Mans 24 Hour, and Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, during a council meeting in Barcelona.

Under the recently revealed plans, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup will commence operation under the FIA banner, assuming the name and role of ‘FIA World Endurance Series’ as of 2012. The ACO will continue to operate as the administrative and regulatory body for the championship.

Unlike the current ILMC, the new series will award World Endurance Championship titles to both constructors and drivers, within each category.

Despite regulatory changes in other sportscar categories under the FIA’s jurisdiction, the new World Endurance Championship is expected to maintain its current class structure (i.e. LMP, GTE etc), and remain a standalone series.

The WEC will consist of at least six events, including the Le Mans 24 Hour. It remains unclear as to how the involvement of both Le Mans Series, and American Le Mans Series events will be affected.

The official release (found here) also details plans for revisions to the current FIA GT1 World championship. With plans indicating the current series will continue operation under the title ‘World GT Championship’, and allow entry to a greater array of GT machinery.

As of 2012, the revised ‘World GT Championship’ will accept 2011 GT3, and 2009 GT2 chassis, in addition to current GT1 vehicles. The series will continue to operate under the sprint format.

It should be noted that, despite both operating under the FIA banner (and allowing entry to LM-GTE eligible vehicles), the ‘World Endurance Championship’ and ‘World GT Championship’ will continue to operate as separate entities, and standalone series.

FIA President, Jean Todt:

“I am delighted to welcome the return of the FIA Endurance World Championship, especially with a promoter like ACO. I am also very pleased to have a legendary race like the 24 Hours of Le Mans as part of it.”

ACO President, Jean-Claude Plassart:

“I am very happy we have reached this agreement with the FIA, a partnership which underlines the rightful place that endurance racing has in motorsport, something we have been promoting since we first established the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 1923.

Jean Todt has accepted my invitation to start this year’s 24 Hours race on Saturday June 11, a symbolic and visible way to celebrate our partnership.”

ALMS, LM24: Highcroft severs HPD ties, withdraws Le Mans entry.

Highcroft Racing's ARX-01e during the 2011 Sebring 12 Hour. - Image courtesy Highcroft Racing.

Highcroft Racing's ARX-01e during the 2011 Sebring 12 Hour. - Image courtesy Highcroft Racing.

After a rocky start to its 2011 campaign, US team Highcroft Racing today confirmed the news many sportscar racing fans had been fearing.

Following five, highly successful years at the forefront of the North American sportscar racing scene, the squad today concluded the final chapter in its HPD-backed history.

Earlier today the team’s PR officials confirmed details of the Danbury-Connecticut-based outfit’s severing of ties with long-time technical partner, HPD.

News of the team’s Le Mans 2011 entry withdrawal were also confirmed shortly after.

Despite a Goliath-beating, highlight performance at the Sebring 12 Hour event earlier this year, along with intentions for a return to Le Mans with the revised ARX-01e, many had anticipated the possibility of Highcroft returning to the ALMS would be, following the outfit’s well-known pre-season struggles, all but a distant possibility.

Highcroft campaigning Acura's radical ARX-02e design at the 2009 Sebring 12 Hour. - Image courtesy Doug Werner/SpeedTV.com

Highcroft campaigning Wirth's radical ARX-02e design at the 2009 Sebring 12 Hour. - Image courtesy Doug Werner/SpeedTV.com

Selected as a satellite-team during the original Acura LMP program’s infancy, the Duncan Dayton-led outfit excelled. Often competing toe-to-toe with rival factory-backed teams of Penske, and Audi, in addition to its Acura-backed sister teams, during what many considered to be the glory years of modern prototype racing in North America.

As long-time HPD-stalwarts, Highcroft Racing remained the only US-based team campaigning an HPD chassis following the demise of De Ferran Motorsports at the close of the 2009 ALMS season.

During this period the team achieved a total of eleven race wins, nine pole positions, and 28 podium finishes, along with two consecutive championships (2009/2010). The squad’s HPD-backed efforts ultimately culminating through a highly-deserved second-placed finish at this year’s Sebring 12 Hour.

Although Highcroft’s future remains unclear, team members, and fans remain hopeful for a possible return.

The team is currently evaluating opportunities for potential future programs, and actively seeking new manufacturer partnerships.

Team owner, Duncan Dayton released the following statement:

“I am deeply disappointed for our team at Highcroft Racing who were really looking forward to the race and for David and Marino who are left without a ride at Le Mans at a very late stage. Our drivers have been truly incredible in recent years and I know they are as disappointed as we are that the ARX-01e will not be at Le Mans.”

“For our future, we need to take the next step in the development of our team. The team is now in a position to start with a clean slate and work towards our next championship assault with new partners.”