Aston Martin unveils AMR-One LMP1 challenger

Aston Martin's new LMP1 challenger, the AMR-One. - Image courtesy Aston Martin Racing.

Aston Martin's new LMP1 challenger, the AMR-One. - Image courtesy Aston Martin Racing.

After months of anticipation, Aston Martin Racing has today revealed its latest generation LMP1 challenger, the AMR-One to the sportscar racing fraternity, along with its driver lineup and race programme for the 2011 season. A rapid departure from Aston Martin’s previous prototype forays, the open-top chassis marks AMR’s first purpose-built motorsport chassis since 1956.

Unlike its competitors, the AMR-One will utilise a 2.0 litre gasoline, turbo-charged, direct-injected, inline six powerplant. The car’s transmission will be supplied by X-trac, in the form of a six-speed pneumatic, semi-automatic shifting system. Front suspension has been revealed as a double A-arm design.

Despite having opted against the coupe route chosen by its competitors, the open cockpit design bears multiple semblances to both its rivals in minor ways. The first of of which, and most note-worthy, being the use of front-mounted, rear-wheel sized tyres as a means gaining additional front-end grip and corner stability through increased tyre contact.

Originally pioneered by Wirth Research on the ARX-02a, the concept has also been employed by both Audi and Peugeot on their latest generation LMP1 chassis.

Split nose design of the AMR-One. A radical departure from that of the Lola-AMR. - Image Courtesy Aston Martin Racing.

Split nose design of the AMR-One. A radical departure from that of the Lola-AMR. - Image Courtesy Aston Martin Racing.

The raised/split nose design (also utilised by Peugeot) is an unexpected addition to the AMR-One. The feature, which conjures thoughts of several prototypes (both past and present), had not been an anticipated development for many.

As a result, the car’s cosmetics have already been labeled as less-desirable than its competitors. Without a basis for on-track comparisons the practicality of the design has not yet been gauged.

Another unexpected development is the use of an asymmetric cooling system. In recent times LMP constructors had primarily opted for symmetrical systems, opting for either twin side-mounted air-intakes (usually located above rear wheel archs) and, where necessary, an additional roof mounted intake.

Unlike its rivals, the AMR-One bears a single side-mounted air-intake unit. A second intake unit is mounted between the rollhoops, beside the driver’s head, and attached to the now mandatory fin adorning the car’s rear.

The AMR-One also bears what appears to be a constant (or at least minimally varying) trailing edge on its sidewalls. Which are noticeably higher than those of its rivals.

The AMR-One's high riding sidewall. - Image courtesy Aston Martin Racing.

AMR also revealed details of its driver lineup for the 2011 season. Announcing the return of Stefan Mücke, Darren Turner, Adrian Fernandez, Harold Primat, and recent addition Andy Meyrick. The sixth driver, who will partner both Mücke/Turner in the 007, has not yet been revealed.

The marque also further confirmed its intentions to compete in the 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. Despite this, AMR will not be present at opening round of the ILMC this March, removing the Sebring 12 Hour from its 2011 schedule. Team members cited a lack of preparation as the deciding factor.

AMR will instead debut the AMR-One at the LMS season opener at Paul Ricard, on 1-3 April.

Although lacking in some areas cosmetically, the overall design of the AMR-One appears to be a melding of ideas from other successful LMP designs, along with additional AMR ingenuity. Whether the package can be deemed effective is yet to be proven.

The AMR-One is expected to commence preliminary testing in March.

Ecurie Ecosse announces sportscar revival; Commits DBRS9 for Spa 24

Famous Scottish team Ecurie Ecosse has recently announced plans for a return to sportscar competition as soon as 2011. The famous team yesterday revealed its intention to enter the Spa 24 hour event in July.

The Edinburgh-based squad will campaign a single Aston Martin DBSR9 GT3 chassis under the Ecurie Ecosse banner, utilising the services of esteemed British outfit, Barwell Motorsport who, in addition to providing services to Ecurie Ecosse, will campaign their own DBRS9 throughout the 2011 Blancpain Endurance Series, and Spa 24 Hour.

The team will also receive factory assistance from AMR in the form of both technical, training, and engineering support.

Team boss, Ian McCaig made the following statement in relation to the announcement:

“This is a very exciting development for Ecurie Ecosse. I have been looking for an opportunity to take the team back into sportscar racing for some time, but the overall package had to be right. Now, with a team of ambitious and talented young drivers, together with a competitive manufacturer-backed car run by experienced engineers, I am extremely pleased that we can now take this major step forward. We have partnered with Aston Martin before and it is great to be doing it again some 20 years later. Ultimately we want to be back at Le Mans and this is a fantastic starting point.”

Aston Martin Unveil Open Cockpit LMP for 2011

An artists impression of AMR's latest LMP1 design.

An artists impression of AMR's latest LMP1 design.

During an official press release at this weekend’s AutoSport 1000KM of Silverstone, Aston Martin Racing has unveiled details of its highly anticipated, next generation LMP1 project. Originally thought to have been a closed cockpit design like its predecessor, AMR’s latest LMP has now been revealed as an open cockpit roadster. The announcement cements AMR’s presence as the first major manufacturer to release plans for the 2011 season.

Designed to contest the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hour, the new LMP marks AMR’s first purpose-built race package in over 50 years. Renderings released to media during the presentation suggest the chassis will share a similar nose design to its Lola-AMR predecessor. The infamous shark fin concept, designed to reduce aerodynamic instability, can also be seen adorning the car’s rear bodywork.

Aston Martin Chairman, David Richards made the following statement  in relation to LMP engine design: “In recent years, it has been impossible for petrol cars to compete on equal terms with the diesels. However, we now have assurances from the ACO that, with the adoption of the 2011 regulations, they will properly balance the performance of these new cars.”

While specific details regarding the car’s petrol engine have yet to be released, the unit will likely be of six/eight cylinder design.

Development of both the chassis and engine have progressed over several months at AMR headquarters, with the new LMP designated to commence testing during early 2011. Initial production will be limited to six units.

LMS: Silverstone Entry List.

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Round five of the Le Mans Series sees the championship head to the Silverstone circuit for the final race of the season. Rounding off at a healthy 47 entries, the event will also play host to the opening round of the Intercontinental Cup.

Notable additions to the field include factory LMP1 entries from Audi, Peugeot, and AMR squads. GT2 sees the return of Schnitzer/BMW Motorsport and the appearance of the Gulf Team First Lamborghini LP560.

LMP1

  • 007 Aston Martin Racing – Lola Aston Martin – Adrian Fernandez / Harold Primat / Andrew Meyrick
  • 008 Signature – Lola Aston Martin – Pierre Ragues / Franck Mailleux  / Vanina Ickx
  • 009 Aston Martin Racing – Lola Aston Martin – Juan Barazi / Sam Hancock
  • 1 Team Peugeot Total – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP – Anthony Davidson / Nicolas Minassian
  • 11 Drayson Racing – Lola B10/60 Coupé-Judd – Paul Drayson / Jonny Cocker
  • 20 Team LNT – Ginetta-Zytek 09S – Tony Burgess / Johnny Mowlem / Chris McMurry
  • 4 Team Oreca Matmut – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP – Nicolas Lapierre / Stéphane Sarrazin
  • 7 Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R15 TDI – Tom Kristensen / Allan McNish
  • 8 Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R15 TDI – Timo Bernhard / Dindo Capello
  • 5 Beechdean Mansell – Ginetta-Zytek 09S – Nigel Mansell / Leo Mansell  / Greg Mansell
  • 12 Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60 Coupé-Rebellion – Nicolas Prost / Neel Jani
  • 13 Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60 Coupé-Rebellion – Andrea Belicchi / Jean-Christophe Boullion

LMP2

  • 24 Oak Racing – Pescarolo-Judd – Mathieu Lahaye / Jacques Nicolet
  • 25 RML – Lola-HPD Coupé – Tommy Erdos / Mike Newton / Ben Collins
  • 27 Race Performance – Radical SR9-Judd – Michel Frey / Chris Buncombe
  • 29 Racing Box – Lola B09 Coupé-Judd – Piergiuseppe Perazzini / Marco Cioci / Luca Pirri
  • 30 Racing Box – Lola B09 Coupé-Judd – Fabio Babini / Ferdinando Geri / Federico Leo
  • 31 RLR msport – MG-Lola EX265-AER – Barry Gates / Rob Garofall / Simon Phillips
  • 35 Oak Racing – Pescarolo-Judd – Richard Hein / Guillaume Moreau
  • 36 Pegasus Racing – Courage-Oreca LC75-AER – Julien Schell /Frederic Da Rocha
  • 39 KSM – Lola B08/47-Judd – Jean De Pourtales / Hideki Noda / Jonathan Kennard
  • 40 Quifel – ASM Team – Ginetta-Zytek 09S – Miguel Amaral / Olivier Pla
  • 41 Team Bruichladdich – Ginetta-Zytek 09S – Karim Ojjeh / Tim Greaves / Thor-Christian Ebbesvik
  • 42 Strakka Racing – HPD ARX-01 – Nick Leventis / Danny Watts / Jonny Kane
  • 43 Dams – Formula Le Mans-Oreca 09 – Andrea Barlesi / Alessandro Cicognani / Gary Chalandon
  • 44 Dams – Formula Le Mans-Oreca 09 – Jody Firth / Warren Hughes
  • 45 Boutsen Energy Racing – Formula le Mans-Oreca 09 – Dominik Kraihamer / Nicolas De Crem / Bernard Delhez
  • 46 JMB Racing – Formula Le Mans-Oreca-10 – Peter Kutemann / Maurice Basso / John Hartshorne
  • 47 Hope Polevision Racing – Formula Le Mans – Luca Moro / Steve Zacchia / Olivier Lombard
  • 48 Hope Polevision Racing – Formula Le Mans – Christophe Pillon / Vincent Capillaire / Nico Verdonck
  • 49 Applewood Seven – Formula Le Mans-Oreca 09 – Damien Toulemonde / Mathias Beche

GT1

  • 50 Larbre Competition – Saleen S7-R – Gabriele Gardel / Patrice Goueslard / Fernando Rees
  • 66 Atlas FX-Team FS – Saleen S7-R – Carlo Van Dam / Zsolt Baumgartner / James Winslow

GT2

  • 75 Prospeed Competition – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Marco Holzer / Richard Westbrook
  • 76 IMSA Performance Matmut – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Raymond Narac / Patrick Pilet
  • 77 Team Felbermayr Proton – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Marc Lieb / Richard Lietz
  • 78 BMW Team Schnitzer – BMW M3 – Jörg Müller / Dirk Werner
  • 85 Spyker Squadron – Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R – Peter Dumbreck / Tom Coronel
  • 88 Team Felbermayr Proton – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Martin Ragginger / Christian Ried / Romain Dumas
  • 89 Hankook Team Farnbacher – Ferrari F430 GT – Dominik Farnbacher / Allan Simonsen
  • 90 CRS Racing – Ferrari F430 GT – Pierre Ehret / Phil Quaife / Pierre Kaffer
  • 91 CRS Racing – Ferrari F430 GT – Andrew Kirkaldy / Tim Mullen
  • 92 JMW Motorsport – Aston Martin V8 Vantage – Robert Bell / Darren Turner
  • 94 AF Corse – Ferrari F430 GT – Luis Perez Companc / Matias Russo
  • 95 AF Corse – Ferrari F430 GT – Giancarlo Fisichella / Toni Vilander / Jean Alesi
  • 96 AF Corse – Ferrari F430 GT – Gianmaria Bruni / Jaime Melo
  • 99 Gulf Team First –  Lamborghini LP560 – Fabien Giroix / Roald Goethe

LMP1: 12  LMP2: 19  GT1: 2  GT2: 14  Total: 47

24 Heures Du Mans 2010 – Post Race Wrap.

Bourdais leads Peugeot's assault into turn one. - Image courtesy of Geoffroy Barre / leblogauto.com

Bourdais leads Peugeot's assault into turn one. - Image courtesy of Geoffroy Barre / leblogauto.com

A brutal display of style, glamour, and speed, the Le Mans 24 Hour manages to provide an atmospheric roller coaster ride of raw emotion unable to be matched by any other event the world over on a yearly basis.

This year’s edition of the event bore a special significance for many reasons. For both fans and competitors, 2010 would provide the swan song for a once titanic GT category now left stagnant as a result of lacking manufacturer interest. For GT1 class competitors it’s the end of an era. After providing a worthy stomping ground for a selection of the world’s greatest supercars for the better part of the last decade, the GT1 category will see its last year of competition at the 24 Hour.

LMP categories would also see the final running of current-spec machinery before a major regulations change is enforced for the 2011 season. Although fraught with attrition, the 2010 running of the 24 hour classic delivered one of the more bizarre, yet mesmerising renditions of the race in recent years.

Hour one of the event saw the use of several, extended caution periods resulting in multiple safety car deployments. The first of which would be caused by the retirement of both Autocon and Beechdean Mansell entries. Several laps later the premature (yet highly anticipated) return of Jaguar (in the form of US-based, JaguarRSR) would succumb to a similar fate as a result of electrical difficulties. An innocent casualty of the events, Joest would lose over 60sec to the overall leading Peugeots. The disparity due to a difference in running pace between two of the circuit’s safety cars.

Peugeot #2 of Sarrazin/Minassian/Montagny. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Peugeot #2 of Sarrazin/Minassian/Montagny. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Having set the benchmark for single-lap pace, Peugeot had stamped its dominance early in both practice and qualifying sessions. The reigning LMP1 champions would commence from positions one through four, tailed by the trio of Audi entries, and the petrol-engined LMP field (lead of course by AMR). Despite possessing an obvious performance advantage during the first half of the race, the Peugeot squad would again be haunted by reliability issues.

Drama would strike late in the third hour for the #3 Peugeot of Bourdais, Pagenaud, and Lamy. Having been swiftly summoned to pitlane, the French squad would set to work furiously, with idle team members and spare bodywork to maintain any means of disguising the nature of repair efforts taking place. The pole-setting chassis was officially retired as a result of a front suspension failure.

Peugeot maintained a 1-2-3 formation at the front of the field and, with three factory Audis now only a small margin behind, the goose chase for the overall lead was well underway. Frustration would set in over the next several hours for both Peugeot and Audi squads. Peugeot #1 would be forced to pitlane courtesy of a failed alternator late during the seventh hour. With maintenance costing the French team over 12 minutes, ultimately taking the reigning champions out of contention for victory.

Peugeot would continue to hold positions 1-2, Audi remaining in close pursuit with cars #9/8 only a small margin behind. All the while AMR cars continued to turn consistent laps without error in positions 7/8 to maintaining their lead over fellow petrol-powered LMP1 counterparts. By mid race distance it was the Oreca Peugeot to suffer issues.

The Peugeot #2 squad completes one of the more successful pit stops of the day. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

The Peugeot #2 squad completes one of the more successful pit stops of the day. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

The team’s #4 entry being forced to pitlane, leaking oil as a result of engine faults. The #4 later returned to the race, losing thirteen minutes as a result of the repairs. Only some four hours later, the race leading #2 Peugeot would suffer a dramatic engine blowout on the approach to Tertre Rouge, resulting in a second factory Peugeot retirement.

This occurrence would prove to be a turning point for the Audi squad, inheriting the lead as a result of the #2 Peugeot’s retirement. With cars #9/8 now running in positions 1/2 respectively, the Joest cars would begin to increase pace as Peugeot opted for an all or nothing approach to victory. Despite being over a lap down on the leaders, the #1 car (at at the time driven by Davidson) had been instructed to take necessary action in order to ensure Peugeot victory (even at the cost of lower class participant’s safety).

Peugeot’s problems would only worsen throughout the remaining hours. While managing to reduce the margin to the leading Audi to under a lap, the sole factory #1 Peugeot would ultimately suffer a similar fate as its sister cars. Retiring in the dying hours of the race as a result of an engine blowout (now thought to have been caused by a faulty turbo).

With all factory cars now out of the running, the responsibility of flying the French marque’s flag would be left to the Oreca squad, and the hands of talented rookie, Loic Duval. Had Duval’s pace been maintained a podium position would have been possible for the local team. Unfortunately for the Oreca team the #4 would suffer a similar fate to it’s factory cousins. The car failing midway through the 22nd hour of the race, taking with it any chance of a face saving finish for the French manufacturer.

The race winning #9 Audi of Rockenfeller/Dumas/Bernhard. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

The race winning #9 Audi of Rockenfeller/Dumas/Bernhard. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Having not been able to compete with the single-pace set by their Peugeot rivals, the goal of would be to endure the imminent storm. Normally the fastest entry in the Joest camp, the #7 squad had suffered setup difficulties throughout practice and qualifying sessions, placing the car slightly off the pace of its #8/#9 sister cars.

The #7 would later suffer a delay early in the race as a result of a damaged BMW straying across the Porsche curves. Although not suffering any major damage, the #7 would be pitted for preventative maintenance. This unfortunate turn of events would shift the balance of power to the #9/8 Joest entries. Both of which would now be tasked with maintaining the chase for victory. The #9 crew had maintained consistent pace through the event, focusing on sustainable speed. The distinguished trio of Rockenfeller/Bernhard/Dumas would lead home cars #8/7 to secure an Audi 1-2-3 finish.

#42 ARX01c of Strakka racing. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

#42 ARX01c of Strakka racing. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Setting a pace bordering on cruelty, LMP2 had promised to be an HPD dominated affair from the outset.

With HPD-powered entries qualifying 1-2-3, and managing average lap times over four seconds faster than the nearest class competitors, P2 regulars were in for a tough day at the office. Having beaten race favourites Highcroft to the class pole, Strakka had immediately stamped their position as the team to beat.

Having lead the race for 356 laps (to Highcrofts 11 laps-lead) the Strakka trio of Danny Watts/Jonny Kane/Nick Leventis would finish first in category, placing an excellent fifth overall (only laps behind first-home petrol LMP1 team Oreca) to take their maiden 24 hour victory and, in doing so, handing the ARX01c a victory on its LM24 debut. In addition to this, the teams HPD package also won Michelin’s GreenX challenge.

Highcroft's Marco Werner navigates the Ralentisseur chicane. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Highcroft's Marco Werner navigates the Ralentisseur chicane. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Overshadowed by a myriad of technical difficulties, from shrapnel induced tyre punctures, to oil leaks and water pressure issues, the Danbury, Connecticut-based squad managed a semi-successful 24 Hour debut. Despite the presence of reigning champion David Brabham, multiple Le Mans overall winner Marco Werner, and up and coming endurance star Marino Franchitti, the Highcroft team were unable to match the speed and reliability of their Trans-Atlantic cousins. Plagued by misfortunes throughout the event, Highcroft would minimise the gap to their Strakka counterparts to less than two laps on several occasions. A margin which would unfortunately never be regained

OAK racing, and RML would round off the LMP2 podium finishing second and third respectively. In the unexpected absence of the Highcroft team, RML’s position would secure HPD’s second debut podium finish.

YoungDriver AMR leads the GT1 field through the Dunlop Esses. - Image courtesy of Geoffroy Barre / leblogauto.com

YoungDriver AMR leads the GT1 field through the Dunlop Esses. - Image courtesy of Geoffroy Barre / leblogauto.com

Contesting their final year of Le Mans competition, the GT1 swansong was, at times trying and, although well and truly outclassed by their GT2 counterparts the once mighty supercar category managed to produce a fitting outcome.

Dominated in its early stages by Matech and MarcVDS entries (both teams suffering race ending mechanical failures during the first half of the race) the ailing eight car category (consisting of six GT1WC entries) saw the lead shared by no less than six different entries throughout duration the race.

Despite the obvious pace of the Ford, Corvette, and Aston Martin entries, reliability would once again prove to be a deciding factor. Although not the fastest car in its category (or the category below it), Le Mans veterans and fan favourites Larbre Competition would finish the race with minimal error to take first in class, in a fitting tribute to both the category and machinery.

#82 Risi entry enters the Mulsanne. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

#82 Risi entry enters the Mulsanne. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Widely proclaimed as the new manufacturer stomping ground, and with seven marques present the GT2 category was set for a cracking battle. In typical Le Mans fashion, the Risi squad managed the surge to an early lead in the opening hours (despite having been relegated to the rear of the starting grid).

The team would go on to endure an intense battle with the P&M squad throughout hours six/seven. In an unfortunate twist, Risi would later suffer tranmission issues, forcing the #82 to pitlane for lengthy repairs, ruling them out of the chase for victory.

#63 Corvette of O'Connell/Magnussen/Garcia. - Image courtesy of Geoffroy Barre / leblogauto.com

#63 Corvette of O'Connell/Magnussen/Garcia. - Image courtesy of Geoffroy Barre / leblogauto.com

The #82 would later go on to retire as a result of the persisting difficulties. Leaving the P&M Corvette squad to dominate the category for what seemed like the majority of the event.

Running in 1/2 tandem for several hours, everything seemed to be going right for the American outfit. During a two hour period, disaster struck for the P&M team. The departure of the #63 P&M entry as a result of engine issues would leave the #64 to fly the remaining Corvette flag.

In a controversial incident, an impatient Anthony Davidson would attempt to pass the #64 Corvette entry of endurance veteran Emmanuelle Collard through the tight Porsche curves while on a late race charge for victory. This would cause Collard to lose control of the Corvette, sending the car spinning into nearby barriers. Suffering massive rear damage as a result of the impact, Collard would be forced to limp the severely damaged #64 back to pitlane where the team would furiously attempt a repair operation.

Davidson later commented on the incident in a bid to plead his innocence, only managing to insinuate Collard (amongst other GT competitors) had made intentional efforts to cause difficulty for the (then chasing) PeugeotSport team. Davidson retracted the statement/s in a later interview.

While the #64 did manage to return to the field, it would later retire as a result of engine issues similar to those suffered by the #63 car, leaving the justifiably distraught American team without any result.

A victim of late regulation changes, the #79 BMW Motorsport entry during the early hours of the race. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

A victim of late regulation changes, the #79 BMW Motorsport entry during the early hours of the race. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

A contender in its class, a fan favourite, and like many others, an unfortunate casualty. BMW’s return to La Sarthe was not as triumphant as many had originally hoped.

Having been hit with an increase in restrictor size (resulting in the loss of 10-15hp) upon arrival to La Sarthe, the manufacturer’s bid for victory would suffer a major setback from the outset. While down on single-lap pace, the aim of the Schnitzer squad was no doubt to endure the storm of inevitable attrition. A strategy adopted by the team during both Le Mans Series rounds.

Unfortunately for the Bavarians, sparks of promise were shown but reliable performance was not forthcoming. Suffering multiple tyre punctures (amongst other difficulties), the #79 would return to pitlane on several occasions during the opening hours of the race. The entry being officially retired after the eighth hour. The remaining #78 entry of Müller/Alzen/Farfus also experienced its fair share of difficulties but, despite tyre and engine difficulties would go on to finish sixth in category.

Felbermayr-Proton's class winning #77 entry of Lieb/Lietz/Henzler. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Felbermayr-Proton's class winning #77 entry of Lieb/Lietz/Henzler. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre / endurance-magazine.fr

Maintaining a sustainable pace throughout the race and opting to focus on reliability, the #77 Felbermayr squad would inherit the class lead shortly after the late race departure of Corvette #64. Having run a flawless race to edge out Risi,P&M, and BMW entries, the #77 crew found themselves with a two lap lead over nearest placed rivals, Hankook Farnbacher #89, and BMS Scuderia Italia #97 with several hours still remaining.

The trio of Lieb/Lietz/Henzler would continue to lead for the remaining hours to finish a phenomenal eleventh overall, taking Felbermayr’s maiden 24 Hour victory and, after years of Ferrari domination, reclaiming the LM24 GT2 crown for Porsche. A fitting triumph for Le Mans most successful marque.

With the curtains now drawn and the race now run and won for another year, the Sportscar world sits back to ponder…only another 12 months until the madness begins all over again.

Images courtesy Geoffroy Barre // Endurance-Magazine.fr // leblogauto.com

leblogauto.com

Le Mans 2010 Post Qualifying Wrap.

#2 Peugeot of Sarrazin during qualifying session02.

#2 Peugeot of Sarrazin during qualifying session02. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

Being that time of the year again, proceedings for the 2010 running of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans (the 78th rendition of the event) are well underway. With qualifying now completed we see some familiar trends emerging. Namely the continued dominance of Peugeot and Ferrari camps in their respective categories.

Despite the presence of strong works supported entries in all classes, the appearance of new challengers in HPD and BMW-powered entries in both LMP2 and GT2 has caught many by surprise.

The first qualifying session of the week saw Peugeot surge to an early lead on the timesheets. With both the Oreca and factory entries securing the top four positions on provisional listings.

Most onlookers were eagerly awaiting some (or any) form of response in pace from Audi. The Ingolstadt-based squad managed to breach the margin to the leading #3 Peugeot to 3.867 by the end of the first session. With Mike Rockenfeller setting a time of 3:23.578 to place the #9 car in fifth position.

 

Audi #7 during qualifying. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

Kristensen on board the#7 Audi during qualifying. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

Peugeot’s dominance would continue during the second qualifying session. Bourdais’ early time of 3:19.711 would weather the ensuing storm of pace throughout the session, Peugeots #2 and 3 securing second and third, respectively.

Audi’s #9 squad again remained the highest placed contender for the team, with on-loan Porsche factory driver Romain Dumas managing a 3:21.981. Decreasing the margin to the leading #3 Peugeot to a mere 1.481sec to secure fifth position on the grid. Cars #7/8 will start from sixth and seventh position on Sunday afternoon.

Forever the dark horse, AMR would complete both qualifying sessions without difficulties. Stefan Mücke setting a time of 3:26.680 to secure eighth position for the #007 entry, relegating the #009 sister car of Turner/Hancock/Barazi to ninth starting position by a margin of .067sec.

Danny Watts takes the #42 Strakka HPD ARX01c to pole. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

Danny Watts takes the #42 Strakka HPD ARX01c to pole. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

Having set and maintained pace early during practice,  HPD-powered entries continued to dominate both LMP2 qualifying sessions. Strakka’s Danny Watts would seize pole for the team with a time of 3:36.168, narrowly edging out their trans-Atlantic cousins, Highcroft by a margin of .466sec. Reigning Le Mans Series LMP2 champions Quifel-ASM snared third position with Olivier Pla’s lap of 3:41.968, besting the OAK Racing outfit by a minimal margin.

Affirming what had long been suspected, the ACO has confirmed the removal of the GT1 category from future competition in both the 24 Hour, and Le Mans Series, during a press conference regarding the much hyped future regulations earlier today.

Combining  a selection of seasoned Le Mans and LMS veterans, and current GT1 World Championship entries, the GT1 category looks set to deliver a fitting send off for the class of high-powered supercar machinery.

Stamping their presence early, YoungDriver AMR would combine successful showings in sessions 1/2 to achieve class pole, marginally outpacing  the #70 Ford GT of recent Spa 1000km winners, Marc VDS Racing.

Despite dramas during practice the #60 Matech Ford GT entry of Grosjean/Mutsch/Hirschi would secure third, ahead of both #72/73 entries of past LMS runners, Luc Alphand Adventures.

 

Oliver Gavin takes the #63 Corvette C6R to an initial second position during qualifying. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

Oliver Gavin takes the #63 Corvette C6R to an initial second position during qualifying. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

With seventeen entries and more than half of which factory supported and equally capable of victory, GT2 is looking set to provide a clash of the marques to be remembered for years to come.

In what is becoming a 24H tradition the #82 Risi entry surged to the front of the class early but, in unfortunate turn of events, the team would later be relegated to the rear of the grid. The squad penalised as a result of semantics regarding the legality of aerodynamic components in use during the qualifying session.

Risi driver Jaime Melo provided a brief summary of his thoughts on the matter –  “It’s where you finish that is important.” Having benefited from the misfortunes of Risi, the #63/64 P&M entries line up in positions one and two, securing an all Corvette front row.

Felbermayr-Proton maintained their reputation as the top performing Porsche outfit. The #77 of Lieb/Lietz/Henzler moving to fourth position after Risi’s post-qualifying penalty.

 

The Jeff Koons' designed, BMW Motorsport #79 'art car' entry. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

The Jeff Koons' designed, BMW Motorsport #79 'art car' entry. - Image courtesy Geoffroy Barre.

Having recently conquered the Nürburgring 24 Hour after a five year absence, BMW Motorsport now has a new challenge. After an eleven year Le Mans sabbatical (following the closure of the V12-LMR programme) the Charly Lamm-lead squad returns to La Sarthe with an almost palpable hunger for victory.

Having received a balance of performance adjustment upon their arrival to the circuit (enforcing a decrease in air-restrictor size, and the subsequent loss of 10-15HP) the outfit must now alter their race strategy.

Despite suffering as a result of the penalty during early sessions, the team managed to greatly improve single lap pace during qualifying. The #78 entry of Müller/Farfus/Alzen taking fifth position.

Images courtesy Geoffroy Barre // leblogauto.com

Aston Martin Racing Confirm Multi-year JotaSport Partnership.

AMR JotaSport Logo - Image courtesy JotaSport.Aston Martin Racing have confirmed the signing of a multi-year deal with British racing team, JotaSport.

Part owned by recently signed AMR Factory driver Sam Hancock, JotaSport has a history of competition in Carrera Cup, European V-Dev, and SPEED series. The signing of the contract sees the Kent-based outfit become an Aston Martin Racing Official Partner Team.

JotaSport has outlined their roadmap accordingly. Effective immediately, the team will commence an Aston Martin GT4 programme, competing at both the 2010 Spa and Silverstone 24 hour events.

As of 2011, the team will graduate to the Le Mans series (and, all things going to plan, the Le Mans 24 hours) where it will run an AMR V8 Vantage in the highly competitive, manufacturer driven GT2 category.

While all details regarding the partnership are yet to be confirmed, the agreement confirms JotaSport’s running of simultaneous GT2/4 programmes throughout 2012. With potential for further expansion to the premier prototype category (pending AMR’s yet-to-be-confirmed position future LMP1 activities).