Bathurst 12 Hour: 2012 Event preview.

Audisport Team Joest leads the field during the opening lap of the 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour. - Image courtesy GraphicDakPhotos / Dirk Klynsmith

With final entries confirmed and, few days remaining until green, Australia’s fledgling Bathurst 12 Hour event is preparing for the 2012 edition of what is rapidly becoming an early season fixture in global endurance racing.

Sporting an increase in the quality and, quantity of competitors, the event’s organisers have once again lured entries of significant substance from both Australia, and further abroad; with teams from the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom having committed entries.

Although multiple factors (e.g. conflicting event schedules, business interests) have inhibited the event’s uptake of local competitors, in both GT and production touring classes, the 2012 event sees arguably the deepest, most diverse and, professional field in recent years.

With increased factory involvement in the fight for outright honours, and the emergence of multiple, high-calibre privateer entries, no less than four marques (Audi, Mercedes, Ferrari, Lamborghini) are represented in the battle for overall victory.

AudiSport Team Phoenix - Bathurst 12 Hour, 2012 Australiana liveries.

AudiSport Team Phoenix will sport Australiana-themed liveries for the 2012 event; Left: Lowndes, Luff, Eddy; Right: Mies, Jöns, O'Young.

Returning to defend their 2011 title, reigning champions Audi will this time be represented via esteemed factory affiliate outfit, Phoenix Racing. Renowned for their consistent successes in Germany’s domestic touring and GT series, the Ernst Moser-led operation will make their circuit debut at the 2012 Bathurst 12 Hour.

Although competing at Bathurst for the first time, Phoenix racing have enlisted the services of Audi’s successful core driving lineup from the 2011 12 hour; with Mies, O’Young, Lowndes, Luff and Eddy having been retained for the 2012 event.

Young AudiSport GT talent, Christer Jöns (widely known for exploits within ADAC GT) will partner Mies/O’Young in the #1 Audi; the 24-year old German assumes the position vacated by Marc Basseng’s omission; a change presumably enacted due to the event’s driver seeding regulations (stipulating a maximum of two ‘seeded’ or, professional drivers).

Bearing the most collectively experienced driving lineup (in regards to both circuit and vehicle knowledge), thoroughly proven machinery and, a record of consistent successes elsewhere, there remains little evidence to suggest Phoenix Racing won’t enter the 2012 Bathurst 12 Hour as firm contenders for outright victory.

One of multiple Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG entries during round nine of the 2011 VLN Endurance Championship. - Image courtesy Black Falcon.

Following a recent overall victory at the Dubai 24 Hour, German endurance outfit and Mercedes factory-affiliate, Black Falcon will also enter the 2012 event for the first time.

Headed by an entry consisting of drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen, Tim Slade, Peter Hackett, and Bret Curtis, the team’s primary lineup bears collective experiences in endurance (both GT and Prototype), touring, and open-wheel competition, contributing arguably the event’s most diversely skilled driving outfit.

Local drivers Slade (V8SC) and Hackett (AustralianGT) will significantly contribute valuable circuit knowledge to both the team, and fellow drivers, Bleekemolen and Curtis; both of whom will, despite lacking circuit knowledge, draw on their respective (and considerable) experience with similar endurance events.

Although fielding (two) entries of a collectively lesser experienced (and professional) nature than closest rivals Phoenix Racing, Black Falcon enter the 2012 event as a potential and, realistic threat to Audi’s established success at the 12 hour race.

Despite significant involvement on behalf of Audi (via Phoenix Racing) and Mercedes (via Black Falcon), increased commitment from a viciously competitive privateer contingent renders the potential for either marque to effortlessly secure outright victory considerably unlikely.

Representing the majority of the GT field, privateer runners enter the 2012 event against the collective might of both Audi and Mercedes factory (affiliate) outfits. Although entering a class overshadowed by the successful reputations of both Phoenix Racing and Black Falcon, multiple privateer squads enter the event with ample offensive capabilities afforded by both machinery and driving talent.

Maranello Motorsport's Ferrari 458 Italia during testing, at the 2012 Bathurst drive event. - Image courtesy Bathurst 12 Hour.

Local entries Maranello Motorsport, Lago Racing, and Consolidated Chem. Co. will spearhead an Australian assault on outright victory. While foreign privateer outfits Clearwater Racing (Malaysia) and United Autosports (Britain, United States) will also field single car Ferrari 458 and, Audi R8 LMS entries respectively, each with factory-afforded customer assistance.

Having enlisted the services of ace GT pairing, Allan Simonsen (Denmark) and Dominik Farnbacher (Germany), in addition local touring car legend John Bowe, Melbourne-based outfit Maranello motorsport has secured a lineup bearing considerable pace and circuit knowledge. With the squad fielding proven package in Ferrari’s 458 Italia, Maranello Motorsport emerges a significant contender for outright victory.

Lago Racing's JBS-sponsored Reiter Lamborghini LP600 GT3 challenger. - Image courtesy Bathurst 12 Hour.

Queensland-based team, Lago Racing has also increased their level of commitment for the 2012 event. Following the achievement of a class (B) victory at the 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour, Lago Racing sought out proven GT3 machinery in the form of Reiter’s Lamborghini LP600 challenger. With the team having enlisted the services of talented local (V8SC development series) driver, David Russell, Lago Racing remains one of multiple local entries in contention for a well-placed finish.

The Reiter Lamborghini LP560 GT3 entry of McConville, Kox, Huglin, and Searle. - Image courtesy Bathurst 12 Hour.

Fielding the second of two (local) Lamborghini entries, Consolidated Chemical Co. will also enter a Reiter-developed package, the LP560 GT3. With a squad consisting of V8SC endurance driver, Cameron McConville and, endurance ace/Reiter factory driver, Peter Kox, the Ted Huglin-led outfit is one of many entries favoured for a top five finish.

Entering one of two Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 entries in the 2012 event, Malaysian-based outfit, Clearwater Racing emerge as a considerable threat to both factory and privateer competitors. With significant potential in the team’s lineup of Baird, Griffin, and team-owner Mok Weng Sun, Clearwater Racing enter the Bathurst 12 Hour as one of the higher fancied privateer entries.

United AutoSports will enter a single Audi R8 LMS in the 2012 Bathurst 12 Hour. - Image courtesy United Autosports.

Following competitive showings at both Dubai and Abu Dhabi 24 Hour events, Anglo-American team United Autosports will also make their Bathurst debut at the 2012 12 Hour event. Despite having recently purchased a pair of Mclaren MP4-12C chassis, the squad continues its (customer) relationship with Audi, via entering a single R8 LMS for drivers Patterson, Li, and Yu.

Renowned for star-powered appearances elsewhere, United Autosports will likely face difficulty with a lesser professionally (and, in regards to circuit knowledge) experienced lineup.

With the aforementioned entries fielding PRO/AM lineups, albeit in varying forms (as stipulated by event regulations), each outfit’s success relies on their ability to manage the capabilities of their respective designated (team-owner) amateur drivers. For certain outfits, this will no doubt present a significant hurdle. While others will likely approach the scenario with minimal difficulty.

Although represented to a lesser extent than in previous years, production-touring runners will collectively represent seven manufacturers (Holden, Ford, BMW, Mazda, Mini, SEAT, Subaru) across the event’s three touring categories. With BMW and Subaru entries emerging as likely favourites within their respective categories.

Despite a reported boycotting of the event having been coordinated by certain members of the local production-touring contingent (claimed to be the result of conflicting viewpoints concerning the event’s ethos), there remains a core group of confirmed, local touring teams, committed to providing an entertaining race for spectators.

United AutoSports confirms Audi-powered Bathurst 12 Hour Assault

No stranger to endurance; United AutoSports entered three R8 LMS GT3s in the 2011 Spa 24 hour event. - Image courtesy United AutoSports.

No stranger to endurance; United AutoSports entered three R8 LMS GT3s in the 2011 Spa 24 hour event. - Image courtesy United AutoSports.

Anglo-American sportscar squad, United AutoSports today announced details concerning their 2012 season programme. Within which, the team released details of plans to enter Australia’s Bathurst 12 hour event, in addition to both Dubai and Abu Dhabi 24 hour events.

News of the team’s continued utilisation of Audi’s R8 LMS GT3 chassis may come as a surprise to some. Given the squad’s well-documented dealings with McLaren, and previously announced plans to enter the marque’s recently released MP4-12C GT3 chassis in the 2012 Blancpain Endurance series. Despite this, the team has confirmed a single R8 LMS entry for the aforementioned events.

Details of expected driver lineups for each event are yet to be announced. Based on past appearances, and the team’s operating ethos, a lineup of high-profile runners is considered a reasonable expectation.

United AutoSports’ current competition portfolio spans British GT, FIA GT3, and Blancpain Endurance series, in addition to select endurance events across the world. The outfit most recently competed in the American Le Mans Series’ 14th annual Petit Le Mans event, securing an  LMP2 class podium on its series, and LMP competition debut, with an OAK Pescarolo-Judd package.

The British-based outfit’s announcement of participation in the 2012 running of the Bathurst 12 hour arrives following the confirmation of multiple high calibre entries, ranging from Audi factory affiliate, Phoenix racing, to local privateer competitors, Maranello Motorsport. Additional manufacturers are reportedly evaluating participation at present.

The following statements were provided (in relation to the announcement) during an interview with Speed.com reporter, John Dagys:

UAS CEO and team owner, Zak Brown:

“We couldn’t find a better way of moving into our third year as a racing team than by competing in such classics as Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bathurst; three exciting endurance events which are considered a ‘must do’ for any aspiring racer. It’s also a fitting way to continue our relationship with Audi into 2012.”

UAS Managing Director/co-owner, Richard Dean: 

“United Autosports is a 52-week a year business and the goal is to have the top GT racing team in the world. In only two years United Autosports has built a reputation in which top drivers want to race with us, and now we’re offering them the opportunity to compete with our highly-motivated team, which is competing worldwide.

We want to have a dominant presence at every circuit we go to and these three exciting classic events are next on our calendar.”

ILMC, LMS: Imola 6H entry list, event details.

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ILMC - Imola six hours poster.

LMP1

  • 1 Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R18 TDi – Bernhard/Fässler
  • 2 Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R18 TDi – McNish/Kristensen.
  • 7 Peugeot Sport Total – Peugeot 908 – Bourdais/Davidson.
  • 8 Peugeot Sport Total – Peugeot 908 – Montagny/Sarrazin.
  • 12 Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60 Coupé-Toyota – Prost/Jani.
  • 13 Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60 Coupé-Toyota – Belicchi/Boullion
  • 15 OAK Racing – OAK Pescarolo-Judd – Moreau/Ragues.
  • 16 Pescarolo Team – Pescarolo-Judd – Collard/Tinseau.
  • 18 Guess Racing Europe – Lola B09/80 Coupé-Judd – Ebbesvik/Ducote/Marcelli.
  • 23 MIK Corse – Zytek 09 – Cortes/Geri/Piccini.

LMP2

  • 26 SignaTech Nissan – Oreca03-Nissan – Mailleux/Ordoñez/Ayari.
  • 33 Level 5 Motorsports – Lola-HPD – Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa.
  • 35 OAK Racing – OAK Pescarolo-Judd – Barlesi/Da Rocha/Lafargue.
  • 36 RML – HPD ARX-01d – Newton/Erdos/Collins.
  • 39 PeCom – Lola B11/40 – Judd – Companc/Russo/Kaffer.
  • 40 Race Performance – Oreca 03-Judd – Frey/Meichtry/TBA.
  • 41 Greaves Motorsport – Zytek Z11SN-Nissan – Ojjeh/Kimber-Smith/Lombard.
  • 42 Strakka Racing – HPD ARX-01d – Leventis/Watts/Kane.
  • 43 RLR MSport – MG Lola EX265-Judd – Gates/Garofall/Philipps.
  • 44 Extreme Limit AM Paris – Norma M200P-Judd – Rosier/Basso.
  • 45 Boutsen Energy Racing – Oreca 03-Nissan – Kraihamer/De Crem.
  • 46 TDS Racing – Oreca 03 – Nissan – Beche/Thiriet/Firth.
  • 49 OAK Racing –  OAK Pescarolo-Judd – Nicolet/Hein.

GTE-PRO

  • 51 AF Corse – Ferrari F458 Italia – Fisichella/Bruni.
  • 55 BMW Motorsport – BMW M3 – Farfus/Müller.
  • 56 BMW Motorsport – BMW M3 – Werner/Lamy.
  • 58 Luxury Racing – Ferrari F458 Italia – Jakubowski/Beltoise.
  • 59 Luxury Racing – Ferrari F458 Italia – Ortelli/Makowiecki.
  • 64 Lotus JetAlliance – Lotus Evora – Slingerland/Rich/Lichtner-Hoyer.
  • 65 Lotus JetAlliance – Lotus Evora – Rossiter/Mowlem/Hirschi.
  • 66 JMW Motorsport – Ferrari F458 Italia – Bell/Walker.
  • 71 AF Corse – Ferrari F458 Italia – Melo/Vilander.
  • 75 ProSpeed Competition – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – Goossens/Holzer.
  • 76 IMSA Matmut – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – Pilet/Henzler.
  • 77 Felbermayr-Proton – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – Lieb/Lietz.
  • 79 JOTA – Aston Martin Vantage – Hancock/Dolan.
  • 89 Hankook Team Farnbacher – Ferrari F458 Italia – Farnbacher/Simonsen.

GTE-AM

  • 50 Larbre Competition – Corvette C6-ZR1 – Bornhauser/Gardel/Canal.
  • 57 Krohn Racing – Ferrari F430 – Krohn/Jönsson/Rugolo.
  • 61 AF-Corse – Ferrari F430 – Perazzini/Cioci/Lémeret.
  • 62 CRS Racing – Ferrari F430 – Ehret/Lynn/Wills.
  • 63 Proton Competition – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – Long/Roda/Ried.
  • 67 IMSA Matmut – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – Narac/Armindo.
  • 82 CRS Racing – Ferrari F430 – Hummel/Christodoulou/Quaife.
  • 88 Felbermayr Proton – Porsche 911 RSR (997) – Felbermayr Snr (!)/Felbermayr Jnr/Miller.

FLM

  • 91 Hope Racing – Oreca FLM-09 – Moro/Shanqi/Graves.
  • 92 Neil Garner Motorsport – Oreca FLM-09 – Hartshorne/Keating/Keen.
  • 93 Genoa Racing –  Oreca FLM-09 – Petersen/Julian/Zugel.
  • 95 Pegasus Racing –  Oreca FLM-09 – Schultis/Simon/Schell.
  • 99 JMB Racing –  Oreca FLM-09 – Rodriguez/Menahem/TBA.

LMP1: 9   LMP2: 13   GTE-PRO: 14   GTE-AM: 8   FLM: 5   Total: 49.

Coverage information:

 – Weekend schedule.

 – Live video.

 – Live audio (Radio Le Mans).

 Live timing.



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.

VLN: Lowndes/Luff rejoin Audi Race Experience for Nürburgring debut.

Lowndes & Luff celebrate their podium finish with fellow team mates following the 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour. - Image courtesy Bathurst12H.

Lowndes & Luff celebrate their podium finish with fellow team mates following the 2011 Bathurst 12 Hour. - Image courtesy Bathurst12H.

Following a highly successful showing at this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour event, V8SC regulars Craig Lowndes and Warren Luff are now set to etch another milestone to their already impressive list of achievements.

Having achieved a second-placed finish on their maiden appearance with Audi’s R8 GT3 chassis, the duo appear to have stamped quite an impression in the sportscar racing fraternity.

After successfully integrating with the AudiSport operation on their debut, both drivers have been selected for an additional appearance with the marque.

Despite originally being selected for the Bathurst 12 hour event on a standalone basis, the Australian pairing have now secured a further competitive outing with the AudiSport (Race Experience Team Joest) squad.

On this occasion the Australian duo will make their paired Nürburgring debut, competing in the SP9 (GT3) category within Germany’s highly-competitive VLN endurance series.

Despite Lowndes having never driven the Nürburgring, the event marks Luff’s third appearance at the legendary circuit. With Luff’s most recent, competitive outing having been with (the now down-scaled) Australian-based Juniper Racing, during the 2008 edition of the Nürburgring 24 hour event.

Lowndes and Luff will take command of the R8 LMS GT3 chassis once more, rejoining the Odenwald-based outfit for a four hour event at round four of the VLN (Langstreckenmeisterschaft) series this May (27/28).

ILMC: 2011 entry list revealed.

Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Logo.

Entries for the 2011 running of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup were today revealed. Announced during the lead up to the ACO’s unveiling ceremony for Le Mans 24 Hour entries, the 2011 ILMC entry list boasts a healthy field of 26 competitors, yielding both factory and privateer representation from eleven auto manufacturers.

Entry listings can be seen in full below.

LMP1

  • AudiSport Team Joest – Audi R18 – Timo Bernhard/Marcel Fässler.
  • AudiSport Team Joest – Audi R18 – Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish.
  • Team Peugeot Total – Peugeot 908 – Anthony Davidson/TBA.
  • Team Peugeot Total – Peugeot 908 – Stephane Sarrazin/Franck Montagny.
  • Hope Racing – Oreca 01-Lehmann – Steve Sacchia/Olivier Lombard.
  • Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60-Toyota – Nicolas Prost/Neel Jani.
  • OAK Racing – OAK Pescarolo-Judd – Matthieu Lahaye/Guillaume Moreau.
  • OAK Racing – OAK Pescarolo-Judd – Richard Hein/Jacques Nicolet.
  • Aston Martin Racing – AMR-ONE – Stefan Mücke/Darren Turner.
  • Oreca-Matmut – Peugeot 908 HDI-FAP – Nicolas Lapierre/Loic Duval.

LMP2

  • SignaTech-Nissan – Oreca03-Nissan – Franck Mailleux/TBA.
  • OAK Racing – OAK Pescarolo-Judd – Frederich Da Rocha/Patrice Lafarque.
  • Level5 Motorsports – Lola B10/80-HPD Coupe – Scott Tucker/Christophe Bouchut.

GTE-PRO

  • AF-Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia – Giancarlo Fisichella/Gianmaria Bruni.
  • BMW Motorsport – BMW M3 E92 – Augusto Farfus/TBA.
  • BMW Motorsport – BMW M3 E92 – Andy Priaulx/TBA.
  • Luxury Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia – Francois Jakubowski/Anthony Beltoise.
  • Luxury Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia – Stephane Ortelli/Frederic Makowiecki.
  • Lotus Jet Alliance – Lotus Evora GT2 – Vitus Eckbert/TBA.
  • Lotus Jet Alliance – Lotus Evora GT2 – Lukas Lichtner Hoyer/TBA.

GTE-AM

  • Larbre Competition – Chevrolet Corvette C6.R – Patrick Bornhauser/Julien Canal.
  • Krohn Racing – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Tracy Krohn/Nicolas Jönsson.
  • Gulf AMR Middle-East – Aston Martin Vantage – Fabien Giroix/Roald Goethe.
  • AF-Corse – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Piergiuseppe Perazzini/Marco Cioci.
  • CRS Racing – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Pierre Ehret/Shaun Lynn.
  • Proton Competition – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Richard Lietz/Horst Felbermayr.

LMP1: 10  LMP2: 3   GTE-PRO: 7   GTE-AM: 6   Total: 26