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.

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.

LM24: 2011 Le Mans Entry List Unveiled.

The ACO today unveiled entries for the 2011 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite many entries having already been confirmed through various team releases, the announcement revealed multiple unexpected developments.

The first of which being Highcroft Racing’s entrance to the LMP1 category, an unholy quantity of Oreca entries, and confirmation of a highly anticipated two car assault from the Flying Lizard squad. Marking the North American team’s first ever, all-professional attack on the 24 hour classic.

Entry listings can be seen in full below.

LMP1

  • 1 AudiSport Team Joest – Audi R18 – Bernhard/Dumas/Rockenfeller
  • 2 AudiSport Team Joest – Audi R18 – Fassler/Lotterer/Treluyer
  • 3 Audi Sport North America – Audi R18 – Kristensen/Capello/McNish
  • 5 Hope Racing – Oreca 01-Lehmann – Zacchia/Lammers/Elgaard
  • 7 Peugeot Sport Total – Peugeot 908 – Bourdais/Pagenaud/Lamy
  • 8 Peugeot Sport Total – Peugeot 908 – Sarrazin/Minassian/Montagny
  • 9 Team Peugeot Total – Peugeot 908 – Davidson/Wurz/Gene
  • 10 Team Oreca Matmut – Peugeot 908 HDI-FAP – Lapierre/Duval/Panis
  • 12 Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60 Toyota – Prost/Jani/Bleekemolen
  • 13 Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60 Toyota – Belicchi/Boullion/Smith
  • 15 OAK Racing – Pescarolo 01-Judd – Monteiro/Moreau/Ragues
  • 16 Pescarolo Team – Pescarolo 01-Judd – Collard/Jousse/Tinseau
  • 19 Highcroft Racing – HPD ARX-01e – Brabham/Franchitti/TBA
  • 20 Quifel ASM Team – Zytek 09SC – Amaral/Pla/Hughes
  • 24 OAK Racing – Pescarolo 01-Judd – Hein/Nicolet/Yvon
  • 007 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin AMR-ONE – Mücke/Turner/Klien
  • 009 Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin AMR-ONE – Primat/Meyrick/Fernandez
  • 22 Kronos Racing – Lola B09/62 Aston Martin – Ickx/Leinders/Martin

LMP2

  • 26 SignaTech Nissan – Oreca03-Nissan – Mailleux/Ordoñez/Ayari
  • 33 Level5 Motorsports – Lola-HPD Coupe – Tucker/Bouchut/Barbosa
  • 35 OAK Racing – Pescarolo 01 – Barlesi/Da Rocha/Lafargue
  • 36 RML – HPD ARX-01d – Newton/Erdos/Collins
  • 39 PeCom Racing – Lola B11/40-Judd BMW – Companc/Russo/Kaffer
  • 40 Race Performance – Oreca03-Judd BMW – Frey/Meichtry/Rostan
  • 41 Greaves Motorsport – Zytek- Z11SN – Ojjeh/Kimber-Smith/Lombard
  • 42 Strakka Racing – HPD ARX-o1d – Leventis/Watts/Kane
  • 44 Extreme Limite AM Paris – Norma M200P-Judd BMW – Rosier/Haezebrouck/ de Fournoux
  • 48 Team Oreca Matmut – Oreca03 – Hallyday/Premat/Kraihamer/
  • 49 OAK Racing – Pescarolo 01 – Nakano/De Crem/Charouz

LMP Reserves

  • Extreme Limite – Norma M200P-Judd BMW – Rosier
  • Kronos Racing – Lola Aston Martin – Ickx
  • Rangoni Motorsports – Zytek Hybrid – Geri
  • Boutsen Energy Racing – Oreca03-Nissan – Kraihamer
  • Pegasus Racing – Courage-Oreca – LC75 HPD – Schell

GTE-PRO

  • 51 AF-Corse – Ferrari F458 Italia – Fisichella/Bruni/Vilander
  • 55 BMW Motorsport – BMW M3 E92 – Farfus/Müller/Werner
  • 55 BMW Motorsport – BMW M3 E92 – Priaulx/Hand/Müller
  • 58 Luxury Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia – Ortelli/Makowiecki/Melo
  • 59 Luxury Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia – Beltoise/Deletraz/Jakubowski
  • 64 Lotus Jet Alliance – Lotus Evora GT2 – Slingerland/Rich/Hartshorne
  • 65 Lotus Jet Alliance – Lotus Evora GT2 – Hirschi/Rossiter/Mowlem
  • 66 JMW Motorsport – Ferrari F458 Italia – Bell/Sugden/Maassen
  • 71 AF-Corse Ferrari F458 Italia – Kauffman/Waltrip/Rui Aguas
  • 73 Corvette Racing – Corvette C6.R – Beretta/Milner/Garcia
  • 74 Corvette Racing – Corvette C6.R – Gavin/Magnussen/Westbrook
  • 75 ProSpeed Competition – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Goossens/Holzer/Van Lagen
  • 76 IMSA Performance Matmut – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Narac/Armindo/Pilet
  • 77 Team Felbermayr Proton – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Lieb/Lietz/Henzler
  • 79 Jota – Aston Martin Vantage – Hancock/Dolan/Buncombe
  • 80 Flying Lizard Motorsport – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Bergmeister/Long/Luhr
  • 88 Team Felbermayr Proton – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Tandy/Al Faisal/Miller
  • 89 Hankook-Team Farnbacher – Ferrari F458 Italia – Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen

GTE-AM

  • 50 Larbre Competiton – Corvette C6.R – Bornhauser/Gardel/Canal
  • 57 Krohn Racing – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Krohn/Jonssen/Rugolo
  • 60 Gulf AMR Middle-East – Aston Martin Vantage – Giroix/Goethe/Wainwright
  • 61 AF-Corse – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Perazinni/Cioci/Breslin
  • 62 CRS Racing – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Ehret/Wills/Lynn
  • 63 Proton Competition – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Felbermayr Jnr./Felbermayr Snr./Reid
  • 68 Roberston Racing – Doran Ford GT – Robertson/Robertson/Murry
  • 70 Larbre Competition – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Bourret/Gibon/Belloc
  • 81 Flying Lizard Motorsport – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR – Neiman/Law/Pumpelly
  • 83 JMB Racing – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Rodriguez/Menahem/Marroc

GTE Reserves

  • Robertson Racing – Doran Ford GT
  • ToLimit Arabia – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR
  • ProSpeed Competition –  Porsche 997 GT3-RSR
  • YoungDriver AMR – Aston Martin Vantage
  • BMS Scuderia Italia – Porsche 997 GT3-RSR

LMP1:17   LMP2: 11   GTE-PRO: 18   GTE-AM: 10   Total: 56

LMS: Full-time Return for Pescarolo Team.

 

Pescarolo Sport's Pescarolo 01-Evo during the 2009 1000KM of Okayama.

Pescarolo Sport's Pescarolo 01-Evo during the 2009 1000KM of Okayama. - Image Courtesy John Dagys / SpeedTV.com

Following the purchase of the defunct PescaroloSport operation and its assets by Nicolet and Rivière late last year, and it’s subsequent return to the hands of Henri Pescarolo (covered here), the newly named Pescarolo Team effort is beginning to gain momentum.

Having wasted little time regaining control, Pescarolo immediately began sourcing partners for the team’s 2011 programme and, following many positive releases in regards to sponsorship, details of Pescarolo Team’s LMS effort for the coming season are beginning to emerge. The most recent of which, are details of the squad’s new (and, at the same time old) driver lineup.

As many had already speculated, former Porsche and Corvette factory driver Emmanuel Collard returns to the squad. Having experienced his last prototype outing at the reigns of the class-winning Team Essex RS Spyder during the 2009 edition of the Le Mans 24 Hour, the announcement marks a return to the LMP ranks for the Frenchman after a season of part-time driving with the US-based Pratt & Miller outfit.

In the spirit of maintaining an all French outfit, Pescarolo stalwart and endurance ace, Christophe Tinseau has been named as the team’s second driver, rejoining the Pescarolo ranks after its twelve month absence. Details of a third driver for the season’s extended endurance events are not yet known.

Certain technical details regarding the team’s package are already known. With Henri Pescarolo having already announced a desire to continue operating a grandfathered version of the outfit’s now well known Pescarolo-01 chassis. PescaroloTeam is also believed to have been provided special dispensation by the ACO to utilise Judd’s 5.5L V10 powerplant throughout the 2011 season.

PescaroloTeam have signaled their desire to compete in both the 2011 Le Mans Series, and 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although opting against participating in the ACO’s new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series in favour of a gradual and stable rebirth, Pescarolo has stated his intent to take part in future iterations of the ILMC.

Wirth Confirms LMP1 For 2012; HPD Contract Renewed.

 

Highcroft Racing's Wirth Research-designed ARX01c during the 2010 Petit Le Mans.

Highcroft Racing's Wirth Research-designed ARX01c during the 2010 Petit Le Mans.

Having rounded out successful seasons on both sides of Atlantic with it’s HPD-branded ARX-01c chassis, Wirth Research has revealed the company’s future plans and details of the renewed partnership many endurance fans had been hoping for.

In a recent announcement Wirth Research founder, Nick Wirth revealed the firm’s desire to further build on it’s endurance successes, unveiling plans to update the highly popular ARX-o1 LMP2 design to the now ‘d’ spec phase (i.e. ARX-01d) of it’s development life.

The announcement arrives shortly after British squad, Strakka Racing confirmed their intentions for continued use of the chassis (coupled with HPD’s new 2.8L Twin-Turbo V6 powerplant) throughout the 2011 season within the LMP2 category.

Wirth also provided details of a renewed multi-year partnership with HPD, and immediately announced the firm’s intention to enter the LMP1 category under the HPD banner with a coupe design as of 2012. Further details regarding the package and programme are not yet known.

Additionally, Wirth Research will also provide a further iteration of the ARX01 chassis bearing the designation ARX-01e, updating the chassis to 2011 LMP1 specifications. The chassis is rumoured to be destined for the garage of an as yet unconfirmed US team.

Reigning ALMS LMP champions and long-time HPD stalwarts, Highcroft Racing have, as yet not confirmed the details of their 2011 programme.

LM24: Audi Unveils R18 TDi LMP1 Challenger.

Audi's R18 TDi.

Audi's new R18 TDi LMP1 Coupe. - Images Courtesy AudiUSA.

Following months of rumours and intense speculation within the sportscar racing community, AudiSport today revealed its next generation LMP1 chassis, the R18 TDi.

After achieving nine victories utilising the advantages afforded by open-top roadsters, Audi’s launch of the R18 TDi marks the manufacturer’s second foray into the use of closed-cockpit prototypes, following the use (and subsequent shelving) of the R8C Coupe in 1999.

Manufactured by Dallara, Audi’s latest LMP chassis is quite clearly a product of evolution, utilising a similarly radical (albeit simplified), raised-nose flow design pioneered by its predecessor.

With 2011 LMP1 regulations stipulating the use of both smaller chassis and engines, the R18 arrives sporting a variety of improvements from shortened wheelbase to new engine package. As had been suggested by numerous sources, Audi has confirmed the use of a 3.7L V6 TDi powerplant and, although the nature of the cooling system would suggest the use of a twin-turbo system, this has not been officially confirmed.

Although finer design details were at first overshadowed by the mere revelation of an Audi coupe, a closer observation reveals the effort invested thus far, with updates having taken place on virtually all of the chassis’ viewable surface.

Sidewall height has been reduced, with rear wheel-archs now extended forward, protruding over what was previously occupied air-intake real estate. Due to the demand for increased mechanical grip, front tyre width has increased and, as a result wheel archs are now heightened and much more pronounced.

The expected addition of the now mandatory ‘sharkfin’ concept can be seen adorning the cars’ rear bodywork. Some form of additional practicality appears to have been achieved, with the fin attached to a now roof-mounted air intake system. The purpose of this modification is not yet known.

Adding to the growing list of overhauled components, halogen headlights have been removed in favour of LED lighting. Despite this, the LED-strip lighting that once adorned the surrounding area of any Audi’s headlights (a feature which became synonymous with the marque’s racing machinery) is no longer evident.

Despite the likely presence of an R18 in Florida during March, Audi has ruled out any possibility of a Sebring debut for its latest LMP. Electing to participate regardless, the team will utilise a modified version of its current R15+ chassis for the 12 hour event.

The R18 will instead make its first public track appearance at the reinstated Le Mans test day on April 24, its maiden competitive debut following shortly after at the 6H Spa on May 8, 2011.