LMS: Toyota-Powered Future For Rebellion.

 

Rebellion Racing's Judd-powered Lola, during the 2010 Le Mans 24H. - Image Courtesy Marshall Pruett/SpeedTV.com

Following a successful 2010 campaign, Rebellion Racing today confirmed the suspicions of many within the sportscar racing fraternity. During a press release, the Swiss team publicly announced the formation of a technical partnership with Toyota Motorsport.

As suggested by brief reports leaked weeks earlier, the agreement sees Rebellion Racing emerge as the official and exclusive partner of Toyota Motorsport within the LMP1 category for the 2011 season, with Toyota Motorsport supplying engines and technical assistance to the squad.

Although technical details regarding the engine package are not yet known, the origins of the powerplant are believed to be of SuperGT derivation and, with the team having reportedly completed successful tests with an interim package in both Portimao and Barcelona, development is already well underway.

Having secured contract renewals for Jani, Prost, Belicchi, and Boullion, the team also confirmed the return of its regular driving outfit for the 2011 season during the announcement. Additional drivers for the 24H have not yet been announced.

Rebellion Racing Team Manager, Bart Hayden issued the following statement:

“We are delighted to partner with Toyota Motorsport and we look forward to working alongside them, with this company with a rich history, ranging from Formula 1 to Le Mans. We look forward to establishing a solid relationship with them based on the long term. ”

Although currently a ‘toe-in-the-water’ approach, the news is perceived by many as the first tentative steps toward a possible factory return, and perhaps an early signaling of intent by the auto-giant to rectify unfinished business with Le Sarthe.

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LMS: Post Spa Race Wrap.

Spa start

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

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

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

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

#8 Audi of Fassler, Lotterer, Treluyer.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OAK 3/4 positions.

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

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

Mathias Beche Matech Ford GT

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

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

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

#96 AF Corse entry

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

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

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

Lieb/Lietz Felbermayr Win

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

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

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

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

Images courtesy Endurance-Magazine.fr // Geoffroy Barre

LMS: Spa – Free Practice 1/2 Thoughts.

Audi vs Peugeot + Spa + Pitlane.

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

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

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

Peugeot 908 + Spa.

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

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

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

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

Schnitzer/BMW Motorsport E92 M3

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

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

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

LMS: Spa 1000km Entry list released.

LMS_Tag_TabThe entry list for round two of the LMS 2010 season, the 1000km of Spa has been released, unveiling some noteworthy surprises.

Notable mentions go to the appearance of additional entries from both Schnitzer BMW Motorsports (#79), and ProSpeed (#98), including the appearance of a GT1 class yielding a seven car field (as opposed to the single entry seen at Paul Ricard). It is also important to highlight that Formula Le Mans class runners have once again been lumped in with the LMP2 field.

The total car count for the event stands at fifty-two.

The full entry listing can be seen below:

LMP1:

  • 008 – Signature Plus – France – Lola Aston Martin – Pierre Ragues/Franck Mailleux/Vanina Ickx
  • 1 – Team Peugeot Total – France – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP – Marc Gené/Alexander Wurz/Anthony Davidson
  • 2 – Team Peugeot Total – France – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP – Franck Montagny/Stéphane Sarrazin/Nicolas Minassian
  • 3 – Team Peugeot Total – France – Peugeot 908 HDi-FAP – Pedro Lamy/Sébastien Bourdais/Simon Pagenaud
  • 9 – Audi Sport North America – France – Audi R15 TDI Timo Bernhard/Romain Dumas/Mike Rockenfeller
  • 4 – Team Oreca Matmut – France – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP – Oliver Panis/Nicolas Lapierre/Loïc Duval
  • 5 – Beechdean Mansell – United Kingdom – Ginetta-Zytek 09S – Nigel Mansell/Leo Mansell/Greg Mansell
  • 7 – Audi Sport Team Joest – Germany – Audi R15 TDI – Dindo Capello/Tom Kristensen/Allan McNish
  • 8 – Audi Sport Team Joest – Germany – Audi R15 TDI – Marcel Fassler/Andre Lotterer/Benoît Treluyer
  • 12 – Rebellion Racing – Switzerland – Lola B10/60 Coupé – Rebellion Nicolas Prost/Neel Jani
  • 13 – Rebellion Racing – Switzerland – Lola B10/60 Coupé – Rebellion Andrea Belicchi/Jean-Christophe Boullion

LMP2:

  • 24 – Oak Racing – France – Pescarolo – Judd Mathieu Lahaye/Jacques Nicolet
  • 25 – RML – United Kingdom – Lola HPD Coupé – Tommy Erdos/Mike Newton/Andy Wallace
  • 27 – Race Performance – Switzerland – Radical SR9 – Judd – Michel Frey/Ralph Meichtry/Tyler Dueck
  • 29 – Racing Box – Italy – Lola B09 Coupé – Judd – Marco Cioci/Piergiuseppe Perazzini/Luca Pirri
  • 30 – Racing Box – Italy – Lola B09 Coupé – Judd Ferdinando Geri/Andrea Piccini/Giacomo Piccini
  • 35 – Oak Racing – France – Pescarolo – Judd – Richard Hein/Guillaume Moreau
  • 36 – Pegasus Racing – France – Courage-Oreca LC75 – AER – Julien Schell/Jean-Christophe Metz/Frederic Da Rocha
  • 39 – KSM – Germany – Lola B08/47 – Judd – Jean De Pourtales/Hideki Noda/Jonathan Kennard
  • 40 – Quifel – ASM Team – Portugal – Ginetta-Zytek – 09S Miguel Amaral/Olivier Pla
  • 41 – Team Bruichladdich – United Kingdom – Ginetta-Zytek 09S – Karim Ojjeh/Tim Greaves/Thor-Christian Ebbesvik
  • 42 – Strakka Racing United – Kingdom HPD ARX – 01 Nick Leventis/Danny Watts/Jonny Kane
  • 43 – Dams – France – Formula Le Mans – Oreca 09 – Andrea Barlesi/Alessandro Cicognani/Gary Chalandon
  • 44 – Dams – France – Formula Le Mans – Oreca 09 – Dean Stirling/Luke Hines/Edoardo Piscopo
  • 45 – Boutsen Energy Racing – Belgium – Formula le Mans – Oreca 09 – Dominik Kraihamer/Nicolas De Crem/Bernard Delhez
  • 46 – JMB Racing – Monaco – Formula Le Mans – Oreca 09 – Peter Kutemann/Maurice BassoJohn/ Hartshorne
  • 47 – Hope Polevision Racing – Switzerland – Formula Le Mans – Steve Zacchia/Luca Moro/Wolfgang Kaufmann
  • 48 – Hope Polevision Racing – Switzerland – Formula Le Mans – Mathias Beche/Christophe Pillon/Vincent Capillaire
  • 49 – Applewood Seven – France – Formula Le Mans – Oreca 09 – Damien Toulemonde/David Zollinger/Ross Zampatti

GT1:

  • 50 – Larbre Competition – France – Saleen S7-R – Gabriele Gardel/Patrice Goueslard/Fernando Rees
  • 52 – Young Driver AMR – Germany – Aston Martin – DBR9 Tomas Enge/Christoffer Nygaard/Peter Kox
  • 60 – Matech Competition – Switzerland – Ford GT – Thomas Mutsch/Yan Zimmer
  • 61 – Matech Competition – Switzerland – Ford GT – Cindy Allemann/Rahel Frey
  • 66 – Atlas FX-Team Full Speed – Austria – Saleen S7-R – Julien Schroyen/Carlo Van Dam/Stéphane Lemeret
  • 70 – Marc VDS Racing Team – Belgium – Ford GT – Bas Leinders/Markus Palttala/Eric De Donker
  • 72 – Luc Alphand Aventures – France – Corvette C6.R – Julien Jousse/Stephan Gregoire

GT2:

  • 75 – Prospeed Competition – Belgium – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Marco Holzer/Richard Westbrook
  • 76 – IMSA Performance Matmut – France – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Raymond Narac/Patrick Pilet
  • 77 – Team Felbermayr Proton – Germany – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Marc Lieb/Richard Lietz
  • 78 – BMW Team Schnitzer – Germany – BMW M3 – Jörg Müller Dirk Werner
  • 79 – BMW Team Schnitzer – Germany BMW M3 – Andy Priaulx/Dirk Müller
  • 85 – Spyker Squadron – Netherlands – Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R – Peter Dumbreck/Tom Coronel
  • 88 – Team Felbermayr Proton – Germany – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Martin Ragginger/Christian Ried
  • 89  – Hankook Team Farnbacher – Germany – Ferrari F430 GT – Dominik Farnbacher /Allan Simonsen
  • 90 – CRS Racing – United Kingdom – Ferrari F430 GT – Pierre Ehret/Phil Quaife/Pierre Kaffer
  • 91 – CRS Racing – United Kingdom – Ferrari F430 GT – Andrew Kirkaldy/Tim Mullen
  • 92 – JMW Motorsport – United Kingdom – Aston Martin V8 Vantage – Robert Bell/Darren Turner
  • 93 – JWA Racing – United Kingdom – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Paul Daniels/Oskar Slingerland
  • 94 – AF Corse – Italy – Ferrari F430 GT – Luis Perez/CompancMatias Russo
  • 95 – AF Corse – Italy – Ferrari F430 GT – Giancarlo Fisichella/Toni Vilander/Jean Alesi
  • 96 – AF Corse – Italy – Ferrari F430 GT – Gianmaria Bruni/Jaime Melo
  • 98 – Prospeed – Competition – Belgium – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Paul Von Splunteren/Niek Hommerson/Louis Machiels

LMS: Post Paul Ricard Race wrap.

LMS_Tag_Tab

 

 

 

The Le Mans Series 2011 season began in superb style this weekend at Paul Ricard HTTT for the inaugural running of the 8 hours of Le Castellet.

The first event of the season played host to a field of high calibre entrants, some seasoned veterans, others trying their hand at endurance for the first time.  All in all results were somewhat varied. LMP2 and GT2 categories played host to many intense battles and, to the surprise of many, the production of exhilarating racing at Paul Ricard ensued.

Le Castellet_first lap battle.

Joest, Oreca, and AMR entries engage in heated exchange on lap one. - Image Courtesy EnduranceMag / GeoffreyBarre.

The opening minutes of the race saw a flurry of movement in prototype and GT classes. As drama struck early in LMP1, class favourites Audi and Peugeot inflicted minor contact upon one another while navigating chicanes on lap one. This allowing the #009 Lola-AMR of Stefan Mücke to assume the race lead (if only briefly), before the the diesels continued their charge.

In the later stages of hour one, the #4 Oreca-entered Peugeot’s chances of victory suffered a diminishign blow. As Sarrazin was forced to pitlane as a result of mechanical issues with the car’s airjack mounting system – noticed by crew members during the team’s first pit stop. This failure would prove costly, costing the #4 approximately twenty minutes on repairs, ultimately leading to a seven lap loss on class rivals, Joest. Benefiting from the late race misfortunes of the team’s #6 Oreca01 sister car, the #4 would go on to secure fourth overall.

Audi's R15+ turns competitive laps for the first time, during the 8H Le Castellet - Image Courtesy EnduranceMag.fr / GeoffreyBarre.

Unhindered after trading paint with the Oreca Peugeot, the #7 Audi (with McNish then at the wheel) would go on to obtain first place from the AMR-Lola. The Scot continued to lap flawlessly in the R15+, maintaining a constant pace of 1:43-1:45s per lap before ceding driving duties to teammate, Capello.

Inheriting the car mid-way through hour two of the event, the Italian continued in much the same fashion as McNish. Demonstrating the virtues of consistent lapping and tyre/fuel conservation afforded by Audi’s modified R15+ chassis. The #7 would complete the remaining six hours of the race with minimal difficulty to secure first overall, covering a distance 1540km, and taking double championship points.

As a direct result of Oreca’s mechanical dramas, the #009 Lola-AMR inherited second place in the latter stages of the opening hour, maintaining the position for the entire race. Exempting a late race tyre-lockup, the #009 crew of Mücke, Fernandez and Primat would round out an almost faultless showing, taking a well-deserved second place overall, and first of the petrol LMP1 finishers.

Rebellion #13

Rebelllion's #13 Lola-Judd.- Image Courtesy EnduranceMag.fr / GeoffreyBarre.

After experiencing early-race suspension difficulties with the team’s #12 car, Rebellion managed to turn the tables with their remaining #13 Lola-Judd. Having been gifted further position in the opening hour of the race (a result of the Oreca Peugeot’s misfortune), the #13 crew of Smith, Boullion, and Belicchi would maintain pace with AMR’s #009 Lola-AMR squad for several hours – even looking likely to challenge the AMR squad for second overall in at certain periods of the race. Rebellion’s remaining chassis would ultimately go on to maintain third position to achieve a podium for the squad.

Strakka's #42 ARX01c LMP2 challenger - Image Courtesy EnduranceMag.fr / GeoffreyBarre.

Having set the pace during qualifying, Strakka racing surged to an early lead in the LMP2 class, reaffirming the solidity of Acura’s ARX01c package. Reigning champions Quifel-ASM slotted into second, followed by OAK.

Opting to maintain a steady pace in favour of single-lap speed, both cars would visibly struggle to maintain pace with Strakka. Despite this, the #42 would later suffer issues in pitlane, placing the Strakka squad five laps down on class leaders Quifel-ASM, who would inherit the lead, followed by OAK Racing’s pair of Pescarolos.

In what was (with little doubt) one of the drives of the race, Strakka’s trio of Watts, Kane and Leventis, mounted a dramatic comeback charge. Managing to thread their way through slower GT and prototype traffic (often maintaining a pace comparable with P1 entries), Strakka would regain a five lap margin on class leaders Quifel-ASM, taking victory in spectacular fashion.

Felbermayr 1-2.

Felbermayr's pair of #77/88 entries running in 1-2 tandem - Image Courtesy EnduranceMag.fr / GeoffreyBarre.

Having endured arguably one of the series tightest qualifying sessions in recent history (  positions 1-11 separated by 1.7sec) the GT2 battle looked promising from the outset. Jostling for position commenced early, and in a heated manner with heavy movement at both ends of the category.

Pole setter, Bruni commenced the race for AF-Corse by drawing a considerable margin over nearest rivals. Felbermayr’s #77 of Lietz moved from second to seventh from the start in mere seconds. The #96 AF-Corse entry would eventually suffer race-ending engine difficulties during the fifth hour. One of the many Ferrari casualties throughout the day.

Although slightly down the order, the #77 would continue to set the pace in GT2, snaring the lead prior to the downfall of the #96, a position the duo of Lietz/Lieb would maintain for the remainder of the event. The #88 sister car of Ragginger/Long/Ried would finish in second place, after avoiding drama to gradually work its way through the field and ensure a Felbermayr 1-2 finish.

BMW M3_8H Le Castellet

BMW M3 E92 of Jörg Müller/Dirk Werner - Image Courtesy EnduranceMag/GeoffreyBarre.

 

One of the highlights of the GT2 class was the #78 M3 E92 Schnitzer/BMW Motorsports entry. The Charley Lamm led squad opted for a fuel-efficient strategy,deciding against outright pace in the hope of offsetting their rivals pitstops during the final hours.

Drivers Werner/Müller managed to bring the car to third place in the GT2 field during the first half the race before suffering a radiator leak, forcing the team into damage control mode, and losing several laps to the class leader. Werner/Müller would go on to finish sixth in class.

Classified as part of the LMP2 category (thus appearing at the deep end), the Formula Le Mans class spent much of the race in the shadow of faster P1/P2 counterparts. A great mistake on the ACO’s part, given that the class provided exciting racing throughout the course of the day.

The Hope Pole Vision, DAMS, and AppleWood Seven teams battled furiously throughout the eight hour event, with victory eventually going to to the Gulf-liveried AppleWood seven entry.

While the inaugural running of the event didn’t quite deliver the LMP1 mega battle fans may have been hoping for, the LMP2, GT2, and FLM classes provided some great racing for viewers (although the majority of the race wasn’t ‘viewed’ persay – courtesy of our good friends at EuroSport). If Paul Ricard is but a taste of what is yet to come in 2010, LMS is due for what looks to be one of the most action packed seasons in recent years.