Tag Archives: LMP2

LMP1

Le Mans 2017: LMP Preview

This time next week the wait will nearly be over for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2017. Anticipation for the on track action will be at its peak and all the cars will be being prepared for action. Here we look at the talking points from a new look prototype field and what we can expect to see during Le Mans 2017.

Toyota vs Porsche
It is the clash of the titans we’ve all been waiting for. This year it is slightly different too, with Toyota, for the first time, bringing three cars to Le Mans. Toyota will be out to right the wrongs of last year, and try out some new talent too. The No. 9 car features returnee Nicolas Lapierre, Japanese Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto and WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez (who was in the No.7, but has been moved to the third car after his shunt at Silverstone cost him a race at Spa, and the experience to go with it).

Le Mans 24 Hours
Whilst the picture at Toyota has been of wholesale changes to technical parts and personnel, at Porsche, the car has taken a much more evolutionary approach, but the driver squad has had a thorough shake up. Out is the retiring Mark Webber, and last year’s Le Mans winners Roman Dumas (here in an Alpine LMP2) and Marc Lieb who is here as a reserve. In has come ex-Audi LMP1 star Andre Lotterer, and returning Le Mans winners from 2015, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber.

So far it’s been advantage Toyota, winning at Silverstone & Spa and setting the fastest times at the Le Mans Test Day. However, Porsche shouldn’t be counted out, the new (for 2017) 919 has proved quick, using an aero package which wasn’t designed for use at Silverstone and Spa, and its driver set is both experienced and youthful. Who will come out on top? At this point it’s too early to say. One thing’s for sure though, it will be a historic result whatever happens. It’ll either be Toyota’s first victory, or Porsche’s 19th!

Le Mans 2017

ByKolles
Without competition, but still with interest, the ByKolles Racing Team has kept the LMP1 privateer on life-support this year. The Austrian team, with its Nissan-powered CLM P1/01 has the potential to mix in with the new and high powered LMP2s. It may not sound like much, but the car will be fast in a straight line, and should be competing with the top-end LMP2 teams. This year in particular, filling the gap between LMP1-H and LMP2 is not necessary, instead, the team will be excited about the prospect of seeing just how high up the order it can finish.

Le Mans 2017

Oreca vs everyone else in LMP2
The non-Oreca 07 runners could very well be in trouble. At the Le Mans Test Day, with their new low-downforce kits, the Orecas were seconds ahead of the competition, that without even being fastest in a straight line! In the end they finished 1 to 13 in the LMP2 running order, leaving frightened faces at Ligier, Dallara and Riley in their wake. Will this domination continue during race week? It’s distinctly possible. There are contingencies in the rules, to re-balance performance, but it’s by no means clear whether at this point the race officials intend to act. Certainly Ligier, has publicly accepted that its low-drag kit, is not working, with it becoming clear that Dallara has gone far too far down the blindingly fast route, and not nearly far enough on the goes round corners quickly aspect. The commercial future, for this brand new class, could well hinge on what, if anything, emerges in the coming days.

Le Mans 24 Hours 2017
World Endurance Championship vs European Le Mans Series
There has been plenty of discussions over the past couple of years about a perceived gap in standard between the FIA WEC and ELMS LMP2 teams. This will be put to the test next week, as the entire WEC field (all Orecas!) and all but one of the ELMS LMP2 teams are on the entry list. There are entries from the likes of Signatech Alpine, Rebellion, United Autosports, DragonSpeed and G-Drive Racing, some of the best teams in sports car racing. Which series will emerge with the winning, or highest placed car? Time will tell. It’s time to settle the debate!

Riley
While there’s strength in numbers for Oreca, Ligier and Dallara at Le Mans, the fourth LMP2 constructor, Riley, has just one bullet in its gun. There are some very good aspects to this programme, mainly Keating Motorsports fielding Jordan Taylor – who has won every IMSA WeatherTech race this year – and ultra-fast Dutchman Jeroen Bleekemolen alongside team owner Ben Keating. The problem though, is that the car has had little testing, particularly with its Le Mans aero set up. The Keating outfit only received the car six weeks ago, but it will receive support from Bill Riley himself and Multimatic at the race week, as Keating is their only customer racing in Europe. They will be desperate to show off what the car can do too, as a good result next week could well boost future sales.

Le Mans 2017
Reliability
We don’t talk as much about reliability in sports car racing now, because modern machinery is almost bullet proof at times. But this year in LMP2 there is cause for concern when it comes to niggles, serviceability and durability. While the new breed of LMP2 cars have been surprisingly durable, there have been signs that over the course of Le Mans there could be some issues which affect the race.
The electronic systems have had the problems that are the most widespread, with compatibility issues that have caused many teams to lose functions on their steering wheel. Gearboxes, and in particular, gear-shift actuators, have also played up, particularly on the Ligiers. While a race of attrition shouldn’t be expected, the age of the LMP2 cars must be taken into consideration. Expect at least some of the contenders to fall by the wayside, spending unscheduled time in the garage.

High speeds
One of the more spectacular aspects of this year’s 24 hours is going to be the speed of the new LMP2s. The new Gibson engine, and Le Mans aero has relegated the quickest LMP1 car to 13th on the speed trap in a straight line. The fastest of the bunch is the Dallara P217, which managed 341kph (about 205mph) down the straights during the Test Day. That can be bettered during race week too, when the track gets worn in. The new cars are seriously quick, and will breeze past the GTE cars in a straight line, which should dazzle the spectators on hand, who are used to seeing LMP2s have to fight traffic solely through corners.

Le Mans 2017
Tyres
It is not quite the GTE tyre war, but LMP2 does have a handful of Michelin and Dunlop runners in the race this year. It is fair to say that not only does Dunlop have the better rubber in ideal conditions, but also the customer base behind it, as there’s only three Michelin-shod cars in the 25-car field. If the conditions take a turn for the worst though, it may throw a spanner in the works, as neither tyre manufacturer has raced in the wet this year.

Noteworthy names
LMP2’s continued growth has led to many of the world’s best drivers, or most aspirant, wanting to give racing in LMP2 a go. In the field this year are former F1 star Rubens Barichello, Le Mans winner Jan Lammers, ex-F1 drivers Karun Chandhok & Jean-Eric Vergne, LMP1 Audi star Oliver Jarvis, GP2 race-winner Alex Lynn, Formula E champion Nelson Piquet Jnr and Bruno Senna among others.
It is an incredible 75-driver pool this year, and up front should make for a fierce battle for the win!

Rubens Barichello at Le MansRecord times
It is hard to believe that the LMP2 Le Mans lap record is held by Jos Verstappen, in a 2008 Porsche RS Spyder. Since then certain cars have flirted with breaking it but the 3mins:32secs barrier is proving a tough one to break. This year though, it will be shattered, with drivers predicting 3mins:25secs during qualifying. The new LMP2s were lapping quicker than the Pole-time set by the Audi R10 less than a decade ago. It is staggering how far they have come. They are fast down the straights, grippy through the corners, and punchy on exits. They are so fast, that it is going to be like having 31 LMP1 cars on the grid for Le Mans 2017.

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

Manor at Le Mans 2016

Countdown to Le Mans: LMP2 Preview

With race week begun & scrutineering over we look at 9 things you should look out for in the LMP2 class

  1. Biggest ever P2 field
    3 cars is the biggest ever field of LMP2 Prototypes with the FIA WEC, ELMS, IMSA and Asian Le Mans Series all represented. Realistically at least half are capable of winning the class battle on sustained pace. All are now reliable enough to expect a finish of Le Mans doesn’t catch them out!

Algarve Pro Racing at Le Mans

2. Nissan vs Honda vs Judd
There are three different engines represented in the field, and it’s likely to be the last time we see at least two of them here with a chance of winning the class. Nissan dominate in the numbers game with 20 of the 23 runners featuring their venerable but hugely effective V8. But it will cease to be a competitive proposition from next year with a ‘spec’ Gibson V8 to be on tap with more than 100 bhp more than the current crop. Similarly the BMW block-based Judd will be outgunned next season, the Rugby-built engine features in just a pair of LMP2s, the So24! Liger and the Race Performance Oreca, neither are expected to be at the sharp end of proceedings, but they’ll sound great in the midfield! The twin turbo Honda V6 meanwhile has only one taker this time out, the very Orange Ligier of Michael Shank Racing – a very accomplished outfit on their Le mans debut, Audi GT star Laurens Vanthoor is the quick man here but he may not be enough to keep them in the mix and prevent a Nissan whitewash

3. Oreca blitz testing
An Oreca 05 Nissan won the class last year and that result certainly helped a sales drive – No fewer than seven of the cars are back this year, two badged as Alpines, but those cars are identical to their Oreca siblings. And the car seems to have retained its performance advantage – For much of the Test Day, held two weeks prior to the race on the same circuit, the Oreca/ Alpine squad filled the top seven slots on the timing screens, late session efforts from Laurens Vanthoor (Ligier Honda) and Jake Dennis (Gibson Nissan) were the only runs to spoil the pattern!

LMP2 at Le Mans 2016

4. Audi Factory drivers in P2
A trio of Audi factory drivers grace the LMP2 field, two are refugees from the cancelled third LMP1 Audi, this a victim of the fallout from the VWGate emissions scandal. Rene Rast is with he G-Drive Oreca effort, he was right in the thick of things at the Test Day and looks set to be front runner in the team’s #26 Oreca Nissan. Felipe Albuquerque is similarly inconvenienced by the lack of a third R18 this year but the Portuguese is already a race winner in LMP2, last year in the ELMS with Jota Sport and this season with a win in the opening WEC race of the season at Silverstone in ‘his’ #43 RGR By Morand Ligier Nissan; and Laurens Vanthoor, the coming man in the Audi camp. Almost peerless in GT3, he races convincingly well here last year in a Ligier Honda and will pilot a similar car this time around.

5. ESM triple crown
Extreme Speed Motorsport have swapped their 2015 Honda Power for Nissan in 2016 and have also moved the team into the Oak Racing Workshops here at Le mans from their previous in-house operation. They come to Le Mans with a unique feat in mind. The team’s solo (and still Honda engined) car triumphed overall earlier this year in both the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring – A Le Mans win would make a nice set, 2016 new addition to the team Pipo Derani was the undoubted star for the team in the US races an he’s joined by another quick Pro, Ryan Dalziel in the #31 car for the full WEC including Le Mans. One major visual difference for the #30 and #31 cars here – Strict French laws concerning alcohol sponsorship once again prevent the team from promoting Tequila Patron – the black and green livery therefore changes for a one-off outing for the cases in white and black Paul Mitchell hair products livery.

6. BR01 From Russia With Love
The Russian flagged SMP Racing squad have their pretty pair of BRO1 Nissans in the race. Designed by prolific sportscar designer Paulo Catone the car should be on the pace. The team will be super keen to bring home a result and have shuffled their squads to boost their chances with ex Peugeot factory man Nic Minassian sharing the #27 car with 2016 IndyCar star Mikhail Aleshin and semi-pro Maurizio Mediani. In the sister #37 F1 refugee Vitaly Petrov returns to Le Mans for the first time in 10 years to anchor the car alongside 2015 GTE Am winner Viktor Shaitar and team regular Krill Ladygin in an all-Russian line-up.

SMP Racing at Le Mans 2016

7. G-Drive Gibson record
Just five open-topped cars remain in the LMP2 class this year, and the #38 G-Drive car is the one most likely to feature at the sharp end of proceedings. This is the very same chassis that has raced for the the team for the past five seasons and has won this race, just two years ago with a stunning fightback drive. They almost repeated the feat last year with second place after a startlingly similar stumble at the very start of the race. Now they’re back for another crack, likely their last with the Gibson chassis. Simon Dolan, team co-owner is an ever present in the team, a massively committed non-Pro driver who truly measures himself against his Professional colleagues. His full season partner this year is another F1 refugee Giedo van der Garde who anchored the team to a race win in the opening ELMS round this season with a very quick stint. Rounding out the trio is young British Driver Jake Dennis, with van der Garde a Le Mans rookie, and also a very quick driver indeed, clocking the fastest non-Oreca time of the Test Day – These guys are still very much in the hunt!

8. Manor
Manor Motorsport’s arrival in the FIA WEC was one of the biggest stories of the beginning of the 2016 WEC season. John Booth and Graeme Lowden looked jaded buy the effort to break through in the notoriously harsh environment of the F1 paddock and look reborn now! They have one regret, that they did not initially enter two cases for the full WEC. By the time they pushed the button on their second (#45) Oreca 05 it was too late too get the car into the Le Mans 24 Hours. The last minute LMP2 driver merry go round though rather strangely sees five of the Manor six on the grid for the 24 Hours. Tor Graves stays aboard his full season #44 car where he is joined by Roberto Mehdi and Matt Rao from the sister #45 – Rao bid higher than regular #44 driver James Jakes for the LM24 seat whilst Mehri stepped in after Will Stevens took the offer of a seat with G-Drive for Le Mans only in the #26 car. The third #45 driver meanwhile, Richard Bradley, will race in the #47 KCMG Oreca!

9. KCMG Return
Back for a one-off race to defend their Le Mans win last year are Chinese team KCMG. They field the very same car, again an Oreca 05 Nissan, that took the win last year here, and two of the same drivers too. Richard Bradley has a near full season drive with Manor in an identical car and his confirmation here keeps him in with a shot of the WEC drivers title, double points are on offer for WEC runners at Le Mans. Matt Howson shared the car in a full WEC campaign with Bradley last season but this is currently set to be his only major race of the season. Tsugio Matsuda is the reigning, and three time, Super GT Champion from Japan. He knows the team, and the circuit, and could be a strong addition to KCMG’s race winning hopes.

KCMG at Le Mans 2016

Written by Graham Goodwin
Photography by Dailysportscar

FIA WEC 2016

Introducing the FIA WEC 2016

The official prologue for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship took place over Easter weekend. This was the first chance for the public to see the new teams and cars in the flesh. Although little can be concluded from lap times at this stage, Stephen Kilbey from Dailysportscar, was trackside at Paul Ricard to give Travel Destinations a briefing on what to expect in the FIA WEC and at Le Mans 2016.

LMP1
Porsche, Audi and Toyota are all back for another season which is posed to be just as enthralling as last year. Each team will be entering 2 cars each in 2016, so there is a level playing field at the front of the grid.

Porsche 919 Hybrid

Porsche has opted to tweak its 919 Hybrid for the new season and take lots of small steps in an attempt to improve on performance, and nullify the ACO’s new restrictions on fuel-flow imposed to slow all the LMP1 cars down.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

Audi and Toyota meanwhile enter 2016 with entirely new packages. Both the new Audi R18 and the Toyota TS050 are very different to what the teams ran last year, and that’s very apparent not just aesthetically, with new liveries and noticeable aero developments, but also under the covers too. The gamble here is whether the new technology will be as reliable as the tweaked tried and tested formula adopted by Porsche. Porsche topped the time sheets at Paul Ricard, but both Audi and Toyota showed quick sector times, without needing to put them all together. Ultimately the first race at Silverstone will really show us what each car is capable of.

Toyota TS050

In the privateer subdivision, one of the two teams present – Rebellion Racing – makes a return with two R-Ones, in a very similar package to last season, but a very shiny new livery which up-close is extremely detailed and in some ways mesmerising. The ACO have promised to review this class to try and enable them to be more competitive moving forward. Perhaps Rebellion’s efforts and consistency over the last few years deserves more.

Rebellion Racing

LMP2
There are plenty of new faces in the LMP2 class this year. This is probably the most difficult grid to predict with many similarly powered cars lining up alongside each other. G-Drive Racing, after winning the LMP2 Championship last season, have partnered up with Jota Sport to run a brand new Oreca 05, sporting the team’s standard eye-catching livery.

Manor

Aside from that, both Signatech Alpine and ex-F1 outfit Manor have also purchased Orecas for the new season. Alpine’s blue and orange looks just as good on a prototype with a roof, and Manor’s fresh look – conceived by team principal Graeme Lowdon – will certainly stand out in what promises to be a very competitive field.

RGR Morand

RGR Morand’s very patriotic livery representing the re-branded team’s Mexican ties on the new Ligier is also one to look out for.
GTE Pro
Much like LMP1 class the GTE Pro grid is oozing manufacturer interest, and the addition of Ford is a testament to the class’ relevancy in global GT racing.

Ford GT

On the subject of Ford, Chip Ganassi Team UK’s pair of GTs look astonishing up close, and with some more development should be in the running for some results throughout the season having already run at Daytona and Sebring in the States this year.

Ferrari 488

Outside of the Ford’s new car on the grid, the well-established AF Corse squad are back with two brand new Ferrari 488 GTEs which promise to be in contention for the title right away. When has a Ferrari not been in the mix over the last few years?

Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin Racing and Dempsey Proton Racing – Porsche’s only Pro representative this year – meanwhile have revised cars for the season. Aston martin’s Vantages are substantially more meaty in the rear diffuser department, and livery wise, after sporting Gulf colours since 2008, Aston Martin return to the team’s roots by running in a very smart (and British) green.

GTE Am
Although the Aston Martin’s will no longer be carrying the Gulf Oil branding, the famous colours won’t be missing from the grid, as European Le Mans Series graduates Gulf Racing UK are participating in the full FIA WEC season this year with their Porsche. It is certainly a striking car and sure to be a fan favourite.

Gulf Racing UK

Top to bottom, GTE Am’s foundations remain unchanged, although 2015 LMP2 runner-up KCMG are also set to run a Porsche in the 2016 FIA WEC championship.

As the clock ticks down to the start of the season at Silverstone from the 15th – 17th April, the work behind the scenes will be ramped up. The official prologue has certainly whetted the appetite for what is going to be another great endurance racing season.

 

The Le Mans 24 Hours remains the pinnacle in the endurance racing calendar and the jewel in the crown of the FIA World Endurance Championship. For those wishing to watch the racing live, travel, ticket and camping packages are still available from Official Agent Travel Destinations. Availability restrictions for certain areas apply, but it is still possible to reserve your place Le Mans 2016.

Travel Destinations also have exclusive offers to attend the FIA World Endurance Championship  rounds at both Spa-Francorchamps and the Nurburgring. Visit our dedicated site for more information and the best prices or call Travel Destinations direct now on 0844 873 0203.