Tag Archives: Le Mans 2015

Le Mans 24 Hours

The Fastest Le Mans

The 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours was a classic.

 History making speed, not just over single laps but over full stints, and indeed the whole race, a depth of quality that few other years have managed to match, and close racing between fierce rivals in every class all combined to give us one of THE best Le Mans’ ever.

So how fast was the 2015 race?

Look at it this way – more than one car was faster over a full stint, throughout the race, than the pole time set over a single lap last year, and the cars used less fuel year on year in doing so! That’s an astounding step forward.

Better still it wasn’t a race dominated by a single car, or a single make with Audi looking like real contenders as the race bludgeoned its way into the night.


Audi’s all too rare failure to secure the top spot came down to four issues: a freak accident for Loic Duval in the No.8 car, other cars confused by conflicting flag and light signals causing a knock-on effect with faster cars approaching from behind, a hybrid issue for the No.9 car which had been in real contention, bodywork issues for all three Audis that saw the No.7 car drop out of contention after losing part of the rear deck and, blinding speed from the Porsches, Nick Tandy in particular doing major damage to Audi’s aspirations during a mammoth three hour turn overnight that saw the No.19 car take control of the race.

A podium for the No.7 crew and an historic fastest race lap from Andre Lotterer were just consolation prizes for a team that seldom fails to find perfection.


Toyota were just plain off the pace, whatever sums were done in Cologne over the winter break seem to have come up with the wrong answers, and there are rumblings of major changes to come for the programme.

Nissan arrived with their extraordinary GT-R LM NISMO having mounted a rearguard action to reduce expectation levels. There was huge interest in the new cars, a major fan favourite effort, but the pace simply wasn’t there yet. No hybrid boost from a system that has proved troublesome throughout its gestation left the Nissans both struggling for pace and in major braking difficulties, the car having been designed to harvest braking energy, with that not available the knock-on effect left the team changing brakes regularly.


That said the team got a car home, albeit unclassified, and nearly made it two with the No.23 car out only as the final hour approached.

Porsche though deserved their first overall win since 1998. Sustained pace from all three cars, and almost problem-free running for the leading pair put them on top of the endurance racing world.

The headlines went to the drivers, current F1 man Nico Hulkenburg, young Kiwi Earl Bamber and Brit Nick Tandy, with the 1,2 completed by the No.17 car of Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber.

The real stars though were the people that came up with the extraordinary 919 Hybrid, the first 4 cylinder powered car to win at Le Mans in over 80 years and a step forward in technology that, despite it’s huge leap in performance and efficiency, still produced rock solid reliability to allow pace of a quite extraordinary nature.

Who knows what they’ll produce for 2016?

Don’t forget to reserve your place at Le Mans 2016 with Travel Destinations now!

Written by Graham Goodwin
Photos by Dailysportscar

The Supporting Cast at Le Mans 2015

The battle for the overall win at Le Mans this year was good, very good, but the supporting cast in other classes elevated the event to something really rather special.

Le Mans has been for many years a multi-class race but often what or other of those classes produces either a race of ultimate attrition or else somewhat processional affair. That certainly was not the case in 2015.

LMP2 saw a packed and varied grid go in to battle right from the green flag. In an astounding moment of déjà vu the 2014 winning Jota team again hit early trouble only to fight back to the podium. They were mechanical, Or rather electrical, heroics from Greaves Motorsport’s Gary Hirsch, the Swiss stranded by the side the track with a failed alternator and subsequent dead battery. His two hour effort to try to restart the car using a small battery from the data logger was very much in the spirit of the event.


Up front though the race soon came down to a sprint between the No.26 G-Drive Ligier, and a pair of brand-new Oreca 05 coupes from the Thiriet by TDS and KCMG teams. The Ligier battled hard, but the Orecas were running in a strong 1,2 formation into darkness until an ill considered lunge from an Aston Martin succeeded in ending the No.46 car’s charge. The Ligier was still in contention, with the fast closing Gibson, and the less pace, but seemingly ever present Murphy Oreca also in the mix. The new Oreca though produced a near flawless run to win. Ex Toyota man Nicolas Lapierre supported by Brits Matt Howson and Richard Bradley to a first ever win by a Hong Kong flagged team.


The GT classes too dealt out fantastic entertainment. The race had lost the No.63 Corvette after a jammed throttle put Jan Magnussen into the wall in Qualifying. The sister car though was always in the mix, and eventually came out on top of the combined efforts of the much fancied Ferraris, the fast, but too often troubled, Aston Martins and a Porsche attack that almost literally imploded in the very early running as the No.92 car suffered a very rare and highly spectacular engine failure.

Along the way we were treated yet again to wheel to wheel action from all the major players notably Oliver Gavin in the Corvette whose win this year will count amongst the hardest earned and best deserved of his long career. The GTA Am class too provided plenty of action, though perhaps too much of it involved incident. Notable amongst these were the moments that led to the demise of both Aston Martins in the class.

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Roald Goethe suffered contact in the worst possible place from the car that would eventually take the overall win, Nico Hulkenberg miscalculating a pass and pitching the No.96 Aston hard into the wall. The car was out on the spot, Goethe suffering fractured vertebrae but Happily now out of hospital and on the mend. The long time class leader meanwhile was another Aston Martin, the No.98 car seemingly cruising to a comfortable win in the hands of Canadian driver Paul Dalla Lana. An incomprehensible error though pitched the Vantage head on into the wall at the Ford chicane, the car out on the spot with less than an hour to run. That’s handed the class win to the Russian owned SMP racing team, the first Russian flagged outfit to win a class here.


Behind the winner though there was a battle royal almost to the flag between the No.77 Porsche and the No.62 Ferrari – Intermarque rivalries, and plenty of American interest up for grabs with the additional spice of Hollywood actor Patrick Dempsey announce the squad crewing the Porsche. With the demise of the Aston both would make it to the podium, another iconic image on a day of iconic images.

Written by Graham Goodwin
Photos by Dailysportscar

Porsche are champions at Le Mans 2015

Porsche are champions at Le Mans 2015

Porsche have won the 83rd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours. It is a record 17th overall win for the German manufacturer, but their first since 1998. The No. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid, driven by Nick Tandy, Earl Bamber and Nico Hulkenberg came home first after 24 hours of intense racing, sparking huge celebrations in the pit lane and amongst a crowd of more than 263,000 enthralled spectators.

Le Mans 2015 always looked like it would be a head to head between Audi and Porsche. Audi were the reigning champions and had won 9 out of the last 10 Le Mans races. Porsche only returned to the top flight of endurance racing last year. They had shown their pace in the first two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) but had been let down by reliability problems.


In practice and qualifying Porsche showed that they had the faster car. They set records in qualifying for pole position and claiming a 1-2-3 for the start. Audi were never slow, but sat ominously behind the Porsches like a stalking predator. The other factory teams, Toyota and Nissan were never able to keep up with the leading cars.

In reality the race didn’t go as everyone expected. The Porsches got away well but didn’t have the pace to pull away from the Audis. In fact regular safety cars meant that as early as the second hour the No. 7 Audi was able to catch and pass the Porsches to take the overall lead. Indeed it was Andre Lotterer in that Audi that set the overall quickest lap of the race; another Le Mans record.

So Porsche weren’t the fastest and it turned out the Audi weren’t the most reliable either. Shortly after taking the lead the No. 7 Audi had to pit out of sequence with a puncture and the lead was handed back. Worse was to befall the No. 8 Audi, when it didn’t brake entering a slow zone (due to signal confusion) and had to swerve to avoid slowing vehicles in front. As a result Duval lost control of the car and the Audi crashed head on in to an Armco barrier. It is a credit to Audi that not only was Duval not injured, but that he was able to return the damaged car to the pits, and that in less than 5 minutes it had rejoined the race under the safety car still fixing the barriers it had damaged. However the advantage had been handed back to Porsche.

As darkness fell, the action continued and there was a fascinating interchange between Audi and Porsche, with neither being able to break free from the other. As one car pitted, the other took the lead, only to give the lead back at the next pit stop. It wasn’t until daylight was returning that Porsche started to gain an advantage. The No. 7 Audi had always been the quickest of the Audis, but they dropped back when inexplicably they lost their engine cover on the track and had to return to the garage for bodywork repairs. Although the car rejoined this was a problem that was never really resolved and continued to cause concern in to the latter part of the race. It was crucial time lost.


The No. 19 Porsche managed to grow a gap at around 8am when a safety car split the LMP1 pack. This enabled Hulkenberg to gain a lap on its nearest rivals. The No. 9 Audi was hanging on, but Webber in the No. 17 Porsche was with them and managed to take second, proving another barrier between Audi and the lead.

Pressure was building on Audi to break the Porsche stranglehold, but mistakes began to be made. Fassler caught the wrath of the stewards after trying to unlap himself under yellow flags. It was a desperate move caused by frustration but it only gained a drive through penalty and any gains the car had made were instantly lost.

As the race entered its final stages the No. 19 Porsche continued to lap in the 3 minutes 20 seconds area and it was the Audis that broke under the strain. Each of the Audis in turn suffered issues, including a return of the loose engine cover for the No. 7 car and their challenge was done. It was left for the No. 19 Porsche to lead home the sister No. 17 car relatively untroubled with a laps margin between them to enable the Porsche team to enjoy a memorable victory.

Despite having 2 rookie drivers and one parachuted in from Formula 1, the No. 19 car fully deserved the win. In fact it was the British driver Nick Tandy and New Zealander Earl Bamber who should take the plaudits, because although Nico Hulkenberg brought the car across the line, it was the impressive times set by his teammates through the night that set up this impressive win.


In the LMP2 class the victory went to the Nissan powered Oreca of KCMG. They were challenged at various times by G-Drive racing and a late charge by Jota Sport, but in truth they lead the field for 90% of the race and fully deserved their win.

The GTE Pro battle was intense throughout. Whilst the Porsches never had the speed in this class, there was a great three way battle between Aston Martin, Ferrari and Corvette that at times saw cars three abreast across the track. Aston Martin looked to have the power, but accidents and reliability issues curtailed their challenge. Going in to the morning the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari was slugging it out with the sole remaining No. 64 Corvette. It looked like the Italian team would hold off the American challenge, when disaster struck and the experienced Vilander had to bring the Ferrari back in to the garage with gearbox issues. It was heartbreak for the AF Corse team, but it meant that the Corvette team that saw their sister car crash out in qualifying, stayed the distance to take a memorable win. All the more important as their major rivals Ford have taken the chance to announce a return to Le Mans for 2016.

Even more heartbreaking was the story of the GTE Am race. The No. 98 Aston Martin had qualified quickest and had led the race by some distance going in to the last hour. Then, with Paul Dalla Lana at the wheel and the podium step seemingly guaranteed, the car inexplicably careered into the barriers at the Ford Chicane. It was the only mistake made by the team all week but it ended their race immediately. It was left then to the No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari to almost apologetically take the class win. They had overcome their own battles to cross the line, but even they must have felt sorry for the Aston Martin Racing team.

The Le Mans 24 Hours 2015 was a great race. Full of twists and turns, broken records and broken hearts. Porsche were deserved winners breaking the dominance of Audi over recent years.

A more detailed report of the race incidents will appear on this website later in the week. In the mean time….

The dates for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2016 have already been confirmed as the 18th & 19th June 2016. You can be trackside to see all the action with Travel Destinations. Reservations for Le Mans 2016 open from Monday 15th June and you can reserve your place by calling 0844 873 0203. We hope you can join us.

Written by Richard Webb
Photos: Porsche AG

Porsche start on pole for Le Mans 2015

Porsche start on pole for Le Mans 2015

On Wednesday night the No. 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid, driven by Neel  Jani, set a record breaking qualifying lap (for this Le Mans circuit configuration) of 3 minutes, 16.887 seconds. Thursday’s two qualifying sessions proved to be stop-start affairs in warm and humid conditions, that meant the this incredible time could not be challenged. This means the Porsche driven by Jani, Dumas and Lieb, will start the 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours from pole position. They will be joined on the front row by the sister No.17 car and followed in third by the other sibling, the No. 18 Porsche 919 hybrid.


The second qualifying session began in overcast, stormy weather at 19:00hrs on a dry track, but it was upset by several incidents. Four stoppages upset the original planned schedule for all the teams. Among the improvements early on was the No. 19 Porsche, as it beat its Wednesday’s time with a lap in 3m18.862sec, but this did not change the previous day’s hierarchy.


The first stoppage was at 19:40hrs because of the of the No. 13 Rebellion R-One continuing straight at the first chicane on Les Hunaudières. This was followed by a mechanical failure on the No. 47 Oreca 05 between Mulsanne and Indianapolis as well as a trip into the gravel trap by the No. 55 Ferrari in the Porsche Curves

The session restarted at 19:57hrs, but was stopped again at 20:30hrs when experienced Jan Magnussen had a big shunt in the No. 63 works Chevrolet Corvette C7.R just after the virage du Pont on the exit from the Porsche Curves. The car slammed into the guardrail and the session was red-flagged. The session did not restart.


Magnussen was conscious and he was carefully extricated from the C7.R and taken to the circuit medical centre for medical checks. Unfortunately the Corvette will now not start the race on Saturday as it cannot be repaired in time. For the first time in its history Corvette Racing has been forced to withdraw one of its cars from the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The third and final qualifying session began early at 21:30hrs, but the record times set the previous day by Porsche, were not tested by their main rivals Audi and Toyota. The Audis did improve their times to move within less than three seconds behind the Porsches. However, the final stoppage came at 23:05hrs when the No. 67 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR driven by Alex Kapadia, caught fire and stopped between Tertre Rouge and the first chicane. The session did go live again at 23:25hrs, but the final 35 minutes of running did not influence the starting grid order.


The Oreca of KCMG celebrated in their garage as they headed the LMP2 times and will start ahead of the No. 26 Ligier of G-Drive racing on the grid. However the biggest smiles were to be found at Aston Martin Racing who managed to clinch poles in both the GTE Pro and Am categories. The No. 99 car held of the Ferrari challenge to take pole in the Pro class, whilst the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 continued to dominate the Am field.


The Le Mans 24 Hours 2015 will start on Saturday at 15:00hrs (local time) and it promises to be another fascinating race.

Photos by Dailysportscar

Porsche set the pace in Le Mans qualifying

Porsche set the pace in Le Mans qualifying

Following a disrupted and damp last practice session, all cars took to the track for Wednesday night’s first qualifying session, keen to impress. With the weather forecast for Thursday’s two qualifying sessions uncertain, all the teams wanted to claim a provisional pole. Porsche managed to do this in some style and set a new qualifying record for this Le Mans circuit in the process.


With a strong performance, the three Porsche 919 Hybrids finished first, second and third in the first of three qualifying sessions for the Le Mans 24 Hours. The best overall lap time for the field of 56 cars was achieved by Neel Jani, who lapped the 13.629 kilometre long circuit in 3:16.887 minutes. The Swiss has now established a new qualifying record for the current track length by beating Peugeot’s pole position time from 2008 (3:18.513 min). Jani shares car number 18 with Romain Dumas (FR) and Marc Lieb (GER). Timo Bernhard (GER) achieved the second fastest time today, which was also good enough to beat the old record. Just like Jani, he was in the car as soon as qualifying began before his teammates Brendon Hartley (NZ) and Mark Webber (AUS) took over the number 17 prototype later in the session. For the third trio, with the Le Mans rookies Earl Bamber (NZ) and Nico Hülkenberg (GER) sharing car number 19 with Nick Tandy (GB), it was the Britain who did their fastest lap with the around 1,000 HP hybrid race car in 3:19.297 minutes to come third.

The three Audi cars followed on from the Porsches, with the 2 Toyotas behind the Audis. The other factory team, Nissan, struggled for pace and were swallowed up by the LMP2 field.


Le Mans has three qualifying sessions that are held with each of them lasting for two hours. The best lap time achieved in these six hours is the one that decides each car’s grid position. Because the weather conditions are currently tending to be changeable, it is not clear what Wednesday’s time sheets from the dry session may be worth in terms of grid positions.

It is clear from this one session that Porsche have the quickest car at Le Mans in these conditions. The times set in qualifying may indeed be enough to secure pole position for Saturday’s race. However, Le Mans is an endurance race and not a sprint. Having the fastest car is not enough at Le Mans. You only have to look to last year’s result, where the Toyota qualified on pole, yet Audi secured the victory.

If nothing else, the results form the qualifying session on Wednesday show that the race is going to be another good one.

The second qualifying session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on Thursday from 19:00-21:00 hrs, with the third and final qualifying following in the dark from 22:00-24:00 hrs (local times).

All cars pass Le Mans scrutineering

The 56 cars entered for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2015 have all passed the scrutineering checks with flying colours. The second day of administrative and technical checks was bathed in sunshine and once again drew large crowds. This Monday, thirty-four cars were called in for administrative checks and scrutineering, following 22 car inspected on Sunday. There were a number of highlights throughout the day but let’s first take a look at the how this year’s teams got here!

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the pivotal race on the FIA World Endurance Championship calendar, and all points scored by competitors here count double. The race is the third round of the year, after the 6 Hours of Silverstone and the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. This year, 34 of the entrants at Le Mans are also competing for the full FIA WEC season.

The Le Mans Series in the United States was founded in 1998. It was originally known as the ALMS (American Le Mans Series) but later became the Tudor United Sportscar Championship. In 2004, the European Le Mans Series was created, followed by the Asian Le Mans Series more recently. With these three series, the ACO has gradually built the so-called ‘endurance pyramid’, with the 24 Hours of Le Mans set firmly at the pinnacle.

In LM P1, eleven of the cars entered are also competing in the full FIA World Endurance Championship. Car manufacturers who are officially listed are entitled to enter a third car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. While Audi, Porsche and Nissan have all chosen to do so, Toyota has come to Le Mans with just the two cars it fields in the world championship season.M15_1646_fine-1


In LM P2, there are 19 entries, ten of which are non-permanent FIA WEC competitors. Among these ten, all but one of them drive in the European Le Mans Series. Oak Racing’s Ligier JS P2 no.34 owes its entry to its title in the Asian Le Mans Series championship in 2014.

For LM GTE Pro, most teams are also entered in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Only the two Chevrolet Corvettes compete in the American championship (TUSC).

Finally, among the 14 cars entered in LM GTE Am, seven come from FIA WEC, two from the Tudor United Sportcar Championship (no. 53 and 62), two from the Asian Le Mans Series (no. 67 and 68) and three from the European Le Mans Series (no. 55, 61 and 66).

For the second day of scrutineering, the crowds got taken on something resembling a world tour. The three cars from the Asian Le Mans Series set the ball rolling this morning at 10am, with the two Taiwanese Porsches no. 67 and no. 68 for Team AAI and Oak Racing’s Ligier JS P2 no. 34.

Then we moved continent as the three Russian cars for SMP Racing were up next. The two LM GTE Pro official Porsche 911 RSR brought us back to Europe, and gave us a taster of their three LM P1 counterparts due to appear in the afternoon. We then crossed the Atlantic when the American competitors came under the scrutineering spotlight, with the Ferrari no. 62, Viper no. 53, and the Ligier JS P2 – HPD no. 30 and no. 31.

The afternoon session brought us back to Europe, and to Germany more specifically, with the presentation of the three Porsche 919 Hybrids, eagerly awaited for by the crowds. This dash back across the Atlantic mirrored the journey made by Nico Hulkenberg ( Porsche no. 19), who arrived in Le Mans this morning after finishing eighth in the F1 Canadian Grand Prix yesterday!

We then made a stopover in France with the Alpine A450B no. 36, before crossing the Channel with Aston Martin Racing and its five cars. They caused quite a stir when they revealed this year’s Le Mans art car livery, proudly sported by their no. 97. The design by German artist Tobias Rehberger is totally unique in that it conveys a real sense of motion, even when the car is standing still.

We were then off to Japan with the Toyota TS040 Hybrids, the final LM P1 cars to take to the stage. Next, it was across the Pacific with American Corvette Racing and their two Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.

To round off this 83rd scrutineering session, the five Ferraris entered by AF Corse filed through the checks, followed by the last car up today, Krohn Racing’s Ligier JS P2 with its distinctive green livery.

The anticpation for the Le Mans 24 Hours is really building now!

Porsche miss out at Spa

Porsche miss out at Spa

In the end it was same again at Spa-Francorchamps, as despite the challengers getting close, Audi managed to prevail and take the win to record their second FIA World Endurance Championship win of the season. Porsche showed that they have the quicker car. Having locked out the first 3 places on the grid, the Porsche 919s were quickly away and building a gap as the Audis fought with Toyota for position behind. This was the closest that Toyota would be to the lead as both their cars lacked the pace to challenge at the front. This must be a concern for the Japanese team going in to Le Mans next month.


Porsche lost cars early as Nick Tandy’s 919 had a collision with a Porsche 911 whilst making their way through traffic. The resultant off in to the barriers and the repairs that followed ended both cars challenge on the day. The Pole-sitting No. 17 Porsche 919 was hampered when Brendon Hartley outbraked himself at the bus-stop chicane and found a route back to the track by driving through a marshal’s post. Not only was this not the quickest route through the complex, but the subsequent stop-go penalty left them with too much ground to make up.

After these own goals for Porsche it was left to the No 18 car to continue the fight at the front. The longer the race went on the closer that Audi got to the leader. Audi had their own issues too, with the No. 8 car falling foul of electrical gremlins, but the other cars stayed in contention until the end.

Ultimately it became a battle of strategy. Whilst the Porsche was clearly fastest on the straights, the Audi would gain some time through the corners so something else had to give. Ultimately it was tyres. The No. 7 Audi somehow managed to maintain decent pace whilst running 2 and half stints on the same tyres. The Porsches really struggled when they tried to double stint their tyres and ultimately this cost them the win.


Coming in to the last third of the race Marc Lieb’s Porsche was just in front of Benoit Treluyer’s Audi, with both constantly winding their way through traffic. Following a few laps of near passes, good defence and some amazing manoeuvres through the rest of the field, the Audi finally managed to pass the Porsche. It was a lead they were not to give up.

As the final pit-stops played out it became clear that both cars would need to stop for fuel with just minutes to go. However, if Audi had changed tyres as well, they may have let the Porsche back pass. As it was the calm head that is Leena Gade on Audi’s pit wall made the call not to change rubber and so the Audi maintained the lead. Despite staying out for about 60 laps on one set of tyres the Audi managed to maintain pace and stay in front to record another win.


The LMP2 class was dominated by the British Jota Sport team. Participating in this race as part of their preparation for Le Mans (they are currently racing in the ELMS), they would have led from start to finish were it not for a penalty imposed for jumping the start line. Ultimately it didn’t affect the outcome as the Jota team made up time and re-took the lead before the half way point. The class winner at Silverstone was G-Drive racing, but this car succumbed to an electrical fault and didn’t feature at the end.

Another British team to leave Spa smiling were Aston Martin. They managed to record a double win by taking victory in both LM GTE classes. The No. 99 car emerged victorious in the GTE Pro class after leading from the front. Their closest challenger was the Ferrari of AF Corse who looked to challenge near the end, before a loose tyre in the pit lane incurred a stop-go penalty. In the LMGTE Am class the No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 had few challengers. They were strong throughout the race and eventually crossed the line to win a full lap ahead of the 2nd place Ferrari.


This was an engrossing race, with twists and turns throughout. Porsche will think of this as a missed opportunity but Toyota will be more concerned about their lack of pace. Audi however, will be more than happy that the best their challengers could offer was still not quite good enough. More than 50,000 fans at Spa over the weekend were fully entertained. We now move on to the big one, with little time for the teams to recover before Le Mans.

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Desceptive spring sunshine with a gusting cold wind welcomed race fans to Silverstone yesterday for the 1st round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. After the new “Le Mans style” team line ups and national anthem on the grid before the green flag it was down to business for all the teams keen to start the season with a class win.

Porsche had locked out the front row from Saturday’s qualifying and they continued to show that speed as both cars accelerated away from the chasing pack. The opposite happened to the No. 7 Audi as it struggled to get off the line straight away. Not only did the driver, Treluyer, see the rest of the LMP1 grid continue around the first corner, but he was then passed by most of the LMP2 runners as well. It may have been the surprise of the slow running Audi that caused the new Strakka Racing Dome (LMP2) to immediately spin off in to the gravel, sending them to the very back of the grid.

Within 6 minutes of the start the leaders were in traffic as they caught up with the back markers in the GTE field. The closing speeds between the two classes were amazing. The speeds of the whole LMP1 grid werte impressive throughout. The lap times were comparable with the middle runners of the F1 grid last year. Bearing in mind the weight of the cars, the fuel and the distance of the race, this was quite amazing. Mark Webber’s Porsche was particularly quick, pulling out a 10 second advantage on his team mate in second place. Behind them the battle between Audi and Toyota for third place saw them trading places in and out of various corners.

Just behind the leaders in the LMP2 field the KCMG Racing prototype benefitted from a great start to take the lead in class, but within the first hour it was being chased down by the two orange and black G Drive cars. Despite a valiant effort from Tandy behind the wheel, he was passed on consecutive laps and the G Drive cars didn’t look back. The returning Strakka Racing car, was recovering from the spin at the back of the class and had a difficult view as it began to fight its way back through the congested field of cars.

Aston Martin began at the front of the GTE Pro field and started well, initially holding off the challenge of Porsche, with Ferrari staying out of trouble and watching developments unfold in front of them. GTE Am was equally close with the sole Corvette getting ahead of the Porsche and the AF Corse Ferrari, with Aston Martin waiting behind.

The running order was to change just in to the second hour. The leading Porsche, with Mark Webber at the wheel, was recalled to the pits and wheeled back in to the garage. Unfortunately it was never able to return to the race, as a driveshaft failure curtailed their race, leaving a lone Porsche out at the front.

Audi’s double challenge was reduced in force shortly after Porsche. Following an impact with a GTE Porsche at Becketts, the No. 8 Audi had to return to the pits for bodywork repair. Time in the garage cost the car a lap to the leaders, but the damage appeared a little more than cosmetic as the car never really recovered and continued to look unstable when it returned to the track. The car had a spin later with Olly jarvis at the wheel and their challenge was all but over.

At the front the battle was really just getting interesting. Over the period of more than an hour the remaining Audi and Porsche became locked in a tremendous battle. They were also briefly joined by the No. 1 Toyota as the pit stop strategy panned out. The lead constantly changed between the cars while Neel Jani and Marcel Fassler, expertly weaved their cars through the traffic. The Porsche was clearly able to pull away from the Audi along the straights, but it was quickly reeled in again by the Audi under passed under braking in to the corners. The battle continued for lap after lap, neither able to put any distance between themselves and their rival, despite different pit stop & tyre stinting strategies.


Eventually the No. 7 Audi managed to build a small gap and the Porsche had to be careful as the chasing Toyotas double stinted the tyres bringing them back in to the mix. Toyota and Porsche both challenged the leader throughout the rest of the race, but neither could hold the lead for any length of time, and going in to the last hour the Audi continued to lead with a gap of almost 40 seconds.

The LMP2 race became a comfortable 1 -2 for the G-Drive Racing. Once they had passed the KCMG car they built a lead that could never be surpassed. The No. 26 car finished ahead of the sister Ligier. The battle behind them saw the fluorescent green Extreme Speed HPD car finish in the third podium spot, but they were later disqualified by the stewards for worn planks beneath the car. This meant a late promotion for the Strakka Racing Dome that had fought its way back from that initial spin at the first corner. A great effort from the British based team.

The GTE Pro race was much tighter. The initial dominance of Aston Martin was undermined by a pit strategy mistake under a full course yellow, that set their pit stops off against the Porsche and Ferraris who ended up making less stops. The Manthey Porsche team looked strong but ultimately it was the vast experience of Bruni and Vilander that brought the ever-reliable AF Corse Ferrari home in front for the win.

Aston Martin had greater success in the GTE Am class, with the No. 98 car holding off the challenge from Ferrari to win the class. The No. 50 Larbre competition Corvette would probably have mounted a real challenge, but it sustained damage after a collision with a speeding Audi and the resultant run across the gravel.

Back in the top class it was difficult to call a winner right up until the end. Audi continued ahead of Porsche who were in turn still ahead of Toyota; a three way fight to the finish. The Audi had built enough of a gap to enable them to pit for a splash and dash to the line, but the Porsche and Toyota were closing. Just as the Audi was coming in for that last stop, the stewards gave the Audi a stop/go penalty for overtaking GTE cars by pulling off the track. The Audi came back to the pitlane following their outlap and served their penalty to emerge again just seconds ahead of the closing Porsche. The gap was now much reduced to just 8 seconds with only 10 laps remaining.

In the last few laps the Toyota in third continued to catch the Porsche in second, who in turn was catching the leading Audi. The Porsche closed the gap to less than 8 seconds but couldn’t quite catch the Audi. Marcel Fassler held on to give the No. 7 Audi the win and start the 2015 FIA WEC season on the top of the podium.

This was an incredible endurance race, and sets up the rest of the season perfectly. All three prototype challengers appear to have improved on last year’s models and there is clearly little to choose between them. Nissan (who were displaying their cars at Silverstone) will be added to the cocktail at Le Mans. This could be the best FIA World Endurance Championship season yet.

You can join us at the next 3 rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship. We have travel, tickets and camping options available for Spa-FrancorchampsLe Mans and the Nurburgring. Call us now on 0844 873 0203 to reserve your place!

Sports Car News Round Up

Sports Car News Round Up

In the first of a new series of articles exclusively for Travel Destinations, our man in the media centre, Graham Goodwin, keeps you up to date with all the news on and off track in the sports car world. With the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series taking place next weekend at Silverstone, Graham looks at what has been happening in the build up over the last month.


March was one heck of a busy month in the world of Sportscar racing.

We’ve had the pre-season tests for both the European Le Mans Series and the FIA World Endurance Championship; New cars, new drivers, new teams and a pair of very healthy grids.

That was followed up with a London launch for the opening round of the FIA WEC with cars and drivers on parade, and some unexpected news from Championship Boss Gerard Neveu.

European Le Mans Series

The European Le Mans Series will get under way next weekend with the first of five, four hour races for LMP2, the new LMP3, GTE and GTC cars.

More than 30 cars are billed to take the start with an excellent LMP2 grid – Jota Sport will be looking to take a win at the start of their campaign with the team featuring a pair of factory LMP1 drivers from different teams on their line-up, Simon Dolan joined by Audi’s Filipe Albuquerque and Nissan’s Harry Tincknell.

Look out too for the Orecas from Murphy Prototypes and AF Corse, the latter a renamed SMP Racing who have decided to delay the debut of their new in-house designed Coupe until round two – Both teams have very quick drivers on the roster and the older Oreca car still has fire in its belly.

Thiriet by TDS Racing do have the new Oreca 05 Coupe, and a good driver line up too. The car is fast, and a stunning good looker. If it is reliable too then it will be one to watch.

There will be huge interest too in the ‘junior’ LMP3 class, a world first for Silverstone as the new class makes its racing debut. Several manufacturers have made their intentions to build cars clear but they have all been beaten to the punch by Yorkshire-based Ginetta who plan to bring up to five of their new LMP3 coupes to the opening round.

It is early days yet for the pretty little coupe but with clever aero and a powerful, and under stressed Nissan V8, these cars might be nipping at the heels of the LMP2s before very long!

Team GB Olympic legend Sir Chris Hoy makes his LMP racing debut alongside fellow Scot Charlie Robertson in one of a pair of cars entered by Ginetta factory based Team LNT.


FIA World Endurance Championship

Neither the brand new Nissan GTR LM LMP1 nor the newly re-engined Rebellions will make the opening round (Though a Nissan will be on display in the paddock with all of the team’s drivers planned to be present too).

That won’t be too much of an issue for great racing though with all three of the other factory LMP1 teams bringing heavily updated versions of their stunning hybrid racers to the grid.

Porsche ended 2014 with a race win in Brazil and arrive in the UK with their 2015 919 Hybrid now punching out more than 1000bhp between it’s turbo four pot engine and its pair of hybrid systems. The car is the very first to enter the maximum 8 megajoules bracket, a bold step forward that the Porsche boys hope will give them an edge.

Defending World Drivers, and Manufacturers, Champions Toyota bring an updated version of their TS040 Hybrid to the fight – the team have confirmed a three year commitment to the FIA WEC and whilst they stick with last years 6 megajoule package alongside their howling V8, their acknowledged aero expertise might well play a part.

Audi found themselves breathless in the wake of the opposition at times last year and have responded. They stick with diesel power but have produced a massively enhanced evolution on last year’s car with a doubling of their hybrid boost (up to 4MJ) and huge attention to detail on the weight management and aerodynamic front. A confident looking Audi is a worrying prospect for the opposition and whilst Porsche grabbed the pre-season headlines with astonishing pace at the Prologue test last month the Audis were faster over a full stint (and Toyota are reputed to have lapped quicker at Paul Ricard in their pre-season tests!)

In LMP2 the rather disappointing grid of last season is history – replaced by a full season entry that has more than doubled to 10 cars. There is plenty of variety too:

G-Drive double their effort to a pair of Ligier Nissans in an eye catching new Orange and black livery – Brit start Sam Bird replaces Olivier Pla in the lead #26 car but look out for the all South American crewed #28 too.
Tequila Patron ESM arrive as full season entrants from the USA but not with the new HPD Coupes they planned to field, issues with the new cars have seen the team dust off their older Hondas ahead of a pair of Ligiers arriving in time for Round 2. Watch for Scot Ryan Dalziel to star here.

Team Sard Morand bring a pair of revised Morgan Evos with SARD badged Judd V8s – Another quick young Brit, Oliver Webb is one to watch in #43

The only all British effort on the grid comes from the locally based Strakka Racing, the team making a belated comeback after almost a year’s delay to their new car – The Strakka Dome S103 Coupe looks like Darth Vader to the Ligier’s Princess leia – It will be quick, especially in the hands of the team’s two top pros Jonny Kane and Danny Watts.

The ELMS Champions from 2014 arrive in the WEC with their French Blue weapon from last season – Signatech Alpine looking to climb the ladder in the WEC.

If anything even more ‘blue’ though is the stunning new Oreca 05 Coupe of Hong Kong based KCMG, the team investing in the future after race winning success last season – The car’s astonishing electric blue livery is going to be a crowd pleaser for sure and with an all- British driver line up for Silverstone it will be one to watch!

The GT ranks will see the factory backed Ferraris defending their crown from a pair of factory Porsches and a trio of Aston Martins in the Pro class whilst the Am class too sees all three marques going head to head with the additional V8 powered spice of a new Corvette C7.R into the mix.

There will be a different look to the race start this year too – No grid girls, a specific decision from the WEC and the cars will leave the grid from an ‘ear of corn’ formation after a pre grid that will see all the teams line-up with their cars, it should make for quite a sight from the pit straight grandstands!


Nurburgring 24 Hours

Sadly we end this month’s round up with some bad news.

A tragic accident at the Nurburgring last weekend with a spectator killed in a freak incident has left questions to be answered before plans for the 2015 Nurburgring 24 Hours can be confirmed.

At present the fastest GT cars are under a temporary ban but moves are underway to confirm plans for the race proper in May – We’ll bring an update to these pages as soon as we can confirm what those plans entail.


Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves

Porsche Curves Update

Porsche Curves Update

Last week, works began at the Le Mans circuit to improve driver safety at the entrance to the Porsche Curves section of the track. This planned work was announced by the ACO more than a year ago and will include a wider gravel trap and new energy absorbing barriers. The Porsche Curves is the fastest complex on the famous Le Mans circuit and these works hope to prevent serious injuries in future races. These developments are just a part of a continued safety upgrade to the traditional circuit being undertaken by the ACO.

Porsche Curves 2015

The Porsche Curves is also the home to our popular private trackside campsite. It will continue to be the home of our campsite for the foreseeable future. This location enables us to offer something unique at Le Mans; a relaxed private camping area, away from other camping areas, with 24 hours security, fully serviced showers & toilets and a hospitality marquee on-site.

Due to the current works at Porsche Curves, regular guests to our campsite will notice a few changes, as we are re-arranging the layout (moving the marquee & showers etc.) compared to previous years. This is to match the new location of water pipes & other services moved by the current developments.

Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves

Perhaps the most visible change will be the viewing bank at the rear of the campsite. The extension of the run off area means that the viewing bank is being moved back towards the campsite. In effect, we have had to reduce the size of our campsite as there will be less grass area available for tents. This decision was made in conjunction with the ACO before we went on sale for the 2015 event.

The very good news for all our Porsche Curves & Event Tent customers is that the ACO have confirmed that the newly constructed viewing bank will have direct access only for Travel Destinations customers staying at Porsche Curves and that there will no longer be general public access through our campsite entrance to this viewing bank. We believe that this additional security and private access will be a great benefit for all our guests staying at our Porsche Curves campsite.

Porsceh Curves March 2015

The Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves campsite is currently sold out for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2015, although we are also running a waitlist for any possible cancellations. All our customers travelling with us to the Le Mans 24 Hours this year must have paid their balances before the end of March. Please check your individual booking confirmations for your exact date.

If you have yet to make a booking for Le Mans 2015 then there is still time. We have a limited number of camping options available in the circuit-run public campsites & a last few rooms at our Flexotel Village in the centre of the circuit. Please call us on 0844 873 0203 to secure your place at Le Mans.

Thanks to Dailysportscar for photos of ongoing works.