FIA World Endurance Championship

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Perrinn confirms two orders of LMP1 chassis for 2018 WEC, Le Mans

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British motorsport engineering company Perrinn has confirmed the receipt of two orders of its LMP1 chassis for the 2018 FIA World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Following the withdrawal of Audi and Rebellion Racing’s decision to step down to LMP2 for 2017, this year’s LMP1 class in the WEC features just five cars, with boosting numbers a key aim for the series’ leadership at the ACO and FIA.

Ginetta has already announced plans for a customer LMP1 chassis for 2018, while Russian outfit SMP Racing is also working on a project with BR Engineering and Dallara.

Perrinn has joined the fray by announcing on Thursday that it has received two chassis orders for 2018, as well as releasing renders of its design.

“With the design work already completed alongside preliminary digital and crash test simulations, the as yet unnamed car is expected to be revealed in late November before testing starts in December,” the statement reads.

“With the program already at such an advanced stage, Perrinn has confirmed it is capable of supplying further cars for the 2018 season.

“The first two cars sold will be run by a European race team with its identity and engine details to be released shortly.”

“Increased support and stability from the FIA and ACO, coupled with programs from other manufacturers has meant we’ve had a lot of discussions with teams seeking more freedom than the new LMP2 category,” designer Nicholas Perrinn added.

“LMP1 offers a route to progress from an engineering and pace point of view. In just a few short months, the program has progressed very quickly to the point where we’ll have two cars plus enough spares to build another car within six months.

“We have ensured we have capacity to do more should some of our other discussions develop.”

Updated Le Mans entry list, Toyota driver swap, revealed Tuesday

(Photo by Dean Treml/Red Bull via Getty Images)
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A handful of driver swaps and additions have been confirmed as part of the near finalized entry list for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Here’s the full entry list.

Chief among them is Toyota Gazoo Racing switching two of its drivers around between two of its three Toyota TS050 Hybrids. The recovering Jose Maria Lopez is shifted to the No. 9 entry with Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre, while Toyota veteran Stephane Sarrazin is slotted in alongside Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the team’s No. 7 car.

“Our circumstances have changed over the last few weeks as a result of the injury to José María,” Toyota team president Toshio Sato said in a release. “He is in the unfortunate position of having completed very few racing laps this year in WEC, so we all felt it was appropriate to adjust the driver line-up.

“I am very confident that Stéphane will fit well into a No. 7 line-up which can fight for the win. José María, like Yuji, will learn a lot at Le Mans this year, familiarizing himself with the track and the event in general, and this is an important step for the future as well.”

Elsewhere the ByKolles lineup retains the same trio of Oliver Webb, Dominik Kraihamer and James Rossiter, Jose Gutierrez joins the DragonSpeed-operated G-Drive entry in LMP2 replacing Leo Roussel, Graff Racing has finalized its LMP2 lineup and a handful of others have been swapped around in GTE-Am, notably at JMW Motorsport (in Will Stevens) and Proton Competition. Only the third seat in the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR for Proton remains to be filled.

Breaking down the entry list a bit, Porsche looks for its third straight win and Toyota its elusive first.

Three full-season IndyCar drivers are set to participate in Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais and Mikhail Aleshin, the three of them all set to miss the Le Mans Test Day at June 4 (will be racing in Detroit) and will then fly after the Texas race (June 10, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) for scrutineering early in the week. NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell is also set to compete. Bourdais (GTE-Pro) and Bell (GTE-Am) will seek to defend their class wins last year in the same team and driver lineups with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Scuderia Corsa, respectively.

A trio of Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires veterans – Gutierrez, Felix Rosenqvist and Will Owen – enter into a highly competitive 25-car LMP2 field for their debuts. Their runs will be interesting to watch.

From an American entry standpoint, there are seven teams and 12 cars, listed below:

  • 21-DragonSpeed-10-Star, Oreca 07, Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley, Felix Rosenqvist
  • 32-United Autosports, Ligier JS P217, Will Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer, Filipe Albuquerque
  • 43-Keating Motorsports, Riley Mk. 30, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Ricky Taylor
  • 63-Corvette Racing, Corvette C7.R, Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor
  • 64-Corvette Racing, Corvette C7.R, Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler
  • 66-Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK, Ford GT, Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke, Billy Johnson
  • 67-Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK, Ford GT, Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, Pipo Derani
  • 68-Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA, Ford GT, Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais
  • 69-Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA, Ford GT, Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon
  • 82-Risi Competizione, Ferrari 488 GTE, Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, Pierre Kaffer
  • 62-Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari 488 GTE, Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Cooper MacNeil*
  • 65-Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari 488 GTE, Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan, Bret Curtis

*Only all-American driver lineup in the field.

There are 18 American drivers entered. They are, Will Owen, Gustavo Menezes, David Cheng, Ben Keating, Ricky Taylor, Mark Patterson, Matt McMurry (LMP2), Jordan Taylor, Tommy Milner, Billy Johnson, Joey Hand (GTE-Pro), Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Cooper MacNeil, Bret Curtis, Tracy Krohn, Patrick Long and Mike Hedlund (GTE-Am).

Toyota takes second straight WEC win with dominant Spa display

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SPA, Belgium – Toyota swept to a dominant one-two finish in Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps, continuing its perfect start to the 2017 season as Anthony Davidson, Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima took their second straight win.

After winning the opening race of the year at Silverstone two weeks ago, Toyota sent out a warning shot to its rivals by topping all three practice sessions, only for Porsche to snatch pole with its No. 1 919 Hybrid on Friday afternoon.

Andre Lotterer led the early part of the race for Porsche, only for tire management issues to cause the German driver to drop back, with Mike Conway blasting into the lead for Toyota in the No. 7 car.

Conway and teammate Kamui Kobayashi were in control of the race until a full course yellow was thrown in the fourth hour, with a mistimed pit stop allowing the No. 8 Toyota to move into the lead.

Conway put in a stunning stint to reduce the gap between the two TS050 Hybrids from 20 seconds to just two in just 40 minutes, only to be burned by another full course yellow that widened the gap once again.

Porsche managed to get its No. 2 car up into second place briefly before Conway fought back, with Kobayashi then putting in a blistering final stint to cut the gap at the front once again. Late traffic cost the ex-Formula 1 driver the chance to catch Buemi at the front, with the No. 8 trio finishing two seconds clear at the checkered flag.

Porsche was left to settle for third and fourth, the No. 2 finishing ahead of the No. 3, but has placed its focus on preparing for Le Mans by running its cars in low downforce aero packages for the opening two rounds of the year. Toyota’s third entry, the No. 9, finished two laps down in fifth place.

G-Drive Racing converted pole position into victory in the LMP2 class at Spa after a back-and-forth battle with Rebellion ended when the Swiss team was hit with a penalty and suffered a bodywork issue, leaving Alex Lynn, Pierre Thiriet and Roman Rusinov to sweep to the win in the No. 26 Oreca 07 Gibson.

GTE Pro offered up a fascinating fight between the two AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTEs that even made contact at one point, only for Sam Bird and Davide Rigon to emerge victorious in the No. 71 car. Aston Martin Racing took GTE Am victory with its No. 98 Vantage GTE courtesy of a convincing display from Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana.

The WEC season continues with the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.

Lieb on standby for Porsche at Le Mans, will test 919 Hybrid next week

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SPA, Belgium – Marc Lieb will be on standby for Porsche at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans should the German manufacturer require a late replacement for the endurance classic.

Lieb won his first Le Mans title with Porsche last year en route to the FIA World Endurance Championship drivers’ title alongside Neel Jani and Romain Dumas.

The German driver was dropped from its LMP1 line-up for 2017 and relocated within Porsche motorsport, and will take up an unofficial reserve role at Le Mans, with his first test in the updated 919 Hybrid car set to take place next weekend.

“As we know, officially in the regulations we don’t have a spare driver, it is not allowed. Obviously we have a very strong guy ready in the background for us which is Marc Lieb who could jump in if anything could happen in the Le Mans weekend,” Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl said.

“We will put Marc Lieb into the car in Aragon for some stints to have him ready again. It’s also great from his side to be available for us.

“He has a new job at Porsche, he’s very busy there, but he knows the way around at Le Mans, so it’s a perfect solution for us also.”

Porsche beats Toyota to Spa WEC pole after stunning Jani lap

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SPA, Belgium – Porsche will start Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at Spa-Francorchamps from pole position after Neel Jani’s stunning lap saw it beat Toyota to top honors in qualifying.

Toyota led all three stages of practice at Spa in the lead up to qualifying, only for Porsche to strike back when it mattered and claim its first pole of the season.

Jani turned in a fastest lap of 1:53.756 during his first run in the No. 1 Porsche 919 Hybrid, with teammate Andre Lotterer adding his time to create a two-lap average of 1:54.097.

Toyota’s No. 9 car had been on provisional pole after Stephane Sarrazin went 0.098 seconds faster than Jani, but Nicolas Lapierre could not match Lotterer’s time, losing his first run after a spin for the ByKolles car caused yellow flags at the final corner.

The No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid emerged as Porsche’s closest rival for pole, finishing half a second back in P2. The No. 9 followed in third ahead of the No. 8 Toyota. Porsche’s No. 2 car was fifth overall, 1.3 secons off the pole time.

G-Drive Racing secured pole in LMP2 through Alex Lynn and Pierre Thiriet in the No. 26 Oreca 07 Gibson, heading up a closely-knit field. Signatech Alpine followed in second and third with its No. 36 and No. 35 cars respectively, while Manor finished fourth, with the quartet being separated by just 0.03 seconds.

GTE Pro saw AF Corse edge out Ford in a tight battle for pole, with the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE shared between Sam Bird and Davide Rigon recording a two-lap average of 2:15.017. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing followed in P2 and P3 with the No. 66 and 67 Ford GTs, finishing four-tenths of a second adrift, while the No. 51 Ferrari followed in fourth.

Pedro Lamy led Aston Martin Racing to pole in GTE Am behind the wheel of the No. 98 Vantage GTE, squeezing in a last-gasp effort as the checkered flag fell to improve the car’s average to 2:18.659 to edge out Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR by four-tenths of a second.