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LeMans LM24 2017 notes, stories, etc by various writers

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Old 05-09-2017, 10:51 PM
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Default LeMans LM24 2017 notes, stories, etc by various writers



[h=2]J. Taylor, Fassler join Corvette Racing for Le Mans[/h] Tuesday, 09 May 2017

Corvette Racing has finalized its driving line-up for the team's 18th consecutive appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to full-season drivers Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen, Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner, Jordan Taylor and Marcel Fassler will complete the roster for the June 17-18 race with a pair of Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs for the GTE Pro class.




The group has a combined 18 victories at Le Mans an impressive number to go along with Corvette Racing's eight class triumphs since 2001. The team will arrive at Le Mans with three straight victories in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the lead in Manufacturer's, Driver's and Team points for the GT Le Mans class.


Taylor has been part of Corvette Racing's Le Mans program since 2012 and was part of the winning effort in 2015 alongside Gavin and Milner. For 2017, he will reunite with Garcia and Magnussen in the No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R; the trio placed second in GTE Pro together in 2014.
Taylor and brother Ricky have swept all four IMSA events this year with their Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R prototype including the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
"It's great to head to Le Mans with Corvette Racing for the sixth consecutive year," said Taylor. "Le Mans is a massive event; the feeling of winning there is unlike anything I've experienced.
"I'm looking forward to teaming again with Antonio and Jan. They have been great teammates and helped me learn a lot my first couple of years at Le Mans. Hopefully we can work our way to the top of the podium this year."
Fassler, who returns to the No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, won each of those two races in 2016 with Corvette Racing alongside Gavin and Milner. Those victories helped Corvette Racing sweep the GTLM Championships a season ago. The trio drove together again at both Florida events again in 2017.
A three-time overall winner at Le Mans, Fassler also has two additional podium finishes. He drove for Corvette Racing in Chevrolet's final GT1 race at Le Mans in 2009, but that entry was forced to retire while leading.
"It is always great to be back with Corvette Racing and Chevrolet, but to return with them for Le Mans is special," he said. "I feel like I have some unfinished business with Corvette Racing at Le Mans. We were leading late in 2009 until our car had to retire. So I very much want to score that elusive Le Mans victory with Corvette Racing. Racing in GTE Pro will be a new challenge. There are many great cars and drivers in our class. It would be a nice result for Olly, Tommy and our team."
Both Taylor and Fassler are part of a pre-Le Mans test this week at Road America.
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Old 05-10-2017, 12:41 AM
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[h=2]Chandhok secures Le Mans LMP2 seat[/h] Stephen Kilbey / Image by LAT

Ex-F1 driver Karun Chandhok has confirmed to RACER that he will drive in the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours with British LMP2 team Tockwith Motorsports and drivers Phil Hanson and Nigel Moore in its Ligier JS P217.

As part of the deal, the Indian will also take part in the WEC's 6 Hours of Spa Francorchamps next month as part of the preparation. Tockwith is racing in the European Le Mans Series full time in 2017; its trip to Belgium marking its WEC debut.
"I'm really excited to be going back to Le Mans," Chandhok, who last raced at Le Mans back in 2015, told RACER. "If I go, it's something I want to do properly, and I feel with Tockwith I can do that. They came looking for me, and offered me Le Mans and Spa, which is great, it will be a good to get behind the wheel of the new LMP2 cars.
"Spa is a great yardstick, it's a good place to go as it will be good to see how we stack up against the WEC's LMP2 class.
"The Oreca seems to be the favourite car of choice in the FIA WEC, but at Le Mans with the low-downforce package we don't know, it should be a bit of a reset for everyone. So Spa for us will just be a chance to get used to each other."
Chandhok, who has added F1 commentary for British TV to his resume over the past few seasons, also mentioned that he is actively seeking further races in sportscars going forward, though racing at Le Mans each year is a priority.
"The main thing is Le Mans," he said. "I really missed it last year as it's the best race in the world. But after Le Mans, who knows. I want to do more racing, I've had a microphone in my hand too much. I'd love to do more races with them. I want to do as much as I can, but I don't want to do things for the sake of it. Last year I had a few deals on the table for Le Mans in GT and LMP, but I didn't take them as I only want to race if I feel I can get a positive result.
"There's potential with Tockwith, even though they are new to LMP2, and there is more potential further down the line for them to succeed. Maybe we'll do another WEC race towards the end of the year together and then have conversations about next year.
"I know that Phil (Hanson) has real aspirations to carve out a long career in sportscars."
The addition of Tockwith's Ligier to the FIA WEC's LMP2 grid at Spa means that it has grown to 11 entries – with Signatech Alpine's second A470 also making its debut at the race.
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Old 05-14-2017, 01:48 AM
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Two seats remain for 24 Hours of Le Mans

Saturday, 13 May 2017


By Stephen Kilbey / Image by JEP/LAT
Just two seats are left to be confirmed for the 85th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans after multiple announcements this week at the European Le Mans Series meeting at Monza – in addition to JMW Motorsport confirming to RACER its three drivers for Le Mans yesterday.
French team GRAFF has confirmed to RACER that its full ELMS driver squad of 2015 LMP2 Le Mans winner Richard Bradley, ex-Formula Renault racer James Allen and Franck Matelli will drive the team's No. 40 ORECA Gibson. In the second (No. 39) car, Asian Le Mans Series regular James Winslow will drive alongside Enzo Guibbert and Eric Trouillet.




Proton Competition, meanwhile, has just one driver left to confirm for its three-car GTE Am effort in the French endurance classic. Team owner and driver Christian Ried told RACER that Nick Yelloly and Stephane Lemeret will drive in the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR, with the third seat still open. Porsche factory driver Wolf Henzler, initially named against the car, will not drive for the team at Le Mans.








The No. 93 Proton Competition Porsche will see Californian Porsche factory driver Patrick Long return for his 14th consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours, with Saudi driver Abdulaziz Al Faisal and K-PAX Racing Pirelli World Challenge driver Mike Hedlund, who will make his debut at the race after competing in the Road to Le Mans support race last year.
The team's third car – the No. 77 – will race with its full-season FIA WEC trio of Matteo Cairoli, Ried and Marvin Dienst.
SMP has also announced its lineup. This year the Russian team will race with a Dallara P217 at Le Mans in the LMP2 class, and at the remaining four ELMS races of the season. For the 24 Hours it will field Schmidt Peterson IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin, Renault Sport Formula 1 Team reserve driver Sergei Sirotkin and team regular Viktor Shaytar.
The only other seat left to fill is in G-Drive Racing by DragonSpeed's No. 22 ORECA 07 Gibson, the Russian-flagged, American-run car only having Mexican driver Memo Rojas and Toyota Gazoo Racing LMP1 reserve driver Ryo Hirakawa fully signed up for the race.
The 85th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours is set for June 17-18 at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:44 PM
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[h=2]2017 24 Hours of Le Mans: Five Things to Watch[/h] Monday, 12 June 2017



Stephen Kilbey / Images by Toyota & Ehrhardt, JEP/LAT

It's that time of year again, when the focus of world motorsport turns to sportscar racing, for its most important event of the year, the Le Mans 24 Hours. This year, for the 85th running, 60 cars are set to lineup across the four classes, making for an intriguing set of storylines up and down the entry list.
With race week having finally arrived, here are five key storylines to watch.
1. Is 2017 finally Toyota's year?
In LMP1, the focus is on the titanic battle between Porsche and Toyota, a re-match of sorts after last year's race which ended in heartbreak for the Japanese make and jubilation for the Germans. Toyota will once again be throwing everything it has at winning the French class for the first time, after decades of trying, and all too often, coming tantalizingly close.

As it stands though, the Japanese marque looks to be the favorite, with strength in numbers – three TS050 Hybrids to match up against Porsche's pair of 919 Hybrids – the fastest times at the Test Day two weeks ago, and two wins out of two races so far this season in the WEC.
Further compounding Toyota's perceived advantage is the fact that Porsche's Test Day didn't go to plan. Pace concerns aside, the No.2 919 lost valuable track time due to a rare engine change, for which no definitive explanation has yet been given.
But Porsche shouldn't be counted out. With a world-class set of drivers and two 919s that ran Toyota close at both WEC races this year, despite the German marque running its Le Mans downforce kit, which didn't suit either circuit. Reigning Le Mans and WEC champ Neel Jani will race with ex-Audi LMP1 star Andre Lotterer and 2015 Le Mans winner Nick Tandy in the No.1, while 2015 WEC winners Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard will share with another returning 2015 Le Mans winner, Earl Bamber, in the No.2.
Over at Toyota, the steady hands of Stephane Sarrazin, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi will pilot the No.7, while a trio of ex-F1 drivers Anthony Davidson, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi will be entrusted to the No.8.
The third TS050 for WTCC champion Jose Maria Lopez and Super Formula champion Yuji Kunimoto - both Le Mans rookies - and reigning LMP2 champion Nicolas Lapierre: a rather more inexperienced trio. It's a lineup that's been shuffled since Spa, with Lopez moving over from the No.7, swapping with Sarrazin, after losing crucial track time because of his injuries following an incident at Silverstone that forced him to sit out the race in Belgium.
Can Toyota triumph for the first time, and put to rest last year's disappointment? Or will Porsche score its 19th victory, and reaffirm its position as the king of Le Mans?
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:45 PM
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2. Will Oreca dominate in LMP2?
LMP2 has had a complete narrative change following the events at the Test Day. What was set to be an open scrap between its record 25-car field now looks like it could be a race utterly dominated by a single chassis: ORECA. The 14 ORECA 07 Gibsons in the class, which is made up entirely of new LMP2 cars, are all set to have a significant pace advantage over the Ligiers, Dallaras and sole Riley, after the Test Day ended with the top 13 positions taken up by the French constructor.
It's a worry for the race organizers, with the Le Mans aero kits for the cars set to make for a race that could have a major effect on the sales of the chassis going forward. Will the race organizers allow some form of change to the other cars, or will some form of performance balancing be introduced? If not, then it seems that any team without an ORECA is in for a very long week.

Among the contenders are the WEC front-runners from Rebellion Racing (ABOVE), G-Drive Racing and Jackie Chan DC Racing. There's also plenty of American interest in the class, with Floridian outfit DragonSpeed – which leads the European Le Mans Series – bringing two ORECAs, one under the "G-Drive Racing by DragonSpeed" banner.
Another American team – also in the ELMS – to look out for is United Autosports, which won at Silverstone, and looks to be the strongest Ligier JS P217 runner in the field thanks to the professionalism of the team, and the talents of former Audi LMP1 driver Filipe Albuquerque, combined with the youthfulness of Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer.
Keating Motorsports is also on the list, as the sole representative of Riley in the race. Texan Ben Keating has put together his team for a one-off appearance with the new Mk.30, and will be driving alongside IMSA points leader Ricky Taylor and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
Regardless of whether the race is closely-fought between chassis manufacturers though, it's set to be historic.
The new breed of LMP2s are faster than they've ever been - over 340 km/h (almost 212 mph) for the fastest in the Test Day, and are destined to shatter the current LMP2 Lap Record – a 3m32.301s – which has stood since 2008. Already at the test the fastest cars were lapping over five seconds faster, and that could get prove to be even more during Qualifying.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:46 PM
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3. Is Ford in trouble?
Once again the GTE Pro class represents the majority of the manufacturer interest in the race, with five factory teams combining to form a 13-car field.
The question is, will it be marred in Balance of Performance-related controversy as was the case last year last year, or be the all-guns-blazing fight we all long for?
At the moment it looks like it will be a closer fight between Corvette Racing, Porsche GT Team, Aston Martin Racing and AF Corse, along with the privateer Risi Competitizione Ferrari. Ford however, looks to be in trouble. The team's official reason for its lack of performance that the turbo boost pressure change ahead of Le Mans has crippled the GTs ultimate pace: all of the cars were several seconds away from the fastest at this year's Test Day.
Not only that, the times set by the Fords at the Test Day are also seven seconds off their ultimate pace in 2016. So whether, like last year, the Ganassi team has something up its sleeve for race week remains to be seen. But it will be fully aware that a massive leap in pace will be viewed with deep skepticism across the paddock and in the race organizer's offices.
BoP aside though, the GTE Pro class features a stunning set of teams and drivers, with much interest in the new for 2017 Porsche 911 RSRs that have already seen service in the IMSA Series and have proven strong in the opening enduros of the season at Daytona and Sebring.

There are plenty of new drivers of note in the factory ranks. Among Ford's quartet of GTs, alongside its full-time crop of drivers from IMSA and the WEC, are 2016 Sebring and Daytona winner Pipo Derani in the No.67 and IndyCar star/Le Mans debutant Tony Kanaan in the No.68, the latter acting as a last-minute sub for Sebastien Bourdais while he recovers from the injuries sustained in his Indy 500 qualifying shunt.
Other third drivers to look out for are Audi LMP1 racers Lucas di Grassi and Marcel Fassler. di Grassi is making his Le Mans GTE debut with AF Corse's Ferrari squad, while Fassler rejoins Corvette for the big race for the first time since his GT1 run in 2009. Dunlop development driver Daniel Serra is also one to keep tabs on, racing in the No.97 Aston Martin. The Brazillian is new to GTE racing, but carries with him extensive knowledge of the Vantage and the 2017 Dunlop rubber from testing.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:49 PM
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4. WEC vs IMSA
GTE Pro represents the top of the shop in GTE (GTLM in IMSA) racing around the world. In the FIA WEC, where Porsche, Ford, Ferrari and Aston Martin – next year joined by BMW – compete, and over in IMSA, with Ferrari, BMW (though not racing at Le Mans in 2016), Porsche, Corvette and Ford fighting for GTLM honors.
The Le Mans 24 Hours represents the one time each year where we can see the best that both series have to offer going head to head. This year's entry includes a good balance between the two series too, with five of the 13 runners travelling over to France from the States, and the remaining eight coming from the World Championship.
The past two years, IMSA teams have the honors, with Corvette winning in 2015, and last year a USA Ganassi Ford winning the class after fending off a challenge from the Risi Ferrari. But the WEC runners are unlikely to have as disappointing a run this time around.

Porsche and Aston Martin (ABOVE) in particular will be keen to right the wrongs of 2016, and challenge for their first win in a number of years. AMR's last win came back in 2008, with a DBR9 in the GT1 class, while Porsche's most recent triumph was back in 2013 with an older 911 RSR. Bragging rights among the best ACO-rules GT racing has to offer are very much at stake here.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:49 PM
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5. Plenty of North American interest in GTE Am

This year's GTE Am class is 16-strong, across four makes and features some notable names. It could provide some of the best action in the race, with many teams proving evenly-matched, and with factory drivers included in their lineups.
Last year's winner Scuderia Corsa is back, this time with Cooper MacNeil in for Jeff Segal in the team's new Ferrari 488 (BELOW). It's the only All-American lineup in the race, with fellow IMSA regulars Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler looking primed to challenge for the win once again. The team's second car, which features reigning IMSA GTD champions Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan, also has an American driver, Bret Curtis, completing the driver crew.

Another familiar name is Tracy Krohn, who is back in the GTE ranks after two years in LMP2, with longstanding Swedish driving partner Nic Jonsson, the duo about to embark on their 12th consecutive Le Mans together. They'll race with Andrea Bertolini in DH Racing's Krohn-green Ferrari.
Elsewhere, PWC drivers Patrick Long (also a longstanding Porsche factory man) and Mike Hedlund are in the field, teaming up in the No.88 Proton Competition Porsche. The current PWC title holder Alvaro Parente will be in the mix too, racing with last year's head-turners Clearwater Racing. The Singaporean team is racing in the WEC full-time this year and won at Silverstone. It is fielding two cars at Le Mans, and is certainly one to watch out for.
Of the rest, Aston Martin Racing's No.98 Vantage of Canadian Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda will certainly be in the running for the win, after so many years coming close.
And Larbre Competition's Corvette will stand out, the French outfit opting for a striking 'Human' art livery (BELOW), which will surely provide a talking point among the fans. It's the sole American car in Am, and only privateer C7.R on the grid this year.
The 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours is set to run from June 17-18 on the Circuit de la Sarthe, starting at 15:00 local time on the Saturday.


RACER.com coverage of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is presented by Lone Star Le Mans, a six-hour sprint deep in the heart of Texas: September 15-16 at COTA.
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:51 PM
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Le Mans scrutineering day 1 notebook

Sunday, 11 June 2017


By Stephen Kilbey / Images by Rainier Ehrhardt/LAT
ABOVE: Fans watch as the Vaillante Rebellion Racing ORECA 07 Gibson of Mathias Beche, David Heinemeier Hansson and Nelson Piquet Jr. arrives at scrutineering.
News and notes from the first day of Le Mans Scrutineering at the Place de Republique:


Nicolet confirms no changes to Ligier JS P217 for the race
The seven Ligier JS P217s which will compete at Le Mans this year in the LMP2 class, will race in the same trim as at the Test Day, when they were significantly slower than the ORECA 07 Gibsons, which finished the day locking out the top 13 positions.
Onroak Automotive has attempted to find a way to close the gap since the test in a number of different ways. In LMP2, only one performance upgrade is allowed during the four-year homologation period for each chassis.
Jacques Nicolet, boss of Onroak Automotive, told RACER today that a proposal to the ACO and FIA to make an early change outside the current regulations to the current JS P217 has been refused by the other three LMP2 chassis manufacturers.
"The other manufacturers have decided that we cannot make this change," he said.
When asked if he would change the JS P217 with its one permitted performance upgrade before the race, he continued: "It is too early to do that, we will race with what we have."
Still no word on Honorary Starter
ACO President Pierre Fillon continued to tease the personality who will wave the French Tricolour at the start of the race next weekend on the interview stage in front of the fans.
"You will discover who waves the French flag on Friday only, at the press conference," said Fillon. "It's a surprise. We will announce on Friday as well, what is at the heart of the 2020 regulations."
In the past, French President Francois Hollande, actor Brad Pitt, Indy 500 Rookie of the Year Fernando Alonso, NASCAR's Jim France and Ford's executive chairman Bill Ford have been honored at the start of the race.
Among the potential names to take the flag is A.J. Foyt, who is in attendance at the circuit this week to celebrate his win with Ford back in 1967.
Porsche LMP drivers confident
Porsche LMP Team drivers Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber expressed their confidence about taking the fight to Toyota during the race, despite not matching the pace of their rivals during the Test Day.
"We weren't shaken up by the performance of Toyota at the Test Day," Hartley said. "The folks in Weissach have been working flat out ever since. We know how to win this race while none of the nine Toyota drivers have ever done that."
"We will be much closer to Toyota then during the Test Day," added Bamber. "It was a surprise to see LMP2 cars being faster than us [on the straights]. I don't think it should be that way. We have to learn how to manage this new element during the free practice sessions."
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Old 06-12-2017, 08:53 PM
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Larbre putting together 2018 GTE Corvette WEC program
Larbre Competition's team owner Jack Leconte has revealed that he is trying to put together a two-car program in the 2018 World Endurance Championship, with two Corvette C7.Rs.
"We are still working on a WEC program for 2018," Laconte said. "It would include one Corvette in the GTE Am category and another one in the GTE Pro category. A decision is expected this summer."
Larbre Competition has competed as a Corvette customer team since 2011, with a single C6.R in GTE Am at Le Mans in '11 and '12, before upgrading to a C7.R in 2015, and racing in the WEC. This year the team has scaled back its effort to just competing at Le Mans and the ELMS race earlier this year at Monza.
Roman Brandela, who is racing with the team this year at Le Mans, in its art-liveried C7.R, also revealed further details about the "HUMAN Art Car" project (pictured above).
It took over 90 hours spread across seven days to get the pain job done on the car. To showcase its true potential, the team has also placed dark light projectors in its pit garage, to reflect the florescent colors on the car in the dark
Stevens aiming to return to the WEC
Former Formula 1 driver Will Stevens told RACER today that he plans to return to the WEC this year, following his appearance at Le Mans with JMW Motorsports in GTE Am, racing its brand new Ferrari 488 (pictured). Last year Stevens made his WEC debut with Manor WEC, and raced at Le Mans for the first time with G-Drive Racing, both in LMP2 class ORECA 05Rs.
"I'm looking to return to the FIA WEC," Stevens said. "I'm open to most options, but I am looking to race in GTE, as I believe it's the best route for a driver like mine's career, with the amount of factory interest."
When asked about his Le Mans run with JMW, Stevens, who is currently competing full-time in the Blancpain GT Series with WRT, he explained that his relationship with Tim Sugden (who in the past drove with the team) opened the door.
"I've known Tim for years, and he put me in touch and helped me get the drive. I only want to come and race here if I have the chance to compete for a result, and in this year's GTE Am field, I do with JMW. It's a new car, and there will be a lot of learning to do, but at the Test Day, in my limited running, my impressions are that it's an easy car to drive."
He'll race with Dries Vanthoor and Rob Smith at La Sarthe, in what will be the JMW team's first ever race with the 488, after it retired its 458 Italia GT2 with a win at Monza in the ELMS prior to the Test Day.
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