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Old 06-11-2018, 05:12 PM
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Default LeMans ‘We have a shot' to win LMP2, Ricky Taylor says

‘We have a shot' to win LMP2, Ricky Taylor says

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By: Stephen Kilbey June 10, 2018 3:27 PM IMSA ace Ricky Taylor is back at Le Mans for what will be his fifth start, and feels that this year is his best chance yet to score a class win at La Sarthe.
For the 24 Hours, he’s partnered with 3GT Racing driver David Heinemeier Hansson and former McLaren factory driver Come Ledogar in Jackie Chan DC Racing’s No. 34 guest-entered Ligier JS P217. It’s arguably one of the strongest trios in the class.
In addition to his car’s driver line-up being so strong, Taylor told RACER he feels that the LMP2 class should also be far more competitive between the three chassis present.Over the off-season, Onroak (like Dallara and Riley) was permitted to make changes to the JS P217’s aero to bring it closer to the ORECAs after it was far off the pace last year. The result of the upgrades, Taylor says, is that the car is now within striking distance of the ORECAs, and capable of a big result.
While the divide in one-lap pace still looks to exist between ORECA and the rest, Taylor found reason for confidence after eight hours of running at the Test Day, which saw the best Ligier two seconds off the top ORECA. The gap appears to have shrunk, giving reason for optimism that we won’t see a repeat of the 2017 race in which the ORECA 07s dominated the field.
“It’s exciting to be in a competitive car this year,” he said, referencing his tough run last year in a Riley MK.30. “The ‘Joker’ [upgrade] package has really helped us. I don’t think the outright pace is going to be there, but I think we have a strong package to run, that’s within the margin of a driver, which is good. I think the driver can make the difference this time around — a strong line-up, with a good Silver, means you have a chance to win.
“Because of that, this is the best chance I’ve ever had to win, I’m really excited. I think DHH [Hansson] is a sneaky steal, considering how late it came. Come, meanwhile, is maybe not so well known in the USA, but he’s really quick. I think we have a shot here.
“That’s really important to me. What we have in the USA [in IMSA] is great. But this is such a special event. If you take a year off, you never know if you’ll make it back. We’re still isolated in America, so to keep current here and keep coming back is great. And I want to win here so badly.” Heinemeier Hansson echoed Taylor’s thoughts. The Danish IMSA regular, who has been driving in a 3GT Racing Lexus this season, told RACER that he too was encouraged by the performance of the JS P217 during the Test Day.
Heading into the race, he feels relaxed. With so many notable finishes at La Sarthe under his belt over the past six years (which includes a class win in 2014 with Aston Martin Racing) the pressure is off, allowing him to enjoy the experience.
“When I look back at my time here at Le Mans and all the rest of the races I have done, it becomes pretty clear that I have had more physical time here, and more seat time too here than anywhere else,” he said.
“It is great to be back here with a program that came together pretty late, but has ended up with a really good combination. It’s good to get back into a P2 car — these new-generation LMP2s are amazing things, and great to drive.
“I just love this race, and I’m lucky to have had some success. I’ve been on every step of the podium and I’ve been disqualified, too. That’s quite a record in six starts!
“I love it so much I would rather run the Le Mans Test Day than race just about anywhere else. That’s not to say I’m not enjoying my racing — of course I do, but I will admit to struggling to find the best way to drive the Lexus (GTD). It’s the first time I have raced a car with ABS and I can’t say that’s something I am comfortable with yet!”
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Old 06-11-2018, 05:19 PM
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Button laps up Le Mans atmosphere at Scrutineering

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By: Stephen Kilbey June 10, 2018 10:51 AM On the first day of Scrutineering at the Place de la Republique in the center of Le Mans, a lot of attention went the way of Jenson Button, who is here for the first time with SMP Racing in the No.11 BR1 AER in the premier LMP1 class.Button headed through the town relaxed, and impressed by the scale of the occasion as he got close to the Le Mans fans for the first time.

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“I think this [public access scrutineering] is a great tradition, it’s really awesome for the fans to get close to the cars, and to the drivers and to see the cars moving slowly by,” he told RACER.“It’s a great way to get the fans closer to action as we move towards the race.”Last weekend at the Test Day, Button got his first taste of driving the full Circuit de la Sarthe with the Russian-flagged LMP1 team. The former F1 world champion explained that the biggest surprise so far has been Mulsanne Corner, which is the slow hairpin at the end of the iconic Mulsanne Straight.“Mulsanne definitely is the toughest part,” he said. “The first part of the circuit is very fast, not that tough to learn, but Mulsanne just draws you in. It’s huge braking at the end of the straight but just as you think you’ve done enough and release your brakes you feel like you are definitely going to run way too far on and end up in the gravel. That took awhile to get the hang of.“Then there’s the Porsche Curves. They’re very quick but I think they will be relatively straightforward once you have confidence in the car underneath you.”Scrutineering will continue tomorrow in front of the thousands of fans on hand, featuring most of the GTE Pro factory teams as well as the hot race favorites, Toyota Gazoo Racing crew, passing through the town ahead of the first track action, which is set to get underway on Wednesday.
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Old 06-11-2018, 05:21 PM
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'We want manufacturers to return' to top class – Fillon Image by FIA WEC

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By: Stephen Kilbey June 10, 2018 1:25 PM With the release of the 2020 top class regulations just days away, ACO President Pierre Fillon teased the crowd on hand at Scrutineering today, explaining that the ACO has been working closely with manufacturers with the aim of attracting a healthy number of them to sign up for the seasons to come.And notably, he suggested McLaren when asked about potential interested manufacturers, in addition to Toyota.

“We will present the 2020 and the 2024 regulations next Friday as we want to give constructors significant visibility,” he said.

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“We really want to reduce costs after Audi and Porsche brought in a lot of technology but scared off new entrants.“We want manufacturers to return. Le Mans must remain a laboratory for new technology. So [future] cars will have hybrid technology and bodywork allowing people to recognize a brand or make… say like Toyota or McLaren!“We have been working with several manufacturers [including potential new ones] over the past six months. Let’s see on Friday who that could possibly be.”In addition to the obvious choices to sign up for a top class program (which may or may not be known as LMP1), there’s also the potential for some smaller or lesser-known manufacturers to join the fray.Two of them might stem from current LMP2 programs. Jackie Chan DC Racing’s David Cheng and Signatech’s Phillippe Sinault both hinted at potential future programs today.“There have been some movements (on the prospect of a Chinese manufacturer joining with Jackie Chan DC Racing for an LMP1 program),” Cheng said. “A few months back after the Paul Ricard test, we had a work group in China to figure out the potential new regulations and there was a lot of initial interest. How to turn interest into reality takes a lot of work. It can start looking realistic once the new regulations are out.“A lot of efforts have been made for people like myself and my team to achieve the target of bringing in a Chinese manufacturer to Le Mans. The late mayor of Le Mans(Jean-Claude Boulard, who died last week) has helped us tremendously in that respect. I wish to pay him my regards as well.”Signatech’s Sinault also expressed interest, hinting that an LMP1 program for the Alpine brand — which began selling its new A110 road car last year — is under discussion. Notably, Signatech build both the single-make and the GT4 iterations of the A110.“I hope Alpine will take the final step to LMP1 one day,” he said. “It was part of several discussions we had over the summer. The priority of Alpine in 2018 was to launch its GT car and develop a car dealership network. It made sense… we could not do it then but a potential move to LMP1 in the future is still something we are thinking about.”
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Old 06-11-2018, 05:22 PM
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CEFC TRSM ready to build on Test Day progress

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By: Stephen Kilbey 10 hours ago After a tough start to the season for CEFC TRSM Racing — including financial difficulties that forced them to sit out the season opener at Spa — the entire team is upbeat ahead of the competitive debuts for its Ginetta G60-LT-P1s at Le Mans next weekend.Team Principal Graeme Lowdon told RACER he’s keen to praise his crew who, with support from Ginetta, have worked immensely hard to ensure that its cars are as ready as they can be for Le Mans.

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Button laps up Le Mans atmosphere at Scrutineering

He’s confident that with the amount of track time on offer during the week, the team can make big strides before the race.“We’re really pleased that we’re moving forward” he said. “You can see from the other non-hybrid teams, that you can make a big difference after only a short amount of running. But we’re not trying to focus too much on pace at this stage because there’s a lot more we need to tick off the list.“It’s a one-and-a-half-year season, with two Le Mans and so there’s still a lot to discover. We’ve got some good people together, a good base package, but now we need to move forward. If we can get in the mileage we want, during next year’s race, we’ll learn a great deal too. We have to keep learning. This is just an epic race, which we have huge respect for.”The G60-LT-P1s will be in a slightly different aerodynamic configuration for race week than they were at the Test Day, though Lowdon was coy on any specific details, explaining that the team isn’t calling it a “low-downforce package.”“The car will kind of [be in a low-drag kit], but you have to remember we haven’t run the car much at all, so to be low downforce it means you have to be lower than something else. Yes, it’s going to be lower than what we’ve looked at previously, but I think we’re trying not to categorize it as a low-downforce package necessarily. The car already doesn’t seem to be short of downforce anyway!”Driver Alex Brundle is also eager to get going. He stressed that progress can be made quickly if the team can rack up lots of mileage in practice. “We have to max out practice,” he told RACER. “If we do that then we’re in with much more of a chance.“There’s a lot more to come with the car. The 3:28 I did (at the test) was with a full tank and old tires. So you know there’s more. The test was more about making sure we were reliable. The progress is going to be leaps and bounds; the question is, is there time before the race to get to where we want to be?“The G60-LT-P1 is an incredible car, it just hasn’t had the time to develop. It’s hard to explain to someone who is just watching the timing screens, that we can make massive jumps. But once we iron out issues, at Le Mans, we’re not finding two tenths; it’s a second because it’s such a long lap.”
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Old 06-13-2018, 11:00 PM
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Default 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans Resource Guide

2018 24 Hours of Le Mans Resource Guide

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By: Marshall Pruett 14 hours ago RACER has you covered for the 86th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with our resource guide containing info and links to everything you’ll need to stay on top of the world’s greatest endurance race.
Be sure to follow @RACERmag for regular updates on Twitter throughout the event.RADIO: Radio Le Mans

ENTRY LIST: Click here

WEATHER: Click here

SPOTTERS GUIDE: Click here

LIVE TIMING AND SCORING: Click here

EVENT SCHEDULE:

Wednesday, June 13
  • 4 p.m. – 8 p.m. local: Practice 1 (10 a.m. – 2 p.m. ET / 7 a.m. – 11 a.m. PT)
  • 10 p.m. – Midnight local: Qualifying 1 (4 p.m. – 6 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. PT)
Thursday, June 14
  • 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. local: Qualifying 2 (1 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET / 10 a.m. – Noon PT)
  • 10 p.m. – Midnight local: Qualifying 3 (4 p.m. – 6 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. PT)
Friday, June 15 (no on-track activity)
  • Drivers parade
Saturday, June 16
  • 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. local: Warm-up (3 a.m. – 3:45 a.m. ET / Midnight – 12:45 a.m. PT)
  • 3 p.m. local: Race Start (9 a.m. ET / 6 a.m. PT)
Sunday, June 17
  • 3 p.m. local: Race Finish (9 a.m. ET / 6 a.m. PT)
TV SCHEDULE:
The entire race will be aired live in the USA and Canada on the Velocity Channel. Live streaming, featuring on-board cameras (but not the live broadcast) is available via the Motor Trend App.
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Old 06-17-2018, 10:29 PM
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LM24: Toyota exults after dominant Le Mans triumph

Image by Ashleigh Hartwell/LAT
By: Stephen Kilbey 17 hours ago Toyota has finally done it. After decades of trying, and coming close so many times, it has won the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time. In the process, Toyota joins Mazda in becoming only the second Japanese manufacturer to win on the hallowed French ground.Winning the race, after a near perfect run from the moment the Tri-color was waved on Saturday afternoon, was the No. 8 TS050 HYBRID crew of Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi and Fernando Alonso. The car completed 388 laps of the circuit over the course of the race, and crossed the line a lap clear of the rest of the field. All three drivers were faultless, pushed hard when they needed to, kept their cool under the pressure of the task at hand and as a result, were rewarded with the ultimate prize in sports car racing.
provisional resultsThe headlines here write themselves: Toyota winning is enough of a storyline, but along with its victory, there are plenty of other notable milestones reached. For Fernando Alonso, it was a fairytale win in his first attempt racing at Le Mans, the Spaniard now owning two of the wins (Monaco and now Le Mans) required for the elusive ‘Triple Crown’ he wishes to earn in his career.
Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso celebrate Toyota’s victory. (Image by Sam Bloxham/LAT)

“It was quite a tense 24 hours — right now I’m trying to enjoy every single second of this,” said Alonso, whose strong pace in his night stint helped erase a two-minute deficit to the No. 7 Toyota after Buemi was penalized for excessive speed in a designated Slow Zone. “I found a good rhythm with the traffic and got lucky on a couple of laps. Sometimes when you are lucky, you spend two laps then unlucky. But my night stints were good; they suited my style. Together with Seb and Kazuki we tried to stay calm throughout.“It’s a shame the 24 Hours of Le Mans only happens once a year. They should hold it every two or three weeks!”Nakajima becomes only the third Japanese driver to win the Le Mans 24 Hours — the last being Seiji Ara in 2004 and first Masanori Sekiya in 1995 — and puts the heartbreak of the 2016 race behind him.“It’s a great feeling, finally!” he declared. “I have really good teammates and Toyota gave us a strong car. Finally, we finished the car without any issues. We deserved to win the race — we had a bit more luck than the other car. “At the end I was more calm. I was happy to be the driver in the car rather than watching!”Buemi, meanwhile, is just the fifth Swiss driver to take the win, and Alonso, remarkably, is the second-ever Spaniard to finish first overall, the other being Marc Gene in 2009.Second in the running order was the sister No. 7 car, which also had a near-perfect run, the car leading for much of the race before the No. 8 stormed to lead in the 16th hour and went unchallenged for the remaining hours. Mike Conway, Jose Maria Lopez and Kamui Kobayashi all drove well, but ultimately were unable to match the pace of the No. 8 toward the end, fading away and off the lead lap.The car did suffer a late scare, when Kobayashi missed the message about pitting in the penultimate hour and had to run half a lap on the pit limiter to make sure he had enough fuel to make it back.Aside from that — and the two 10-second stop-and-go penalties later handed out for running a 12-lap stint — it was a very metronomic run. By finishing second, and making it a historic, emotional 1-2 for the marque, it means that Toyota has now finished second six times at Le Mans, since 1992, twice in the Hybrid era, twice in Group C era, and once in 1999.The only disappointment was the lack of competition for the team throughout. Toyota may have enjoyed its cleanest ever run at La Sarthe, but even early in the race, before the privateer runners began to drop back due to issues, the Equivalence of Technology rules somewhat artificially prevented any sort of direct racing between the hybrids and non-hybrids.The privateer field fell a lap down after just three hours, and unfortunately forced the fans trackside and at home to have to root for poor luck and misfortune for the front-runners to spice up the action. The closest a privateer car came to leading the race, was at Turn 1 at the start.
Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-13: Mathias Beche, Gustavo Menezes (Image by Scott LePage/LAT)

Finishing on the final step of the podium was the No. 3 Rebellion Racing R-13 of American Gustavo Menezes, Thomas Laurent and Mathias Beche, the trio rightly jubilant to have finished first of the eight privateer cars, and crucially, ahead of the sister No. 1 car which came home fourth with its far more decorated driver line-up of Bruno Senna, Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.Rebellion’s R-13s didn’t have a trouble-free run, as both cars hit relatively minor trouble at various points throughout the race. But getting both cars to the finish, 10 and 12 laps off the winning car, and ahead of the other cars (all of which had a far more extensive pre-season test program) was nevertheless a big achievement.“We had a great time, we worked hard. It’s been a real experience,” Menezes said. “It was difficult to match the pace of the Toyotas, so we concentrated on running our own races. We had small issues, had to go in the garage, but the boys kept us calm and we got it home. To get on the podium and the fastest privateer is the biggest first step.”Behind the Rebellions, it was a real race of attrition, only one other car finishing, the others all retiring at various points in the race.
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Old 06-17-2018, 10:31 PM
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The other car to cross the line, remarkably, was the No. 5 TRSM Racing Ginetta G60-LT-P1, which completed 289 laps through the 24 hours in a race, let’s not forget, that marked the car’s competition debut.Charlie Robertson, Mike Simpson and Leo Roussel and the highly-motivated crew in the garage powered through the various problems that hit the car during the race to bring it home after the sister car’s race ended early, grinding to a halt on the Mulsanne Straight during the night.

It wasn’t the run that six months ago the team would have hoped for, but after the trials and tribulations of the team’s issues since the pre-season Prologue, this will feel like a win — and rightly so.The rest of the field didn’t make it, the most heart-breaking of the lot being the No. 11 SMP Racing BR1 of Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Alehsin, which retired in the final hour after the engine blew with Button in the car. It would have been a top-five finish for the crew, which hit trouble in the opening stages of the race and lost more than two hours with two major spells in the pits.

The sister car didn’t fare much better, the car’s race ending at the Porsche Curves in spectacular fashion after Matevos Issakyan went flying into the tires backwards — before the engine blew while the Russian was trying to get the car back to the pits.DragonSpeed’s BR1 and the ByKolles CLM failed to make the finish, too, Ben Hanley and Dominik Kraihamer having big offs at the Porsche Curves respectively, ending a tough race for both teams.
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Le Mans win moves Toyota past 2016 heartbreak

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By: Stephen Kilbey 13 hours ago It’s fair to say that Sunday’s win at the Le Mans 24 Hours has been a long time coming for Japanese marque Toyota. The brand has raced at Le Mans since the twilight years of the Group C era, coming close to victory multiple times, but until today, has been unable to score the all-elusive win.Kazuki Nakajima, Fernando Alonso and Sebastien Buemi, all first-time Le Mans winners too, were masterful during the race, and while they didn’t have to push their No.8 Toyota TS050 HYBRID to the limit for considerable portions of the race (partly because the privateer competition quickly faded), they didn’t let the pressure of the occasion get to them.For Nakajima, the win was extremely significant. Becoming only the third-ever Japanese driver to win Le Mans was one thing, but to be in the car for the finish alleviated the heartbreak from 2016, when a sudden loss of power on the penultimate lap stole the win away from him and teammates Buemi and Anthony Davidson.More Le Mans/WEC!


“It’s great to be here finally, it’s been a long time coming!” he said. “I’m really speechless, but I have great teammates and Toyota gave us a very strong car. Finally we finished without any issues on either car. We all deserved to win, we had a bit more luck I guess.“To win this race has been a dream of Toyota’s since 1985, and there are so many guys still here that have been involved in the project so long, I’m so proud to be here to represent them.”At the end of the race, he said he was calm, though he wasn’t able to complete the last lap without thinking about the oh-so-close moment two years ago.
Kazuki Nakajima is comforted after his Toyota TS050 Hybrid suffered a power loss short of the finish at the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours. (Image by Mauger/LAT)

“I think I was more calm at the end this time,” he continued. “I was happier to be in the car rather than watching the car from outside, my teammate [Buemi] can prove that. I’m sure that especially after the experience – Seb was close to having a heart attack! – so in the car it was difficult, but, I of course thought about it, but all the team managed to keep focus until the end of the race, until the checkered flag. I believe that brought us the victory.”Buemi admitted that the aformentioned penalty cast doubts in his minds that winning the race was possible. The Swiss, who won the 2014 World Endurance Championship with Toyota, says this win tops that, and is the highlight of his career so far.“I think this is definitely the biggest win of my career. I struggle to realize to be honest because I was watching Kazuki in the car the last few laps and I could not forget 2016. So at the end, to finally see the car crossing [the finish line] it was something really special. All the preparation that goes behind that day, all of us, all six drivers, we’ve been driving for many days, in the nights, and finally when you win it, it’s something really big.
(Image by Bloxham/LAT)



“Clearly at some point I got a penalty because I was too quick under full-course yellow, and at that time I handed over to Fernando with a two-minute deficit. But when I woke up it was around 40 seconds. He did amazing job to get us back in the race.“The car balance changed a lot, we had a better balance towards the end, the car definitely wasn’t as fast at the start. But, I have to congratulate car No.7, they also did an amazing job this weekend.”For Alonso, it’s a very different feeling. Despite not being involved in the team’s previous near-miss, the win still meant a great deal. Alonso’s only wins since the 2013 F1 Shanghai Grand Prix have been the 6 Hours of Spa earlier this year, and now the Le Mans 24 Hours this weekend.While winning the Indy 500 is going to be a far from easy task, winning Le Mans this weekend puts his desired ‘Triple Crown’ in reach.“An amazing feeling,” said Alonso, whose strong pace in his night stint helped erase a two-minute deficit to the No.7 Toyota after Buemi was penalized for excessive speed in a designated Slow Zone.“Maybe still a little bit in shock because we were so focused on the race, so stressed at the end watching television – I’m not used to watching my car racing, I’m normally in it – so it was quite tense 24 hours with the two cars within one minute more or less for the whole race.“Right now trying to enjoy every single second of this moment and tomorrow will be time to relax.”
(Image by LePage/LAT)














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