lundi 20 février 2017

The livery of the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE has been unveiled. The British team is at Portimao for the annual Aston Martin Racing pre-season test, along with the works teams and other AMR customer teams, ahead of the 2017 season.

The 2016 British GT Championship and Michelin Le Mans Cup champions will be competing this year in the European Le Mans Series within the GTE class. They will also compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans within the GTE-Am class.

The #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE will be driven in the ELMS by Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and 2016 FIA WEC GTE-Pro champion Nicki Thiim.

Photo: TF Sport

TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE livery unveiled

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When the 2017 FIA Word Endurance Championship season will start on Easter weekend at Silverstone, the popular “Dane Train” Aston Martin Vantage GTE will defend it’s World Championship title in the GTE-Pro class, but with a small difference. While the car will continue in the FIA WEC with Aston Martin Racing, Young Driver AMR, the operation behind the #95 entry, will make a pit stop in 2017. Since 2010, Young Driver AMR campaigned Aston Martin racecars in various championships and took 16 victories and two World Championship titles in 90 races.

Our well known and rapid Aston Martin Vantage GTE will continue in the FIA World Endurance Championship with Aston Martin Racing, but Young Driver AMR will take a sabbatical“, says Young Driver AMR´s Jan Struve. “Since 2010, we competed with Aston Martin on the highest levels of GT racing. As Aston Martin Racing is safe to continue with our car in the 2017 FIA WEC and our World Championship winning Danes Marco Sørensen and Nicki Thiim will both return with them, we felt it’s time for a break 

I will continue to attend selected FIA WEC rounds this year but will step back from a managing role this season. Thanks to everybody who was involved in the Young Driver project so far, all the drivers, engineers, mechanics, all the fans who supported us and everybody else who made this success story happen. A very special thank you goes to Aston Martin Racing for their excellent support in the past seven seasons.“

Since 2010, Young Driver AMR competed with GT1, GT3 and GTE versions of Aston Martin racecars cars in the FIA GT1 World Championship, the ADAC GT Masters and since 2013 in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Notable achievements were World Championship wins in the GTE-Am und GTE-Pro class of the FIA WEC in 2014 and 2016 and a 24 hours of Le Mans class victory in 2014.

Young Driver AMR Press Release

Photos: Aston Martin

Young Driver AMR leaves FIA WEC, Thiim and Sørensen stay with No.95 Aston Martin

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dimanche 19 février 2017

With the signing of Gianmaria Bruni, Porsche has bolstered its GT works driver squad for 2017. As one of the most successful and experienced sports car pilots, the 35-year-old Italian will undertake tests from June and contest races in the USA from July for Porsche.

The ex-Formula 1 driver (Minardi 2004) celebrated his greatest success at Le Mans as well as in the World Endurance Championship WEC: At the world’s most famous long-distance classic, he clinched the GT victory in 2008, 2012 and 2014. In the WEC he won the GTE-Pro championship title in 2013 and 2014. On top of these came more successes at long-distance races such as the 12 Hours of Sebring (2010) and the Spa 24 Hours (2015). He also took home the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in the years 2011 and 2012 as well as title victories in the Le Mans Series (2011) and the GT Open (2012).

We’re delighted to welcome Gianmaria Bruni, one of the world’s top GT pilots, into our squad,” says Head of Porsche Motorsport, Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “He fits perfectly into our strong circle of works drivers and will join us for the second half of the season.”

Porsche Press Release

Photo: Porsche

Gianmaria Bruni joins Porsche Motorsport in IMSA

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Alessandro Pier Guidi has been promoted by Ferrari as factory driver. The Italian ace will be racing for the Maranello brand in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

A long-time Ferrari GT driver, Alessandro Pier Guidi will be at the wheel of the AF Corse-run #51 Ferrari 488 GTE along with James Calado in the demanding GTE-Pro class.

"Finally a dream came true! I'm a Ferrari driver and this season. I'll compete in the FIA WEC. Thanks to Ferrari and AFCorse" Alessandro Pier Guidi said following the official annoucement from Ferrari.

He replaces the brand's superstar and long-time Ferrari works driver Gianmaria Bruni, "Gimmi" is expected to join Porsche GT Team in the FIA WEC.

In 2016, Alessandro Pier Guidi competed with AF Corse at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He shared the #51 Ferrari 488 GTE with Gianmaria Bruni and James Calado.

In recent years, Alessandro Pier Guidi competed with different Ferrari GT machines in the European Le Mans Series, Asian Le Mans Series, Blancpain GT Series as well selected events in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

AF Corse's second Ferrari 488 GTE will be shared by team's regulars Davide Rigon and Sam Bird.

Photos: Ferrari

Alessandro Pier Guidi joins Ferrari in FIA WEC GTE-Pro

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samedi 18 février 2017

Alex Riberas enjoyed a very successful season in the Asian Le Mans Series with Ferrari. The Spanish GT ace joined the Maranello based brand after years competing with Porsche in international sportscar racing.

Alex Riberas competed for the customer DH Racing team. He was wheel of the #3 Ferrari 488 GT3 along with co-drivers, Rino Mastronardi from Italy and Ferrari wroks driver Olivier Beretta from Monaco.

The opening round at Zhuhai was a frustrating event for Alex Riberas. First with a disappointing eleventh place in qualifying and then a DNF on race day.

Things improved in the second round at the Fuji Speedway. Alex Riberas and his co-drivers were seventh in qualifying and fifth in the four-hour race.

No podiums in the first two events but Alex Riberas was clrealy one of the best drivers in the field and as fast as the regular Ferrari drivers like Alessandro Pier Guidi, Marco Cioci and Matt Griffin.

For round three, the Asian Le Mans Series moved to Thailand and the Buriram International Circuit. Alex Riberas qualified fourth in GT.

On race day, the #3 Ferrari 488 GT3 was second after titanic battles for GT class supremacy with the sister #5 machine from DH Racing driven by Stephane Lemeret, Michele Rugolo and Matthieu Vaxiviere.

After the race the #5 Ferrari was penalized and therefore Alex Riberas, Rino Mastronardi and Olivier Beretta inherited the win. A great result for Alex Riberas and his firt victory with Ferrari.

The finale at Sepang was another great event for Alex Riberas. He took his first pole position of the season in qualifying.

The Malysian four-hour race was a strong one for the Riberas and his co-drivers. They finished the season on a high with a second place in GT behind the winning Audi.

Overall it was a very strong debut for Alex Riberas with Ferrari. With a victory, a pole position and two podiums along with very impressive and consistant performances, there are no doubts, Alex Riberas is now one of the best GT drivers in international sportscar racing.

Photos: Asian Le Mans Series

Successful season for Alex Riberas with Ferrari in Asian Le Mans Series

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vendredi 17 février 2017

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams will be heading to Sebring International Raceway for an official  two-day test on February 23-24. A total of thirty-four cars will be there, eight of wich are GT Le Mans cars.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, which clinched the GTLM class win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, will field a pair of Ford GTs. The #66 Ford GT for Daytona winners Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais and the #67 machine for Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon.

Porsche GT Team, which took and excellent second place at Daytona, will be at Sebring with a single 911 RSR in the hands of Laurens Vanthoor, Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner.

Ferrari works drivers Toni Vilander and James Calado will be at the wheel of the #62 488 GTE from Risi Competizione.

Corvette Racing's Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller will be sharing the #3 Corvette C7.R while their team-mates Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler will be at the wheel of the sister #4 car.

BMW Team RLL had a frustrating Rolex 24 at Daytona and will be aiming to took full advantage of the Sebring test with their M6 GTLMs. The #24 BMW will be driven by John Edwards, Martin Tomczyk and Nicky Catsburg, the sister #25 BMW will be shared by Bill Auberlen, Alexander Sims and Kuno Wittmer.

Sebring Test Entry List

Photos: Porsche / Ferrari / BMW

GTLM teams heading to Sebring for two-day IMSA test

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dimanche 12 février 2017

Beechdean AMR will be returning to the European Le Mans Series as the defending champions. The customer Aston Martin squad will once again field a Vantage GTE.

The team will be using the upgraded Aston Martin Vantage GTE in both the ELMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The #99 car, which will be driven by Darren Turner, Andrew Howard and Ross Gunn, had already a successful shakedown.

The 2016 spec was successful last year in the FIA World Endurance Championship upper GTE-Pro class with the works Aston Martin Racing team.

Nick Thiim and Marco Sørensen won the drivers' title while Aston Martin Racing clinched the teams' trophy.

Beechdean AMR will be heading to the Algarve circuit in Portugal for the annual Aston Martin pre-season test along with the factory squad and other AMR customer teams.

Photos: Beechdean AMR

Successful shakedown for Beechdean AMR's upgraded Aston Martin Vantage GTE

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jeudi 9 février 2017

Kaspersky Motorsport is pleased to announce that James Calado will race alongside Giancarlo Fisichella and Marco Cioci in 2017, as the team steps up to the PRO category in the Blancpain GT Series, running the new Ferrari 488 GT3 car.

After a successful two years in the Amateur category, Kaspersky Motorsport is ready to mount a serious campaign in the PRO class, lining up a team to compete in the Blancpain GT Series.

Experienced GT racers Fisichella and Cioci were confirmed as Kaspersky Motorsport drivers towards the end of 2016, while 27 year-old Calado is no stranger to endurance racing, having competed in the World Endurance Championship with AF Corse every year since 2014. Prior to that, the Englishman from Worcestershire raced in single-seaters, finishing third in the GP2 series in 2013, a year in which he was also reserve driver for the Force India Formula 1 team.

With a shared love of speed, skill and success, Kaspersky Lab’s relationship with Ferrari continues to go from strength to strength. The company works closely behind the scenes with the world renowned car manufacturer as a technical partner and it continues to protect Ferrari from cyber-threats, thus helping our partner to focus on constructing the fastest racing cars and winning races.

James Calado: “I’m very happy to be a part of the Kaspersky Motorsport family. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, but I know the team very well already and I am sure that together with my experienced team-mates, we can have a very good season. The new car is fantastic to drive and the fight on the track is going to be fierce, which is what we are all looking forward to!”

Antonello Coletta, Head of Attività Sportive GT: “The Blancpain Endurance Cup is becoming increasingly important in the world of GT racing. We have therefore enthusiastically agreed to support Kaspersky Motorsport, which will deploy a Ferrari 488 GT3 in the overall class in partnership with AF Corse. We are making two of our drivers available: James Calado and Giancarlo Fisichella, who will race together with Marco Cioci. So we wish the very best of luck to Kaspersky Motorsport and its drivers for a 2017 packed with success!”

Stéphane Ratel, Founder and CEO SRO Motorsports Group: “When asked what could improve the Blancpain GT Series, now that we have a record grid, great diversity and a high level of competition between many manufacturers, my answer has always been: factory supported entries from Ferrari and Porsche to compete for overall honours at the Total 24 Hours of Spa and for the Series title. The entry of Kaspersky Motorsport with a top Pro line-up fulfils part of this wish. I would like to thank Ferrari Competizioni GT, Kaspersky Lab and AF Corse for their joint efforts and wish them a successful 2017 Blancpain GT season”.

Kaspersky Motorsport Press Release

Ferrari GTE stars Fisichella, Cioci and Calado with Kaspersky Motorsport in Blancpain GT Series

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mercredi 8 février 2017

Christina Nielsen will be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for a second straight year with a Ferrari GTE machine.

In 2016, the talented Dane raced the French endurance classic with Formula Racing at the wheel of a Ferrari 458 Italia. She took a strong sixth place in the GTE-Am class along with co-drivers  Johnny Laursen and Mikkel Mac.

For this year's event, Christina Nielsen will be with another team and a new model, Scuderia Corsa and the Ferrari 488 GTE. The American team will be fielding two cars in the 24-hour event.

The 2016 IMSA GT Daytona champion will be sharing #65 Ferrari with Alessandro Balzan, her regular co-driver in the IMSA series, and Bret Curtis, forming one of the strongest line-ups in the GTE-Am class.

"It will be great to return to Le Mans with Scuderia Corsa. This event is unlike any other, and one that any driver wants to win," Christina Nieslsen said about her return to La Sarthe. 

About her targets at Le Mans and Scuderia Corsa's strength, she added: "Luckily this is the best organization I could be with, and our last year together has been incredible. The professionalism, quality of work, and talent on all levels is unmatched, and now that I’ve already experienced the event, I want to go to win"

Photo: Christina Nielsen / Gary Parravani

Christina Nielsen wants to win Le Mans with Ferrari

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mardi 7 février 2017

Following their dominant victory during last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE-Am class, Scuderia Corsa will return to the notorious Circuit de la Sarthe in 2017, defending their title in the GTE-Am Class with two entries this time, driven by an all-star lineup in the all-new Ferrari 488 GTE.

Doubling their efforts from a historical 2016 campaign in which their Le Mans win would highlight a season that also saw victories at The 12 Hours of Sebring, Six Hours of Watkins Glen, as well as three separate championships, the team’s high threshold for quality remains unchallenged with their two-car lineup.

In the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE, Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell will return to defend their 2016 victory with the addition the venerable Cooper MacNeil. Meanwhile the team’s No. 65 Ferrari 488 GTE proves an instant contender, featuring the full-season, championship-winning pairing of Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan, joined by sportscar veteran Bret Curtis.

For team owner Giacomo Mattioli, the invitation to return to the world’s most renowned event is a welcome one.DEP_6715_Low

“The opportunity to bring two Ferraris in defense of our Le Mans victory is a great honor,” stated Mattioli. “To debut in 2015 with a podium, and win last year was an absolute dream-come-true. To return now with the Ferrari 488 GTE is a brand new challenge that we are all excited for. It’s of course great to see Bill and Townsend back with us for another year, and now with Cooper MacNeil joining us, we should be very strong. It goes without saying we had an incredible 2016 together with Christina and Alessandro, and Bret Curtis is a long-time member of the community that we’re very excited to work with. We’re definitely confident for another Ferrari victory!”

For Bill Sweedler, a chance to return to the same team that brought him such an incredible victory just one year before is one that couldn’t be ignored.

“I’m so excited to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and defend our race win along with Scuderia Corsa and Ferrari,” stated Sweedler. “Le Mans is such a unique and special place that has the most passionate residents.  The city literally shuts down for a week to welcome racers, teams, and fans from around the world into their city.  I’m truly honored to be able to participate again after two successful years.  My hope is that Townsend, and our newest teammate, Cooper MacNeil, can take our collective experience and deliver another strong finish for Scudera Corsa and Ferrari in 2017!”

For Christina Nielsen, returning to Le Mans with the same team she scored a historic IMSA championship with creates her best chance to win.

“It will be great to return to Le Mans with Scuderia Corsa,” stated Nielsen. “This event is unlike any other, and one that any driver wants to win. Luckily this is the best organization I could be with, and our last year together has been incredible. The professionalism, quality of work, and talent on all levels is unmatched, and now that I’ve already experienced the event, I want to go to win.”

Having raced with Scuderia Corsa prior in the Ferrari Challenge series, Cooper MacNeil is looking to add a Le Mans victory to his current trophy case.

“I think we are headed to Le Mans with a very strong package,” MacNeil said. “Bill and Townsend won there last year in a Ferrari. We will be running a brand new 488 GTE and the Scuderia Corsa team knows the car and knows us as well. I run with them in the Ferrari Challenge Series, so between us three drivers and the team we already have a great racing relationship. This will help us to get right down to getting the car set-up and ready to go for race day.”

Finally, for Bret Curtis, hopes are high that his third visit to the famed event could be his best yet.

“I am very excited to join Giacomo Mattioli’s Scuderia Corsa in the most famous sports car race in the world, the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” stated Curtis. “In 2016 Scuderia Corsa jumped to the top of the sports-car world with a GTD title in IMSA, and a GTE win at Le Mans so I am very excited to be racing with the best, and in a Ferrari.  Additionally, having the opportunity to be driving with last year’s winning GTD duo of Christina and Alessandro is a great opportunity to shine at a great race.  I look forward to being a part of a winning effort and having strong result!”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place on Saturday, June 17 and run for 24 hours straight through the following Sunday. Scuderia Corsa will provide additional updates, including available broadcast coverage, as the event gets closer.

Scuderia Corsa Press Release

Scuderia Corsa with strong line-ups for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

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Reigning European Le Mans Series (ELMS) GTE Champions Beechdean Aston Martin Racing have announced they will return to the championship in an updated factory Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE car in 2017 with Andrew Howard, Darren Turner and Ross Gunn.

Andrew Howard, Beechdean AMR team owner and driver, will be teaming back up with Aston Martin Racing Veteran Darren Turner. Howard and Turner, together with Alex Macdowall in 2016, took two race victories in their debut ELMS season on their way to championship victory.

The experienced duo will be joined in the #99 car by Aston Martin Racing Factory driver Ross Gunn. Gunn, 20, will continue with the Beechdean AMR squad for a third successive year, making his ELMS race debut at Silverstone in April.

Reigning ELMS champion Howard commented “It’s great to be back in the ELMS championship for a second year. Working with Darren in 2016 was essential to my improvement in the GTE car. The car is going to be very different, but last year is a great base to learn from.”

Experienced Aston Martin Racing Factory Driver, Darren Turner mirrored Howard’s previous statement saying “It’s very exciting to go back and race in the ELMS with Beechdean again this year. It’s always good to race with Andrew (Howard) and I’m looking forward to racing with Ross (Gunn) for the first time.  We had some good races last year and we were lucky at the last round to snatch the championship. I think this year will be equally difficult with EVEN more competition but hopefully we will be in a position to fight for the championship when we get to the last round.”

“To be stepping up to the European Le Mans Series with the reigning champions is a dream come true”, said Gunn. “Alongside my British GT commitments in 2016, I went to all of the ELMS races bar one to shadow the team and learn as much as possible. Driving with Andrew and Darren will be invaluable. I’m really excited about this step in my career and I will be pushing hard for results.”

Beechdean AMR look set for another successful year in SPORTS car racing. As well as competing in the ELMS, the squad will return to the illustrious Le Mans 24 Hour race on 17th/18th June. After competing for the first time in 2016, the #99 crew will aim to improve on their respectable 7th place.

Beechdean AMR will compete in the hotly contested GTE class. The 2017 European Le Mans programme, will run across six of the best circuits in Europe, with races scheduled for; Silverstone (UK), Monza (Italy), Red Bull Ring (Austria), Paul Ricard (France), Spa Francorchamps (Belgium) and Portimao (Portugal). Testing will begin at Portimao on the 18th February.

Beechdean AMR Press Release

Beechdean AMR adds Ross Gunn for European Le Mans Series title defense campaign

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vendredi 3 février 2017

Nicki Thiim will have a very busy 2017 season with Aston Martin Racing. The talented Dane GT ace will compete in two different series this year, the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series.

In FIA WEC, Nicki Thiim, along with Marco Sorensen, will try to defend his GTE-Pro title. He will be at the wheel of the full factory #95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

Nicki Thiim and Aston Martin Racing will be facing world class rivals in GTE-Pro this season. Ferrari, Ford, and Porsche will be fielding factory supported teams in the premier GT class of the FIA WEC.

In the European Le Mans Series, Nicki Thiim will be competing for Aston Martin customer team TF Sport. He will be sharing the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE with Salih Yoluc and  Euan Hankey.

A total of seven cars will compete in the series's GTE class with cars coming from Aston Martin, Ferrari and Porsche.

In 2016 TF Sport won the inaugural Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup title and the British GT Championship title with Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT3s.

"TF Sport has had a lot of success in the UK and Europe, but it has a long-held desire to go further and it’s special that I will accompany the team as it heads into this big, new challenge," Nick Thiim said about his new team in the ELMS.

About competing in the ACO-run continental series: "The European Le Mans Series is completely new for me and I’m not familiar with all of the tracks, but I know it is very competitive, with grids full of teams who put everything into winning it for a chance to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans."

Photos: Aston Martin Racing / TF Sport

FIA WEC and ELMS, Double duty for Nicki Thiim with Aston Martin in 2017

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Wolf Henzler will be returning to the European Le Mans Series with Proton Competiton this year. The privateer Porsche squad will have a two-car effort in the series' GTE class.

The German sportscar ace will be once again at the wheel of the #88 Porsche 911 RSR. The names of the his two team-mates will be announced later.

In 2016, Wolf Henzler was one of the fastest drivers in the European Le Mans Series. He took the class victory at the 4 Hours of Imola with a Porsche 911 RSR.

The Porsche factory drivers will have a very busy 2017 season, racing in two different series. In addition to the ELMS, Wolf Henzler will also compete in the GT Daytona class of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Photo: ELMS

Wolf Henzler back to European Le Mans Series with Proton Competition

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jeudi 2 février 2017

The Automobile Club de L'ouest has released the official entry list of the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. A total of 60 cars will compete in the stellar event of the FIA World Endurance Championship.

The GTE class will be very well represented in the French endurance classic. FIA WEC regulars will be joined at La Sarthe by a great selection of teams coming from the European Le Mans Series, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Asian Le Mans Series.

13 cars will compete in GTE-Pro. Ford Chip Ganassi will field four Ford GTs. Aston Martin Racing will be at La Sarthe with two Vantage GTEs. AF Corse will be there with two 488 GTEs. Porsche GT Team will have two 911 RSRs. Corvette Racing  will enter two C7.Rs. While Rizi Competizione will return with a single Ferrari 488 GTE.

The GTE-Am field will feature a total of 16 cars from Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Corvette.

More to follow.

The entry list of the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours released

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