Tag Archives: ferrari

Greaves head Gibson 1-2 at Silverstone

Greaves Motorsport claimed victory in the opening round of the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone following a close battle with the similar Jota Sport machine and the Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca.


For the third season in a row, the teams headed to Silverstone for the opening round of the European Le Mans Series; dovetailing with the World Endurance Championship to create a nicely dubbed ‘super endurance racing weekend’.  And although the numbers are slightly down on 2014, we could be in for one of the best seasons yet courtesy of a gentle tweak to the driver time regulations which allow the Platinum and Gold LMP2 drivers to have more of an impact on the overall result.

Qualifying did nothing to disprove this idea as Jon Lancaster’s early lap proved just too good for pole favourite, Harry Tincknell, to topple.  It didn’t help that the Nissan factory driver had flat spotted his tyres with a spin early in the session however a last gasp effort from the 2014 Le Mans class winner was good enough for second on the grid.

And while Gary Hirsch was able to lead the crews away from start in the #41 Greaves Motorsport machine, it was Audi loanee, Filipe Albuquerque, who eventually worked his way to the front of the field in the #38 Jota Sport car; gradually increasing his lead to 16 seconds by the time he handed over to Simon Dolan at the end of his second stint.  Hirsch however brought his driving duties to a close with a stellar lap (fastest of the race) to allow Platinum rated co-driver Bjorn Wirdheim to leap-frog Dolan and build a strong lead over the English businessman, with the Thiriet by TRDS Racing Oreca 05 not too far behind in third.

A safety car, required for a collision between the Massive Motorsport Aston and the #63 Ferrari with 1.5 hours to go then closed up the entire field.  A good pit call by Greaves however, with Wirdheim pitting just before the safety car appeared, allowed the Swede to maintain the lead after re-fuelling.  TDS racing on the other hand had a different approach and used the safety car period to put Platinum man Tristan Gommendy in the car;  A tactic which looked to be paying off as the Frenchman soon caught and passed Dolan once the track returned to green.

With Wirdheim’s tyres passed their best, Gommendy was also able to close on the lead Greaves car and it wasn’t long before the TDS Oreca was leading the race.  However the boot was soon on the other foot as he now had the super quick and freshly shod Jon Lancaster and Harry Tincknell to contend with as the event headed towards the final stages; and crucially the team had elected to change the left sided tyres only at their driver change.

Lancaster and Tincknell were now significantly faster than Gommendy at this stage of the race and had they worked together they would have caught the lead Oreca much more quickly.  However you can’t stop true racing drivers fighting for position and what lay ahead was an almighty battle between the two Gibson pilots.

With the TDS machine beginning to fall into the clutches of the two Gibson cars the battle for second really started to heat up.  Tincknell clearly had the bit between his teeth, and after several attempts Tincknell managed to squeeze into second and now looked favourite for victory.  However, as is often the case in endurance racing, traffic played a part; slowing Tincknell through Copse and allowing Lancaster to gain on the Nissan man heading into the Becketts complex.  In what was deemed a fair move, Lancaster went the around the outside at Maggots, with Tincknell left spinning as a result.

Lancaster was now free to chase down Gommendy as the race neared its conclusion; and with traffic slowing the Frenchman, Lancaster saw his chance and attempted a pass down the inside of the Loop.  Gommendy however had not seen him coming and contact caused the Oreca to spin, losing second as a result to the recovering Tincknell.

Whilst debate commenced over whether Lancaster’s attempted pass was legal, Tincknell rapidly approached the partially damaged Greaves machine; getting close to the #41 Gibson but ultimately crossing the line at the end of the 4 hours in second position.  The press conference was interesting to say the least but ultimately this adds additional flavour to what is already building up to be a great championship fight.


The mid race safety car ruined what was turning into a great battle for GTE honours as the Gulf Racing Porsche was allowed to pass the safety car and almost gain an entire lap over the chasing JMW Ferrari and the similar #55 AF Corse machine.  This left Michael Wainwright with a much easier task of finishing the good work started by Adam Carroll and Phil Keen to claim GTE top spot for the Gulf Racing 911 RSR


Behind, Sam Tordoff and George Richardson both put in solid drives to elevate the JMW Ferrari to a well deserved 2nd while Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott will have been content with third.  Rui Aguas had been leading in the #81 Ferrari early on before ending the day in the turn one barriers following a collision with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Peter Mann.



Sir Chris Hoy and Charlie Robertson made an excellent start to their debut European Le Mans Series campaign in the brand new Ginetta Juno.  Robertson started the car from the back of the grid having been penalised for a pit lane speed limit violation but was soon leading the class before handing over to Hoy.  The multi Olympic Cycling champion put in a great drive which ultimately saw the the Scottish pair take class victory by the best part of a lap from team LNT team-mates Michael Simpson and Gaetan Paletou.


In a race of attrition where only 3 cars finished in class, the TDS Racing BMW Z4 of Franck Perera, Dino Lunardi and Eric Dermont took victory by 2 laps from the #64 AF Corse Ferrari of Mads Rasmussen, Felipe Barreiros and Francisco Guedes.  To round of a good day for Gulf Racing UK, Roald Goethe, Dan Brown and Archie Hamilton came home third in the GT3 Lamborghini Gallardo, albeit 16 laps down on the class leader following earlier problems.



Whilst the mid race safety car closed up the field and helped provide an exciting finish it did however ruin a lot of the carefully thought out strategies being employed by the teams.  I can’t help but feel that the full course yellow system employed by the WEC is a much better way of allowing the track marshals to clear up a wreckage, with the gaps being maintained and there being no chance of incorrect ‘wave bys’.  We can only hope that the European Le Mans Series takes a serious look at this issue before round 2 at Imola.

Once again the European Le Mans Series provided some of the best racing of the weekend.  In my eyes it has a lot to do with the extra strategy of when to play the silver/bronze driver card and together with the 4 hour format we have a brilliant series on our hands.  It would be nice to have a few more entries in the GT classes but that would just be picky.  I am more than tempted to try and find some extra days holiday to fir the season ending Estoril round into my schedule!


For JPEGS or any other enquiries please get in touch via paul.commons@yahoo.co.uk

All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)


Race Win and Titles for WRT at Nürburgring

Laurens Vanthoor and Belgian Audi Club Team WRT took the Blancpain Endurance PRO drivers and Teams championships respectively following a comfortable victory for the #1 car at the very wet Nürburgring finale.


With a six hour race in prospect and so many teams and drivers still in contention for all of the Blancpain Endurance championship accolades it was with great anticipation that we made the long drive to the Eifel region of Germany.

Staying at the Hotel Zur Burg in ‘motorsport mad’ Nürburg itself allowed a short walk to the GP Circuit to catch the friday ‘bronze driver test’ shortly after arrival.  You always remember the first sight of a new track and the heavy braking zone into turn 1 was as good as any; offering great viewing of the first 4 corners of the circuit.  After a couple of Bitburgers, an awesome Argentinian steak at the Pistenklause restaurant and a brief watch of the German translation of Indiana Jones we were primed and ready for 2 full days of action at the track.


Weather wise, Saturday morning was a stunner, with the 90 minute free practice session starting in near perfect conditions.  Soon however, in true Nürburgring style, the fog would come in, followed by a heavy downpour later in the day.  With a 90 minute Pre Qualifying session as well as a 1 hour session to set the grid, the drivers managed to witness nearly all possible weather conditions in one day.  The 240 minutes of track time to go with the 6 hour race and good quality support events also making the €30 weekend admission fee very good value for money.

While the #7 Bentley in the hands of Steven Kane went quickest in the first session, Andy Meyrick was not able to better this before the rain came down in the second.


The two PRO WRT Audi’s on the other hand managed to put in great times early on, with Christopher Mies in the #1 R8 setting a 1:55.708 to take provisional pole.

And although the cars still came out for the very wet third session there was no chance of improvements being made leaving the #52 Ferrari of Marco Seefried, Francesco Castellachi and Johnny Laursen to take the PRO-AM pole with third on the grid and Kane’s session 1 time in the M-Sport Bentley being quick enough to complete the second row.


Alexander Mattschull meanwhile was the quickest gentleman trophy runner in the #458 Ferrari with a 1:58.994.









Black Falcon


“Kein gutes wetter” was how we were greeted at breakfast.  The thick fog, which would cause the cancellation of the Formula Renault race, easing after the emergence of heavy rain; heavy enough to question whether the race may be delayed as a result.  Treacherous conditions are common place  in this part of the world however and pleasingly, although behind the safety car, the race got under-way at the scheduled 11.45am start time.


And even more pleasingly the safety car was in the pit lane 20 minutes later.  The field managed to tip-toe around turn one, but by the time the cars reached the exit of the Mercedes Arena, the championship contending #98 ART Mclaren and #26 Santeloc Audi had already clashed, with each losing several laps in the pits and effectively ending their title hopes.  This left just the #7 Bentley, #1 WRT Audi and #84 HTP Mercedes to battle it out for the PRO cup honours.

Up front, the lead WRT Audi of pole sitter Christopher Mies had a real battle on his hands in trying to keep the #99 ART Mclaren of Kevin Estre behind.  After several laps of trying the Frenchman finally getting passed with a brilliantly brave move down the inside of turn 1.  Estre was not able to pull away though with the gap remaining at roughly 1 second throughout the entirety of the first stint.  The big Bentley on the other hand was struggling in the conditions, falling back and losing touch with the lead pair.

Conversely Alex Buncombe in the PRO-AM RJN Nissan was flying, passing several cars including the #52 Ferrari of Seefried to take the class lead.  And after the first round of pit stops, an inspired decision to leave take fuel only meant the red and white machine would emerge from pit lane in the lead of the race with the 2 HTP Mercedes also managing to make up ground.  Cesar Ramos now in the #1 Audi meanwhile was unable to match the pace of Mies and was falling back along with the #99 Mclaren of Kevin Korjus.

The only other safety car period, roughly half way through the race proved to be controversial to say the least, somehow picking up the second place car in error, allowing the #19 Black Falcon Mercedes (leading as a result of a late pit stop) to blast around to the pits and still emerge in the lead.  This break in proceedings also brought the #1 Audi back into contention with Mies reinstated at the wheel.

Others were not so lucky.  Alex Buncombe’s hard work in building a healthy race lead came to nothing as his PlayStation academy team mates were unable to keep pace, quickly falling foul of the very rapid Nick Catsburg in the #12 TDS BMW who was now leading PRO-AM.


Meanwhile the championship contending Bentley was not only struggling in the wet, but also suffering drive through penalties as a result of pit lane speeding and pit-stop infringements meaning their only hope lay with a WRT retirement.

As the race settled back down it wasn’t long before Mies was on the tail of Hubert Haupt’s Black Falcon Mercedes and taking the lead of the race.  And by the time Laurens Vanthoor took over the car, the PRO Cup title was firmly in his grasp as the #84 HTP Mercedes, piloted by Harold Primat, lost several minutes in the gravel at the final corner.

While the Belgian was able to cruise to victory, a drying track presented the opportunity for the slick shod #85 Mercedes, with Step Dussledorp at the wheel, to rapidly close on Abdul Al Faisal (now in #19), taking second place from the similar machine with just half an hour left on the clock.


Further back, Alexander Sims in the Triple 888 Racing BMW and Steven Kane in the #7 Bentley were setting the track alight.  And for once the works BMW pilot was ‘out foxed’ by Kane heading into turn 1 as they both came through the field, with Kane eventually finishing 8th, and Sims just one place further back.

In PRO-AM no one was able to get near Catsburg’s BMW as he and Henry Hassid finished a very credible 4th overall to take the class victory.  While Castellachi’s championship hopes were ended with a trip to the gravel, second in PRO-AM went to the Black Falcon Mercedes of Devon Modell, Anders Fjordbach and Vladimir Lunkin, with championship victors Thomas Kemenater, Stefano Gai and Andrea Rizzoli taking third in the Scuderia Villorba Corse Ferrari.


Ian Loggie and Julian Westwood put in a solid performance to take the Gentleman Trophy honours with 17th overall in their Audi R8 while 7th in class was enough for Peter Mann, Filipe Barreiros and Francisco Guedes to take the crown in their Ferrari 458.

GTR Victory


In many respects I am glad that we saw the Nürburgring in typical wet conditions as anything else just would not have seemed right.  It is amazing how well the circuit coped with such a continual downpour and proved that in a health and safety mad world very wet races can still take place on well drained tracks.

The viewing at this famous German track was second to none with half the circuit visible from the BMW and Mercedes grandstands and whilst I wasn’t able to understand much of the circuit commentary, replacing the battery in my Iphone before travelling had enabled the excellent Blancpain timing app to keep me updated throughout the race.  My only real gripe being that half of the circuit was not open to the public meaning the usual anti-clockwise loop to take in an endurance event was not possible.

Whilst my quest to visit more European circuits will almost certainly mean we won’t return next year the 2014 running of the Nurburgring 1000 will definitely go down as one of my favourite motorsport weekends.  I do hope that the Blancpain series stays as competitive next year with Paul Ricard and Monza being possible trips.  Roll on 2015 …

Full Results






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All images © Paul Commons (Paul Commons Motorsport Photography)