Tag Archives: 2016

6 Hours of Fuji, Japan

FIA WEC 6 Hours of Fuji

Just back from Japan, our man in the stands takes a look at some of the talking points arising from the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Fuji

The LMP1 manufacturers have never been closer
Qualifying ahead of this year’s 6 Hours of Fuji saw the best Audi, Porsche and Toyota laps all within two tenths of each other, and then all of them finish up the session within half a second. The result? A stunning race in which all three factory teams had a chance to win.

6 Hours of Fuji

Audi once again had the fastest car, but pit stop blunders ultimately cost the No.8 car of Oliver Jarvis, Lucas Di Grassi and Loic Duval the win. In the end it was Toyota’s No.6 TS050 that were victorious, with Stephane Sarrazin, Kamui Kobayashi and Mike Conway taking the win by under two seconds in the end, after a bold strategy call at the final round of pit stops catapulted the car ahead of the No.8 Audi despite trailing it almost the entire race.

It was the first win for the Japanese brand since the final round of the 2014 season, so it’s been a long time coming. Audi meanwhile, will spend the next two weeks reflecting on their future (see below), after what turned out to be a very odd weekend for the German LMP1 stalwarts.

 

Audi’s LMP1 programme may have an expiry date
Rumours seem to swirl every year, that Audi will be pulling the plug on its LMP1 programme; especially now that it’s been racing a sister brand in Porsche since 2014. This time it does seem that there may well be some substance to the speculation. Prior to the on-track running at Fuji Speedway, German media outlet Auto Motor und Sport reported that the Audi board will terminate the programme at the end of 2017 season, therefore running it until the end of the current WEC regulation cycle. Now, there’s no full confirmation that this is the case, but the piece was written by a well respected journalist in Marcus Schurig, who this writer can say whole heartedly wouldn’t publish a story of that magnitude unless he was more than 100% sure there was something there.

FIA WEC 6 Hours of Fuji

Losing Audi would send shockwaves through sportscar racing, that’s for sure, and it would be a crying shame to see it leave. But these things happen, and it certainly wouldn’t come as a total surprise given that Audi Sport certainly don’t owe the sport anything after supporting it through thick and thin since 1999 and in a classy manner too. As the Audi crew congratulated the Toyota team though, with full of emotion after the race last weekend, John Hinhaugh on the WEC commentary feed did make a very interesting point: “That’s why they won’t be leaving, there’s too much passion, it means too much to them.” Watch this space.

 

Ford’s UK GTE team has life
After what was a very underwhelming season until the trip to Fuji, the UK arm of the Chip Ganassi Ford programme finally kicked into gear and took what seemed like an easy 1-2 in the Pro class. At each race to that point the pair of Fords had under performed, often having reliability issues or on-track blunders which cost them multiple podiums; lets not forget that the pair of GTs from the USA Ford team were the ones that had the dream run at Le Mans this season.

Ford

With two rounds remaining, it appears that both Aston Martin Racing and AF Corse will finally have to deal with the Ford squad when it comes to racing for the win, after consistently finishing above them in each of the rounds prior to the race in Japan. And that’s great for the class.

 

LMP2 in its current form is spectacular
Yes next year’s cars will be considerably faster, and the quality of entries looks to take another jump; but what the LMP2 class has at the moment should be cherished. The variety in chassis was on full display last weekend at Fuji Speedway, with six of the cars in the class all having a legitimate shot of winning the race. It is safe to say that it turned into one of, if not the best LMP2 race in WEC history, with multiple nail-biting moments and clean racing throughout the field.

Start at the 6 Hours of Fuji

After hours of duels between Alpine, RGR Sport, Manor, Strakka and ESM it came down to Will Stevens in the leading G-Drive Oreca and Bruno Senna in the RGR Ligier. And the battle between the two ex-F1 drivers didn’t disappoint. A gamble on tyre strategy from RGR promoted the Mexican team’s Ligier to the top spot after G-Drive led the whole race from the start. Stevens then had to fight his way back, taking the lead just a couple of laps before the flag. For G-Drive it was an incredible way to take its long-awaited first win of the 2016 season, and for RGR its title chances became even less likely, with Alpine holding a very healthy lead heading into the round at China.

 

The No.2 Porsche needs to return to form
After Le Mans it looked like the No.2 Porsche of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb would be a lock to win the title after winning at Silverstone and taking the full double points finish at the 24 hours at La Sarthe. But the trio have struggled since, finishing off the podium at each round and at Fuji looked totally lost, coming home a distant fifth.

Porsche at Fuji

Now, they still lead by 23 points but all of a sudden the No.6 Toyota, which sits second in the standings looks like the stronger car. A couple more wins for Conway, Sarrazin and Kobayashi and the title fight could turn into a thriller that goes down to the wire. It wouldn’t be the first time…

The FIA WEC now moves on to China where the Six Hours of Shanghai takes place on the 6th November.

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

Nurburgring 24 Hours

Taking on the Nurburgring 24

What It’s Like To Take On The Nürburgring 24 Hours

This year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours was record breaking, with Mercedes finishing 1, 2, 3 & 4 seeing off all threats from the other manufacturers in the race. There were so many talking points, with adverse weather, a few sizeable incidents and an unusually quiet showing from favourites Audi, but the main one was Maro Engel.

At the end of the race, the leading No.29 HTP Mercedes had a comfortable lead of a little under a minute over the No.4 Black Falcon AMG GT3, but the No.29 had to pit for fuel. The splash at the end created a phenomenal final two laps, with both Christian Hohenadel and Engel fighting it out for the lead. In the end Engel pounced at RTL corner on the final tour of the circuit, diving up the inside of Hohenadel, rubbing doors on his way past to take the win. The Black Falcon team were euphoric, HTP staged a protest against the move, and the fans went wild in the stands. If you like drama, it was the perfect way to end a 24-hour race.

Nurburgring 24 Hours

What’s particularly special about the N24 though, is that further down the order there are hundreds of other tales to tell amongst the runners and riders in the 150+ strong grid. Like the story from the up and coming British driver George Richardson, who co-drove Walkenhorst Motorsport’s No.101 PlayStation SP9 class BMW M6 GT3 with non other Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi, Max Sandritter and Mathias Henkola.

“The Nürburgring 24 Hours this year was an incredible event, and so much went on. I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of it in the top class. However, like so many of the teams out there, it didn’t go quite to plan.”

Nurburgring 24 Hours

Richardson’s car had an off in practice, leaving the team scrambling to rebuild it, just to get it out for Qualifying. This is by no means an odd occurrence at the ‘Green Hell’ 24, which often claims multiple victims in the pre-race sessions. “It delayed everything,” Richardson admits. “It meant the team had to rebuild parts of the car, and for us drivers, we lost a lot of track time.”

Because the lap of the full Nürburgring Nordschliefe is so long, most drivers don’t get many laps in before the race starts anyway, and incredibly, Richardson had zero full laps before getting in mid-race. “Earl Bamber said he had two laps, I can beat that!” He says. “I did just two in and outs because of the problem, and got into the car during the race having to find my feet quickly. The weather at the start of the race was insane, and I felt the end of it, as my first stint was in mixed conditions with a low-hanging fog between Höhe Act and Bergwerk during the night.”

Nurburgring 24 Hours

The rain came down in the first hour of the race so hard that multiple cars went off the circuit, on slick tyres out in the forest. Shortly after, the race was stopped as hail came down and froze, leaving many cars stuck trying to climb the final hill to the pit straight. It was truly the most bizarre sequence in motorsport. The ‘Ring is known for its ability to throw all sorts of weather at its drivers, but even that came as a surprise. “When you’re out there in the pitch black and driving in fog, it’s all about instinct and respecting the circuit. Because we didn’t make it into the Top 30 Qualifying session our car didn’t get a blue flashing light on the front windscreen to help you get through traffic during the race. It meant we really had to hustle our way past the other drivers as many of them couldn’t tell that we were in the top class. But we made it through the night, and to the end of the race, despite having an intermittent problem which the team couldn’t fix. We were losing a lot of power throughout the race, but the BMW M6 held up well, and made it to the finish.”

Nurburgring 24 Hours

“The Nürburgring 24 Hours is the world’s toughest race for a driver,” he states. “So to finish is such an achievement in itself. The fans come in numbers, and after being in the thick of it in one of the quickest cars, I really see why. Driving past the campsites, it’s crazy, there’s fireworks going off and you can smell the food being cooked. Atmosphere-wise, there’s nothing like it.”

Richardson’s car crossed the line 22nd, having completed 121 perilous laps of the circuit, but that’s what’s special about the N24. It’s a rugged event, which puts drivers through a challenge unlike any other in motorsport.

2016 was an incredible race, 2017 promises to be just as good, if not better. You can register now with Travel Destinations to be at the Nurburgring 24 Hours 2017. Call 0844 873 0203 to reserve your place now.

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photos by Dailysportscar

Nurburgring 24hrs

Why go to the Nurburgring 24 Hours?

We asked Stephen Kilbey from Dailysportscar to try and explain why going to the Nurburgring 24 Hours is a must for all race fans. Stephen has lots of experience of visiting the best circuits around the world so is the ideal person to give his opinion.

“To me, the best event of the year is the Le Mans 24 Hours, but the best race of the year is the Nürburgring 24 Hrs.”

“24-hour racing on the full Nürburgring Nordschleife was always somewhat of a hidden gem outside of Germany before the early 2000s, but that’s quickly changed. The evolution of GT regulations in recent years has meant that it’s become an increasingly more internationally recognised motorsport mega-event year-on-year, featuring racing supported by a plethora of manufacturers and top-class drivers.”N24

“The Nürburgring 24 Hours sees everything from an Audi R8 LMS GT3 race on track with an Opel Manta through night and day to take home the most prestigious prizes in German endurance racing. It’s an absolutely astounding race to watch every year, partly because of the variety of cars, partly because of the incredible circuit, partly because of the atmosphere at the track, but also because there’s usually over 30 cars with a legitimate shot at victory.”

“It’s fair to call it the hardest race on the planet to win. And it’s such a mentally and physically draining event to compete in, that it will leave you in awe standing trackside.”

“The main draw of spectating at the N24 over watching it on the TV is that the circuit is so vast, that it can take you 24 hours to get round all the spectator zones. It’s a unique experience exploring the Nordschleife, but that’s part of its charm and the reason why most hardened fans make the trip every year. The circuit features just about every type of corner you can imagine, and the views you’ll get to see of them as an attendee are staggering.”

“It’s an incredibly fan friendly event in that respect, as you can get incredibly close to the cars at certain parts of the lap, and enjoy the company of the colossal amount of other people there to celebrate what’s now considered to be a true celebration of motorsport in Germany.”

“It can be hard to navigate the circuit at first, so definitely grab a map of the roads and spectator areas before the race and plan a route to stick to. Once you get the hang of the perimeter roads and shuttle bus system though, you’ll realise that it’s not that difficult to find good places to watch from.”

N24 Night

“Staying at Camping am Nürburgring I can say from experience, makes it much easier if you haven’t camped at the N24, the camping in the forests can be chaotic and require you to get to the track and set up long in advance if you want a good space. The N24 can seem like an overwhelming race to attend and camp at because of its scale, but the site Travel Destinations offers is situated in one of the more peaceful and stress-free areas of the Nürburgring in terms of accommodation: the bottom of the GP loop.”

“By staying there, it’s a more structured and organised camping experience. Camping am Nürburgring is a site that’s open year round, and run by a very friendly group of people. Not only do you get easy access to on-site food and entertainment there, but you’re also in walking access to circuit from your pitches. Being close to the GP loop paddock and main grandstands is especially handy too; as it’s the best place to watch the start and end of the race.”

“My advice? Soak up the grid walk before the race (which is free for ticket-holders), dash to the Bilstein Tribune at Turn 1 while the cars are on the parade lap and witness the roar of the cars come past in batches for the first time. After that, head on to the Nordschleife and soak up the atmosphere that the core German fans create. Fireworks, barbecues, crazy scaffolding setups – you name it, the people who attend regularly build it. Pflanzgarten, the Karussell, Brünnchen and Hatzenbach in particular are all astonishing places to watch a motor race, so if you can, try and make it to those areas to really see the cars and drivers work hard.”

N24 grid

“You’d be hard pressed to find a better place to drink alcoholic beverages, eat good food and watch cars than the Nürburgring. I think you’d be incredibly unlucky to leave the circuit after the race disappointed. If you love endurance racing, the N24 is a must-see bucket list event and now is as good a time as ever to go. This year, Bentley, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi and BMW will all be present with factory-backed machinery, so the racing is set to be spectacular. If you’ve never stood in the forests of the Eiffel region and witnessed 150+ cars GT and touring cars race through the night, then you really do need to…”

Travel Destinations can offer you a great chance to be at this year’s race. We have limited availability for our travel, ticket and camping offer from the 26th – 30th May. Travel Destinations have a private area reserved within the Camping am Nurburgring area reserved exclusively for our customers and managed by our staff. Book your place now by calling our reservation staff on 0844 873 0203.

Daytona

Eyes on Daytona

Eyes Of Racing World Focused On 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona
Entry List Features 54 Cars, Drivers Representing 24 Countries, Four Female Drivers

The world will be coming to Daytona International Speedway for the grand opening of its motorsports stadium, with a solid international field set for the debut race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship: the 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 30th – 31st.

A 54-car field with drivers representing 24 countries serves as the opening race for Daytona Rising, the $400 million reimagining of the historic venue. In addition to kicking off the WeatherTech Championship, the race also will open the four-race Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

“As the International Motor Sports Association, we take great pride in having strong international representation in the Rolex 24 At Daytona,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “We are fortunate to have an outstanding field of drivers, teams and manufacturers representing every corner of the world join us for this year’s race. The eyes of the racing world truly will be on Daytona International Speedway during the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Between the debut of many awe-inspiring race cars and being the first race in the Daytona International Speedway motorsports stadium, the view will be spectacular.”

Daytona International Speedway founder Bill France Sr. envisioned sports car racing as bringing international recognition to his venue with the running of the inaugural Daytona Continental in 1962, an event expanded to 24 hours in 1966.

Now, 50 years later, that event has grown into the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The field will include 12 world-class automotive manufacturers across the four classes, reigniting decades-long rivalries in addition to building new ones.

In the Prototype category, the battle for the overall victory will include the classic Ford vs. Chevrolet rivalry, but will be expanded to include Honda, Mazda, Nissan and BMW-powered prototypes, in addition to the one-of-a-kind DeltaWing. Ford and Chevy have split the overall victories the past two years, but if speeds at the recent Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona were any indication, any one of the 13 entries in the Prototype class could feasibly pull into Victory Lane on the afternoon of Sunday, Jan. 31st.

The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class features the pair of Corvette C7.Rs that won the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015, as well as the defending WeatherTech Championship GTLM championship-winning Porsche North America team.

However, many sports car racing headlines over the past year have gone to the new Ford GT program, which makes its competition debut in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with a two-car effort fielded by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. The return of the Ford GT begins a new chapter in the Ford-Chevrolet battle, while also reigniting a 50-year-old Ford vs. Ferrari fight. The field also will include a pair of brand-new BMW M6 GTLM race cars from BMW Team RLL.

The GT Daytona (GTD) class, which has adopted full FIA GT3 technical regulations in 2016, features a 22-car field and seven different manufacturers. Familiar GTD brands Audi, Porsche and BMW all will debut brand-new race cars in the Rolex 24, alongside updated machinery from Ferrari, Dodge and Aston Martin. Joining the GTD fray this year for the first time will be Lamborghini, with five Huracáns in a field stacked with manufacturer, team and driver talent.

In Prototype Challenge (PC), eight teams and a host of strong driver lineups will battle it out for class honors.

In total, all but three of the 54 entries feature driver lineups with mixed nationalities. The United States has the most drivers entered with 87, while Germany leads the list of visiting countries with 23 drivers represented in the preliminary Rolex 24 entry. Great Britain is next with 19 drivers, followed by Italy, 16; France, nine; and Canada, seven. Austria, Brazil and Mexico are each represented by six drivers.

Four female drivers are set to compete in this year’s race. British driver Katherine Legge returns to the No. 0 Panoz DeltaWing Racing coupe in the Prototype class. Competing in GT Daytona (GTD) are German Sabine Schmitz in the No. 30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R; Christina Nielsen of Denmark in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3; and American Ashley Freiberg in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.

Practice for the Rolex 24 At Daytona begins the morning of Thursday, Jan. 28th , with qualifying taking place later than afternoon. The weekend also includes the BMW Performance 200; the opening round of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

Travel Destinations customers will be back again this year enjoying the full spectacle. If you fancy joining us at Daytona in January 2017 call us now to register your interest and we will let you know when you can reserve your place at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Ford

Looking forward to 2016

The Four Biggest Endurance Racing Stories of 2016

Okay so that’s a rather arrogant assertion, there are bound to be stories through this year that eclipse some of those below but to do so they’ll have to be very big indeed!

1- Ford – 50 Years on
The Blue Oval is back and this is no badge engineering stunt.
The new Ford GT is a GT racing mould breaker, the first of a brand new breed of n few generation GTE cars.
It’s very clear that Ford’s turbo V6 engined ‘halo’ hyper car has been designed first as a racer and THEN as a road car.  It’s attention to aerodynamic detail is astounding, and whilst the front of the car pays homage to its grandaddy, the iconic 1960s Ford GT40, the 2016 version has a rear end like no other road car, ever!
So that ticks the boxes for the car fans, but the racing fans get an even better treat – two huge programmes, one in North America, and the other in the full FIA WEC, both with a pair of cars apiece, will come together for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.
If Ford’s plans come together we should see four of these extraordinary cars battling it out with their decades long racing rivals from Ferrari (who have their own new turbo-engined 488) Porsche, Aston Martin and Corvette
This could be the year when GT racing joins LMP1 in the headlines!

2 – Bigger Grid at Le Mans
2016 will see a bigger grid than ever before at the Le Mans 24 Hours as the ACO start a two year programme to build the grid to 60 cars.
This year will see a staging post towards that aim, 58 cars should start, after a maximum of 56 to this point.
OK we are going to have a couple off fewer factory cars than anticipated, economic pressures on Porsche and Audi and the withdrawal of the popular but underperforming Nissan effort have seen to that but the strength in depth across the world of endurance racing should see an astounding mix of prototype and GT cars in June, and with some new spectator viewing areas being installed at Indianapolis there could be some of the best views in years available.
More cars, more variety, Do not stay home in June!

3 – War at the Nurburgring
The Nurburgring 24 Hours is always a spectacle, but 2016 should be very special indeed.
Why?
Because it is one of the biggest races in Germany, and every significant German GT car manufacturer has brand new product to sell.
Audi debuted their new R8 last year and won, but now BMW (M6 GT3), Mercedes Benz (AMG GT3) and Porsche (911 GT3 R) all have new toys to field too, and in this market, both for marque prestige and bragging rights, and for car sales, nothing matters more.
It matters enough to Porsche that they have preferred preserving this programme to their WEC GTE effort in 2016 to mount a full house, two car all factory driver effort under the icily effective auspices of Olaf Manthey.
Add into the mix confirmed multi car factory efforts from both Aston Martin and Bentley, and more potential factory contenders too and this could be something truly spectacular.
And that’s before we have even mentioned the track, the biggest, baddest, most challenging and yes most dangerous road racing course on the planet.
Work has been done around the circuit to enable the organisers to lift the localised speed restrictions so now it is going to be about who has built the better GT3 weapon.
Multi car teams packed with factory drivers can be guaranteed – If you haven’t seen this race live then honestly what are you waiting for – This is THE year to go.

4 – The British Are Coming!
Moves in the close season to reshuffle the pack have left patriotic British sportswear racing fans with an embarrassment of riches.
In the FIA WEC there are likely to be no fewer than nine British factory drivers stretched across LMP1 (Oliver Jarvis at Audi, Anthony Davidson and Mike Conway at a resurgent Toyota) and GTE Pro (Ferrari: James Calado and Sam Bird, Ford Marino Franchitti and Andy Priaulx, Aston Martin Darren Turner and Jonny Adam)
Add to that little lot Oliver Gavin (Corvette), Richard Westbrook (Ford) and 2015 overall winner Nick Tandy (Porsche) for Le Mans, all in GTE Pro and by god there might just be some singing of the National Anthem for the podium!

And beyond those three there’s more to look forward to too.
The FIA WEC adds a ninth round with Mexico City joining the calendar. If that’s too rich for your travelling blood then the astonishingly entertaining European Le Mans Series has also added a race, up to six for 2016 as the Series visit Spa in October.
There are more opportunities than ever to see better endurance racing with better cars and better teams in more places than at any time in living memory – Go on, treat yourself, get off the couch and pick up the phone – I’ll see you in the paddock!

Graham Goodwin (www.dailysportscar.com)

Return of the Le Mans Classic

Return of the Le Mans Classic

Le Mans Classic returns in 2016

The Le Mans Classic will return in 2016. At a press conference in Paris last night, Peter Auto, the organisation behind the Le Mans Classic, confirmed the dates for the next Le Mans Classic. The 8th – 10th July 2016 will see the famous Le Mans circuit host the most anticipated motorsport retrospective event in Europe. 2016 will see the 8th running of this prestigious event.

Le Mans Classic 2016

More than 110,000 spectators watched the last running of the event in 2014, and it is anticpated that 2016 will see an increase in that number. The Le Mans Classic features cars that raced at Le Mans between 1923 and 1979 & a strict scrutineering process means that only past Le Mans entrants are able to compete.

Divided in to 6 grids the cars race throughout the traditional 24 hours, with all cars racing both in the day and at night. Despite the age of the machinery taking part, these are not demonstration laps. All cars will be raced to win and gain the top step on the podium.

Travel Destinations have been the largest travel, ticket and accommodation supplier since its inception. 2016 will be no different. We already have a number of our products on sale via this website, including our on circuit options for those wanting to stay close to the action.

Travel Destinations will have 2 private trackside camping areas for the Le Mans Classic in 2016. Our Hunaudieres campsite is located on the inside of the Tertre Rouge corner. Our Porsche Curves campsite is also trackside South of the start/finish straight.

For those not wanting to pitch their own tent, then our Event Tents will proved a more luxurious option. This glamping option provides large bell tents with carpets, mattresses and all bedding. With tables and chairs also in the tent you can arrive in your classic or sports car and not worry about space.

If camping is not your thing, then we also have our Fleoxtel Village in the centre of the circuit. These pop-up hotel style cabins, provide private lockable bedrooms right next to your car. With proper beds and all bedlinen in a convenient location this accommodation solution has always been popular.

Finally we also have our hotels and camping options off circuit so that those that wish to stay off circuit also have a number of options. Hotel rooms for the Le Mans Classic will always be in high demand so it is advisable to book early.

Most prices are already available on this website & our reservations are now open for the Le Mans Classic 2016. To reserve your place please call us on 0844 873 0203 (UK) or +44 1707 329988 (International).

The Le Mans Classic 2016 promises to be bigger and better than ever, so make sure you are there to be part of it!