Interesting news from Le Mans this morning, as the results of the pre-Le Mans test were released. Porsche works and customer racing teams clocked up a combined total of more than 6,000 miles (9,988 kms) at Le Mans last weekend, with the fastest 911 time of 3:54.233 minutes over the upgraded 13.6-kilometre Circuit de la Sarthe.
Porsche set the fifth fastest lap overall, Tandy claiming honours for Weissach in the number 93 RSR. The Corvettes finished first and third, sandwiching the Ford GT of Jonathan Bomarito. Magnussen was quickest overall with a time just two-tenths ahead of Tandy’s best. Bergmeister revealed that the team had not tried a qualifying lap on the dirty circuit.
“As always at the Le Mans pre-test, the track was very dirty compared to the upcoming race weekend, said Jorg Bergmeister. “There was little grip, so it didn’t make sense to simulate a qualifying session. We collected important data during the test day to be as well prepared as possible for the season finale. There’s always something new to learn at Le Mans. We learned a lot – especially that our Art Car is a real head-turner. The astonished fans tooka lot of photos.”
“Aside from the normal set-up work and tyre tests, there was an additional item on the list,” noted Richard Lietz. “Several areas of the track have undergone some modifications. Above all, a very high kerb has been added in the Ford corner, affecting the racing line. You have to tackle this passage a little differently now and you can’t take a shortcut. It was important to check out these changes.”
The 2019 Le Mans 24-Hour weekend starts with four hours free practice at 4PM on Wednesday, June 12 before the first qualifying at 10PM that evening. Two more qualifying sessions take place the following day, with the race starting at 3PM on Saturday June 15.
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After a great start for Porsche in the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona, heavy rain, 17 full course cautions and a collision forced the pole-sitting RSR back down the field to eventually be classified fifth overall. The sister car qualified fifth on the grid and enjoyed an eventful race. It was eventually classified third overall.
Porsche put great effort into Daytona, finishing the 911 and 912 machines in a great Brumos livery and piling drivers into the GT Daytona class in the new 911 GT3R. Nick Tandy took the pole in an RSR set up for dry running at top speed on the straights, and he and co-drivers Pilet and Fred Mako held the lead well into the night. When heavy rain moved in, the car was outpaced and started to struggle.
The sister car of Earl Bamber, new dad Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet lost four laps repairing a splitter mounting defect early on but made up places as the race progressed to finish fourth overall. A fuel stop penalty for the third placed GT40 of Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon saw them demoted to fourth, putting Porsche up to third.
Westbrook and F1 retiree, Fernando Alonso, both described the conditions towards the end of the the race as “ridiculous”, with Westbrook describing the rain as the worst he had ever seen in racing. Alonso along with team mates Kamui Kobayashi, Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande eventually came home first overall, but Alonso had been calling for a safety car or a red flag while running in second, as cars drove with close to zero visibility at more than 200 mph.
“I called a lot of times when I was second, over the radio, that the safety car was necessary,” Alonso told Sportscar 365. “I think the last five or seven laps were not right for anyone on track. The visibility was nearly zero. We could not be flat out on the straights. The cars… were coming in sixth gear at 200 mph. There were parts of different cars at different points of the track because people were losing the bodywork here and there.”
“To achieve a podium result under such difficult conditions is a great effort,” said Steffen Höllwarth, Porsche IMSA Program Manager. “We led the field over long stretches, we coped impressively with a setback for the 912 car and we regained lost time. Now we’re looking ahead with optimism to the next race in Sebring. We are keen to repeat our victory there from last year.”
Following Andreas Seidl’s departure from Weissach in September 2018, McLaren F1 has announced that the former head of Porsche’s LMP1 programme is the new managing director of its Formula One racing team.
About Andreas Seidl
Born on January 6, 1976 on the banks of the Danube in Passau, Lower Bavaria, father-of-two Seidl built his early career with BMW Motorsport. He went on to run the test and operations department at the BMW Sauber Formula One team and later served as Head of Race Operations when BMW left F1 and returned to DTM in 2012. BMW’s DTM team claimed the manufacturer’s title on its first year back.
In 2013, Seidl’s friend and Porsche motorsport boss, Fritz Enzinger, signed him up for Porsche’s LMP1 squad. Coming on board as Director of Race Operations, he was made Team Principal in 2014. The Porsche 919 LMP1 Hybrid claimed the first of its three Le Mans wins the following year.
Co-workers point to Seidl’s love of “what-if” planning as an essential component in his approach: a distaste for snap reactions to the unexpected means he develops strategies to account for all imaginable scenarios before a race wheel is turned. “Andreas is like a chess player,” says Enzinger. “He’s a tactician who runs through every possible move with the team in advance in order to be able to respond in a flash.”
The HR doors were fairly one-way at McLaren F1 last year, with drivers, designers and trackside bosses all saying goodbye by the end of the season. This year, McLaren F1 brings in top designer, James Key, drivers Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris and now an ex-Porsche man, too. Whether Seidl’s management will pull the team together and lift McLaren out of its doldrums remains to be seen, but his track record is unquestionable. Friends of the blog at McLaren F1 are excited to learn how the Bavarian works once his gardening leave expires.
“This is an enormous privilege and challenge, which I am ready for and committed to,” said Andreas. “To have an opportunity to contribute to the McLaren legacy is extremely special and inspiring. McLaren has the vision, leadership and experience but, most importantly, the people to return to the front, and that will be my absolute focus and mission.”
F1 2019 kicks off next month with two four-day tests at Barcelona on February 18 – 21 and Feb 26 – March 1. I have talked little brother into a first test trip, so I hope the weather’s better than last year.
Flat-out racing on ice and snow returns to Zell am See in Austria this month, when the inaugural GP Ice Race is run on January 19th and 20th. A contemporary re-imagining of the spectacular ice races held in the region from 1937 to 1974, the event is the brainchild of Vinzenz Greger and Ferdinand Porsche, great-grandson of Dr Ferdinand Porsche (1875-1951).
“For more than forty years, spectacular car races on ice as well as skijoring (skiers towed behind cars) fascinated the people at Zell am See,” notes Ferdinand Porsche. “Even before World War I, there was an ice race for motorbikes on the lake. During the 1950s, the event evolved into what we today think about, when we hear about skijoring.
“The first skijoring competition in remembrance of my great-grandfather Dr. Ferdinand Porsche took place on 10 February 1952. Four years later, the event was renamed “In memoriam Prof. Dr. h.c. Ferdinand Porsche”, now featuring ice races for motorbikes and cars. The event was not won by a Porsche – but by a DKW. In a couple of weeks, we will bring back this legendary event from obscurity, newly interpreted as “GP Ice Race”.”
Porsche celebrities from far and wide will attend the event, but, in keeping with the original ice racing ethos, there is no special treatment for the big names. “There are no VIP tickets for paddocks and boxes only for privileged visitors,” said Ice Race ambassador and motorsport legend, Hans-Joachim Stuck. “At our event, the ticket is also really close to the action and the stars.”
Other big names from racing and rallying include Walter Rörhl, Richard Lietz, Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas, Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Jochi Kleint. The two-day program features show rides of celebrity riders, traditional skijoring, where skiers are pulled across the snow by racing cars, the competition of current racing and rally vehicles and demo rides of historic motorsport cars such as Otto Mathé’s original Furhmann-engined “Fetzenflieger”, now owned by the Hamburg Automobile Museum PROTOTYP.
Automobile Museum PROTOTYP founder and director, Oliver Schmidt, will be piloting the Fetzenflieger on the demanding track and is already looking forward to the race: “Otto Mathé won this event four times with his famous monoposto in the 1950s, so of course expectations are high! Whether I can equal the performance of the true “Ice King” will be seen at the show rides on Saturday and Sunday afternoon but either way it will be a lot of fun for everyone!”
Zell am See: GP Ice Race Event Schedule
Saturday January 19 2019
11:00 AM Opening event area
12:00 AM Start of the event
1:00 PM GP Ice Karting, Qualification & Day final runs
4:00 PM Show races & specials
4:30 PM Qualification & Day final runs
8:20 PM Show races & specials
8:50 PM GP Charity Ice Karting, Qualification & Day final runs
10:00PM Pit Lane Night
Sunday January 20 2019
7:30 AM Opening event area
8:30 AM GP Charity Ice Karting, Qualification & Day final runs
15:10 PM Show races & specials
15:40 PM Day final runs, Final runs & Award ceremony
Last year’s Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship experienced the biggest format changes since the series began in 2003. Chief amongst these changes was the introduction of reverse grids.
How reverse grids work in Carrera Cup GB
Porsche Carrera Cup GB weekends are run as part of the support package for British Touring Car Championship rounds. Drivers are split into three categories based on pace and experience: Pro, Pro-Am and Am. There is an additional Rookie class for drivers new to the series. Reverse grids affect the Pro category.
There are two races in each Carrera Cup GB weekend. The start order for race 1 is set by the qualifying times: fastest man starts from pole. However, the start order for race 2 is determined by a combination of the finish order of the first race and a ball picked at random on the race 1 podium.
The podium balls are numbered 4, 5 and 6. The number selected dictates how many of the leading pack will have their grid positions reversed for the start of race 2.
The first race of the 2018 season was held on the Brands Hatch Indy circuit in early April. The weather was wet, making conditions interesting for the drivers, including the sole non-Brit, Cypriot Tio Ellinas, who started the season with Slidesports Engineering/DVF Racing. Ellinas qualified fourth overall, behind polesitter, Dino Zamparelli. As a mark of just how tight this series is, the top fourteen cars were separated by less than one second.
Ellinas passed George Gamble and Lewis Plato in the race to come home second overall. So the top six finishing order for race 1 was Zamparelli, Ellinas, Plato, Gamble, Orton, Wrigley. Three of the top six positions were claimed by cars from Joe Tandy Racing.
On the podium, Zamparelli chose the number 5 ball, which reversed the order of the top 5 race 1 finishers for the race 2 grid, giving a start order of Orton, Gamble, Plato, Ellinas, Zamparelli and Wrigley. Ellinas again made it from fourth to second just ahead of Zamparelli at the chequered flag. Zamparelli came away from round 1 as series leader with Joe Tandy Racing leading the teams.
Porsche Carrera Cup GB 2018 results
After one of the tightest championships in recent history, it was Ellinas who emerged as 2018 Porsche Carrera Cup GB champion. The Cypriot won only one race, but finished every race of the season in the points and claimed podiums in 13 out of 16 races. Joe Tandy Racing took the team championship.
Carrera Cup GB changes in 2019
For 2019, the reverse grids stay but there is a further refinement to the grid system to allow race 1 non-finishers to start behind the last finisher in their category, as opposed to starting at the back of the grid. Fastest race lap earns a point for the drivers in each category.
Carrera Cup GB prize money and bonus Porsches
Teams and drivers compete for a prize fund totalling almost £350,000 through the season, with additional prizes for the winningest teams. The series champion wins £40,000, with the top rookie coming away with £35,000. Points are weighted in favour of the race 1 result (winner gets 12 vs 10 points) and the prize money is weighted in a similar way. A win in race 1 nets £1700, while a win in race 2 earns £1300.
Winning drivers in each category get the use of a Porsche for a year, while the team champions get the use of a Cayenne for a year. This will help them get to the events spread all across the UK with an additional race weekend on Europe. Last year’s European round was held at Le Mans, while the 2019 euro road trip will be to Spa or Monza, sometime in May.
It is interesting that the drivers and team managers are required to pass an online test at the start of each season, and drivers are selected at random to do more tests throughout the year. There is also random breathalyser testing through the year, with zero tolerance enforced. More of my motorcycle touring pals have been reporting early morning random roadside breath testing in effect across Europe also: a good thing, in my opinion.
Mobil 1 The Grid did a nice piece on Nick Tandy’s work to keep Joe Tandy Racing at the sharp end of the grid in Carrera Cup GB including interviews with Nick, Tio Ellinas and Lewis Plato (no relation to Jason). Watch that below:
Porsche has unveiled its new Cayman GT4 Clubsport, which features a small amount of natural fibre bodywork. The move is in tune with Stuttgart’s aims to increase the use of sustainable, renewable materials following a 2015 Sustainability Report which showed Porsche had increased its use of fossil fuels and electrical power through the year.
Porsche says that 718 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport is the first ever production race car to feature body parts made of natural-fibre composite material. Both doors and the rear wing are made of an organic fibre mix, sourced primarily from agricultural by-products such as flax or hemp fibres and feature similar properties to carbon fibre in terms of weight and stiffness.
Three panels on a car doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a start. The technology obviously exists to do more, as demonstrated by Swiss firm BComp, whose partnership with the Electric GT sustainable racing project was announced back in 2017.
Bcomp’s proprietary material is a high-performance, cost-efficient product that can replace or reinforce carbon fibre and other engineering materials. It is said to cut up to 40% weight with no change in performance. The natural fibre composite bodywork developed by Bcomp can also be embedded with LED lighting to act as an information screen while the cars go around the circuit.
Bcomp’s powerRib and ampliTex reinforcement fabrics have been used throughout the sports and leisure markets, in products such as skis, snowboards, surfboards, canoes and guitars. Bcomp has also collaborated with the European Space Agency ESA on the development of lightweight space applications.
Porsche Cayman GT4 Trackday model not available in the UK
The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport comes in two versions ex-works: the Trackday model and the Competition variant for national and international motor racing. The Trackday edition is not available in the UK.
Costing £130,000 (plus 20% UK VAT), the 718 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport Competition model weighs 1,320 kilograms and is powered by a 3.8-litre flat six producing 425 bhp. This is 40 bhp more than the previous model, but it didn’t stop Porsche selling 421 examples of that one over the last three years.
The transmission is a six-speed PDK with mechanical rear diff lock. Suspension is from the GT3 Cup and the bias-adjustable brakes are steel discs all round measuring 380mm in diameter. Air jacks and a fire extinguisher system are fitted as standard. The car comes with a 115-litre fuel tank for endurance events and lengthy Nurburgring sessions.
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