This weekend held one of the biggest events in international GT racing, or at the very least, one of the major fan favorites. The Bathurst 12 at Mount Panorama is certainly one of my favorite events of the year, and this year was no less exciting than it has been for years. International GT3 racing is some of the best racing anywhere in the world, perhaps only beat out by WEC LMP1 racing. Either way, this was a great race. Oh, there was also a great Formula E race in Argentina, some F1 cars were launched, the full Le Mans entry list was released, and some Porsche news hit the presses.
Normally people don’t think of January and February as ‘the racing season’, but we’ve already seen three major international endurance races, not to mention lots of news bits making headlines. Sit up and pay attention, people! Just be aware of the fact that this post is filled with spoilers. Giant carbon-fiber, multi-element, DRS-equipped, Gurney-flapped, Spoilers!
Bathurst 12 Hours: Chiyo Vs. SVG Edition
Formula E’s Buenos Aires EPRIX Brings Electric To The Heart Of Fossil Fuel Country
Renault Shows Off Their New F1 Car, It’s Yellow And Black… SURPRISE!
Full Le Mans Entry List Released, Viper Nowhere To Be Seen
Walkinshaw Set To Run Factory Backed Porsche [ed. note – !!!!!]
Porsche Crashes A 919 In Testing, Says It’s No Biggie
Vague Condition Update On Schumacher
Tinknell Speaks Up About Nissan LMP1 Effort
Bathurst 12 Hour Race
After a convincing qualifying session that saw Kiwi Shane Van Gisbergen grab pole position, setting a new lap record at the mountain that was nearly two and a half seconds, the following day saw an equally exciting race in which Van Gisbergen closed the 12 hours out in the car and managed to secure victory by just 1.5 seconds over the Nissan GT-R GT3 driven at the time by Katsumasa Chiyo.
Van Gisbergen, teamed with Alvaro Parente and Jonathon Webb, nabbed the victory in their #59 Tekno Autosport McLaren 650S GT3. In for the start of the race, SVG stormed out to a lead that saw him setting another new lap record during the race (A 2:01.567 lap is blisteringly quick). Parente and Webb did their stints, generally keeping the Macca near the front. Parente lost about 40 seconds to a system failure that saw the car sit idle until a system reset could be implemented. After Van Gisbergen got into the car for the final stint of the race, he immediately incurred a drive-through penalty for pit lane speeding, dropping him back almost a full lap. A few laps later, a full-course caution was called, and Van Gisbergen was able to bunch up to the rest of the field and reel them in once the race went green again. Once into the lead, he stretched the gap out to over 15 seconds, and everything looked like smooth sailing. That is, until Katsumasa Chiyo found his way around the traffic that was in front of him to get into second place in the GT-R. Once he was in second, Chiyo set about cutting into SVG’s lead. Slamming things home with fastest lap after fastest lap, Chiyo was gaining at a rate of 2-3 seconds per lap. On the final lap, SVG lost nearly 7 seconds of his lead, and Chiyo crossed the line just over a second behind. Van Gisbergen says he ‘had the GT-R covered’ and that seems evident by the fact that the Kiwi was waving out the driver’s side window as he drove down the ‘Conrod’ straight at over 170 miles per hour on the final lap. If you’re going to win, win in style, I suppose. Chiyo was teamed with Rick Kelly and Florian Strauss. The winning car drove a full 297 laps of the circuit, and spent less than 20 minutes in the pits.
The GT Motorsport Audi R8 LMS won the Class A Amateur class with Taylor, Mawer, and Antunes on board. Class B was won by the Grove Hire Porsche 997 GT3 Cup of Grove, McLaughlin, and last year’s Le Mans overall winner Earl Bamber. The Invitational class was won by the MARC Cars Australia Focus V8 of Camilleri, Haber, and Seton.
Buenos Aires EPRIX
Pole winner Sam Bird converted his front start position into a victory at Saturday’s Formula E race in Venezuela, one of the world’s most fossil fuel dependent economies. This was DS Virgin’s first race victory of the season in a race that saw absolutely zero race lead changes in an exciting sprint to the finish. Bird saw pressure from Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi in the second half of the race, but he managed to keep them at bay. Buemi grabbed his fourth podium from four consecutive races on the season, extending his drivers’ points lead. Buemi’s teammate Nico Prost finished in third, further securing Renault E.dams’ lead in the teams’ championship.
Renault’s New F1 Car
After leaving F1 a few years ago to the various “Lotus” teams, Lotus ran out of money and sold the team back to Renault for one dollar/euro/pound. This week, they debuted their 2016 F1 contender, the Renault RS16. The car will be driven by Jolyon Palmer and Kevin Magnussen.
Le Mans Entry List
LMP1: Two Porsches, Two Audis, Two Toyotas, Two Rebellions, and one ByKolles.
LMP2: Extreme Speed is running two Ligiers (The entry list says Nissan power, but that has to be a typo, right? Honda?), Tracy Krohn got an entry, Mike Shank got an entry, G-Drive switches to Oreca chassis.
LMGTE-Pro: Three Porsches, Two Astons, Three Ferrari 488s, Two Corvettes, and FOUR FORD GTS!
LMGTE-Am: A Corvette C7, a Corvette C6 (!?), Five Ferrari 458s, Three Astons, and Three Porsches.
Reserve List (in order): Greaves Motorsport LMP2, Algarve Pro Racing LMP2, JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 GTE Am, Courage LMP2, Pegasus Racing LMP2, OAK Racing LMP2, Riley Motorsports Viper GTE Am, Dragonspeed LMP2, Proton Competition Porsche GTE Am, Team AAI Corvette C6 GTE Am.
Remember, Tracy Krohn has an entry to Le Mans, but Ben Keating doesn’t. There is a Corvette that hasn’t been run by the factory for two years, but a Viper that lead the class last year is relegated to 7th alternate.
For the full list, check out Motorsport.com
Porsche LMP1 Crashed In Testing At Abu Dhabi
Porsche was in the middle of a four day private test at Abu Dhabi when Marc Lieb damaged a suspension mounting point on the chassis of his 2016 spec 919 Hybrid by crashing at turn 19 of Yas Marina’s circuit on Tuesday. Porsche flew in a new chassis, which was rebuilt on Wednesday, and they were back testing on Thursday. LMP1 team boss Andreas Seidl says “It was not ideal, but we were able to make up for the lost day.” The team claims they ran just a bit more than 1250 miles during the truncated test session. More at Racer.com.
Tom Walkinshaw And Porsche, Sitting In A Tree…
The Tom Walkinshaw Racing brand is well integrated with the history of Porsche, as they designed the chassis of the Porsche-engined WSC-95 that won Le Mans in 1996 and 1997. TWR has more recently been running a pair of Holdens in V8 Supercars, and starting this year, they will add a Porsche GT3.R to their stable for work in the Australian GT Championship. No word yet on whether this is a one-car or two-car effort, who will be driving, or at which round the car will debut. Watch this space.
Michael Schumacher Condition, According To Luca
“I have news and unfortunately it is not good,” Luca di Montezemolo told reporters on Thursday.
What Harry Tincknell has to say about Nissan GT-R LM NISMO LMP1
This piece on Motorsport.com was interesting, and you should read it.
[Photos: Bathurst Photos from Bathurst12Hour.com, Formula E photos from FormulaE.com, Porsche LMP1 photo from Romain Dumas’ Instagram]