Thanks to our friends over at Agence Dix Sept Media, we have a collection of images from the scrutineering and test days, Enjoy!
The following is the timetable information for the Official ELMS Test session for 11th-13th April
or its third campaign, the series organised by the European Le Mans Series is brimming with entries. Twenty-one cars are expected for Heat 1 of 2022. A large and varied field with thirteen teams from six different countries and drivers ranging in age from 16 to 69! With competitive crews and a support race on the Le Mans 24 Hours circuit in June, the Ligier European Series is gearing up for a memorable season. The action kicks off at the Paul Ricard Circuit in the south of France on 15 and 16 April.
After the first two seasons, the Ligier European Series is ready for take-off with 21 cars at the start of Le Castellet for some thirty drivers who do not intend to make up the numbers. Under the Spirit of Le Mans, the two categories of the series are well-represented, with eleven Ligier JS2 R GTs and ten Ligier JS P4 sport-prototypes.
Enticed by the series’ unique calendar, which features Europe’s best circuits (Le Castellet, Imola, Monza, Spa-Francorchamps, Portimao) as well as the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit, competitors will fight for two titles (JS P4 and JS2 R) rewarded by €250. 000 € in prizes to continue to climb the endurance pyramid (in a Ligier JS P4 for the Ligier JS2 R champion(s), and in the Michelin Le Mans Cup behind the wheel of a Ligier JS P320 for the Ligier JS P4 champion(s)).
Let’s decipher this star-studded entry list!
JS P4 Category
– Nine teams are ready for battle.
– The majority of the teams are going with a two-driver line-up.
– Yvan Muller’s MRacing switches to a Ligier JS P4 with the #53 entered for the 2021 JS2 R champion, Natan Bihel, who continues his development in the endurance pyramid.
– Unbeaten since the series began, the HP Racing Team is going for its third JS P4 title.
– Two JS P4 champions for the HP Racing Team. At the controls of the #12 Ligier JS P4 operated by Eurointernational, 2021 JS P4 champion Jacopo Faccioni shares the cockpit with 2020 JS P4 champion Andrea Dromedari.
– Following its collaboration with HP Racing Team in 2021, Monza Garage this year enters under its proper name with the #23 car for George King and Ronnie Valori.
– Michelin Le Mans Cup and European Le Mans Series regulars, Team Virage comes to the Ligier European Series with a Ligier JS P4 for up-and-coming driver Gillian Henrion.
– Pegasus Racing joins the Ligier European Series with a Ligier JS P4 for Dimitri Enjalbert and Anthony Nahra.
– LR Motorsport also makes its Ligier European Series debut with the #3 car for the tandem of Simone Riccitelli and Nicola Neri, who discovered the discipline during the final round of the 2021 season at Portimao.
– Romanian team Smart Driving joins the series with a Ligier JS P4 for an all-Romanian crew composed of 2021 Radical Champions Alexandru Mirea and Philip Andriescu.
– For the second consecutive year, Les Deux Arbres enters two Ligier JS P4s, including one for Jacques Nicolet.
– The HRC team, which competed in 2020 with a Ligier JS2 R, will race a Ligier JS P4 at Le Castellet.
– Three Ligier JS P4 teams are also entering a Ligier JS2 R.
The first heat of the season gets underway on Friday, 15 April. There will be two 40-minute free practice sessions at 9.30 am and 2 pm, followed by two 15-minute qualifying sessions at 4.20 pm and 4.45 pm. The serious business begins Saturday morning with two one-hour races, the first at 10.50 am and the second at 3 pm.
Both races will be broadcast live on the Ligier European Series YouTube and Facebook channels.
Aston Martin will return to the Pro class of the Fanatec GT World Series Endurance Cup for the first time since 2019, as Beechdean AMR today announced its two-car Aston Martin Vantage GT3 assault on the world’s premier all-GT racing competition in 2022.
As Aston Martin Racing’s longest-serving partner team, Beechdean AMR has extended and expanded its collaboration with the British ultra-luxury sportscar manufacturer this year, with a return to fulltime top-flight international competition and fielding an all-works driver line-up in its Pro class Vantage. This is the first time an Aston Martin has featured an all-works line-up in the top class of the SRO-run series for a full season, and marks a clear statement of intent for a car that has won races at every other significant level of GT racing around the world.
In a return for the famous ‘Dane Train’ #95 Vantage, double FIA World Endurance GT champions Nicki Thiim (DEN) and Marco Sørensen (DEN) will partner up once again for a crack at the GTWC Endurance Cup title as well as target an overall win in the series’ crown jewel – the Total 24 Hours of Spa. Thiim already has a Spa 24H victory to his name, having won the Pro-Am class with TF Sport in 2019. They will be joined by another works driver and the winner of the 2016 event, Maxime Martin (BEL), who also claimed victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Aston Martin in 2020.
In the Pro-Am Gold Cup, team principal, two-time British GT champion and 2016 European Le Mans Series title-winner Andrew Howard (GBR) makes a return to the international arena. Alongside him in the #97 Vantage GT3 and completing a strong line-up, is newly-confirmed Aston Martin works driver Valentin-Hasse Clot (FRA), and his 2020 GT4 European Silver Cup championship-winning team-mate Theo Nouet (FRA).
Hasse-Clot has extensive experience of Vantage, having been an ever-present in Aston Martin partner team line-ups since 2020 at both GT3 and GT4 level, and won the 2021 FFSA GT Silver Cup to add his GT4 European title the previous year. The 26-year-old Parisian also graduated top of class from Aston Martin’s coveted in-house AMR Academy in 2020, following in the footsteps of fellow champions Ross Gunn and Tom Canning.
Andrew Howard, Beechdean AMR team principal, said: “As Aston Martin Racing’s longest-serving partner team, Beechdean AMR has a proud track record of success with Vantage. For me personally, it’s a brand I have always regarded with a strong passion, and this deep emotional tie combined with the ambitions of our team have culminated in Beechdean AMR stepping into the GTWC Endurance Cup. This is the beginning of a new chapter, and together with the help and collaboration of Aston Martin, we intend to demonstrate the full potential of Vantage in the world’s most competitive GT series.”
Huw Tasker, Head of AMR Partner Racing, said: “The GTWC is very much unfinished business for Aston Martin, and while we have had competitive Pro entries in the series previously, for one reason or another, Vantage has not always enjoyed the success it deserves. With Beechdean AMR, and a superb driver line-up in both cars, we hope and expect to see a step forward in terms of consistent competitiveness and results. Beechdean AMR is our longest-serving partner and one we have always enjoyed close ties with, so we will of course support the team’s endeavours in any way that we can to ensure that Vantage establishes itself firmly as a competitive option in the world’s most highly-contested GT division.”
The five-round GTWC Endurance Cup begins this weekend with a three-hour race at Imola in Italy on 3 April, before moving on to the Paul Ricard 1000km race in the south of France on 5 June. The TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa follows on the weekend of 30-31 July. Germany’s Hockenheim has been added to the calendar for a three-hour race on 2-4 September before the traditional season finale at Barcelona on 2 October.
Sunday’s race begins at 1500 CET and can be followed via the gt-world-challenge.com website and the SRO’s official YouTube channel.
The Aston Martin Vantage claimed a glorious GTE-Am class one-two finish and a maiden Sebring success at the opening round of the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship in a dramatic, weather-shortened, 1000 Miles of Sebring on Friday.
The NorthWest AMR Vantage GTE, driven by team owner and 2017 world champion Paul Dalla Lana (CDN), works driver Nicki Thiim (DEN) and David Pittard (GBR) ran at the front for most of the 8-hour race, and thus were in prime position to capitalise when local weather warnings forced a red flag and an early halt to the contest. It meant the #98 crew claimed their first FIA WEC win with the turbocharged V8-powered Vantage while last year’s GTE Am Championship runners-up TF Sport, in another Vantage, finished second.
The result marked a superb WEC return for Thiim, who is back in the series fulltime for the first time since clinching the GTE Pro title in 2020, while for Dalla Lana it marked a 17th career win, moving him to third in the all-time WEC class wins list. For Pittard it was the perfect debut on the world stage as Aston Martin scored a 50th class win in FIA WEC competition.
Aston Martin Racing’s three FIA WEC partner teams, D’station Racing, NorthWest AMR and TF Sport all returned to Sebring having shown promising speed during the previous weekend’s official ‘Prologue’ at the Florida circuit. That potential was emphasised further when Ben Keating (USA) put the #33 TF Sport Vantage GTE he shares with works driver Marco Sørensen (DEN) and Florian Latorre (FRA) on the category pole position. AMR NorthWest’s Dalla Lana completed an Aston Martin class ‘front row’ with second position.
When Friday afternoon’s race began, however, it was Dalla Lana who took just a handful of laps to assume the lead and he swiftly began to pull out a significant advantage. He and co-drivers Pittard and Thiim – a two-time WEC GTE Pro champion – extended the lead to over a minute, only to see it wiped out in the fourth hour when the race was stopped for an accident. When racing resumed the trio set about re-establishing their cushion, and were rarely troubled at the head of the field after that.
Pittard, on his FIA WEC debut, was himself 45 seconds clear when a second stoppage – this time to observe local laws to protect corner workers from the threat of lightning – again decimated that lead with just over an hour to go. As the threat of lightning continued to linger though, green-flag running never resumed, and a result was declared with 20 minutes of the planned eight hours remaining.
“It was a very good day at the office. I’m so proud of Paul,” said Thiim. “He put in a fantastic double-stint, which set-up the victory for us in many ways. We had two red flags, which didn’t help, but that’s part of the game and we brought it home. It feels really good to win in WEC again and it’s a nice way to start the 2022 series.”
Joining NorthWest AMR on the podium were TF Sport, who played a clever tactical game; waiting until the final phase of the race to put two-time FIA GT WEC Champion Sørensen aboard its Vantage GTE, giving Keating and Latorre the early driving responsibilities. Getting behind the wheel in third place with two hours remaining, the Dane closed a nearly 30-second gap to the second-place car in just half an hour and overtook for the runner-up spot just five minutes before the red flags were shown.
D’station Racing impressively made it three Vantage GTEs inside the top six as its trio of Satoshi Hoshino (JPN), Tomonobu Fujii (JPN) and Charlie Fagg (GBR) produced an impressive run of its own.
The following day the spotlight shone on partner teams competing in the oldest event on the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship calendar, the 12 Hours of Sebring. Magnus Racing, in only its second event with the Vantage GT3, looked likely to challenge for a repeat of the GTD class podium finish the team recorded in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.
Running inside the top five and only 10 seconds from the lead at the eight-hour mark, Andy Lally (USA) suffered minor contact with another car; a resultant spin and slow puncture leading to an unscheduled pitstop for fresh tyres. He, Spencer Pumpelly (USA) and John Potter (USA) finished sixth.
The Heart of Racing also showed great promise with Alex Riberas (ESP) qualifying the #23 Vantage GT3 fourth in GTD Pro, but he and works drivers Maxime Martin (BEL) and Ross Gunn (GBR) suffered an early issue that ultimately led to a retirement. GTD competitors Ian James (GBR), Roman De Angelis (CDN) and Tom Gamble (GBR) ran well inside the top-10 for the first two hours, but then had to go ‘behind the wall’ themselves; the trio taking 15th at the flag.
Earlier in the weekend, Aston Martin surged into the lead of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Manufacturers’ Championship thanks to a battling second-place finish by the Volt Racing Vantage GT4 driven by Trent Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson. Their result in the two-hour race at Sebring also put the pair into a tie for the lead of the Drivers’ Championship and Volt into a similar position in the Teams’ standings. NTE Sport’s Josh Hurley and Manny Franco scored their best-ever finish in 10th while Automatic Racing’s Ramin Abdolvahabi and Rob Ecklin were second in the Bronze Cup.
Huw Tasker, Head of Customer Racing, said: “This is great start to the season for Vantage. To record a historic 50th win in WEC, take second place, and secure pole position, is about as good as it can get, and this is exactly the right tone to set for the season ahead. We’re pleased for Paul Dalla Lana, who has waited a long time to secure a victory with this version of the Vantage GTE. And Ben Keating ran him hard all the way; both look like they will be title contenders this season. Speaking of which, it was great to be here to see the Volt Lightning Vantage GT4 record another podium in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, which put Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman to the top of the standings.”
The FIA WEC series now moves on to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, on Saturday, 7 May, while the next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes place at Long Beach on Sunday, 10 April.