SEPANG 12 HOURS

GIANMARIA BRUNI TAKES POLE POSITION FOR SEPANG 12 HOURS

They had already dominated the free practice sessions and now the #1 Clearwater Racing Ferrari will start the 2015 Sepang 12 Hours from pole position as well. In the top-15 shootout Gianmaria Bruni beat Laurens Vanthoor in the #17 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi by just over two tenths of a second. The second row of the grid will be shared by the #55 FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren and the #11 Singha Motorsport Team Ferrari. Mitchell Gilbert (#69 Team Fydis Aylezo Lamborghini) took pole in the GTC class, with Grant Johnson (#602 Jim Hunter Motorsport Subaru) edging to the front of the Touring Car division.

The Clearwater Racing Ferrari – winner of the last two editions of the Sepang 12 Hours – was always going to be one of the contenders for the overall win in the 2015 edition of the Asian endurance classic, but the performances of Weng Sun Mok, Matt Griffin, James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni during the different sessions of the event now surely promote them to the position of number one favourite.

The Italian ex-F1-driver had the honour of taking the wheel of the #1 Ferrari during the top-15 shootout and Bruni had little trouble to claim the top spot with his first quick lap. Both Nobuteru Taniguchi (#35 Team AAI – HubAuto Mercedes) and Laurens Vanthoor (#17 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi) came close though, but whereas the Belgian preferred to stay out and have another go (without success), the SLS-driver pitted with a tyre problem, which had to be solved by the team. Allowed under the rules, but they also stipulate that Taniguchi now had to forfeit his lap time and start all over again. He clocked another fast lap, but could not get higher than sixth. That promoted the #55 FFF Racing Team by ACM McLaren of Alvaro Parente to third, a mere six hundredths of a second in front of the #11 Singha Motorsport Team Ferrari of Carlo Van Dam.

Three cars from the GTC-class managed to get into the top-15 shootout and of those three, the #69 Team Fydis Aylezo Lamborghini was clearly the quickest. Mitchell Gilbert beat the #26 B-Quick Racing Audi of Peter Kox by over two seconds, confirming the car’s performances from the free practice sessions. In the Touring Car division, the duel between Toyota and Subaru went in favour of the latter, when Grant Johnson edged in front with only seconds to spare in the main qualifying session. The gap between his #602 Jim Hunter Motorsport Subaru and the #86 Wing Hin Motorsport Toyota of Kenny Lee was only half a tenth of a second.

Teams and drivers can now start their final preparations for the Sepang 12 Hours, which will start at noon (UTC+8) on Saturday. Live streaming is available onsepang12hours.com or check your TV listings to watch one of the many networks that will broadcast the race live.

Motorsport Memories 2016 F1 Calendar “Mediterraneo”

Presenting the 2016 theme: Mediterraneo – Gran Premio in Monte Carlo

Available for Order Online

The Monaco Grand Prix is the crown jewel of Formula One motor racing. It was part of the inaugural Formula One World Championship season.

The 1950 Monaco Grand Prix was won by Juan Manuel Fangio in his Alfa Romeo. Jack Brabham scored his maiden grand prix win here on board a green Cooper in 1959. In 1961, Stirling Moss won in his Lotus over a trio of shark-nose Ferrari 156 led by Californian Richie Ginther. Three American drivers were in the top five in this race.

Patrick Depailler, Riccardo Patrese, Olivier Panis and Jarno Trulli all scored their maiden grand prix wins in Monte Carlo.

Graham Hill was the original “Mr. Monaco.” His five race wins here were matched by Michael Schumacher, and surpassed only by Ayrton Senna.

Carefully selected images from the archives of Grand Prix Photo are accompanied by informative captions to enhance your enthusiasm of grand prix racing’s rich history.

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WTCC

FURTHER WORLD TITLES FOR CITROËN AND JOSÉ MARÍA LÓPEZ

Sebastien Loeb, Yvan Muller, Yves Matton and Jose Maria Lopez, portrait during the FIA Prize Giving 2015 on December 4th 2015, at Paris, France. Photo Jean Michel Le Meur / DPPIConcluding the 2015 motorsport season, the FIA Prize-Giving ceremony saw this year’s World Champions receive their official awards, including José María López and Citroën. Yves Matton, Citroën Racing Team Principal, took time to talk to us about the successful defences of these two WTCC titles and recent news. 

Like last year, Citroën monopolised the FIA WTCC World Championship podium…
“You could even say it’s a shame that the podium doesn’t have four steps, as we secured a clean sweep of the top-four places, with José María López, Yvan Muller, Sébastien Loeb and Ma Qing Hua! It’s a historic result, something that has never been achieved before in the WTCC or the PSA Peugeot Citroën group. In winning 21 races out of 24, the team set a new record for the total number of points scored in one season. In the Drivers’ championship, Pechito López also broke or equalled several records. It cannot be overemphasized, however, that it’s a real team effort. There are the drivers, the engineers and the mechanics, but there are also people behind the scenes, whose work often goes unseen. It is equally worth pointing out that this is Citroën’s fifteenth world title, after those obtained in cross-country rallying and the WRC.”

The recent FIA World Motor Sport Council introduced changes in the WTCC regulations. How do you feel about these new features?
“Some of the changes, like the MAC3 (Manufacturers Against the Clock time-trial concept) or the concept of an opening race and a main race are at least attempts to explore new ideas. But we’ll have to wait and see if, after a few meetings, these changes really add anything in terms of media coverage and interest, excitement or suspense. We are obviously not in agreement as regards the new rules for weight compensation, which have been drawn up principally to penalise the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs. The system in force for the last few years seemed to be satisfactory to the various parties. But instead of complaining, I would rather see this change as yet further evidence of the exceptionally high standards set by the team, the car and the drivers. We are now concentrating fully on the 2016 season; everyone is motivated to work even harder, stay ahead of our rivals and keep on winning. We’ll certainly be looking to defend our titles.”

The last few weeks have seen many reactions to the end of Citroën and Sébastien Loeb’s working relationship. What can you say to the fans who don’t seem to understand?
“Intense media scrutiny and the search for sensational stories can sometimes overstate and distort reactions. Seb wasn’t ‘fired’, as has been suggested in some quarters. He is stiIl part of the PSA Peugeot Citroën group and his new challenge with Peugeot Sport is not some sort of plan B, in view of his exceptional career. He chose to commit himself fully to the Rally Dakar adventure and we’ll be following his progress with great interest! There’s no denying that this undoubtedly marks the end of a great chapter in the history of Citroën Racing. Our sense of nostalgia will shortly give way to recollection of some great memories. On a personal level, I’m proud and happy to have worked alongside Seb at various stages of his career with Citroën.”

The PSA Peugeot Citroën group recently announced the appointment of Jean-Marc Finot as Director of the Motorsport Centre of Excellence. What impact will this have on your role?
“Effective on 1 January 2016, Jean-Marc Finot will oversee the grouping together of the group’s motorsport activities for the three brands. By September 2016, we will all be working at the Versailles Satory site. The motorsport entries will then be managed by Xavier Mestelan for DS Performance and me for Citroën Racing. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Xavier on his appointment. We have experienced and enjoyed some great times together, both in WRC and WTCC, and his expertise shall be invaluable on the Formula E circuits. I will also hold a role as representative of the PSA Group on motorsport development matters. That means I will be the point of contact with the governing bodies, the championship promoters and the other manufacturers in working groups on category development and the future of motorsport. Output from this forward-looking approach will feed into discussions at PSA Peugeot Citroën about the group’s current and future involvement in motorsport.”

FORMULA 1

RENAULT ANNOUNCES RETURN TO FORMULA 1 IN 2016

  • Carlos Ghosn announces his decision that Renault will return to Formula 1 with its own team for 2016 season.
  • Renault, 12-time Constructors’ Champion with nearly 40 years in the sport, is an iconic brand in Formula 1 and intends to play an active role in the sport’s development.
  • F1 is a technology showcase and accelerates development of Renault’s innovation and range of sports cars.

Following the September announcement of the signing of a Letter of Intent with Lotus, teams at Renault continued to evaluate the possibility of a return to Formula 1. Particular attention was paid to competing successfully with its own team in a financially sound way starting in 2016.

“Renault had two options: to come back at 100 percent or leave. After a detailed study, I have decided that Renault will be in Formula 1, starting 2016. The final details supplied by F1’s main stakeholders gave us the confidence to accept this new challenge. Our ambition is to win–even if it will take some time,” said Carlos Ghosn, Chairman and CEO, Renault.

As a full team, Renault will take maximum benefit from its victories. The payback as an engine supplier proved to be limited. The return on the investment necessitated by the new engine regulations and the return in terms of image were low.

Work continues on finalizing the terms of the acquisition of the Lotus F1 Team in the shortest timeframe possible. The principal contracts were signed on December 3, 2015. The Lotus F1 Team effectively stands out as the best partner. Renault and Lotus F1 have known each other for 15 years and were world champions together in 2005 and 2006.

Renault has had uninterrupted involvement in Formula 1 for almost 40 years. In 1977, it revolutionised the championship with the introduction of turbocharging, a technique that soon became the norm in the sport. Renault has since taken part in more than 600 grand prix, claiming 168 race wins, 12 Constructors’ titles and 11 Drivers’ crowns.

Renault’s decision to continue its involvement in Formula 1 is confirmation that it sees motorsport as an essential part of the brand’s identity. Formula 1 is the ultimate symbol of the passion for automobiles. Passion defines Renault as expressed by its brand signature, ‘Passion for Life’. In addition to attracting many customers, Formula 1 also fuels employee motivation. As the pinnacle of motor sport, Formula 1 demands technological and operational excellence. The championship serves as a showcase for the technological expertise that Renault dials into its products for the benefit of its customers.

Formula 1 is a means for Renault to accelerate development and remain at the forefront of the sport’s technological progress. It simultaneously allows Renault to build bridges between the advanced technologies seen in the world championship and its road cars, particularly in the fields of electric and hybrid vehicles. Consistent with its commitment to F1, Renault will develop its R.S. range by stepping up investment in order to be active on every continent and in even more segments with vehicles that meet the needs of their different markets.

Formula 1 serves to promote awareness of the Renault brand and its image in all its markets across the world. Formula 1 is one of the sports that enjoys the most media coverage worldwide thanks to a following on five continents, particularly in emerging markets. It attracts 450 million television viewers annually and its scope for growth is enormous thanks to opportunities founded on new technologies, social networks, video games, etc. that have yet to be fully exploited.

In January, we will provide more detailed information about Renault’s F1 programme ahead of the 2016 championship that begins next March.

 

F1Weekly podcast # 694

Clark and Nasir gear up for the end of another Formula 1 season and go over the predictable results of the Brazilian Grand Prix. We have a terrific Motorsports Mondial and 50 words from the F1W Forum. And for your enjoyment a few words from pastor Madonado about his first lap in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix!

Pastor Maldonado:
“It’s sad to end the race in the first corner because we were looking good for the race. Today we had a good strategy to go with our better race pace, but anyway this is racing and it can happen. I didn’t see the contact I just felt it in the back of the car from Fernando. I tried to restart but then I saw the suspension damage. Imagine if that incident had been the other way round, it would’ve been big news then!”

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GP3

PALOU TAKES MAIDEN WIN AS OCON IS CROWNED 2015 GP3 CHAMPION

On top of the world! ART Grand Prix and Mercedes junior Esteban Ocon clinched the GP3 crown today at the season finale in Abu Dhabi by finishing in third place, to take the title by eight points from Trident’s Luca Ghiotto. It was also celebration time for Campos Racing rookie Alex Palou who pocketed his debut GP3 win ahead of Carlin and Ferrari Academy Driver Antonio Fuoco.
Palou started from reverse pole alongside Fuoco, but all eyes were on fourth and fifth place on the grid, with Ghiotto starting one position ahead of his title challenger. Ocon had a six point advantage in the Drivers’ Standings with the Italian knowing a win was a must if Ocon was on the rostrum.

It was a clean getaway from the 24 drivers: Palou retained the lead ahead of Fuoco and it was Ocon who made one his traditional good starts. The Frenchman was in the middle of Ghiotto and Koiranen GP’s Matthew Parry (the Brit making a lightning getaway) and made brief contact with them both down the straight and into T1. The trio continued as the fight was on with so much to play for…

Ghiotto quickly passed Parry and set after Ocon knowing he had to finish ahead of him to keep his title hopes alive. Meanwhile at the front Palou was driving a calm and confident race and increasing the deficit back to Fuoco in P2.

On lap six, Jimmy Eriksson joined the fun and he was on the rear of Ghiotto’s Trident machine. At this point, Ghiotto began to fall away ever so slightly from Ocon and more into the clutches of the eager Swede. Palou began to increase his pace up front, while Ghiotto appeared not to be able to match the pace of Ocon in third.
On lap 10 of 14, Ghiotto was almost seven seconds behind race leader Palou and was busy holding off the advances of Eriksson for fourth. Arden International’s Emil Bernstorff also joined the fray in the closing laps as he was hot on the tail of the Koiranen GP star; but he was unable to clear him before the chequered flag.
A jubilant Palou crossed the line for not only his maiden podium in the category, but also his first victory which he achieved by over 4s. It was also the first win for Campos Racing in their debut season – queue smiles all round! Fuoco in second was pleased to return to the rostrum, with the biggest round of applause going to the newly crowned Champion, Ocon, in third who literally bounced his way onto the podium in front of his overjoyed ART Grand Prix crew.
2015 GP3 Series runner-up Ghiotto finished in fourth ahead of Eriksson, Bernstorff, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Pal Varhaug. Kirchhöfer edged Bernstorff in the Drivers’ Standings to finish third overall this season by six points.
ART GP did the double with both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles wrapped up; and it was Trident who finished runner-up, just ahead of Arden International.
After a superb nine rounds of yet another enthralling GP3 Series season, the action resumes next week on the 02-03-04 December for post-season testing at the Yas Marina Circuit.

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast