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Archive for November, 2011

Cyrus EngineerCyrus Engineer took his maiden victory in the Junior Rotax class and now heads the points standings after a positive season opener at Al Ain Raceway in the UAE (30 September).

The venue for the 2011 Rotax Grand Finals hosted the UAE Nationals’ curtain raiser with more than 70 contestants and the Mumbai-born teenager had to contend with not just a strong field of competitors, but also the sweltering 40 degree heat.

In the preliminaries – timed qualifying followed by heats and Pre-final– Cyrus recorded the 4th fastest time before taking 2nd and 4th place finishes. His aggregate scores gave him a second row starting grid place for the final.

Cyrus had to start from P4, on the outside line of the two rows of karts. As the race began to find its rhythm, the youngster had become part of a 4-kart breakaway group disputing the lead.

Keeping a cool head, Cyrus worked his way up the order and with just two laps remaining swept past the race leader and held his advantage to the finishing line. He said: “As soon as I caught up with the race leader I positioned myself on his tail and put him under pressure for the next few laps. It paid off when he ran wide and I had the opportunity to overtake him cleanly. From there I held it together until the chequered flag.”

Cyrus’ Team Manager – Richie McLeod couldn’t hide his delight: “It’s fantastic that Cyrus came through to win from the back of a quality-packed group.”

McLeod added: “He was composed and focused and that helped him put together some high-quality, decisive passing moves. All of which combined brilliantly to result in a clean victory for Cyrus and the ‘RacePrep’ team.”

he next round of the Championship takes Cyrus to the Dubai Kartdrome on 14th October where he is hoping to capitalize on his excellent start. Keep track of Cyrus on www.cyrusengineer.com.

Shahaan EngineerMumbai-born Shahaan Engineer has underlined his position as India’s best young hope for a future career in the FIA Formula One World Championship after making a major impression on the Formula Renault UK Championship’s six race ‘Finals Series’.

Undertaking his car racing debut in what has widely been regarded as the most competitive Finals Series (formerly the Winter Series) in the category’s history, the 16-year-old karting graduate was the only single-seater rookie and the youngest driver on the near-capacity 29-car grid at Snetterton (5/6 November) and Rockingham (12 November) but shone with a series of excellent performances.

Joining Formula Renault UK’s top team Fortec Motorsports for his maiden campaign, Shahaan picked up his pace throughout testing ahead of the first four rounds of the Finals Series at Snetterton 300 Circuit and stunned the paddock in his maiden qualifying session with the eighth fastest time.

In spite of an unfortunate grid penalty for rounds one and two, due to yellow flags being shown at the time he set his best lap, Shahaan raced through the order brilliantly and outperformed drivers with experience of Formula Renault UK, Eurocup Formula Renault, Formula BMW and Formula Ford.

Serving up tremendous overtaking moves in horrendous wet conditions, far belying his inexperience, the talented Indian newcomer finished 13th in his first race – out of 29 competitors – and then took 14th place in race two.

During rounds three and four on the second day at Snetterton, he secured a pair of top 12 finishes to cap a superb first ever weekend in cars. More than that, both results were achieved despite starting way down the order in an uncharacteristic 26th position in each instance due to missing the entirety of the second qualifying session because of a faulty wiring loom.

Moving on to the incredibly challenging Rockingham International Super Sports Car Circuit this past weekend for rounds five and six, Shahaan quickly got up to speed once more with qualifying again taking place in tough, damp conditions along with the added complication of early fog.

Racing through to 14th position in the first race to post his fifth points-scoring finish from five starts, Shahaan eclipsed all of his previous outings in the last round of the championship by climbing his way into ninth place and on course for a truly memorable conclusion to the Finals Series.

India’s freshest motor racing star on fast track to success…
Matching podium finishing pace, the teenager lapped with a best time of 1m17.955 seconds as he reeled in the cars ahead but on lap 14 – with only three further laps remaining in the race – Shahaan was unfortunately punished heavily for the smallest of errors with a disappointing retirement.

Building in confidence all the time and eager to push for an even better result than ninth, at the exit of the fifth corner he just caught one of the remaining damp patches on the track and was powerless to prevent his car spinning off onto the infield.

“I just pushed a bit too hard trying to catch the cars in front”, he said after round six, “I wanted a bit more than ninth place as the pace was really good and I felt really comfortable with the car. The adrenaline rush was tremendous as I realised I had just a few laps left with a top 10 in hand.

“I was confident of catching the three cars in front but I just caught the damp patch and spun. It’s a real shame but it’s still been a very strong and positive weekend. Overall I’m really happy with what we’ve achieved in such a short space of time over the last two weekends, it’s been fantastic.”

So impressive has the young Indian’s debut car racing campaign been, Fortec Motorsports has declared its desire to sign Shahaan to a contract for the main 2012 season which is expected to get underway in Britain at the beginning of April.

Team owner Richard Dutton commented: “Shahaan did an amazing job and showed true race spirit in his first few races in a race car, we look forward to learning more of what Shahaan can show us and are happy to continue into 2012 with him.”

Perhaps most impressive of all though is the fact in 12 days of testing and racing in challenging, wet weather Shahaan incurred no damage whatsoever to his car – proving his terrific natural car control and tremendous awareness on circuit.

The chief aim over the past two weekends has been to achieve maximum track time and to learn about starts and racecraft. In doing all of that with a commitment and maturity of a driver of far senior years, India’s freshest star of the track has made a significant first impression…

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Sean RayhallAmerican teenager Sean Rayhall further strengthened his place as one of the most talented up-and-coming racers in the nation this past week (September 29-30) by dominating the Cooper Tires Prototype Lites Championship season-finale at Road Atlanta. As part of the prestigious Petit Le Mans event, the 16 year-old racer from Georgia won both Round 13 and 14 from the pole position, setting a new lap record in the process. Making it even more impressive was the fact it was Rayhall’s series debut in the American Le Mans Series development championship.

Rayhall, having captured wins and championships in karting, Skip Barber Racing, SCCA Pro Racing and Legends, embarked on his latest motorsports challenge when he partnered with Comprent Motor Sports for his pro sports car racing debut. Thanks to support from SCCA Enterprises – a reward for winning the 2010 Formula Enterprises Series title – the Georgia native was part of the talented field racers taking part in the Prototype Lites Championship season-finale at Road Atlanta. While Rayhall had previously piloted a Comprent Motor Sports prepared Elan DP02 entry before (winning SCCA races), the Petit Le Mans doubleheader represented the first chance to go against pro racers and teams with lots of experience and skill.

The action at Rayhall’s home track unofficially commenced via a promoter’s day testing, and the highly-rated teenager wasted little time showcasing his skills behind the wheel. Despite focusing on car setup rather than an outright quick lap, Rayhall still managed to top the speedcharts.

When the action officially got underway via two practice runs on Wednesday, the No. 77 SCCA Enterprises/Comprent Motor Sports Elan DP02 remained the car to beat, as Rayhall was nearly a second faster than his nearest pursuer in both sessions.

Given Rayhall’s performance in the sessions prior to the lone qualifying run, everyone expected the 2011 Legends racing standout to challenge for the Round 13 pole position. Rayhall promptly met everyone’s expectations, posting a lap of 1:19.836 – four tenths faster than the next fastest driver – to secure the P1 starting spot for his inaugural Prototype Lites Championship race.

Returning to the cockpit of his Comprent Motor Sports racing steed a short time later for race one of the Road Atlanta doubleheader, Rayhall proved to be in a class of his own. Not only did the 16 year-old immediately pull away from the rest of the field when the green flag waved, but he did so once again following a brief full-course caution period. In the end, he led all 21 laps, scoring a 10-second win in his pro sports car debut.

“The key was to be good on cold tires,” said Rayhall. “The team gave me a great car to be able to do that. There was great competition behind me, with Nunez and my teammate [Jonathan Gore in the No. 14 Comprent car] coming in third, so it was a good podium for us! It’s a great debut for me, with no real moments. But you give it all you’ve got and really push it no matter how big a lead you have. There’s no relaxation out there!”

With the grid for Round 14 set by each driver’s fastest lap in race one, Rayhall once again was at the head of the field when the green flag waved for race two on Friday morning. This time however Rayhall had to fight for top honors. With a fellow teenage racer providing the opposition, Rayhall diced for the lead lap after lap, regularly swapping first place. In what was a thrilling battle, the win came down to the final few corners. Rayhall, having executed a bold outside pass in turn 10 with two laps to go, ultimately emerged with both a second consecutive win from the pole and a new race lap record of 1:19.434.

“Wild is an understatement,” said Rayhall. “It was controlled chaos. But it was a lot of fun. Tristan gave me a run today. Comprent gave me a great car, though I was having problems with the RPMs that affected my shifting. But it’s all about how you bounce back, and we bounced back hard today! It was a great debut for me. It was great racing against Tristan. I can’t wait to race with him again like that!”

Rayhall will now take a brief break to soak up his impressive pro sports car debut, before returning to the highly-competitive action in the Legends ranks. Next up is the 20th Annual Asphalt Nationals on October 28-29, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 16 year-old star enters the event with the Charlotte Summer Shoot Out, Atlanta Thursday Thunder, and Legends Winter Nationals titles already on his resume this season.

Additional information on Sean Rayhall can be obtained from his website @ http://www.seanrayhall.com/ For direct contact and to inquire about supporting this fast rising motorsports star, please contact Charles Rayhall @ charlesrayhall@yahoo.com

Photo by Darren Pierson-DPerceptions.

Seb Morris - 2011 Ginetta Junior ChampionMarford’s Seb Morris is celebrating yet another richly deserved accolade after being named the 2011 WRDA Welsh Young Driver of the Year during a special ceremony on Saturday, 19th November.

Following an utterly dominant title-winning season in the Ginetta Junior Championship, where he scorched to 11 victories and 16 podiums in total from the 20 races contested, the ultra talented driver’s year has been capped-off perfectly with the prestigious WRDA award.

Immensely proud of his Welsh heritage, the 15-year-old GCSE pupil – who studies at The King’s School, Chester – is now preparing to make the move into single-seater racing where he aims to graduate into either Formula Renault BARC or Formula Renault UK.

“It’s a real honour to be named the Welsh Young Driver of the Year and I’d like to say a big thank you to the Welsh Racing Drivers Association for their support”, said Seb, “We had a fantastic season in Ginetta this year, it couldn’t have gone any better, and to now be awarded this accolade really is the icing on the cake.”

Since graduating from a successful karting career in 2010, the Liberty Properties and Legat Owen backed racer has established himself as one of the UK’s top rising motorsport stars. Becoming a podium finisher in his maiden season in the Ginetta Junior Championship, Seb went on to claim the 2010 Winter Series title with two wins from four races.

Beginning the main Ginetta Junior season this year with a great chance to make it two title victories in succession, Seb was untouchable during the first half of the campaign and went on to win the championship one event early and with an eventual margin of 125 points over his closest challenger.

Reflecting on the WRDA’s decision to name Seb the Welsh Young Driver of the Year, club secretary Robert Allender commented: “We are pleased to honour Seb in this way. He clearly is a driver with a lot of potential and we hope he will continue to be successful.”

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography.

Felix RosenqvistThe 2011 Macau Grand Prix did not go according to plan for Felix Rosenqvist. The 20-year-old – who was one of several pre-event favourites following his RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 victory back in August – ran into trouble already in Thursday’s opening free practice session, where he encountered a long queue of standstill cars on the approach to the Melco hairpin and ran into the back of Estonian Marko Asmer. The Stewards held Rosenqvist responsible for the collision, and sent the Swede to the very back of the grid for Saturday’s Qualification Race. Already heavily compromised by his penalty, the Mücke Motorsport driver then crashed into retirement in Sunday’s finale after making contact with one of the unforgiving walls that line the Guia Circuit.

“This was simply an utterly disappointing weekend; there is no reason to call it anything else,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “My shot at a decent result more or less disappeared already on Thursday, but Macau is a very special venue and it’s never over until it’s over. Unfortunately, though, things didn’t get much better in the races, and although we had an efficient car on the straights, we struggled a bit with the set-up in the mountain section. We were fast enough to battle for a top five result if we would have stayed out of trouble, but at the end of the day things sometimes just don’t turn out the way you want them to.”

Rosenqvist posted the eighth-fastest time in Friday’s qualifying session – just one tenth shy of fifth place and 0.7 seconds adrift of Pole-setter and regular Formula 3 Euro Series rival Marco Wittmann – but had to see his efforts come to nothing due to the penalty from Thursday. The crash in the finale then brought the Swede’s event to a premature end. Victory in the classic street race outside of Hong Kong went to Spaniard Daniel Juncadella – another of Rosenqvist’s Formula 3 Euro Series competitors.

“I am obviously everything but satisfied with the outcome of Macau, but overall it’s still been a very good season,” Rosenqvist concludes. “I continue to learn something new every time I climb into the car, and we’ve been among the quickest in Formula 3 Euro Series more or less all through the campaign. I am now looking forward to a chance of recharging the batteries for an even stronger performance in 2012 – we will definitely be back!”

Felix Rosenqvist can look back at a season which, coupled with the RTL GP Masters of Formula 3 triumph, has seen the Swede claim one victory, ten podiums and five fastest laps in his first Formula 3 Euro Series campaign.

Valtteri BottasFinland’s Valtteri Bottas finished just shy of the podium for Galaxy Double R Racing at the Circuito da Guia today, Saturday, 19th November, by taking fourth position during the all-important Qualification Race for tomorrow’s hugely prestigious 58th Macau Formula 3 Grand Prix.

The reigning GP3 Series Champion, also a race winner with Woking-based Double R in the British Formula 3 International Series this year, held third on the opening lap and ran three-wide with pole position starter Marco Wittmann and 2011 British F3 Champion Felipe Nasr through the first turn.

On the outside line for the right-hander at Lisboa, Bottas had to settle for third and although unfortunately slipping behind reigning F3 Euroseries Champion Roberto Merhi on lap two at the same corner the Double R racer produced a very strong performance. At the start of the ninth tour the Safety Car was deployed due to an incident so racing ended under caution at the end of lap 10.

Arriving late in Macau on Thursday, 17th November, following a Formula One test outing with the AT&T Williams F1 Team at Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi earlier in the week, Bottas’ troubles were compounded when a further delay meant he also missed the first part of opening qualifying.

Even so, with seriously limited track time, the Finn’s class shone through and he steered his Dallara-Mercedes HWA to fourth fastest during the all-important dry second qualifying session on Friday, 18th November, within just 0.4 seconds of pole position. This then became third on the Qualification Race grid when Merhi was penalised.

“Valtteri did a great job today, it’s a shame he couldn’t stay ahead of Merhi but starting on the second row for tomorrow is good”, said Galaxy Double R team principal Anthony ‘Boyo’ Hieatt, “The pace is obvious, he set the second fastest lap today, so we can definitely fight for the win from there. Considering the difficulties he had missing first practice it’s been a fantastic effort so far.”

Team-mates Marko Asmer and Mitch Evans both face a very tough challenge during the GP itself, the Estonian ending today’s encounter in 18th place – having run as high as seventh before sidepod damage ruined his straight-line speed – while New Zealander Evans finished in 22nd on his first time in Macau after starting at the back of the grid due to engine problems in qualifying.

Asmer, making a welcome return to Macau, was just 0.8 seconds shy of Bottas’ qualifying time to place him 12th on the grid for today’s race despite having had no regular race programme for the past couple of years.

The 2007 British F3 Champion was unfortunately handed a three-place penalty due to erroneously straying over the pit-lane exit marker line in qualifying. This was actually nullified though when other drivers were also handed a variety of penalties.

Climbing superbly into seventh place on the opening lap, Asmer used all of his experience to fantastic effect but after incurring sidepod damage he was powerless to prevent a drop down the order to an eventual finish of 18th position. He will therefore have another incredibly difficult race ahead of him tomorrow, starting on the ninth row of the Grand Prix grid.

Evans’ debut weekend in the former Portuguese enclave began with dire misfortune when his engine had to be changed due to a failure, caused by over-revving, before he had even had a chance to post a time during second qualifying.

Leaving the teenage Kiwi in 30th and last place on the grid for today’s encounter, he actually started 28th due to the varied penalties for others and produced a superb opening lap where he gained half a dozen positions and then proceeded to climb up the order further.

Unfortunately, contact to the rear of his Dallara-Mercedes from Richard Bradley on lap six forced Evans down an escape road and ruined all of his great work although he was able to recover into 22nd – meaning he will begin his first ever Macau F3 GP from the 11th row of the grid and ahead of several experienced drivers who encountered their own difficulties.

“Mitch had a lot of bad luck during the build-up to today and again in the race when he was taken out, he did a great job though and we’ve got high hopes he’ll come through the order well again tomorrow”, added Hieatt.

“Marko had a great start and first lap, really drove well, but then the damage to the sidepod made his car like a brick in a straight line. He’ll have a tough time tomorrow from 18th on the grid but he has the experience and ability to turn it around into a good result.”

The 58th Macau F3 Grand Prix will begin at 15.30 (local time) tomorrow, Sunday, 20th November.

Photo by Jakob Ebrey Photography

Nick PercatIn his first V8 Supercar race since winning the Bathurst 1000 in October, Nick Percat has scored a podium finish in today’s opening Fujitsu V8 Supercar race at Sandown.

Starting from fifth on the grid, Percat pressured the frontrunners throughout the race and pulled off a bold last-lap move on David Russell to grab third place.

He also set the fastest lap of the race in the #222 Coates Hire Commodore and was the only driver in the 1 minute 11 second bracket.

“I got a good start and just focused on staying in touch with the leading pack,” said Percat.

“After a tough few events, I’m just happy to bring the car home in third and give the boys a well deserved result.”

So far it has been an outstanding weekend for the Coates Hire racer, who yesterday won the coveted 2011 SA Sports Star of the Year People’s Choice award.

“It’s a huge honour to win the award and to have so much support from my hometown.

“I want to thank everyone who took the time to vote for me!”

There are two races tomorrow, beginning with a 15-lap reverse grid race at 10.15am local time.

The top ten finishers from today’s race are reversed, meaning Percat will start from eighth.

The final 15-lap race at 1.30pm will conclude the Sandown event, which is the penultimate round of the 2011 Fujitsu V8 Supercar Series.

Felipe Nasr took a stunning second place for Carlin in today’s Qualification race ahead of the 58th Macau Grand Prix, despite race long pressure from third placed man Roberto Merhi. Carlos Huertas made it two Carlin cars in the top five, while Jazeman Jaafar finished 17th, with Kevin Magnussen 19th from the back row of the grid.

Following rain earlier on in the week, conditions remained dry for the start of today’s Qualification Race, for the ten lap sprint around the challenging Macau circuit. Nasr made the perfect start from fifth on the grid and benefitted from the stalled car of front row man Antonio Felix da Costa to catapult into second place. Huertas also made a good start and briefly climbed to fourth, before settling for fifth at the end of lap one.

Jaafar lost out in the chaotic mid field at the start and dropped to 24th, while Magnussen had already made up several places in 22nd having started 29th.

At the front Nasr was chasing down race leader Marco Wittmann, but had the charging Roberto Merhi right behind him by the end of lap two. Nasr held station though and coped well with the pressure to keep the F3 Euro Series champion behind him.

Huertas was also enjoying some close racing and had closed in on GP3 champion Valtteri Bottas for fourth, and by lap five was close enough to put the Finn under intense pressure. Nasr meanwhile had responded well to the pace from behind and set the fastest lap of the race so far on lap five.

Facing a completely different battle was Magnussen, who had demonstrated pace good enough to qualify seventh, but was fighting his way through the field following a grid penalty. The British F3 vice champion was 20th, just ahead of Jaafar in 21st.

After managing to pull out a small gap, Nasr was under pressure again from Merhi, who set the fastest lap of the race on lap eight, while behind them the pack continued to shuffle with Jaafar moving up to 18th ahead of Magnussen in 19th.

Attention remained firmly focused on the leaders though, as the British and F3 Euro champions Nasr and Merhi fought closely for second. Merhi made a move up the inside at Lisboa on lap eight, but Nasr defended well and maintained position.

A big accident for Jimmy Eriksson brought racing action to a halt on lap nine. The driver climbed from the car unhurt but the incident brought out the safety car. With debris strewn across the track, the race finished under those conditions, with Nasr taking second in his Volkswagen powered car, with Huertas fifth. Jaafar crossed the line in 17th, with Magnussen 19th, the positions the Carlin quartet will take on the grid for tomorrow’s race.

Reflecting on a tense afternoon, Nasr said, “From the start I got two places straight away, after Sims crashed and da Costa stalled. I was third into the first corner and managed to get a good tow from Bottas and we were three wide into Lisboa. I was in the middle so I didn’t have the right line to come out first and I was cautious not to make contact. I managed to come out in second though and then I just focused on keeping the car out of the walls so we could have a good position for tomorrow.

“Both Wittmann and Merhi were very quick; Wittmann had a strong car in the middle sector, but I was fast in the final sector and was able to close on him there and pull away from Merhi a little. I think we need to look at the data to see how we can improve further so we are even strong tomorrow, but second place is a great position to start from in Macau.”

Fifth placed man Huertas was also pleased with his race, “I was distracted at the start by da Costa stalling, which is how Merhi got past me, but my pace was really good, especially in the early stages. I nearly got past Bottas, but I didn’t want to do anything stupid. I think the pace between the front runners was very close today. We improved the car a lot from qualifying and we will try and do the same before tomorrow. Anything can happen around here and I’m in a good position to take a top result tomorrow.”

Trevor Carlin added, “Felipe did a fantastic job today. He made a great start; striking the balance between being aggressive and not risking too much. He withstood the pressure from Merhi extremely well and deserved to be on the podium today. To have two cars in the top five today is a great result for the team, following an impressive race by Carlos. It was a difficult task for Jazeman and Kevin today, but they both brought the cars home in one piece. Obviously tomorrow the drivers will have a completely different approach, and I’m sure we’ll see considerably less caution and more incidents! Nevertheless Felipe and Carlos have shown that we have a good car here, so we’re feeling confident.”

Tomorrow’s race will take place at 15.30 local time (07.30 GMT).

Larbre CompetitionHaving already wrapped up the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup title with a race to spare, Larbre Competition capped their ultra-successful year with a fine second place finish at the season-closing 6 Hours of Zhuhai in China last weekend.
The French squad were keen to demonstrate the strengths of its GTE Am class winning #50 Corvette C6.R in a country that has become an increasingly important global market for car manufacturers by maintaining the momentum built up throughout 2011. Despite the car having never raced at Zhuhai before, Larbre Competition’s seven previous appearances ensured its experience would prove vital when it came to car set-up.
Such was the importance of this race that Corvette Racing had sent factory driver Olivier Beretta to compete alongside team regulars Julien Canal and Patrick Bornhauser. While the Monegasque’s expertise and recommendations will prove vital heading into 2012, his impact was felt by Canal in particular whose qualifying lap was just 0.4 seconds shy of class pole position and faster than both ex-F1 drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Ralph Firman!
At the start, Beretta used all of his experience racing Corvettes to move to the head of the field before handing over to Bornhauser. The Frenchman won at Zhuhai last season so it was no surprise to see him increase the team’s advantage over the second place Porsche to more than 20 seconds at the start of his second stint. Unfortunately an issue with the electronic gear selector ultimately cost the team significant time as Patrick struggled back to the pits stuck in first gear.
With a full repair likely to cost too much time, the decision was taken to re-join in manual mode. Under specific instructions from the Corvette USA engineer, Beretta began the team’s fight back through the order, placing the Corvette in podium contention. Canal then continued the good work, pumping in fast and consistent lap times so that by the finish, and after an all-round fantastic performance, just 43 seconds separated the top two.
Jack Leconte, Team Principal: “Under the circumstances it was a great performance from our drivers, mechanics and engineers. Corvette has never raced at Zhuhai before so it was rewarding to apply our ample knowledge of the circuit to the car’s set-up and see that it worked well. Olivier has been a great addition this weekend and helped us understand where we can make further progress. Obviously we’re disappointed not to end our fantastic season, which included scooping the ILMC crown and victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours, with a win. But I am still very proud that the team was able to fight its way back into contention and score another podium.”
Olivier Beretta: “Having been aware of Larbre Competition’s background and the number of championships they had won for quite some time, it was great to finally race with them in China and confirm for myself the ultra-professional level at which they operate. I was also delighted to share the car, which proved extremely competitive, with Patrick and Julien. We were leading the class before the mechanical issue, a possibility which cannot be discounted in motor racing, delayed us. Despite this setback, the team managed to repair the car and we finished in second place. Finally, I’d like to congratulate Patrick, Julien and Gabriele Gardel on their championship success.”
Patrick Bornhauser: “It felt great to return to Zhuhai for the final race of 2011 without the added pressure of securing the title which we’d wrapped up at Petit Le Mans. The race still had special meaning though as we had a works Corvette driver alongside us in the form of Olivier. We gelled immediately and spending the whole week together has been a fantastic experience. Heavy rain meant Wednesday’s free practice sessions were shortened but the race started well all the same with Olivier at the wheel. I was able to take the lead during my stint but after about 90 minutes began to experience problems with the gearbox. We opted to pit to reset the system in a manual mode and also took the opportunity to swap drivers. Ultimately it cost us victory but nevertheless we have still achieved an excellent second place. I have really enjoyed my week in China.”
Julien Canal: “The round at Zhuhai meant I could learn more about a new circuit and an official Corvette Racing driver! Olivier is someone with great human qualities and a high level of professionalism and our shared experiences of the Corvette helped us to prepare set-ups for a car that had not raced there before. I had a lot of confidence going into my third qualifying session of the season, which showed in the lap time that put us amongst the GTE Pro drivers. Olivier and Patrick produced two very good opening stints but unfortunately mine was complicated by the gearbox problem. Nevertheless it was with huge satisfaction that I crossed the line to finish second having recorded a lap only a few tenths slower than Olivier’s best. A big thank you to my team-mates as well everyone at Larbre Competition for their passion, commitment and professionalism throughout 2011. It’s also worth noting the strong support of Corvette Racing.”
Result: 6 Hours of Zhuhai
1. Proton Competition Lietz/Roda/Ried Porsche 997 GT3 RSR 217
2. Larbre Competition Bornhauser/Canal/Beretta Corvette C6.R 216
3. Krohn Racing Krohn/Jonsson/Rugolo Ferrari F430 GT2 215
4. CRS Racing Ehret/Mullen/Wills Ferrari F430 GT2 215
5. Gulf AMR Middle East Giroix/Goethe Aston Martin Vantage 198
6. AF Corse Cioci/Ma Ferrari F430 GT2 22

ILMC GTE Am final championship classification
1. Larbre Competition 93 points
2. Krohn Racing 62
3. Proton Competition 52
4. CRS Racing 50
5. AF Corse 47
6. Gulf AMR Middle East 23

Jack Leconte, Team Principal: “Our focus now turns to 2012 when I’m hoping we’ll be able to defend our title in the World Endurance Championship. The FIA and ACO announced the calendar over the weekend which will help us to firm up plans for a return to the top echelon of sportscar racing.”
2012 World Endurance Championship
17 Mar USA 12 Hours of Sebring
5 May Belgium Spa 6 Hours
3 Jun France Le Mans Test Day
16/17 Jun France Le Mans 24 Hours
25 Aug GB Silverstone 6 Hours
16 Sep Brazil 6 Hours of Sao Paolo (TBC)
30 Sep Japan 6 Hours of Fuji
20 Oct Bahrain 6 Hours of Bahrain
11 or 18 Nov China TBD

Photo by VSC Pictures

Adrian Quaife-HobbsAdrian Quaife-Hobbs successfully completed the Young Driver Test at Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday at the wheel of Marussia Virgin Racing’s MVR-02 F1 car. The Tonbridge racer was rewarded for his performance this season in the sister Marussia Manor Racing GP3 team with the opportunity for a third test in the F1 car, completing 30 laps in the morning session, in temperatures of 25?C.

“I would like to say a very big thank you to Marussia Virgin Racing for this fantastic opportunity today,” said Adrian. “It’s been a great experience and I’ve learned a lot. This morning I began with some CSL (constant speed limiter) runs on the straights so the team could conduct some aero measurement work and then I got into the programme properly”.

“I ran two sets of new tyres and just began chipping away at the lap times as I learned more about the car and how it reacts. Overall I’m pleased with the day and it’s been a huge experience for me.”

The 20 year-old has already successfully tested twice for the John Booth-led F1 team, carrying out aero-testing at Idiada Proving Ground in Spain and RAF Cottesmore in Leicestershire, clocking up around 350km collectively.

However Tuesday’s test was more than just an appraisal of outright pace. The team had prepared a detailed evaluation programme designed to examine every aspect of a driver’s all-round potential, including decision-making, quality of feedback and an appreciation of engineering procedure.

The programme also facilitated the testing of 2012 developments, including gearbox and engine installation parts. John Booth, Team Principal of Marussia Virgin Racing was pleased with the performance of his GP3 racer Adrian, and fellow racer Charles Pic.

“Both Adrian and Charles followed a very similar programme, which was designed to ease them into circuit running in an F1 car,” said John. “We’re very happy with how both of them have performed today. Both used the Soft Pirelli tyre, with Adrian perhaps slightly disadvantaged by the track temperature and Charles by only using one new set.

“We specifically chose to use the same tyre compounds as used by the race drivers last weekend to give the drivers a better reference, rather than using the Supersoft compound which has clearly been shown to be the quicker tyre over one lap today. All in all, a good job from both drivers.”

Adrian will now conduct a testing programme over the coming weeks, including two days at Motorland, Aragon in a Formula Renault 3.5 car on 29/30 November, as the BRDC Rising Star continues to evaluate his options for 2012.

To watch the video from Yas Marina, please visit the Marussia Virgin Racing website at the following link:

http://www.marussiavirginracing.com/news/503/