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Category: GT & Touring Cars

Kaan ÖnderTurkish racing’s emerging talent, Kaan Önder has joined the Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport for the 2014 FIA European Touring Car Cup.

The 17-year old Önder will drive the team’s BMW 320si cars in the Super 2000 TC2 class, teaming up with the experienced Aytaç Biter who is competing in the Super 2000 TC2T class at the wheel of a BMW 320 TC.

Since the age of ten, Önder has amassed more than 3,000 hours of racing in karting series and claimed two titles in the Turkish Championship (2008 in the ICA Junior class and 2009 in the KF3 class) before being crowned champion in the 2010 FIA South East European Zone (KF3) and the 2011 Rotax International Open (Junior).
Önder moved to car racing in 2013 and was classified 7th in the Formula BMW Talent Cup.

Team manager Tolga Ozakinci explained: “Önder represents a long term project for our team. We began promoting him since he was ten-years old and look at his future results with a lot of expectations.”

Karim AjlaniKarim Ajlani will make his competitive sportscar comeback this year after joining the European Le Mans Series with front-running squad ART Grand Prix.

The Swiss-Syrian returns to endurance racing at the wheel of a McLaren MP4-12C GT3 in the championship’s GTC category alongside reigning FIA World Endurance Champion and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Ricardo Gonzalez, and established prototype star Alex Brundle.

Ajlani previously contested the series’ LMP2 class in 2009, and has not raced GT machinery competitively since 2005. Quickly adapting to his new surroundings was one of the primary reasons for choosing experienced French outfit ART, which has a history of achieving great success across a number of categories.

The partnership between Ajlani and ART began in February with a test session held at the Estoril circuit in Portugal, followed by another evaluation a month later at Magny-Cours, France. And in order to increase his readiness still further, Karim will employ the expertise of French company AOTech by completing several sessions in their state-of-the-art simulator.

Today sees Ajlani make his first official outing for ART at Paul Ricard as part of the ELMS group test, which continues tomorrow in southern France (1/2 April).

Karim Ajlani: “I’m delighted to be competing in the 2014 ELMS season with ART Grand Prix and would like to extend my thanks to Sebastien Philippe for such a fantastic opportunity. I’m sure that driving for a new team in an unfamiliar car and category means this season will prove to be a new chapter for me. The driving style required for GT cars is slightly different from LMP2, especially in terms of braking and downforce. However, the basics remain fairly similar and I’m sure an experienced outfit such as ART will help me to adapt quickly.

“My first contact with the team was hugely positive. I will now focus on working to improve in every area and ensure that I’m fully prepared. My target this season is to consistently produce error-free drives and compete for GTC victories. I am extremely happy to be embarking upon this new adventure and cannot wait for the season to begin.”

The opening round of the 2014 European Le Mans Series takes place at Silverstone on 18/19 April.

2014 European Le Mans Series Calendar:
Official ELMS Test Session, Paul Ricard, France 1/2 April
1. Silverstone, UK 18/19 April
2. Imola, Italy 17/18 May
3. Red Bull Ring, Austria 19/20 July
4. Paul Ricard, France 13/14 September
5. Estoril, Portugal 18/19 October

Darryl O'YoungHong Kong Chinese racing driver, Darryl O’Young, has signed with Aston Martin Racing in a Bamboo Engineering run Aston Martin Vantage GTE for the LM GTE Pro class of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). O’Young becomes the first Chinese full season driver in the WEC, making his move after completing 4 seasons in the World Touring Car Championship from 2010-2013.

O’Young will be entering the WEC season with a 3 man driver line-up this year, partnering with Alex Macdowall of Great Britain and Fernando Rees of Brazil. With an ultra-competitive roster of the worlds best GT drivers entered in this year’s WEC, it will make for a season of close hard fought racing on their quest for the FIA World Championship title.

Says O’Young, “I will miss the World Touring Car Championship as it was a great racing series. I enjoyed my 4 seasons there and had some great races and made nice friendships. With the new regulations in the WTCC, it was difficult to enter the championship so I began exploring other options.”

O’Young continued, “I competed the past 2 years with Craft Racing AMR and got to know the guys at Aston Martin Racing. Combine this with my strong relationship with Bamboo Engineering and it has now formed a perfect program for me in the WEC. I have had success in GT Racing and at the Le Mans 24 last year, so I hope to take all this experience and turn it into a successful campaign together with Alex and Fernando. It will be a very tough season as the driver line-ups in the GTE Pro category are very strong, but I am confident that if we all work together as a team, we can come out on top. It is an honor to represent Aston Martin Racing this year in the #99 Aston.”

The FIA World Endurance Championship enters its 2nd season since its return. Organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and sanctioned by the FIA, the race calendar includes 8 rounds, with 7 rounds of 6 hour races and the 24 hours of Le Mans. The series kicks off on April 20th at Silverstone in the United Kingdom.

O’Young continues his long-time partnership with Lung Kee Metal (LKM) and Fuspeed in his 2014 world championship campaign.

Sam RandonSam Randon has joined the leading SV Racing team as he prepares to step up to the ‘Racecar’ division of the Michelin Clio Cup Series with Protyre in 2014.
The 18-year old from the Derbyshire Dales market town of Ashbourne was highly impressive during his maiden season of car racing in the burgeoning Michelin-backed Clio Cup Series.

A leading light in the series’ ‘Roadcar’ division for road-going Clio Renaultsport 197s throughout last year, he achieved numerous class podiums before capping off a sensational season with a race win at Brands Hatch in September.

Randon went on to show a great turn of speed during his maiden test in a race-spec Clio Cup car with SVR in October, completing approximately 120 laps of the 2.99mile Snetterton ‘300’ circuit near Thetford, Norfolk with guidance from SVR Director, Danny Buxton, and Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) podium finisher, Jack Goff.

The young charger far exceeded all expectations on his first outing in Clio Cup machinery and this raw speed, consistency and maturity proved to be a catalyst for a full 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Series campaign in SVR colours, during which he hopes to mount a consistent challenge for victory.

“To be entering the ‘Racecar’ class of the Michelin Clio Cup is exciting and another step up the ladder,” said Randon. “We wouldn’t be making the move without my sponsors, Airglide International Ltd and Twincentric Integration, but I feel I extracted the most from my maiden season in the ‘Roadcar’ division last year and graduating to a race-spec Clio is naturally the next step.

“I think my performance during the Snetterton test in October backed that up, as it not only demonstrated my potential to Danny (Buxton), but also boosted my own confidence and indicated that I could really challenge for some good results in 2014. Without being over confident, I think I have the ability to mix it up at the sharp end and threaten for race wins on a consistent basis. There’s still some work to do, as I need to get to grips with the amount of speed you can carry through corners on the slick tyres.”

Randon – a Maintenance Apprentice for JCB – brings with him lucrative backing from Twincentric Integration and Airglide International Ltd.

Twincentric Integration – a long-established IT software and services company – sponsored Randon’s early Karting career and, having found the lure of the Michelin Clio Cup Series too much to resist, will rekindle its partnership with the young Ashbourne-based hotshot in 2014.

Airglide International’s drag reduction surface protectant system, Airglide Ultimate, had a profound effect when it was applied to Sam’s car for last year’s season finale, producing a measureable difference through the speedtraps and lifting the 18-year old to the top step of the podium for the first time.

Robert Sandham, Director of Airglide International, said: “Airglide has been proud of the progress made as Sam’s sponsor and is delighted to confirm its increased support for the 2014 season. Recent discussions and the confirmation of Sam as one of SVR’s drivers made Airglide’s commitment easy and I’m looking forward to developing our relationship with the team, to not only secure the partnership for the immediate future, but for the long-term too. Here’s to a successful year for Sam and Airglide International!”

SV Racing Director, Danny Buxton, added: “It’s tremendously exciting to have somebody with Sam’s potential on-board for the 2014 Michelin Clio Cup Series. He adapted remarkably well to the demands of a Clio Cup racer during his test with us in October and left us a bit stunned, in all honesty. He’s a talent for the future and SVR will give him all the tools he needs to flourish in the Clio Cup Series and to provide his sponsors, Twincentric Integration and Airglide, a return on their investments in the form of strong results.”

For more information on SV Racing, please ‘like the team’s Facebook page or follow @SV_Racing on Twitter.

Declan JonesDeclan Jones will compete in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship again this season, running with ABG Motorsport and using a BMW GT4.

The 18-year-old Liverpool-based teenager made his debut in British GT last year and despite being the youngest driver in the series, he enjoyed a stellar season, taking three outright wins – and six podiums in total. It meant he finished 2013 as GT4 vice-champion – just two points off the title. He is now looking for a co-driver for 2014 for the UK and also possibly for the new GT4 European series.

“I really enjoyed last season. I learned so much and I cannot wait to make the most of all that experience this year,” said Declan, who will carry on with his existing sponsors. “I am really happy with how things are coming together. It is going to be great to continue in the Avon Tyres British GT Championship and to work with ABG Motorsport.

“I’m really looking forward to trying out the BMW GT4 and can’t wait to do some tests in it.”

“We have yet to decide, however, who I will be partnered with, and that now is the focus ahead of the opener at Oulton Park in April,” Declan added.

Any candidates interested in teaming up with Declan for the British GT Championship should contact Declan’s dad and manager, Kelvin Jones or ABG Motorsport boss, Peter Hignett for further details.

Pedro CardosoBrazilian teenager Pedro Cardoso, one of South America’s premier young motor racing talents, will make his graduation into car racing on UK soil this year after signing a deal with title-winning team Hillspeed to contest the 2014 Ginetta Junior Championship.

The hugely promising 14-year-old, who hails from Brasilia, has racked-up numerous title victories in his young karting career and will make history as the first Brazilian to compete in Ginetta Junior when he debuts in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship support category in March.

In 2013, Cardoso won the Sao Paolo State Championship, triumphed in the prestigious Sao Paolo Karting Cup for the third year in succession and was also Vice-Champion of the Brazilian Rotax Junior Max Karting Championship.

Cardoso first came to prominence at the tender age of nine-years-old when he won the 2008 RBC Grand Prix of Kart and Brazilian Grand Prix of Kart titles. In 2010 the rapid youngster won the Sao Paolo Karting Cup for the first time and reclaimed the crown in 2012, along with the Brazilian title, as well as enjoying a victorious run in the Florida Winter Tour series.

“This is a very important moment for my career and I believe Hillspeed will help me improve a lot throughout the year”, said Cardoso, “It’s a very accomplished top team so I am in the best company I could be.

“I was very happy when I tested with the team in December and I believe I can deliver good results, although I know we will need to work hard together. This [Ginetta Junior] is a great series, as well as a great team, and I am very excited to start working with all the guys at Hillspeed.”

Chairman of Ginetta Cars, Lawrence Tomlinson, is thrilled to welcome the first South American driver into the Ginetta Junior Championship and is looking forward to seeing how the youngster progresses throughout his maiden season.

Tomlinson commented: “It’s great to have Pedro joining the Ginetta Junior Championship for 2014, his commitment to the series further highlights the BTCC supporting series as a platform for drivers across the globe to begin their motorsport career in front of a mass audience.”

Hathersage-based Hillspeed, of course, has enjoyed tremendous success in the ranks of Ginetta Junior since first entering the category in 2010. Winning the main season title with Tom Ingram and the Winter Series crown with Seb Morris, the following year Morris claimed the main Ginetta Junior title and the squad has since continued to be a race-winning and championship challenging force.

“Everyone at Hillspeed is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with Pedro in his first season of car racing, he’s a highly rated young driver and an incredibly exciting talent”, said team principal Richard Ollerenshaw, “Brazil, and South America as a whole, has always been such a hotbed of motor racing talent and we’re confident Pedro has what it takes to be a very successful competitor in Ginettas.

“Our aim is to help Pedro quickly become a front-runner and we’re certain he will begin the season very competitively. It’s going to be a tough challenge for a 14-year-old in his first season in cars, but he has a fantastic network of support. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Pedro’s manager, Geraldo Rodrigues, for putting the deal together – it’s a great start to the New Year for Hillspeed.”

Brands Hatch Indy Circuit in Kent will host the opening two rounds of the 2014 Ginetta Junior season over the weekend 29th/30th March.

Josh CaygillVolkswagen racer Josh Caygill got his 2014 season off to a sensational beginning this past weekend in the annual Dunlop 24 Hour Dubai race as part of the five-driver KPM Racing squad, claiming the runner-up spot in the D1 Class on his endurance racing debut.

Providing the perfect start to only his second year in saloon car competition, the former motorcycle racer from Netherton in West Yorkshire was thrilled with his performance during the twice-around-the-clock encounter at Dubai Autodrome in the United Arab Emirates.

Partnering Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship front-runner Tom Onslow-Cole, sportscar competitors Paul White and Javier Morcillo and 2013 APR Volkswagen Racing Cup Champion Aaron Mason, Caygill shone despite a race which was less than straightforward for the KPM team.

Piloting a diesel powered Mk6 Volkswagen Golf, the quintet started the challenging 24 Hour contest on Friday, 10th January, second in class before moving into the D1 lead at approximately three hours’ duration. Although a time penalty led to a slip down the order, a determined fightback resulted in the team regaining the class lead just after mid-distance.

The drama didn’t end there, though, when contact with a rival car, when Mason was at the wheel, necessitated an entire rebuild of the front of the Golf TDi to repair a failed upright. Rejoining from a lengthy pit-stop fourth in class, with Caygill in the driving seat, the British squad mounted a superb recovery and ultimately finished second in class – even with a late gearbox issue.

“It feels fantastic to have been part of this event and team, to take a podium finish in our first 24 Hour race is incredible”, said the elated 24-year-old Caygill at the conclusion on Saturday, “The KPM and RAM Racing guys put in a world class effort, the team spirit was fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for anything more – they did us proud.

“The car was great to drive, it is a shame we had the gearbox problem at the end but we made up positions, showed our stamina and we’re really happy with second place in class. The night-time stint was exhilarating, to say the least, but the whole experience was mind-blowing to be honest. Endurance racing in GT cars is definitely something I would like to do more of as my career develops.”

Next on the racing schedule for Caygill will be the opening round of the 2014 APR Volkswagen Racing Cup at Oulton Park in Cheshire on Easter Monday, 21st April, where he will contest his second season in the category in a new Volkswagen Scirocco.

In addition to his UK racing commitments, the ex-British Supersport rider will also make his full European saloon car debut this year in the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup. Hockenheim in Germany will host the first event of his maiden campaign in the series on 3rd/4th May.

Visit www.joshcaygill.com for all the latest news and follow him on Twitter @Joshracer14

Adam ChristodoulouBritish racer Adam Christodoulou started the season by charging into the first race of the 2014 with an incredible performance at the wheel of the Team Black Falcon Mercedes SLS GT3.

The season started early for the former British Formula Renault Champion; only ten days into the new year and he was already on the grid of the first twenty four hour marathon drive of the season. The race would be in amongst the hot, arid deserts of the United Arab Emirates, on the 5.4 kilometre circuit of the Dubai Autodrome.

Expectations were high. Team Black Falcon had outstanding form at this event in the past two years – outright winners twice – and were seeking to achieve the hat trick in 2014.

Christo would be sharing the drive with four co-drivers; Khaled Al Qubaisi (Abu Dhabi), Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands), Abdulaziz Turki Al Faisal (Saudi Arabia) and Hubert Haupt (Germany).

With five drivers to rotate through, it was always going to be tough to get everyone out for a good stint during testing, but each driver got their opportunity during the night practice session and as part of qualification for the race.

Good pace during both day and night practices were promising signs.

Qualifying followed, starting on Thursday afternoon, and it was pretty tough in the heat. Even so, the team chalked up a respectable 4th place overall on Friday afternoon’s starting grid.

At 1.53pm, all seventy nine cars lined up on the tarmac. There was a two minute silence before the get-go, and in the standing heat the temperature was now approaching 30 degrees and the pressure was starting to really mount.

The track was dusty. Slight winds blew a constant thin film of desert sand across black stuff, but finally at 1.55pm the cars we’re given to signal to get out on track for a few minutes ahead of the race. At 2.00pm, the official race start time, the lights finally switched to green and the race roared into life.

Christodoulou was the first driver out in the number 2 badge SLS, and into the first four corners, found himself jostling side-by-side with the number 3 badge Porsche before eventually dipping back into fourth place.

The car was performing well, and the first stint passed off smoothly. By lap four the team were already carving through lapped traffic. This set the tone for the rest of the race the drivers remained super-vigilant about avoiding contact with other vehicles as much as was humanly possible.

In the first pit stop Abdulaziz stepped in to replace Christodoulou. He too had a great run, and in turn he handed over to Hubert, then he to Khaled, then the wheel came back to Christodoulou once more.

Things had been progressing smoothly until what appeared to be some minor contact from an earlier stint wasn’t quite as insignificant as had first seemed, and it came back to haunt the team when the rear suspension had to be changed, and cost precious laps that dropped Team Black Falcon number 2 outside the top ten, and put the car over ten laps behind.

To compound problems, the passenger side Gullwing door opened mid-race, which caused a delay whilst the track marshals stepped in to get it closed again. And later that night the car encountered two high speed tyre blow-outs caused by debris on the track, and which also caused damage to the car. Yet the chase remained strong.

By sunrise the SLS was back into fifth, and not too longer after, had climbed back into third position. The mayhem had calmed somewhat, and the team were now sailing through the final stint of the race.

Khaled was back in the car, and with fifteen minutes to go with over two laps behind him and two laps in front of him to his nearest competitors, everything was looking positive. But fortunes can change so quickly out on track, and it was only through his skill and reactions that he managed to avoid the consequences of slower car during an overtaking manoeuvre that nearly put him in the pitwall. The end plate of the rear wing had clipped the barrier, but thankfully the car escaped what could have been a far worse outcome.

Khaled was able to get the car going once more, and nursed it around the final laps of the race.

The chequered flag fell, and Team Black Falcon finished the Dubai 24 hours in third place. The car had taken a battering, yet despite the setbacks, it was an incredible result that in such a condition the vehicle had taken the team to a podium result.

After the race, Christodoulou congratulated the team, “I want to say a huge thank you and congratulations to Team Black Falcon, all of our crew today, and all of my team mates for making it such a memorable race and getting us through all 597 laps! I hope we’re all able to be back again next year to compete in this great race together in 2015.”

GDL RacingGDL Racing missed a sensational result at the last 24H Dubai. Ravenna-based has lost the podium in the Middle-East race, thanks to an excellent recovery from the 23rd place with wich the Mercedes SLS shared by Gianluca De Lorenzi, Duncan Huisman, Luc Braams, Ivo Broukers moved to fourth taking the provisional AM class leadership.

Due to the contact occured to Broukers with only three hours to go and a consequent damage to the steering box, the Italian-Dutch team was forced to a stop and finished 28th. For the sixth year GDL Racing missed an other important result, as well as happened in 2010, 2011 with Porsche.

Different story for the Porsche 997 of Australian Paul and Ray Stubber, local Bashar Mardini and Hong Kong’s driver Nigel Farmer, that started third among the cars of their class before an axle problem forced them to pit for 42 minutes. GDL Racing car eventually recovered from 60th to 20th after replacing the gearbox.

A few places behind them the other GDL Racing Porsche of Australian John Iossifidis and Rob Thomson, Swiss Kurt Thiel and German Marco Schelp closed in 37th after having started from the back of the grid due to a contact in the qualifying. They recovered to the 4th class position for then moving back again.

2014 edition of 24H Dubai was definitively bitter-sweet for GDL Racing, looking forward the next participation to the other endurance races.

Isaac TutumluAnother historical result for the Spanish driver of Kurdish ancestry and Barzani Racing Team, finishing second in A6-Am class of the 24 hours of Dubai. Rhino´s Leipert Motorsport Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3 performed extremely well.

Isaac Tutumlu has finished second in his class at the finish of the 24 hours of Dubai, being 8th overall as well. Another outstanding result built on a superb performance coming from Tutumlu at night, as the Spanish driver of Kurdish roots drove faultless.

Barzani Racing Team driver took part in the race at the wheel of a Lamborghini Gallardo FL2 GT3 fielded by rhino´s Leipert Motorsport and teaming up with Oliver Webb, Jeroen Mul, Jan Stovicek and Yoshiharu Mori, a well-balanced team to tend towards the victory. Although the weekend didn´t start well, as an engine failure stopped them, Tutumlu stormed to pole position in qualifying, setting a lap of 2:05.006 in A6-Am class. It needs to be highlighted that Tutumlu couldn´t go faster than 2:05 or, otherwise, his team would have been classified as a Pro team, an handicap having two gentlemen drivers on board. In the race the Lamborghini Gallardo was in top-six almost ever and, from the halfway point, they did set themselves up as potential winners. At the end, Tutumlu carried out an exceptional stint, passing two cars and gaining back thirty seconds on the leader. Finally, just a few seconds prevent Tutumlu from winning.

“I´m delighted to be here this weekend. Our start was not that positive when our new engine experienced problems in the private test, but fortunately we had an exchange engine. Three engineers from Lamborghini and our team worked hard to solve it and our work proved to be effective. We already knew Dubai was a very difficult race, so our second place in class and 8th overall, taking into consideration there were more than 80 cars on the grid, is an amazing result”, Tutumlu explained, feeling very fatigued. So far, he points out “my unique previous experience was 24 hours of Barcelona some years ago. But this was much more demanding. I drove over eight hours, sleepless, and mostly at night. My last stint was quite good, passing two cars and just the need to save fuel prevented me to catch the leader. But anyway it was a great race and to be on the podium with my Kurdish flag was a memorable moment. My pole position was remarkable as well. All my thanks go to Barzani family, Kurdistan and my sponsors. Now I´m looking forward to Daytona, for sure it will be another milestone moment of the season with plenty of excitement. This race will be a bigger challenge, as the PC car is more physically demanding”.