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Category: World Endurance Championship

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.

Benoit TreluyerAt the height of summer, Benoit Tréluyer has been treated to a torrent of personal firsts, starting at Silverstone and continuing in Moscow. Here, he recounts a week that will be forever synonymous with victory and premieres.

The final week of August 2012 will live long in the memory of Benoit Tréluyer who, in the space of just seven days, experienced a wide range of emotions. His first visit to the legendary Silverstone circuit was a winning one, simultaneously helping Audi score their maiden FIA World Endurance Championship Manufacturers’ crown and scaling the summit of the Drivers’ standings, before the Frenchman’s week of ‘firsts’ was completed with his maiden visit to Russia.

“Honestly, I did not realise that we could claim the title for Audi so soon,” says Benoit, reflecting on seven days that will remain forever etched in his memory. “We arrived at Silverstone with one goal: victory. This title is a logical step for Audi after spending more than ten years at the pinnacle of the prototype category and scoring eleven wins – if you count Bentley’s – at the last twelve Le Mans 24 Hours. It’s also a big ‘thank you’ to Audi for everything the company has done for endurance racing. Without them, the very existence of this world championship could not have been realised. When it happened, the emotions were a little restrained due to the limited numbers of team personnel present compared to Le Mans, because we are still developing the car. It won’t be until the end of the season that we really enjoy and celebrate this title. The championship is won but we are not finished. The goal now is to win the maximum amount we can by the end of the year. Everyone remains motivated and returned from England eager for further success.”

This was Audi’s fourth win of the season following the team’s success at Sebring, Spa and Le Mans. But it was a significant one for the Alençon native who had never won for the Ingolstadt firm outside of the 24 Hours.

“It was an important step for me,” Benoit confirms. “After two victories at Le Mans it’s true that I was keen to do well at other circuits. Alongside Marcel (Fässler) and André (Lotterer) we have been unlucky at races other than the 24 Hours, but Silverstone allowed us to put that right. While luck was not on our side at Spa, it certainly was at Silverstone. I couldn’t have hoped for a better conclusion to my first visit to this legendary track. Silverstone is the type of circuit that you dream of driving around, one that combines the history and individual character you also feel at Spa, Suzuka, Monza or Monaco. I was well prepared, had practiced on the simulator so as not to waste time memorising the circuit, and was not disappointed by the magic of the place.”

After six hours the icing on Benoit’s cake was seeing his name at the head of the Drivers’ world championship, another important milestone in any racer’s career.

“I won the F3 World Cup (Macau/Korea) but I have never been in a position to lead a world championship! Obviously that’s great but we remain focused. With André and Marcel, we have come a long way since scoring so few points in the first race. To take the lead mid-season is therefore very gratifying, but we know everything can turn around quickly.”

That’s especially true after the trio nosed ahead of the other leading Audi featuring Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen. It therefore promises to be an enthralling final four rounds in the race to be crowned drivers’ champions.

“I wish that our main rivals for the drivers’ championship title were from another team, but this is the way it is. We will do everything to avoid the sort of tension that could create a situation. For the moment all is going well. We always work together so perfectly. This cohesion is also what gives Audi such strength, something we must preserve even if, as we approach this season’s conclusion, the pressure inevitably begins to rise. We must be vigilant and ensure that the competition does not disturb this harmony.”

In two weeks the Frenchman’s fight continues at another iconic circuit: Interlagos.

“I have never set foot in Brazil and cannot wait to discover the famous Sao Paulo circuit,” enthuses Benoit. “Once again we are preparing meticulously because the competition will be even higher. We are taking each race as it comes, without thinking that too much is at stake. In order to win a title you must work hard to deserve it!”

In the wake of Silverstone, the double Le Mans 24 Hours winner travelled to Moscow for the Russian media presentation of the Audi S6, S7 and S8, as well as the launch of the new R8 GT Plus. And with that the curtain was brought down on his week of firsts. Next up comes the discovery of Sao Paulo’s famous Samba dance!

To keep up to date with Benoît on and off the circuit please visit www.benoittreluyer.com, follow him on Twitter @BenoitTreluyer and like his Facebook page.

OAK RacingOAK Racing begins its 2012 World Endurance Championship assault in America this weekend (Saturday 17 March) at the 60th Anniversary 12 Hours of Sebring hoping to make an instant impression in both the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.

A crown jewel of the sportscar racing calendar, and one that in terms of prestige ranks second only to Le Mans itself, signals the re-launch of an FIA-ratified global endurance series after 20 years of hibernation.

And with no less than 60+ WEC/ALMS entries confirmed, this year’s race is sure to be one of the most congested in its 60-year history. The 5.95km 17-turn Sebring International Raceway in Florida is also the most physically demanding on the calendar with the former US Air Force base’s combination of high humidity and part-asphalt, part concrete surface taking its toll on car and driver alike.

OAK Racing has responded to the challenge of taking on the world’s top LMP manufacturers, teams and drivers with typical gusto by entering a brace of its all-new Onroak Automotive-designed and built prototypes for the full WEC season.

Familiar face and highly regarded Frenchman Guillaume Moreau returns to the OAK Racing fold for a fourth consecutive season to lead the #15 OAK-Pescarolo LMP1 line-up that includes 2009 Formula Renault 3.5 champion and IndyCar driver Bertrand Baguette (Belgium) and young Austrian prototype ace Dominik Kraihamer.

In a premier class expected to be headed by Audi’s all-conquering diesel contingent, OAK Racing has high hopes of spearheading the petrol-powered attack just as it did to score an overall podium finish at the 6 Hours of Silverstone last year. Since then the 2012-spec car, which features a significantly revised aero package and chassis, as well as the now mandatory shark fin and front wing cut outs, has completed over 1000 kilometres of mileage and shown great promise during winter testing.

Meanwhile, expectations for OAK Racing’s similarly all-new Morgan 2012 LMP2 have been set even higher following last weekend’s fastest time during European Le Mans Series pre-season testing at Paul Ricard in France, which validated the team’s initial confidence over the winter. Those hopes remain high despite Monday’s open test accident that will ensure the car remains sidelined until Thursday.

Aiming for class victory at Sebring is Team Owner and ‘Silver’ grade gentleman racer Jacques Nicolet who is joined at the wheel of the #24 machine by rapid French duo Matthieu Lahaye and Oliver Pla. This will be Lahaye’s fifth straight season with the squad while 2009 LMS champion Pla returns following his successful part-2011 campaign.

A second Onroak Automotive-designed and built Morgan 2012 LMP2 is also scheduled to line-up on Saturday courtesy of Conquest Endurance through their capacity as OAK Racing’s official US importer and distributor. Certainly then this weekend provides an ideal opportunity to showcase the Morgan 2012 LMP2’s credentials.

As part of its official technical partnership with Dunlop, OAK Racing is also excited to see the benefits of improved tyre performance at Sebring where the team helped develop a new range of endurance rubber during the winter.

Sebastien Philippe, Team Principal: “Our objective for the #15 OAK Pescarolo LMP1 is to find a good race set-up as we are looking for performance and consistency during long stints. Qualifying is not our priority. It is important that our drivers gain experience of the circuit. That’s especially true of Bertrand, who has never driven at Sebring, and Dominik.

“Unfortunately, following the LMP2 car’s accident, we do not have one of the necessary spare parts with us. It is being dispatched and will be here by the middle of the week. It is always frustrating to miss out on track time but the performance already demonstrated has been positive. We are fast and the crew knows the circuit well. Come this weekend I’m sure we will be fighting at the front of the pack.”

Bertrand Baguette, #15 OAK-Pescarolo LMP1: “This is the first time that I will have raced at Sebring. It is a great circuit with lots of bumps but quite difficult to learn, especially the last corner which is very fast. It must be taken perfectly and for that it’s important to have a lot of confidence in the car. Happily the initial signs are good. It’s stable despite more work needing to be done.

“The biggest difficulty we’re experiencing involves the heavy traffic, especially as there is a significant difference between the prototype and GT classes. It’s something that we are still getting used to.”

Matthieu Lahaye, #24 Morgan 2012 LMP2: “It was great to get back in the car and out on-track at Sebring. We were on the pace right away and that bodes well for what promises to be a challenging weekend. Between the heat here in Florida and the number of cars competing we’ve got our work cut out, but at least we know that the performance is already there.”

Jean-Felix Bazelin, Dunlop Motorsport Competition Director: “Mutual trust and fluid information exchange between Dunlop’s engineers and those at OAK Racing helped us to continue working effectively together as early as the end of last season. Working closely at the first Sebring test after the final round in Zhuhai, they were able to very quickly define a new range of products that improve both outright performance and consistency over long distances. As this was conducted at the same circuit as the World Championship’s opening round, we have every reason to feel optimistic about how the OAK/Dunlop package will behave at the legendary Sebring circuit. We have worked hard with OAK Racing and are excited to see the tangible results of our three-year technical partnership bear fruit.”

The week-long event begins with open testing on Monday and Tuesday ahead of Thursday and Friday’s Free Practice and Qualifying. The race itself begins at 10:30 local time on Saturday morning.

60th Anniversary Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida timetable (local time):

Monday 12: Open Test
Tuesday 13: Open Test

Thursday 15:
10:00 – 11:00: Free Practice 1
14:50 – 15:50: Free Practice 2
19:35 – 21:00: Free Practice 3

Friday 16:
09:55 – 10:55: Free Practice 4
15:20 – 16:25: Qualifying

Saturday 17:
08:00 – 08:25: Warm-Up
10:30 – 22:30: Twelve Hours of Sebring

Ways to watch and listen:

Live updates:
@OAKRacingLive
www.facebook.com/OAKRacingCommunity

North America:
Television: (Extensive highlights) ABC, 12:00 Sunday 18
Online: (Live qualifying) ESPN3, 15:15 Friday 16 / (Live race) ESPN3, 10:15 Saturday 17

Europe:
Television: (Live race) Motors TV, 15:15 (CET) Saturday 17
Radio: (Live qualifying) www.RadioLeMans.com, 20:00 Friday 16 / (Live race) www.RadioLeMans.com, 15:00 Saturday 17

Worldwide (Exl. N. America):
(Live race) www.fiawec.com
(Live race) www.alms.com

Larbre CompetitionAfter their maiden season in partnership with Corvette GM Racing yielded an Intercontinental Le Mans Cup title and victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours, Larbre Competition has further strengthened its exclusive links with the American manufacturer for 2012.

During last October’s trip to Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans a decision was taken to join the new FIA/ACO-organised World Endurance Championship (WEC) which will debut this season. When selecting drivers for the #50 and #70 Corvettes the team elected to adopt the continuity that is synonymous with top-line endurance teams.

Indeed, the decision was quickly made to retain the drivers who helped Larbre take a one-two finish at last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. As such the #50 car will be handled by a crew selected from Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal, Pedro Lamy and Fernando Rees while the #70 reunites Christophe Bourret, Pascal Gibon and Jean-Philippe Belloc behind the wheel. Only Gabriele Gardel, who recently lost backing from long-term partner BSI Bank, was unable to take up the challenge in 2012.

In his place, Larbre Competition has completed the #50 crew with drivers who boast huge experience and have already enjoyed much success with the team.

Lamy, who won Le Mans Series LMP1 titles in 2004 and 2006, as well as the FIA GT crown in 2005 for Larbre, will bolster the #50 line-up for the long distance events at Sebring and Le Mans. Between 2007 and 2011 the Portuguese pilot raced as an official Peugeot LMP1 driver, taking numerous wins and the 2007 Le Mans Series title for the French marque before their sudden withdrawal from the sport in January.

Another former Larbre driver returns to the team this year with Rees joining the #50 crew for the six-hour WEC races. The Brazilian enjoyed success with Larbre during 2007 when he piloted an Aston Martin DBR9 to victory in the 1000 Miles of Interlagos.

The cars will be looked after by the renowned Pratt & Miller factory that builds and develops the LM GTE model for Corvette. A crew of three technicians and one engineer from Larbre recently spent three weeks at the Detroit-based company to prepare the technical programme for the coming season. The cars and equipment will leave for Sebring this Thursday (March 8).

While the Corvettes were undergoing their final checks, Team Manager Jack Leconte took his drivers to a training camp at Golf du Médoc near Bordeaux to complete their physical and mental preparation. This will be vital as the squad takes on the factory Ferrari and Porsche teams in pursuit of the World Championship.

The camp took place under the watchful eye of Larbre’s physical trainer Jérôme Vassia. The team also enjoyed a trip to the National Training Centre of the ‘Gendarmerie Forces’ following an exclusive invitation from the Saint Astier Centre senior management. Colonel Pidoux and Colonel Rougeon personally followed the programme which was specially tailored for Larbre. What’s more, the Team Manager did not hesitate to join his race-hardened drivers in the challenging series of exercises!

All who took part were thrilled with the experience and will look to maintain the energy gained into 2012. All logistical, technical and strategic issues have also been fully explained to the drivers in order to leave nothing to chance.

The Larbre team is now ready to race and headed for the season-opening Sebring 12 Hours primed for success.

2012 World Endurance Championship calendar
12 Hours of Sebring (Sebring International Raceway), 17 March
6 Hours de Spa-Francorchamps (Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps), 5 May
24 Hours of Le Mans (Circuit de la Sarthe), 16–17 June
6 Hours of Silverstone (Silverstone Circuit), 25 August
6 Hours of São Paulo (Autódromo José Carlos Pace), 15 September
6 Hours of Bahrain (Bahrain International Circuit), 29 September
6 Hours of Fuji (Fuji Speedway), 14 October
6 Hours of Shanghai (Shanghai International Circuit), 27 October