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Featured Road to Le Mans 2016: GT Pro and Am

Discussion in 'World Endurance Championship' started by Jack Hunsley, Jun 13, 2016.

  1. Jack Hunsley

    Jack Hunsley
    Staff Member Premium Member

    Header.png With one of the world's greatest motorsport spectacles so close on the horizon RaceDepartment is taking the time during the final week before the big day to run down the 'Road to Le Mans'. First up, a quick look at the big players in the GT classes, and who to look out for amongst the back markers.

    The Basics
    Whilst outside of our wonderful niche sporting community the GT's may not entirely get the recognition they so richly deserve, taking the time to understand the sheer brilliance of the teams and characters who will inevitably end up as natural back markers this weekend can often be the key between enjoying a 'good' or a 'great' Le Mans experience.

    Whilst they don't pack the same punch as the properly prototype's having such instantly recognizable cars, even to the most casual observer, creates a very relate-able atmosphere which has brought countless new comers to the world of endurance racing.

    The Contenders

    GTE Pro
    From the outset understandably both of the GT Pro AF Corse's have to be put down as very strong contenders for the class victory at this years Le Mans. Despite qualifying issues at Silverstone and an extremely late retirement from the 6 Hours of Spa for James Calado and Gianmaria Bruni, AF Corse have so far asserted their dominance on the class.


    They've also run well at Le Mans in recent years. A trio of Calado, Rigon and Beretta drove the #71 machine to second in class in 2015, whilst Bruni, Fisichella and Vilander went one better in 2014 to win the race. Certainly, with the new 488 GTE working well they should be in good steed for race day.

    Alongside AF Corse at the top of the list for Le Mans is the Corvette Racing team. Last year's winners with the #64 entry and a seemingly equally competitive package based off the back of last weekends test session should put Corvette firmly in the fight for the win. Add to that the fact that the #63 was not able to start the race last year AND that these American boys really love to show up the WEC regulars, and there you have a recipe for a surprise.

    GTE Am


    In GT Am the Corvette looks almost equally as feisty as it's GT Pro counterparts. Back to back podiums in the bottom category of the WEC gives them good momentum coming into Le Mans.

    But they'll definitely have a hard time containing the ever present threat of the Lauda, Dalla Lana, and Lamy Aston Martin. With one pole and one victory already to their name in 2016, Aston Martin will most definitely be looking to avenge the cruelty of last years race, when Dalla Lana lost control of his V8 Vantage from the lead with less than an hour left on the clock.

    Outside of the WEC regulars the #99 Aston Martin currently leads over in the European Le Mans Series but with Formula Racing, the current reigning ELMS GTE champions, missing the last race at Imola, it's difficult to know where they stand in the class.

    The Dark Horse

    Top of the list down here has to be Ford. Back in action at the highest level of endurance racing the world has to offer Ford's return to the Le Mans is of course no coincidence. 50 years ago Ford came and dominated the 1966 24 Hours of Le Man, securing a 1-2-3 finish in what was a defining moment in the history of the race, with victories in 1967, 1968 and 1969 coming in succession.

    Plus, given that the new look Ford GT is currently second in GT Pro they have quickly gotten to grips with the demands of the WEC. But, don't forget that Le Mans is a different kettle of fish so to speak. Just ask Nissan...


    In GTE Am keep an eye out for the International Motor Sports Association series' #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari. Across the pond Scuderia Corsa currently top the GT Daytona class in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, with a podium last time out at Laguna Seca and victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring already under their belt this season.

    Continue Reading
    Road to Le Mans 2016: LMP1
    Road to Le Mans 2016: LMP2
    Road to Le Mans 2016: GT Pro & Am
    Road to Le Mans 2016: The Non-WEC Drivers
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  2. Azure Flare

    Azure Flare
    World's fastest mobile chicane Premium Member

    Who needs sleep anyway?
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  3. Alex Townsend

    Alex Townsend
    Premium Member

    Usually tune in to this live but this year we're flying back to the UK so I'll not be able to watch it...
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  4. fortyfivekev

    Premium Member

    Not able to go to the race this year so will be glued to the TV over the weekend.

    Unlike some I don't think Ford were sandbagging that much at Silverstone/Spa but that they have just designed their car for Le Mans with high top speed / low drag the priority. I expect they will be quick but lasting 24 hours is another thing. Ferrari are probably the favourites in my book but they have also had some new car issues so it should be interesting.
  5. Sunny Sky Speed

    Sunny Sky Speed
    You will never see me again, it's final now. Bye Premium Member

    Now let's hope those Ferrari GTE-(Am) will not get in the way of those insanely fast LMP1 cars this edition

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  6. airutonpurosuto8912


    Can't wait for Le Mans!
  7. Epic event about brave man and bullet proof technology. A race of legends.
  8. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    The GT category always gets a little overshadowed by the LMP's at Le Mans but the racing is arguably even more intense during the race.

    I noticed there is a little bit of controversy surround the Fords already. The ACO operate the BoP between the GT cars and after the Le Mans test day the Corvettes have been hit with a slight air restrictor change which will lower their power slightly, the Astons have been given a weight break but have had their restrictor changed to decrease power, while the Fords have been given another weight break of about 20kg as well as the weight break they were given at the beginning of the year. Some are crying foul play and the ACO want Ford to win on their anniversary. Difficult not to fall into that trap but if they do win I can see all the other teams complaining!;) The pace of the Fords was not great, the fastest lap times don't show it but their race pace on long runs was no where near as quick as those around them. Obviously being a Guernsey supporter I'll cheer on Andy bit I think this will be a three year project like most new cars.

    Unfortunately I'm stuck at work for the start so I'll miss the first few hours but really looking forward it. I have to support the Aston's so hoping for a good result for them :)
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  9. Yeah ferrari GT cars always have some sort of issue. I think the one i remember most is the 919 crash at Interlagos.
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  10. Mathias Nielsen

    Mathias Nielsen
    Premium Member

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  11. Rob

    XBO: OctoberDusk06 Premium Member

  12. Chris

    Ted Kravitz Appreciation Society Staff Member Premium Member

    I plan on watching every single second of it! :D #TeamNoSleep
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  13. Alex Townsend

    Alex Townsend
    Premium Member

    If I manage to get wifi where we're staying I'll try and catch some of it. I'll blame it on the jet lag....
  14. Erwin Greven

    Erwin Greven
    Premium Member

    There are a few points that favour their competitiveness.
    • The Ford is extremely fast on straights. At Spa they were faster than some LMP2 cars at the Kemmel straight.
    • The Ford is a purpose build car to win Le Mans. Unlike other GT3 cars it has not a road going twin.. All the other competitors are cars you can order at the factory and prepare it to race. Not the Ford: the first road going car has to be build yet. So they can focus on a race car instead of a road car.
    • The Ford also has a good fuel mileage which helps at long distance racing. At Monterey it won bc of its fuel mileage. It is very aero-efficient so it can coast though corners faster than most normal GT3 cars, which are primary luxury sports cars, prepared to race.
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  15. 4 8 15 16 23 42 108

    4 8 15 16 23 42 108
    Only the 5th-most famous race driver from Kerpen Premium Member

    But now they are sandbagging. Only three of four Fords dominating the time sheet...
    Not that they are overbopped.

    @Erwin Greven very good post, informative and correct, thanks!
  16. Andrew Harper

    Andrew Harper
    Premium Member

    My favourite new word of the day! :)

    Thanks for the extra info @Erwin Greven all interesting stuff :thumbsup:

    From an enthusiasts point of view I don't really want to the "old" GT1 style ACO rules (start with a race car, make one road going version and you're eligible for entry). I'm not saying that's happening here but it nearly killed the GT category completely as the cars became more and more expensive. I think you understand where I'm coming from on this one.

    I remember the DBR9's being faster in a straight line than the Audi R8's so yeah nothing surprises me these days :laugh:
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  17. Alex Townsend

    Alex Townsend
    Premium Member

    Was just a bit cheeky and tuned in to LeMans live stream on my work PC. Made the last hour of graft worth it... lol
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  18. Sunny Sky Speed

    Sunny Sky Speed
    You will never see me again, it's final now. Bye Premium Member

    [/QUOTE]From an enthusiasts point of view I don't really want to the "old" GT1 style ACO rules (start with a race car, make one road going version and you're eligible for entry). I'm not saying that's happening here but it nearly killed the GT category completely as the cars became more and more expensive. I think you understand where I'm coming from on this one.

    I remember the DBR9's being faster in a straight line than the Audi R8's so yeah nothing surprises me these days :laugh:[/QUOTE]
    I actually would encourage a new GT1 category to take part in the WEC, and keep the GT3 class away from high speed events like this. As much as I respect the GT3 class and admit its necessaty for motorsport racing today, the GT1 class could actually fill the niche between LMP1/2 and GT cars. So what the Ford is faster than LMP2 on a straight and GT3 car in high speed corners? The essence for me is the excitement this class brings to motorsport. Face it, who doesn't love those V12 or V10 sounds of super performance flagships in the history of GT1? Remember the Murcielago, Viper GTS, McLaren GTR or Saleen S7....I say a historic and absolutely wonderful era of GT hypercars has been taken from us and I would LOVE seeing a Zonda R vs an Aventador SV vs a McLaren 670 vs. ...in race car form thundering down high speed endurance track layouts. These cars could actually be safer amongst LMP1 fields as the speed difference is less great on straight or in corners.
    I understand GT3 has become faster since it got launched and current lap times are very close to historic GT1 times but one has to admit that the speed difference between LMP1 and GT3 is on the border of acceptable.
    If I had it my way, LMP1, LMP2 and GT1 would form the WEC and LMPC, GT3 and GT4 would drive under FIA.
    On top of that, the straight version of Le Mans, the no chicane version of Monza and some other modified high speed tracks would be reborn in the WEC while the FIA would embrace the more technical circuits. We would have so much éxtra spectating fun and another variety in great motorsport racing.
    My fantasy is sometimes stronger than myself but actually I think I am being more realistic than most of Ernie's brain fizzles destroying F1.