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Ginetta in WEC LMP1

The Prologue for the 2019-20 World Endurance Championship season took place this week in Barcelona, with the 4 hours of Silverstone following soon on Sunday 1 September. The four classes - LMP1, LMP2, GTE Pro and GTE Am - always provide plenty of interest, despite the lack of major manufacturer involvement in the top class over the past couple of years.

This season, there are just six entries in LMP1, but I think it's going to be an interesting battle as the FIA have introduced Equivalence of Technology (EoT) regulations to give the non-Hybrid cars some advantages in terms of weight, fuel tank capacity and refueling time. There will also be a further success handicap calculated after each race. A specific EoT will be used for the Le Mans 24 hours next June.

Along with two Toyota TS050 Hybrids, LMP1 will feature a pair of Rebellion R13s and a works Team LNT entry for two Ginetta G60-LT-P1 cars. After the fiasco of last season - when the Chinese CEFC Manor Racing team entered two cars, withdrew from the first round, were well off the pace at Le Mans and then simply gave up - it is great to see Ginetta back. The two cars will be powered by AER 2.4 litre turbo engines, ditching the Mecachrome unit that was used last year. Testing looked promising, but the prologue last week would give a better indication of the Ginetta's pace...

At the end of two days in Barcelona, the six LMP1 cars were separated by just over a second - all setting their fasted time in the fourth and final session. The #6 Ginetta was fourth overall, posting a best lap of 1:29.697 in the hands of F2 star Luca Ghiotto - just 0.556 of a second behind the leading Toyota's time. The #5 car was sixth with a 1:30.239 set by Ginetta test driver Charlie Robertson. A very encouraging performance, especially up against the top two teams of last season.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing 1:29.141
#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing 1:29.187
#1 Rebellion Racing 1:29.408
#6 Team LNT Ginetta 1:29.697
#2 Rebellion Racing 1:29.807
#5 Team LNT Ginetta 1:30.239

I shall certainly be cheering on the Ginetta team this season, especially as Scalextric have teamed up with Ginetta to produce the G60-LT-P1 in 1/32 scale. Models of the two 2018 Le Mans cars and two fantasy Ginetta test liveries are being released this summer - two individually and two in the Le Mans 24h ARC Pro digital set. Fingers-crossed the 2019-20 cars will be in the catalogue for 2020.


There will be news of the Ginetta challenge on the WEC website and the Ginetta Cars website.
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The Ginetta team have arrived at Silverstone, ready for the opening round of the 2019-20 World Endurance Championship season this weekend...

The #5 car will be driven by Ginetta factory driver Charlie Robertson, plus the young and highly-talented LMP1 drivers Ben Hanley and Egor Orudzhev who have moved from the Dragonspeed and SMP teams.

The #6 car will be driven by Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson, plus 2003 Le Mans winner Guy Smith and ex-Audi LMP1 factory driver Oliver Jarvis in an all-British llne-up.

The first practice session begins at 11.40 on Friday morning, with qualifying on Saturday and the race between 12noon and 4pm on Sunday. There's full coverage on the WEC website and app, plus qualifying and the race on and the race live on BTSport and Eurosport. Don't forget the all-important spotters-guide from the WEC website here.

Some video highlights from yesterday's practice sessions...

It was a solid day for the Ginetta cars, overshadowed by Rebellion pushing Toyota for the top times in LMP1.

Qualifying begins today at 11.50am - live updates on the FIA WEC website and app, plus some nice content on the Ginetta Cars facebook page.

Qualifying was tense...

The LMP1 and LMP2 cars qualify together in a short 25-minute session. Two drivers must record a lap time and the car's qualifying time is the average of the fastest lap of each of the drivers. The LMP1 results were...

#7 Toyota 1:36.015
#8 Toyota 1:36.315 (+0.300)
#1 Rebellion 1:36.560 (+0.545)
#3 Rebellion 1:37.024 (+1.009)
#6 Ginetta 1:37.220 (+1.205)
#5 Ginetta 1:37.464 (+1.449)

Not bad for the LNT Ginetta team's first WEC qualifying session. Now it's on to their first WEC race at midday today.
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That was a cracking race! I didn't want to give any spoilers, but most people should have watched the race by now. If not, here's six minutes of highlights from the WEC YouTube channel...

It was an eventful race, particularly for the Ginetta cars. Problems with tyre temperatures at the start, a catastrophic wheel issue on the #6 car and then Oliver Jarvis crashing the same car into one of the leading GTE Pro Ferraris didn't make it an easy first two hours. However, the cars showed good pace in the dry and in the wet. The #5 car was running close to the Toyotas and Rebellions until ending up stranded for several minutes in a gravel trap. The #5 car did recover and moved past the #1 Rebellion when it had issues in the final 30 minutes. On the final lap Ben Hanley overtook the LMP2 class-winning Cool Racing car to finish fourth overall and fourth in LMP1, five laps behind the winning Toyota. Because only the #1 Rebellion is eligible for WEC constructors points, that puts Ginetta second behind Toyota in the championship.

I do like my underdogs, so I was gutted that the Gulf Racing Porsche was forced to pit from second place in GTE Am for a splash & dash with less than ten minutes to go. They finished fourth, which was fabulous in a very strong field, but second place in class would have been their best ever WEC finish across four seasons. I am very fond of my Scalextric Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR from the 2015 Silverstone ELMS race. I understand it is quite rare now...

With perfect timing, the Scalextric C4033 Ginetta G60-LT-P1 #5 from Le Mans 2018 was released this week. The C1404 ARC Pro 24hr Le Mans set is also available, featuring the #6 car from Le Mans 2018 and a dark grey and orange fantasy livery which is similar to the test livery Team LNT have used. Find them here:

In the real world, next stop for the Ginettas is the 6 hours of Fuji on Sunday 6 October. The race starts at 3am UK time...
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Qualifying for the WEC 6 hours of Fuji took place this morning...

It was a promising, yet ultimately disappointing session for Ginetta. The driver line-ups have been tweaked since Silverstone, F2 star Luca Ghiotto joining Ben Hanley and Egor Orudzhev in the #5 car. The #6 car now features both Ginetta works drivers Charlie Robertson and Mike Simpson, alongside former Le Mans winner Guy Smith.

WEC qualifying requires two nominated drivers to set lap times during the 20 minute session. The average of each driver's fastest time is then the qualifying time for the car. The #5 Ginetta was sitting in third place behind the two Toyotas when Robertson spun and stalled the car with five minutes of the session remaining. He was on his first flying lap and had not set a qualifying time, so when the race director red flagged the session the #5 team dropped from third right to the back of the grid. The second Ginetta qualified fourth, six-tenths of a second behind the lone Rebellion.

Toyota #8 -   1'25.013
Toyota #7 -   1'25.803 (+0.790)
Rebellion #1 - 1'26.163 (+1.150)
Ginetta #5 -   1'26.163 (+1.807)
Ginetta #6 -   no time

Rain is forecast for the race tomorrow, so anything can happen. Working through the GTE and LMP2 cars from the start is certainly going to be a risky business for the #6 team...
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Here are the highlights of Sunday’s race...

Despite one Ginetta being right up there on the opening lap, the result after six hours wasn’t what the team and Ginetta fans would have hoped for. Both cars did finish - the #6 in tenth and the #5 in twelfth, 14 and 16 laps behind the winning Toyota. On the plus side, #6 was the second fastest car on the track with a 1m 27.023 and both cars were consistently fastest through the speed traps. Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson was upbeat...


Next on the WEC calendar is the 4 hours of Shanghai on Sunday 10 November. In the meantime, here is some onboard action from the #5 Ginetta at Fuji...


It’s the Shanghai 4 hours this weekend. And there are Ginettas second and third on the grid - out front (by 1.2 seconds) is the lone Rebellion. Looks like the Equivalence of Technology regulations are kicking in with the Toyotas fourth and fifth.
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I've only just caught up with the race after a long weekend of slot car endurance racing in Derby.

Rebellion rightly made the headlines, winning the race in dominant style. But it was Ginetta who made the early running - holding a 1-2 for the first hour and setting fastest lap before drive-throughs and some messy pit stops for both cars dropped them back to fourth and fifth. I'm looking forward to the Bahrain 8 hours on 14 December...
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Toyota seem "not amused"... but I think the rules are finally getting us some decent racing!

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