Friday, 12 December 2014

Looking back on 2014 and forward to 2015

2014 has been rather a hectic year, and I have written rather less on this blog that I have wanted to, particularly in the middle of the year. Pressures of work, family, other commitments: they've all taken their toll, and meant that I’ve not written about all manner of things that I have wanted to.

So I’m going to attempt to address that with this - a rather all-encompassing mish-mash of thoughts, experiences and tales from my year. At least part of it. Since writing here is purely a hobby for me, it has been one of my lower priorities. No, that’s not quite true: it’s a leisure activity, and hence it’s important to me. It is also a platform that I use to indulge myself. I may not make any money out of it, but I take great pleasure in watching how many readers I get; where they are based; and what reaction I get to my various musings.

I’ve been touched by offers from various people of help, in very open-ended forms: not knowing what might improve things for me, people wanting to make things better. As a Christian, I believe that prayer can make a difference, and whether folk have been praying, or whether it is just a general sense of positiveness, or whether pure chance and circumstance; you may all have different views.

But from my side, I am expecting a very different year next year from the one that is about to pass. Before going on to tell you about that though, a reflection on some of the things that I have wanted to write about this year, but failed, being overtaken (and possibly lapped) by events before I had chance put fingers to keyboard.

Back in July, the opportunity arose for me to visit Silverstone on the first day of free practice for the British Grand Prix, and it seemed like a good idea to go. I was surprised to discover, when I checked, that it had been as many as 12 years since I had last been at a Formula 1 race - having seen my first British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch in 1968, and been to every single GP in this country between 1976 and 2002 - I may nowadays associate myself more with endurance and sportscars, but it was not ever thus.

These days there are many F1 fans - they call themselves “motorsport fans” - who rarely visit a race. I don’t want to say this is necessarily a bad thing, for F1 on TV these days is very popular, due entirely to these fans; but personally, I do think that you can’t beat actually being there. To experience things from the spectator’s viewpoint is crucial for me and I had a jolly good day out at Silverstone. Admittedly I didn’t actually get there until mid-way through Free Practice 1, but by doing so I had no dramas with parking, no queues, and got to the trackside very easily indeed. The sun shone and it was great to be able to wander around the enclosures, spending the whole day watching from various points. I was rather disappointed to be told that I couldn’t go in the ‘Silverstone Six’ grandstand: the one that overlooks the inside of the Becketts esses as well as the exit to the Loop; but I did get into the stand on the outside of Becketts, and also at Stowe, Club, and opposite the pits.

It was great too, to see Silverstone looking its best. There is no doubt that when everything is painted, the grass is mown and there are vendors’ stands everywhere, the place has a splendid atmosphere, worthy of any major public event, sporting or otherwise.

I'm not sure whether Formula 1 lived up to my expectations though. For me, the lack of noise was an issue, even for one who has grown to love the whispering diesel prototypes that do so well in endurance racing. The only point of jaw-dropping, knocking-my-socks-off, in-your-face Formula 1 was when I stood on the outside of the track, at Maggotts, the first element of the Becketts esses. There you can get yourself pretty close to the track, and the barely bridled violence of a Grand Prix car at speed can be felt in every fibre of one's body. But without that immediacy, it was - at times - a bit tame, especially at slow corners. Granted of course, I was just there for a free practice session, and that never quite grabs the attention in the same way as a full-blown race, but still, I felt there was something out-of-reach about Formula 1 when I look back to the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s whereas I had the impression that today’s cars were being driven by mere mortals.

Apart from the Grand Prix, I didn’t go to any races ‘for fun’ this year. Indeed, following the Spa 24 hours in July, I didn’t manage to get to any other races this year at all - apart from those kart races in which my son was competing! After trips in the first half of the year to Dubai, Bathurst, Silverstone, Le Mans and Nürburgring, this was not such a sacrifice, and family holidays in Spain and Warwickshire (yes, Warwickshire) at least enabled me to increase my store of brownie points in August.

Covering the five remaining rounds of the World Endurance Championship for from my spare bedroom might not have been exotic, but it worked pretty well, in my opinion - and your views would of course be welcome. Although it would have been fun to travel to Texas, Japan, China, Bahrain and Brazil, I am pretty sure that my home and work life would not have survived such trips.

Without the assistance of the kind folk at Al Kamel Systems (the WEC timekeepers) and of SBG Sports Software, who loaned me a version of their RaceWatch software, it would have been a far more difficult exercise though. These systems together enabled me to follow what was going on halfway across the globe and indeed furnished me with more information than John Hindhaugh and Graham Goodwin were getting in their commentary booth at the various circuits.

Inspired by my experiences of ‘remote commentary’, and also by the discovery that one LMP1 team had more than 250 working technicians at Le Mans this year, I began to work on an article entitled ‘Remote Engineering’; the purpose of which was to make the case that a lot of the strategy work, telemetry monitoring, tactical decision-making and more, can be done ‘back at base’ and doesn’t need to have people travelling to all the races at all. Maybe that’s an article that will get written in 2015.

I’ve also wanted to tell you about some good books that I’ve read this year. Tony Brooks’ autobiography, ‘Poetry in Motion’ was probably the best of the motor racing ones. In his foreword, Brooks boasts (or maybe admits is a better word), that it is all his own work. Despite offers of help from professional writers, he decided to write it himself. It shows too, but it is a good read for all that. Brooks manages to confront his critics, puff out his chest and boast of his achievements, but all in a modest way. As one who spent his career up against the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio and Stirling Moss, he hardly disguises his opinions of his contemporaries, and provides some splendid insights into a somewhat different world that was motor racing fifty or sixty years ago.

I tend to shy away from expensive ‘photo books’, and hence bought the latest book ‘Uncrowned King’ about Jochen Rindt with some trepidation. I had experienced Rindt's career as it happened, and remember to this day coming home from Crystal Palace and seeing an Evening Standard news placard from the top deck of the 164 bus at Rose Hill blurting out the news: “Racing star killed at Monza”.

I had read Heinz Prüller’s biography, and wasn’t sure that I needed to revisit the subject. However, partly prompted by the fact that David Tremayne is a writer that I enjoy reading and also by the fact that Rindt belongs to that special band of drivers to have won Le Mans; I took the plunge, and am very glad that I did. It may be expensive, and it may have a lot of pictures, but if you're looking for a last minute Christmas present for a friend, then you could do a lot worse. It’s a book that I suspect a lot of people don’t have.

At the moment, I am part way through ‘Doctor on the Grid’ by Tony Goodwin. Although I haven’t seen him for years, I got to know Tony quite well in my days at Brands Hatch; and a nicer man you couldn’t wish to meet. He may not be a household name, but like the tales of Perry McCarthy and Tommy Byrne, his story is worth telling and definitely worth a read. Like Brooks, Goodwin combined a passion (and a considerable, if largely unrecognised talent) for racing with a proper job in the medical profession, and both talk of the difficulty of balancing that passion with more mundane but important things like job and family. Which of course is a theme that I know well.

A theme that brings me on to my plans for 2015. After thirty-five years of working full-time in the IT industry, the plan is to spend no more than three days per week doing that next year. The idea is that this will free up time for pursuits such as writing and talking about cars and racing. I’m not sure yet how I shall make ends meet, but I am optimistic that I have enough money-earning potential that I shall be able to spend more time doing the things that I enjoy, whether that be crafting prose, analysing spreadsheets, talking into a microphone or simply spending more time with my family. If I make money enough money for a holiday, then that will be a bonus!

Friday, 7 November 2014

Leena Gade - Clever!

Dedicated readers (with good memories) might recognise that the heading of this post has echoes of an article that I wrote two years ago. If not, it’s here.

Leena (whisper it) may be a little older than H, but she has learnt her trade at Progressive Motorsport, and been mentored by H for many years now. And during the Six Hours of Shanghai she proved that she’s just as good at making swift strategy calls, if circumstances call for it.

The circumstances in question came as the two Audi R18 e-tron quattros battled over third place with the no. 14 Porsche and the six hour race headed into its final two hours. It was clear that the Porsche held the upper hand – not merely in terms of average lap times, but more significantly by virtue of superior fuel consumption. Both Porsches had planned to complete the race on just five stops, and the early Safety Car period had enabled the Stuttgart marque to carry out its plan without even the need for fuel-saving in the second part of the race, at least for the Dumas/Lieb/Jani car.

Marc Lieb brought the 919 into the pits from third place to hand over to Neel Jani a good ten minutes later than the Audis had pitted, and by then the Swiss driver knew that he would be able to get to the end of the race with just one stop for fuel and tyres, practically securing a podium finish.

Following a fine opening stint by André Lotterer in Audi no. 2, Ben Tréluyer had struggled slightly on the tyres during his stint, losing time to Loïc Duval in the no. 1 car. It’s important to appreciate that Audi does not implement team orders (as a rule), so the fact that the no. 2 car held a significant advantage in the WEC points standings didn’t mean that Wolfgang Ullrich was about to interfere. It was down to the race engineers on the each car to make the strategy calls: Kyle Wilson-Clarke and Dave Brown looking after the no. 1 and Leena Gade and Justin Taylor the no. 2.

Marcel Fässler took over from Tréluyer with a little over two hours remaining. The trouble was that the Audi would only do 30 laps on a full tank of diesel, and that would take less than 56 minutes, so Marcel would have to make two stops to get the R18 e-tron quattro to the end of the race. Tom Kristensen, in the no. 1, was 17.3s ahead and having stopped two laps before the no. 2 car, also had to make two more stops. The only difference was that Kyle was planning a driver change, to get Lucas di Grassi back into the car for the final stint.

There may be only two points difference between finishing fourth and finishing fifth, but Leena wanted those two points badly. How was she to recover those 17.3s? The answer, she decided, was to do the short-fuelling stop early, which would gain track position over the no. 1 car and secure fourth place should the Safety Car be deployed.

So after a 29-lap stint (taking nearly 54 minutes), Fässler came into the pits, took on board enough fuel for eight laps and a new set of tyres, and was on his way after a stop of just 56.927s (from pit in to pit out). He also found himself on a clear track, and in the eight laps before his next stop, his average lap time was 1m 50.418s. During the same period, di Grassi’s average in the no. 1 was 1m 51.520s.

But of course Fässler’s stop would be for a full tank of fuel; di Grassi only needed to take on enough for ten laps. To ensure fourth place, Fässler would need to keep delivering the lap times. Excluding pit laps, Marcel’s average lap time over the final hour of the race was 1m 51.365s, compared to Lucas di Grassi, whose average was 1m 51.613s.

As ever at Audi, the credit must go to the whole team of the no. 2 car: Fässler, whose driving this year has been sublime; Gade, for having the courage to make the call; and also the team of mechanics, who gained a further 4.8s in those crucial final two stops. That in itself was probably down to the extra two laps of fuel that the no. 1 car required. And that was due to Duval and Kristensen not being quite efficient enough in fuel-saving.

It might have been clever, but it deprived the spectators of a wheel-to-wheel battle which would almost certainly have ensued between the two Audis otherwise.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Qualifying in Shanghai

Saturday’s qualifying session at Shanghai was thrilling as ever, with the official timesheet at the end of the session showing identical four-lap average lap times for the no. 14 Porsche and the no. 8 Toyota on the front row of the grid.

I’m sure readers here will be well aware of the format of WEC qualifying; but just in case you’re not, a brief recap for you.

Qualifying is split so that the GT cars and prototypes each have their own session, and each has 25 minutes, during which time teams are only allowed to use one set of (dry) tyres, and two drivers from each car must set two timed laps each. Refuelling is permitted, but the car may not go back into the garage during the session; if it does so, then its qualifying is deemed to be complete.

Obviously, the prototypes are quite a bit quicker than the GTs, and 25 minutes provides enough time for around four flying laps for each P1 driver (bearing in mind that the final ‘in’ lap doesn’t have to be completed inside the time limit). So although the mantra “every lap counts” is true, there is also room for a lap or two to be spoiled by traffic, without the four-lap average being too badly affected. There is also the opportunity to use the laps between ‘flyers’ to cool the tyres, or charge up hybrid systems, for example.

In Shanghai, the pressure was intensified by threatening clouds and reports of spots of rain on the track. The no. 14 Porsche was started by Neel Jani and he did just two flying laps and brought the 919 straight back into the pits to hand over to Romain Dumas. The Frenchman got into the car, did two more flying laps, and came back in as well. The car was pushed back into its garage, the Porsche having done just eight laps in total on its set of tyres.

Over at Toyota, Anthony Davidson took the no. 8 TS040 Hybrid out and did three flying laps, each one quicker than the one before - even if, by his own admission, the laps were “a bit scrappy”. Sebastien Buemi may not have had ideal track conditions, but he did find himself on an increasingly empty track, and was able to unleash all of the Japanese car’s 1000 horsepower in his quest - not only for pole position, but also for a championship point. Despite managing six flying laps, however, he wasn’t able - quite - to extract a quick enough lap time, as the figures below show.

14 - Porsche 919 hybrid
Lap Driver Time
1 Neel Jani 1m 47.036s
2 Neel Jani 1m 47.606s
3 Romain Dumas 1m 49.443s
4 Romain Dumas 1m 49.115s

8 - Toyota TS040 Hybrid
Lap Driver Time
1 Anthony Davidson 1m 48.097s
2 Anthony Davidson 1m 48.087s
3 Anthony Davidson 1m 47.847s
4 Sebastien Buemi 1m 48.671s
5 Sebastien Buemi 1m 55.994s
6 Sebastien Buemi 1m 50.555s
7 Sebastien Buemi 1m 48.637s
8 Sebastien Buemi 1m 54.459s
9 Sebastien Buemi 1m 48.632s

Now, before you get your calculators out and work out the four lap averages for the best two laps of each driver from each car, consider this: when you do an average, you have to divide, and that means rounding. Try working out the total time of the four laps, and don’t divide by four. Then you get a total time for four laps for the Porsche of 7m 13.200s. For the Toyota, the total is 7m 13.203s.

So the average lap times, as issued by the FIA WEC, are clearly truncated, rather than rounded. If you round to the nearest thousandth of a second, then the result is:
Porsche - 1m 48.300s
Toyota - 1m 48.301s

Of course, there is nothing in the regulations to say how you should resolve this arithmetic: perhaps there should be. What is specified, is that the car that sets the four lap average first takes precedence in the case of the average lap time being the same for two different cars. Fortunately, the Porsche did its time first, but if it hadn’t done, then I think it would have had a good case to argue that its average was quicker, and that it should have had pole position anyway.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Marking your card for Shanghai

Ahead of the next round of the World Endurance Championship in China, I have as usual been trying to work out what to expect. Fuji provided six hours of practically uninterrupted racing – and a facility like Shanghai will most likely provide similar. Remember that last year we had six hours racing at Shanghai: unspoilt by of Safety Cars, Full Course Yellows or rain. Although the weather gods were kind to us in Japan, rain in late October is not unheard of in China, and changeable conditions might be the best hope for either Porsche or Audi to put Toyota under pressure.

Before any race, a team will put together a race plan, which will include the driving sequence, length of stint and when tyres will be changed. Of course, the green flag waves and this plan is often the first casualty as events (dear boy) unfold and incidents happen. Nevertheless, and even if the better-prepared teams will have alternative plans up their sleeves to deal with various eventualities, it is the plan that you have to start with. And the thought occurs to me that the strategists at Porsche (and possibly even those at Toyota) might be thinking in terms of a five stop race in Shanghai.

It will not have gone unnoticed that at Fuji, Brendon Hartley in Porsche no. 20 managed a stint of 39 laps, which from the pit exit at the start of his stint to entering the pits at the end took him 58m 40s. If one allows that to refuel, change tyres and travel the length of the pit lane takes more than 1m 20s, then the inevitable conclusion is that it is possible for a modern LMP1 car to complete a six hour race on just five stops.

Last year at Shanghai, the longest stint by one of the works hybrids was 26 laps. By my reckoning, in fuel-saving mode, Porsche will be able to manage 32 laps. A good average lap time will be 1m 50s. I calculate that both Porsche and Toyota might be able to manage that, and if they do, then they'll be able to complete 191 laps in 6 hours - one more than last year's winning Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

With no time available for any development between races, it is safe to assume that Audi will struggle on pace again this weekend. Their decision to run in the 2MJ category may have provided them with the reliability to win Le Mans, but the long straights and tight hairpins of Shanghai will play to the more powerful cars from Stuttgart and Tokyo (via Cologne), just as it did in Japan. Audi also has a higher fuel consumption, so unless there is the opportunity to save fuel behind the safety car, both Audis will need six stops.

As Toyota found out in Texas, though, Audi will optimise their strategy, and pounce on any opportunity that is presented. And the most likely – some would say the only – area in which Audi can pull a rabbit out of the hat is in tyre usage. We know from previous visits to Shanghai that the tyres will not last two stints. At least, they won’t last two full stints. As Audi knows even now that they will have to do six stops for fuel, there might be an opportunity for them to do shorter stints with a lighter fuel load and thus be able to double-stint the tyres. But even then, I don’t think that the R18’s have the pace to worry the Toyotas. But the other advantage of having a six-stop plan is that it is inherently more flexible than a five-stopper. If the weather conditions change, or if a safety car intervention is called for, then a more flexible strategy could turn things Audi’s way. Even if nothing happens, everyone will have to be on their toes, ready to react, just in case!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A clean race and a clean sweep for Toyota

Surprisingly, the Six Hours of Fuji didn’t really throw up any surprises.

The two Toyotas made no mistakes and simply ran away into the distance, giving their opposition no chance. Maybe it was just the type of race that Nicolas Lapierre needed to take part in, to restore his self-confidence (if that was what was at the root of the “personal reasons” for not racing). As a previous winner at Fuji, he surely will not have had any difficulty in keeping the car at the front; it will likely cost him a world championship title.

It was a race that was enthralling rather than exciting. With its long straight, Fuji encourages a relatively low downforce configuration. This had the double consequence of increasing tyre wear and reducing fuel consumption. This, I think, goes part of the way to explaining why Michelin’s LMP1 tyres would not last for a double stint. The improved fuel consumption also enabled all six LMP1-H entries to complete the race on just six stops each.

The shortest stint of those six-stoppers was Mark Webber in the no. 20 Porsche, whose first stint was just 10 laps, having suffered a slow puncture. André Lotterer in the no. 2 Audi tried to make his tyres go for two stints, but had to capitulate after a stint of just 16 laps; which was the shortest stint that the Audi was capable of without having to make an extra stop for fuel.

Of course all this played into the hands of Toyota. It is no secret that the Japanese manufacturer holds the horsepower advantage, and provided the team found the correct balance, the rest was a formality. Toyota also seems to have learned Audi’s trick of getting the car to improve as the race went on. Both Kazuki Nakajima and Anthony Davidson set their cars’ fastest laps in the final hour of the race. Both the Audis set theirs in the first two hours.

The one moment of controversy was the Full Course Yellow (FCY) period, just before half-distance. The debris that had to be cleared from the track was quickly dealt with, and racing was underway again in less than three minutes, but inevitably the neutralisation affected some more than others. First though, to be clear: this was a Full Course Yellow, not a Safety Car Period. The regulations allow for both, and they are different. It was a procedure first introduced during the Silverstone 6 hours in 2013, and was felt then by race control to have worked well.

Just as with all procedures, though, it is important to understand what is and is not allowed. Under Full Course Yellow, the pit lane entry and exit remain open throughout. Cars must immediately slow down to 80km/h and must not overtake. At the end of the FCY period, messages will be displayed on the timing screens and green flags will be waved at all marshal posts. This is the signal for racing (and overtaking) to resume, “regardless of the positions of the cars relative to one another and to the line”.

Two cars took the opportunity to make pit stops: the no. 1 Audi, which was called in for Lucas di Grassi to hand over to Tom Kristensen; and the no. 27 SMP Oreca of Maurizio Mediani, which made a fuel-only stop. Everyone else stayed out, so in theory at least, should have pretty much maintained position. Here are the positions (and gaps) just before the Full Course Yellow was called.

No. Car Driver Laps Time Gap
8 Toyota Davidson 102 2h 34m 29.337s
7 Toyota Sarrazin 102 2h 34m 36.939s 7.602s
14 Porsche Jani 102 2h 35m 51.452s 1m 14.513s
1 Audi di Grassi 101 2h 34m 47.473s 26.040s
20 Porsche Bernhard 101 2h 35m 01.146s 13.673s
2 Audi Tréluyer 101 2h 35m 43.435s 42.289s
13 Rebellion Leimer 97 2h 35m 43.393s 6m 22.510s
26 Ligier Canal 95 2h 35m 17.285s 2m 46.400s
47 KCMG Oreca Howson 95 2h 35m 49.725s 32.440s
27 SMP Oreca Mediani 94 2h 34m 40.357s 27.421s
35 Oak Morgan Brundle 94 2h 34m 43.261s 2.904s
9 Lotus CLM Rossiter 94 2h 34m 56.672s 13.411s
51 Ferrari Bruni 90 2h 35m 37.877s 7m 27.057s
71 Ferrari Rigon 90 2h 35m 40.165s 2.288s
99 Aston Martin Rees 90 2h 35m 43.364s 3.199s
91 Porsche Bergmeister 90 2h 36m 09.631s 26.267s
95 Aston Martin Hansson 90 2h 36m 11.289s 1.658s
98 Aston Martin Nygaard 89 2h 35m 00.118s 30.837s
81 Ferrari Rugolo 88 2h 34m 59.194s 1m 41.394s
88 Porsche Al Qubaisi 88 2h 35m 22.905s 23.711s
75 Porsche Collard 88 2h 36m 10.725s 47.820s
61 Ferrari Skeen 87 2h 34m 35.957s 7.725s

The waving of the green flag is supposed to be simultaneous around the track, allowing driving to start racing again immediately: there is no need to wait until you get to the start-finish line or any other such restriction. And after a full racing lap, the positions (and gaps) were:

No. Car Driver Laps Time Gap
8 Toyota Davidson 106 2h 42m 06.609s
7 Toyota Sarrazin 106 2h 42m 09.015s 2.406s
14 Porsche Jani 106 2h 43m 34.110s 1m 25.095s
20 Porsche Bernhard 105 2h 42m 27.373s 24.498s
1 Audi Kristensen* 105 2h 42m 55.741s 28.368s
2 Audi Tréluyer 105 2h 43m 22.616s 55.243s
13 Rebellion Leimer 100 2h 42m 01.320s 6m 30.829s
26 Ligier Canal 99 2h 43m 01.247s 2m 37.553s
47 KCMG Oreca Howson 98 2h 42m 16.287s 52.957s
35 Oak Morgan Brundle 98 2h 42m 35.598s 19.311s
27 SMP Oreca Mediani* 98 2h 42m 59.693s 24.095s
9 Lotus CLM Rossiter 97 2h 43m 06.381s 1m 43.648s
51 Ferrari Bruni 93 2h 42m 11.679s 5m 53.962s
71 Ferrari Rigon 93 2h 42m 13.272s 1.593s
99 Aston Martin Rees 93 2h 42m 21.600s 8.328s
91 Porsche Bergmeister 93 2h 42m 32.678s 11.078s
95 Aston Martin Hansson 93 2h 42m 35.248s 2.570s
98 Aston Martin Nygaard 93 2h 42m 58.297s 23.049s
81 Ferrari Rugolo 92 2h 43m 01.859s 1m 46.760s
88 Porsche Al Qubaisi 92 2h 43m 27.994s 26.135s
75 Porsche Collard 91 2h 42m 38.140s 53.351s
61 Ferrari Skeen 91 2h 42m 41.261s 3.121s

Unless you’ve got a very big screen, or you’ve printed this out, it might be a bit difficult to compare these two, so here are the net gains / losses for each car, relative to the one ahead of it.

No. Car Driver Gain/Loss Time
7 Toyota Sarrazin Gain 5.196s
14 Porsche Jani Loss 10.582s
1 Audi di Grassi Pit loss 26.660s
20 Porsche Bernhard Gain 14.707s
2 Audi Tréluyer Loss 12.954s
13 Rebellion Leimer Loss 8.319s
26 Ligier Canal Gain 8.847s
47 KCMG Oreca Howson Loss 20.517s
27 SMP Oreca Mediani Pit Loss 15.985s
71 Ferrari Rigon Gain 0.695s
99 Aston Martin Rees Loss 5.129s
91 Porsche Bergmeister Gain 15.189s
95 Aston Martin Hansson Loss 0.912s
98 Aston Martin Nygaard Gain 7.788s
81 Ferrari Rugolo Loss 5.366s
88 Porsche Al Qubaisi Loss 2.424s
75 Porsche Collard Loss 5.531s
61 Ferrari Skeen Gain 4.604s

You will notice that I’ve excluded some cars from the comparison, as in some cases the car ahead had emerged from the pits. In other cases, the gaps are just misleading. In effect, it is not possible to disentangle the effect of the pit stop from the effect of the FCY. In these cases, I have measured the gain on the car that finished up in front, after the relevant pit stop. In the cases of the cars that stopped, I have indicated that the time they lost as a ‘pit loss’. And of course it is also impossible to disentangle the speed differentials during the racing time that is inevitably included in the four laps between the two positions taken for my reference laps.

However, it does look a little as if Matt Howson’s claim that he was delayed by the Full Course Yellow has some merit. At the end of the race, the KCMG Oreca was just 5.434 seconds behind the G-Drive Ligier. Whether the 20 seconds lost in the FCY would have made the difference between winning and losing the LMP2 class of course is another matter. And quite why Howson should have lost so much time is not clear either. Certainly, if one looks at the laps spent while the FCY was in operation, average speeds of the laps completed were between 90 and 100km/h. So most likely the difference came either at the start or at the end of the procedure.

In any event, speeds under FCY were investigated by the race director, and no action was deemed necessary. Just be sure that more controversy would have arisen if a Safety Car (or, heaven forbid, the red flag) had been used. And surely, any procedure that takes just two and a half minutes has to be good?

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Aligning the Elements in Japan?

The World Endurance Championship reconvenes at Fuji International Speedway this weekend, and according to the meteorologists, the weather is set fair for the whole of the weekend. Some sunny spells, temperatures in the high teens or low twenties; but importantly, no rain. Bear in mind though that these are the same meteorologists that suggested that the 6 hours of the Circuit of the Americas would also be dry... weather forecasting was never an exact science.

But after last weekend’s formula 1 race at Suzuka, and last year’s washout at Fuji’s WEC round, the Japanese fans deserve a dry race, and as rain has affected so much of the WEC season thus far, it would be good to have six hours of uninterrupted racing on Sunday.

And if we do have an uninterrupted, dry race on Sunday, then surely Sébastien Buemi and Anthony Davidson will be rubbing their hands together in glee. They currently hold (along with Nicolas Lapierre) an eleven point advantage in the drivers championship, but they know that it is the eighteen point deficit in the Manufacturers’ championship that their Japanese employers are particularly concerned about. They also know that, in the Austin race, Buemi enjoyed a very handy advantage indeed in his TS-040 Hybrid. Looking at the average lap times from the first hour and the last two hours of the race alone reveals that the Swiss driver was substantially quicker than anyone else.

In the first 42 laps, each of Buemi’s best 10 laps was, on average, more than 1.4s quicker than the best of his rivals (Lotterer in the Audi). And in the final 64 laps, each of his best 15 laps was still more than half a second quicker (although this time it was Lucas di Grassi that was best of the rest). During both of these periods the track was fully dry, and conditions were pretty much ideal for fast lap times. If a similar superiority can be achieved in similar conditions in Fuji, then neither Audi nor Porsche are going to be able to keep up. And surely Davidson will not allow himself to be slower that Buemi. There are advantages to two driver teams in a six hour race - drivers tend to stay more focussed - and provided both are on form, I think ‘Sebant’ will be tough to beat on Toyota’s home ground.

In Austin, both Toyotas made three driver changes, whereas both Audis changed only twice, so that each driver only had one stint at the wheel. This certainly didn’t make the difference between winning and losing, but is just another example of Audi's habit of optimising every little detail, so that when an opportunity presents itself, as it did in Texas, the team has the best chance of turning that opportunity to its advantage.

Austin showed that the Toyotas are not only quick on the track though, but they have better fuel consumption than Audi too. Neither of the Audis could manage more than 29 laps on a tank of diesel, whereas both Toyota and Porsche demonstrated that they could run 30 laps. At Suzuka, that means that Toyota and Porsche will be able to manage at least 35 laps, enough to get by on just six stops for the race. Audi may be able to conserve the tyres more than their competitors, but will still have to make an extra stop for fuel, by my reckoning.

In the GT class, Ferrari and Aston Martin seem to have the current BoP advantage over the Porsches, although it is interesting that only AF Corse has all Platinum-graded drivers in its two crews. Having said that, for my money Olaf Manthey has the strongest line-up in its two Porsches, whereas at Aston Martin, there is really only one car capable of challenging for class honours.

In Austin, Toni Vilander was slightly off the pace of Gianmaria Bruni - possibly because of the conditions not being ideal whenever he was in the car, but even Gimmi was not able to match the average lap times of Darren Turner and Stefan Mücke in the no. 97 Aston. However, it will not have gone unnoticed that the AF Corse team was able to turn their 458 Italia round much more quickly in the pits than the Vantage. At the end of the day, I believe that the advantage rests with Aston Martin Racing, but they have to sharpen up in every area in order to catch their rivals in the championship points standings. In the GTE-Am class, AMR is ahead: due as much as anything to its professionalism; in the PRO class, small things have caught the team out. It is not a question of outright speed, but dealing with the challenges of endurance racing: be that the changing weather conditions, mechanical reliability or efficiency in the pits.

If some of those variables can be removed in this weekend's round in Japan, then indeed, conditions might align themselves for Toyota and for Aston Martin. Will it happen that way? We’ll have to watch it and see!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Driving stints in Texas

During the 6 hours of Circuit of the Americas, a message came up on the timing screens to tell teams that the driving time regulations would still apply, despite the fact that the race had been suspended for 49 minutes, and drivers had been allowed out of their cars during the stoppage.

It got me thinking a little bit, so I have worked out the number of laps driven and the time in the car, for each driver in the LMP1 category. For the purposes of this table I have included the time spent by drivers in the pits, so that the sum of the times for each car adds up to six hours, and the sum of the laps completed adds up to the number of laps completed by each car in the race (unless I have made a mistake).

No. Driver No. of laps Percent Time Percent
1 Loïc Duval 48 31% 1h 32m 16s 26%

Tom Kristensen 52 33% 2h 40m 38s 44%

Lucas di Grassi 57 36% 1h 49m 51s 30%

2 André Lotterer 49 31% 1h 34m 38s 26%

Benoît Tréluyer 42 27% 2h 19m 41s 39%

Marcel Fässler 66 42% 2h 07m 33s 35%

7 Alex Wurz 78 50% 2h 29m 40s 41%

Mike Conway 47 30% 2h 32m 14s 42%

Stéphane Sarrazin 30 20% 1h 00m 17s 17%

8 Sébastien Buemi 69 44% 2h 10m 58s 36%

Nicolas Lapierre 58 37% 2h 53m 50s 48%

Anthony Davidson 30 19% 0h 58m 08s 16%

9 Christophe Bouchut 53 37% 2h 50m 14s 47%

Lucas Auer 33 24% 1h 16m 21s 21%

James Rossiter 54 39% 1h 56m 06s 32%

12 Mathias Beche 67 45% 2h 16m 59s 38%

Nicolas Prost 24 16% 0h 49m 36s 14%

Nick Heidfeld 58 39% 2h 55m 33s 48%

13 Fabio Leimer 37 42% 1h 21m 39s 33%

Dominik Kraihamer 22 25% 0h 44m 24s 18%

Andrea Belicchi 29 33% 1h 58m 53s 49%

14 Romain Dumas 28 18% 0h 53m 01s 14%

Neel Jani 75 48% 3h 24m 47s 57%

Marc Lieb 53 34% 1h 44m 09s 29%

20 Mark Webber 46 30% 1h 28m 18s 24%

Timo Bernhard 59 38% 2h 56m 18s 49%

Brendon Hartley 50 32% 1h 37m 25s 27%

I will leave readers to draw their own conclusions from all this, but feel that one or two of my own conclusions might also be appropriate. Firstly, it is noticeable that Toyota seems to favour one driver in each car over the others. Both Buemi and Wurz drove the TS040 twice during the race; at the start and again at the finish. Audi cycled their drivers through one driving shift each and Porsche split their strategy, giving Dumas, Jani and Lieb one stint each in the no. 14 but allowing Webber two stints (at the start and at the end) in the no. 20.

Surely minimising the number of driver changes must be the best strategy? Although tyre usage plays a role in when to change drivers.

It is also interesting - or perhaps fun would be a better word, for it is hardly an illuminating statistic - to see who actually achieved the fastest average speed for his stint. Probably by virtue of it being the shortest, that honour goes to Romain Dumas at 174.7km/h. Benoît Tréluyer, in the winning Audi, actually set the second slowest stint of all, completing his 42 laps at an average speed of just under 100km/h, but at least he kept it on the track.

And even though Neel Jani was at the wheel for longer than anyone else, it was Alexander Wurz who actually drove more laps than anyone else in the class, with a total of 78.

If anyone wants the same information for the P2 class or GT cars, then you'll have to bribe me: send whisky or leave a begging message below!

Monday, 22 September 2014

Red Flag in Austin

There was much fuss and bother when the 6 hours of Circuit of the Americas had to be stopped, after just over an hour and a half's running on Saturday evening.

Various claims and counter-claims were made, regarding whether or not the correct procedures had been followed, and what the impact of those procedures was on the outcome of the race.

There is no doubt that the outcome was affected, but in my opinion blame should not (indeed cannot) be put on the race direction, officials or even the regulations. Rather, it was merely a question of circumstance, particularly adverse weather conditions, timing and, as is so often the case in these matters, a little bit of luck.

In the event that it is necessary to ‘suspend’ the race, the regulations say that both the pit entry and pit exit will be closed. From the data to which I have access, it seems that three cars managed to side-step this rule and come in to the pit lane anyway: the no. 9 Lotus (Christophe Bouchut), the no. 81 AF Corse Ferrari (Stephen Wyatt) and the no. 90 8 Star Ferrari (Gianluca Roda). No disrespect to any of these, but I don’t believe that any great injustice was done by permitting these transgressions to go unpunished in the overall scheme of the race.

In the pits already, at the moment that the race was suspended were the following cars:

No. Car Class
7 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid LMP1-H
26 G-Drive Ligier-Nissan LMP2
30 ESM HPD Honda LMP2
47 KCMG Oreca-Nissan LMP2
65 Corvette C7.R GTE Pro
95 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE Am
98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE Am
99 Aston Martin Vantage V8 GTE Pro

It is unfortunate, but inevitable, that with the pit exit being closed, these cars could not rejoin the race and had to remain in the pits until the time that the proposed restart was known. The regulations forbid repair work during a race suspension, but re-fuelling and tyre changes, along with changes of driver may be done.

Where Race Director Eduardo Freitas used his discretion was in his decision to allow (for safety reasons) tyres to be changed on those cars which were on the start-finish straight. No particular heights of intellect are required to justify the wisdom of that decision, but some of those teams in the pit lane must have been looking enviously over the pit wall, while those on the track were able to get a ‘free’ tyre change.

The procedure for resuming the race is perhaps slightly confusing, but is still reasonably simple, and relies merely on the cars being stopped at the ‘red flag line’ in the same order as that in which they were when the race was suspended. There’s no ambiguity in this, as there is no overtaking allowed at all when the red flag is shown.

The objective of the procedure, in word and spirit, is clear: to line up the field behind the leader and get on with the race. To this end, those cars between the red flag line’ and the leader were, three minutes before the resumption, waved around on a single lap (no overtaking allowed) to take up position at the back of the field behind the leader, who moves into position behind the Safety Car.

The cars which were thus waved around were (in the order that they were on the track):

No. Car Class
57 Krohn Ferrari GTE Am
97 Aston Martin GTE Pro
51 AF Corse Ferrari GTE Pro
88 Proton Ferrari GTE Am
14 Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1-H
91 Manthey Porsche 911 GTE Pro
92 Manthey Porsche 911 GTE Pro
12 Rebellion R-One LMP1-L
75 Prospeed Porsche GTE Am
37 SMP Oreca-Nissan LMP2
71 AF Corse Ferrari GTE Pro
27 SMP Oreca-Nissan LMP2

These then lined up behind the cars that had been left on the grid, and in so doing, crossed the Start-finish line and were credited with another lap.

The cars that were left, lined up and ready to set off behind the Safety Car, were:

No. Car Class
2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1-H
13 Rebellion R-One LMP1-L
1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro LMP1-H
8 Toyota TS 040 Hybrid LMP1-H
61 AF Corse Ferrari GTE Am
20 Porsche 919 Hybrid LMP1-H

So, to summarise, there were eight cars in the pits, twelve that were waved round for a lap, six remaining on the track, and three that came into the pits (despite the pits being closed, but unpunished), accounting for all 29 cars in the race.

Personally, and from reading the regulations, I can see no cause for complaint against those cars that were stopped on the circuit - if marshals provided assistance to anyone, it was merely to move the cars from unsafe positions. Provided that assistance is not used to start the engine, then no offence has been committed.

What the regulations do not make clear, in my opinion, is what would have happened had the leader of the race been in the pits at the time of suspension, and in a sense I think we are lucky that it did not happen, as the leader (Fässler in the no. 2 Audi) only exited the pits 16 seconds before the red flag was shown. (I hope that this was not the reason, though, that it took so long for the decision to suspend the race to be taken.)

A clarification of the procedure to be followed should the leader be in the pits when the red flag is shown is thus the only area of Sporting Regulations that I think needs to be considered. For the rest of it, I felt that it worked as well as it could, under the circumstances. Sure, some folk lost out and others gained, but only to the same extent as would have happened anyway if the race had been neutralised by a normal Safety Car Intervention. It was cars going off into the scenery and strategic choices on suitable tyres that had the biggest impact on the race order.

I'll be writing a further analysis for dailysportscar in the coming days - in particular attempting to answer the question whether Audi only won because of the deteriorating power of the no. 14 Porsche, or whether Fässler would have caught Marc Lieb anyway.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Trying to predict the unpredictable

I am not about to go into the details of my personal life, but circumstances have contrived to make it almost impossible to get anything written on this blog in recent weeks and that is something that saddens me. The fact is that I both enjoy writing my thoughts up here, and also enjoy reading your comments and watching the statistics.

It’s not that I am lacking inspiration in any way, either; it is merely that I have not been able to devote enough time to transforming my ideas into words to make it worthwhile posting them here.

Anyway, in anticipation of the upcoming WEC race this weekend – the nattily-titled 6 hours of Circuit of the Americas – I’ve been looking at what might happen. With so much having gone on behind the closed doors of Porsche, Toyota and Audi since Le Mans in June, it is only possible to speculate about who might be quickest. But that has not stopped me in the past, and it isn’t going to stop me now.

What became clear after Le Mans was that both Toyota and Porsche reduced their pace (in the time-honoured fashion) in the vingt-quatre heures this year in order to improve their chances of reliability. Hence, I would expect both Toyota and Porsche to be quicker than Audi in Texas, and for Toyota to be quicker than Porsche.

In terms of average lap times for a stint around the 5.513km circuit, that means something like:
Toyota - 1m 49.4s
Porsche - 1m 49.6s
Audi - 1m 49.9s

And in this brave, new world of fuel efficiency, stint lengths like this:
Toyota - 27 laps
Porsche - 28 laps
Audi - 25 laps

On this basis, only Porsche will be able to run a six-stop strategy, both Toyota and Audi will need an extra stop.

All of this is assuming, as always, that neither the weather nor Safety Car will play a role in the race. And there have been suggestions of rain in the area on Saturday evening – although my latest ‘skunk works’ forecast calls for a dry race throughout. Last year, the weather was good, but the Safety Car came out for fifteen minutes in the first hour, allowing 187 laps to be completed in the six hours.

If we do get a dry, green race then that would suggest that 190 laps would be possible this year. In the end, it will come down to the question of who is able to maintain the suggested average lap times above as well as double-stinting the tyres… for that will be the key to winning the race, in my opinion.

Monday, 11 August 2014

24 Hours or 12?

I was lucky enough, at the end of July, to go to the Spa 24 hour race - the fourth and penultimate round of the 2014 Blancpain Endurance Series, and in so doing, attended my fourth 24 hour race of the year. It wasn’t the first time that I have attended four 24 hour races in a single year, but it has inspired me to muse on the relative merits of these and other endurance races around the world.

I have visited Spa-Francorchamps several times before, and I have to admit I like the place a lot. I lived in Antwerp, on the other side of Belgium (geographically, politically and culturally) for a little over a year in the mid-1990’s, and although much about the country leaves room for improvement in all kinds of areas, the Ardennes and the Haute Fagnes (or Hoge Venen as the Flemish speakers would have it) are worthily areas of ‘outstanding natural beauty’.

So it was a great pleasure indeed this year to visit Spa for the 24 hour race, barely a month after returning from the Nürburgring 24 hours, itself a week after Le Mans. There may be readers of this who have visited all of these, as well as Dubai, Daytona, Silverstone and Snetterton (the other circuits that I have been to for 24 hour races), and I am sure you will have your favourites (just as I have). But I may have other readers who have not had the opportunity to go to any of these famous (and less famous) endurance races, in which case, I would like to provide a little of the flavour and encourage you to go and visit!

Le Mans is, of course, top of the list. For me, as for many, it is the first item to go into the diary every year (after my wedding anniversary and wife’s birthday). And yes, I do still use a physical, hand-written diary. Having been to every Le Mans 24 Hours since 1981, it was (and remains) the one race I would choose to visit, if I could go to no other.

Indeed I did have to choose, when my children were very young, and spending weekends at home became more important. The one event that remained in my diary was Le Mans. It is an event that lends itself to an annual visit. An event whose continuity is in its annual nature, not the part that it plays in any series or championship. The importance of the vingt-quatre heures du Mans transcends the WEC, just as it has the various other World Championships in the past. Many, many people go to Le Mans, and it is the only race they’ll go to all year.

And it won’t matter so much either. They’ll recognise cars from one year to the next. Not just those on the track, but those in the campsites. Le Mans gets under your skin and stays there. I’ve tried many times to explain to people what it is that makes it special and it’s hard to do. The trouble is that very little of what made it special thirty or more years ago, when I became addicted, is still there; but it remains special.

Seeing cars of vastly different performances, racing into darkness, overtaking all the time; being able to explore the circuit, from one corner to another, to wander off for a nice meal, being able to actually see the drivers; drivers who may not quite carry the celebrity status of the top F1 stars, but who nevertheless are known stars (or superstars) – it all contributes to the timeless appeal of the race. But it’s only a part of why I keep going back.

In comparison, Daytona is less sophisticated, less romantic. When I went there for the first time, the cars that competed on the famed Florida banking were the same as those that went at speeds of up to 240mph (or more), down the Mulsanne straight in La Sarthe. Indeed, virtually identical TWR Jaguar XJR-12s won both the Sunbank 24 (as it was called in 1990) and Le Mans six months later.

Nowadays, despite the arrival of the United Sports Car Championship, it’s not the same of course. My last visit to the self-proclaimed ‘World Center of Racing’ was in the Grand-AM era, and the 24 hour race was rather different: in terms of entry, strategy and tactics. But the track is the same, and the atmosphere, walking around the centre of the circuit, watching cars on the banking, surrounded by motorhomes the size of a small bungalow on the south coast of England is just as it was.

And when you go into the grandstand, and stand (against the rules), right up to the fence as the cars come off the turn 4 banking to cross the start finish strip, you feel the impact of a Daytona Prototype blasting past just a few meters from your face in every fibre of your being. You can’t do that at Le Mans.

The number of darkness hours at Daytona is hard work, too. Like Dubai (to which I’ll return later), holding a 24 hour race before the equinox means a lot of dark running. Just as Le Mans is the first date to go in my diary, though, I know some folk for whom the Nürburgring 24 hours is the top event not to be missed. I have sympathy with that view, but do not agree. For me, the ’Ring is a great event, but it doesn’t have the same international credibility as Le Mans or Daytona. That said, if you’ve not been, and you have been to Le Mans, then I would strongly suggest that you make a sacrifice to get there.

Le Mans has the Mulsanne, Daytona has its banking. But the Nürburgring has the Nordschleife. The Nordschleife is a circuit like no other. The atmosphere is everything. Ghosts live in the woods. The ghosts of Caracciola, Nuvolari, Seaman, Fangio, Collins, Hawthorn, Moss, Clark, Stewart and Lauda: they are all here. And more. If you do go, do not underestimate your fellow spectator. They’re a knowledgeable lot, the Germans. They know their racing and they know their history. They also know how to have a good time. A race – any race – on a track whose lap time is eight minutes or more is different from any other. You don’t follow a race on a track like that: you are merely a bystander while a race is going on. That means that you need to develop techniques for knowing how long it will be until a car is due. Normally that involves drinking a certain about of beer, eating a certain amount of wurst or just setting fire to a certain amount of wood. At least, that’s the only reason I could find for such a lot of the above-mentioned activities going on.

The circuit itself is narrow – much of it is out of range of spectators. The fences, though, are close, you can smell the drivers sweating… and know that they can smell you. Everyone goes to Brünnchen; Pflanzgarten is unmissable; and the long walk to the inside of the Karussel is worth every step. Just to say you’ve been there; that you’ve watched racing from one of the sport’s most iconic places.

But at the end of the day, the Nürburgring 24 hours is a GT race. And for me, there is a big difference between watching prototypes at night and watching GT cars. Prototypes are real racing cars, Formula 1 cars with headlights if you will, and the sight of them racing at night is something very special. That’s not to say that watching full-house GT3 cars from the spectator enclosure at Wehrseifen – or most other places round the Nordschleife – at night isn’t spectacular, but for my money,  prototypes just cut the mustard a little sharper somehow.

But this is to miss the point, to an extent. Most of my readers probably know that I don’t go to sleep during a 24-hour race. I stay up all night; I pay attention, and I try to follow what’s going on. To me, this is what it’s about. Endurance is all about pushing the physical boundary: whether that be of the machinery or of the people. Although it is clearly important for drivers to take breaks during a race of this distance, there are engineers and mechanics in every team that stay up for the duration (and more). It seems only fair to match their effort somehow.

So this year, and racing at Spa. Unfortunately, I only managed to get out and watch at La Source and the chicane (ex-Bus Stop) at night, but looking back from there towards Blanchimont gave a good impression of what the rest of the track might be like at night. Spa, a bit like Belgium itself, sits between Le Mans, France and the Nürburgring, Germany. It may not have the culture and the depth of history of Le Mans, but it is not quite as raw as the ’Ring.

In the back of my mind is the thought that while Le Mans has built its heritage on prototypes and the Nürburgring on sports cars, the heritage of Spa is Touring Cars and although it is great to see the GT cars racing through the night in the Ardennes, there is a piece of me that sees it as rather too similar to the race in the Eifel the previous month. Of course this is to overlook the different agendas of VLN and SRO, who may have the same songsheet, but don’t quite seem to be in harmony.

Then there’s Dubai, of course, run by the very slightly wacky Creventic organisation. As a competitor, the event ticks all the boxes: it is accessible, well-organised, in the right place at the right time of year and extraordinarily good value for money. As a spectator though, I think I would need to have another reason to be in Dubai in order to want to go to the 24 hours. The place itself is in the middle of a desert, of course. Personally, I find the UAE rather distasteful. And the track looks rather like someone laid out some scalextric on a table in order to design it.

And if you’ve been to all these, and fancy something a bit different, then there are the two big 12 hour races. Bathurst and Sebring. I’ve never been to Sebring, and that is something I regret, and something that I would like to address. For one, it’s a race with a heritage and history. Two, it’s got prototypes (for the moment). Three, they run into the dark. And it’s the dark that somehow blots the Bathurst copybook. Great circuit, yes. Great location, yes. Strong entry, too and plenty of variety. But the atmosphere is lacking a bit. Although I’ve never been there for anything other than the 12 hours (and that only twice), one has the feeling that the place has better things to do than to run the 12 hours. It’s a bit like trying to explain to a died-in-the-wool F1 fan what Le Mans is about. Everyone in Australia knows about Holden v Ford, but find the GTs rather too exotic. Maybe they are put off by a perception that endurance racing is too complex, too. That may be about to change, and then all we need is someone to take up the challenge of organising a 12 hour WEC race (Phillip Island?) and have that a fortnight before the Bathurst 12 hours, providing just the impetus for a big entry for both!

Just a thought.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Le Mans - LMP2 drivers

I’ve written lots about this year’s Le Mans, but failed miserably to write anything on my blog. Sorry about that. Of course, most of what I have written elsewhere has earned me some money, so priorities being what they are, this has been left until last.

Since I’ve written nothing yet about the closely-fought LMP2 class, and since my readers here will (I am sure) be interested, I thought it would be worth comparing drivers in that class.

For the purposes of this, I show the “average lap time” of each driver who actually got behind the wheel of an LMP2 during this year's 24 hour race. For the average, I have used 20% of the laps that each driver completed: in some cases, this leads to very few laps being considered.

It also means that track conditions - for example yellow zones and full course caution periods - are ignored. And spare a thought for Kirill Ladygin, Maurizio Mediani and Alessandro Latif, who didn’t get to drive at all! Nevertheless, for the most part, the following provides interesting reading.
No. Car Driver Grade No. of laps Average Lap Time
38 Jota Zytek Harry Tincknell Gold 121 3m 39.814s
35 Oak Ligier Jann Mardenborough Gold 121 3m 39.881s
36 Signatech Alpine Nelson Panciatici Platinum 149 3m 39.987s
38 Jota Zytek Oliver Turvey Platinum 131 3m 40.034s
46 TDS Ligier Tristan Gommendy Platinum 146 3m 40.380s
26 G-Drive Morgan Olivier Pla Platinum 64 3m 40.473s
36 Signatech Alpine Paul-Loup Chatin Silver 129 3m 40.749s
35 Oak Ligier Mark Shulzhitskiy Silver 93 3m 40.756s
35 Oak Ligier Alex Brundle Gold 140 3m 40.828s
47 KCMG Oreca Alex Imperatori Gold 28 3m 40.969s
36 Signatech Alpine Oliver Webb Gold 77 3m 41.284s
48 Murphy Oreca Rodolfo Gonzalez Silver 22 3m 41.298s
24 Loeb Oreca René Rast Platinum 134 3m 41.313s
48 Murphy Oreca Nathanael Berthon Gold 28 3m 41.336s
34 Race Performance Franck Mailleux Gold 122 3m 41.462s
46 TDS Ligier Ludovic Badey Silver 135 3m 41.491s
48 Murphy Oreca Karun Chandhok Platinum 23 3m 41.596s
26 G-Drive Morgan Roman Rusinov Gold 22 3m 41.623s
46 TDS Ligier Pierre Thiriet Silver 74 3m 41.751s
27 SMP Oreca Mika Salo Platinum 93 3m 41.860s
47 KCMG Oreca Matthew Howson Silver 21 3m 42.159s
42 Caterham Zytek Tom Kimber-Smith Gold 99 3m 42.185s
33 Oak Ligier Ho-Pin Tung Gold 173 3m 42.402s
37 SMP Oreca Nicolas Minassian Platinum 9 3m 42.453s
34 Race Performance Jon Lancaster Silver 110 3m 42.547s
29 Pegasus Morgan Léo Roussel Silver 82 3m 42.537s
43 Morand Morgan Christian Klien Platinum 160 3m 42.635s
38 Jota Zytek Simon Dolan Silver 104 3m 42.738s
24 Loeb Oreca Jan Charouz Gold 105 3m 42.929s
43 Morand Morgan Gary Hirsch Silver 125 3m 43.335s
24 Loeb Oreca Vincent Capillaire Silver 115 3m 43.391s
47 KCMG Oreca Richard Bradley Gold 38 3m 43.549s
41 Greaves Zytek James Winslow Silver 20 3m 43.672s
33 Oak Ligier Adderley Fong Silver 88 3m 44.405s
42 Caterham Zytek Chris Dyson Gold 116 3m 44.419s
26 G-Drive Morgan Julien Canal Silver 34 3m 44.561s
34 Race Performance Michel Frey Silver 110 3m 45.014s
50 Larbre Morgan Pierre Ragues Silver 149 3m 45.130s
27 SMP Oreca Anton Ladygin Silver 81 3m 45.154s
50 Larbre Morgan Ricky Taylor Gold 137 3m 45.266s
42 Caterham Zytek Matthew McMurray Silver 114 3m 45.844s
29 Pegasus Morgan Julien Schell Silver 135 3m 46.406s
29 Pegasus Morgan Nicolas Leutwiler Silver 119 3m 47.005s
27 SMP Oreca Sergey Zlobin Bronze 129 3m 47.075s
33 Oak Ligier David Cheng Silver 86 3m 48.757s
43 Morand Morgan Romain Brandela Bronze 67 3m 48.900s
50 Larbre Morgan Keiko Ihara Bronze 55 3m 56.249s
41 GreavesZytek Michael Munemman Bronze 11 4m 20.306s

I don’t really think any further comment is necessary. If you feel like making points of your own, feel free to do so by clicking in the comment box below.