Autosport – 22 August 2019

(Barré) #1

















Sam Bird’s stint as a fixture in Ferrari’s
factory World Endurance Championship
squad has come to an end after three
seasons. The Briton has been replaced
in its GTE Pro line-up as a result of
continuing uncertainty over date clashes
with his Virgin Formula E programme.
Miguel Molina, who has driven
alongside Bird at the Le Mans 24 Hours
for the past three editions, will race the
#71 AF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GTE in
the full 2019-20 WEC, which kicks off
at Silverstone on September 1. He will
share the car with Davide Rigon, Bird’s
team-mate over the past three seasons.
Ferrari explained that the prospect of up
to two clashes between the WEC and FE
calendars was behind the move. The WEC
has shifted next year’s Spa round to avoid
a conflict with the new FE fixture in Seoul,
but there is still uncertainty over the TBA
on the FE calendar in December and the
Chinese fixture in March that take place
on the same weekends as the Bahrain
and Sebring WEC events respectively.
Bird will remain as a Ferrari factory
driver. The manufacturer has reiterated
that he will be given a programme for
2019-20 that will likely include a Le Mans
appearance alongside Molina and Rigon.
Meanwhile, long-time Aston Martin
factory driver Darren Turner is returning
to the WEC full-time. The Briton, who
contested only four rounds in 2018-19,
will race in GTE Am together with
Paul Dalla Lana and Ross Gunn.
Turner and Gunn, who has been handed
his first full WEC programme after a
season as official reserve driver, take the
place of Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda
in Dalla Lana’s factory-run, second-
generation Vantage GTE. The move ends a
relationship between the Canadian, Lamy
and Lauda that stretches back to 2015.

Bird loses place

in Ferrari team

ORECA in talks to bring extra

manufacturer to hypercars


More manufacturers could be gearing
up to join the new hypercar World
Endurance Championship division
in season two of the category in
2020-21. French constructor ORECA
has revealed that it is talking to
multiple major manufacturers with
a desire to take on Toyota and
Aston Martin – who have already
committed to the class – at the
pinnacle of sportscar racing.
“There is a clear interest in hypercar
from ORECA and we have started to
work on a project,” said company boss
Hugues de Chaunac (below). “At the
same time we have had some, I would
say, early discussions with OEMs.
“We have proved our level of
technology and that our design office
and our race team are at a very high
level, so we can offer a very strong
package to an OEM.”
He also explained that ORECA was
having ongoing talks with Rebellion
Racing, for which it has developed the
existing R-13 LMP1 car (above), about
the new class. De Chaunac wouldn’t
divulge to which manufacturers he is
talking, but he confirmed that ORECA
is working on a ‘lookalike’ hypercar
prototype like Toyota.
An entry into the hypercar division
for its maiden season in 2020-21 was
ruled out by de Chaunac. “With a

quick green light we could be ready
for the beginning in 2021-22,” he said.
“I think it would be possible to have
a car running by August 2021.”

Rebellion has made a late entry
of a second car for next month’s
Silverstone 2019-20 WEC opener.
The additional Gibson-engined R-
will be raced by Loic Duval, Pipo
Derani and Nathanael Berthon in
what the team is suggesting is a
one-off at the moment.
The team has never made any secret
of its desire to run the two cars, for
which it filed entries back in May.
Sources indicate that Rebellion is
close to firming up the car for the full
season with the same driver line-up,
except at Fuji in October when Duval
will be on DTM duty for Audi.
“At the end of many negotiations,
the team managed to enter a second
car for this first round of the WEC
and keeps on working to be able to
line up two cars in each round of the
WEC, although priority will be given
to Spa-Francorchamps and the
Le Mans 24 Hours in 2020,” said
Rebellion owner Alexandre Pesci.
Meanwhile, the factory Ginetta
team has announced its drivers for
its WEC programme under the
Team LNT banner with a pair
of AER-powered G60-LT-P1s.
Ben Hanley and Egor Orudzhev,
who raced BR Engineering P1 chassis
for DragonSpeed and SMP Racing
respectively in 2018-19, will share
with Ginetta factory driver Charlie
Robertson. Former Le Mans winner
Guy Smith will make a return to
racing alongside his long-time driving
partner in the American Le Mans
Series, Chris Dyson – a director
of AER – and Mike Simpson.

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