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Racing Roundup

Weekly Racing Roundup (1.17.22)

Report from 24H Le Mans Virtual plus news and notes from around the world…

Image: 24H Le Mans Virtual

Realteam Hydrogen Redline Wins Virtual Le Mans

Oliver Rowland, Felipe Drugovich, Jeffrey Reitveld and Michael Smidl won the second edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual driving for Realteam Hydrogen Redline.

After an early battle with the No. 123 Redline Oreca 07 featuring Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen, the No. 70 Realteam squad captained by Formula E ace Rowland prevailed in a contest that involved high attrition in the LMP and GTE classes.

Formula 2 driver Drugovich started from the front of the grid but a charging Verstappen, who missed out on pole by 0.002 seconds, seized the lead in the early stages.

The No. 123 Redline car remained out front until the eighth hour when Verstappen dramatically crashed at the Ford Chicane, handing the advantage to Realteam.

The FIA World Endurance Championship entrant then kept its nose clean through the hours of darkness and into the morning, maintaining a consistent pace to win by a minute from the No. 1 Rebellion GPX crew of Louis Deletraz, Agustin Canapino, Kuba Brzezinski and Nikodem Wisniewski.

ByKolles-Burst completed the podium ahead of Sem9 Flash Axle and Yas Heat.

BMW overcame Porsche and Ferrari to secure top honors in the GTE category as Rudy van Buren, Lorenzo Colombo, Kevin Siggy and Enzo Bonito won for Team Redline.

The entries that triumphed in their respective classes also clinched the inaugural Le Mans Virtual Series titles in the process, at the end of a five-round season.

RESULTS: 24H Le Mans Virtual

Photo: Jules Benichou/SRO

News & Notes

***AGS Events has named its driving crew for the new Gold Cup class in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup. Mike Parisy (Gold), Loris Cabirou (Silver) and Nicolas Gomar (Bronze) will drive the GT4 title-winning squad’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.

***AGS is fielding four Aston Martin Vantage GT4s for its FFSA French GT Championship title defense. Ewan Hachez and Hugo Bac form the Silver Cup pairing in car No. 007. Cabirou and Gomar will race in Pro-Am, along with Lauris Nauroy and Stephane Desbrosse. Didier Dumaine and Christophe Carriere complete the AGS roster in Am.

*** Optimum has finalized the lineup for its No. 42 McLaren 720S GT3 in the Asian Le Mans Series with the signing of FIA World Endurance Championship regular Andrew Watson, who will team up with Joe Osborne and Nick Moss.

***Sam and Richard Neary will return for a third season of British GT together in the Team Abba Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. The Silver-Am duo won two races last term and finished seventh in the overall standings. “We had a few too many peaks and troughs last year, which we need to iron out,” said Richard Neary. “But if we can do that and grab a win or two along the way then we can certainly aim for a top-three championship finish.”

***Three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Darren Turner will continue with Newbridge Motorsport in the GT4 class of British GT alongside his fellow reigning Pro-Am class champion Matt Topham. “I’m really looking forward to joining Matt and Newbridge again for a full season in British GT,” said Turner. “It was a nice surprise to win the Pro-Am championship last year considering Matt’s experience but he had an incredible year and the team delivered a winning car.”

***ORECA has upgraded one of its Magny-Cours test benches to accommodate the assessment of hydrogen engine technology. Testing is due to start in the spring.

Photo: Gulf 12H

***This month’s inaugural edition of the Bahrain Pro-Am 1000, a race planned by Gulf 12 Hours promoter Driving Force Events, has been postponed to 2023. In a statement, the organizer said: “logistical difficulties and the Covid-19 situation across many countries where teams are based do not present the optimum conditions to host an inaugural event of this nature.”

***Jim McGuire, Duncan Tappy and Andrew Bentley will embark on a third European Le Mans Series LMP3 campaign together with United Autosports. The drivers of the No. 3 Ligier JS P320 Nissan finished fifth in the 2020 table and 15th last season.

***Vasser Sullivan IMSA driver Aaron Telitz headlines Smooge Racing’s lineup for the Pirelli GT4 America season with a pair of Toyota GR Supra GT4s. Telitz will team up with Todd Coleman, who is also set to race solo in GT America powered by AWS. Am class champions John Geesbreght and Kevin Conway return in the other Smooge Toyota.

***The Sports Car Championship Canada presented by Michelin has announced the schedule for its second season. The calendar consists of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (May 20-22), Calabogie (June 3-5), TBA (July), Calabogie (Aug. 19-21), CTMP (Sep. 2-4) and a further to-be-announced round.

***Pegasus Racing has become the latest former LMP2 team to join the Ligier European Series, after Eurasia Motorsport. The Strasbourg-based outfit will run a car in each category: a Ligier JS P4 and a Ligier JS 2R. Christophe Weber, Anthony Nahara and Dimitri Enjalbert will drive for Pegasus this year.

***The Creventic-run Hankook 6H Abu Dhabi takes place this weekend, with practice set for Thursday and Friday ahead of qualifying and the race on Saturday. The race is due to start at 2:25 p.m. (5:25 a.m. ET). The latest entry list more than 30 cars.

On this weekend: Roar Before the Rolex 24 (Daytona), 24H Series (Yas Marina)

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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