The Motor Sport Month - International News

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Senna swaps F1 for GT seat

Aston Martin has pulled off a coup by signing Bruno Senna for its 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship campaign.

The nephew of three-time Formula 1 world champion Ayrton will drive one of the Prodrive-run Aston Martin Racing team’s Vantage GTE contenders in a full WEC programme, including the Le Mans 24 Hours in June. The 29-year-old, who parted company with the Williams Formula 1 team last year, will share the car with fellow new signing Frederic Makowiecki and, at the Spa and Le Mans rounds, Briton Rob Bell.

Senna explained that he opted to join Aston’s four-car WEC attack because it’s part of his desire to race competitively again.

“I want to move forward and get back to winning races,” he said. “The opportunities weren’t there to do that in F1.

“There is no secret that ever F1 driver wants to be a world champion or a race winner, but there are relatively few who have a chance to achieve that. At the end of the day, I am in the sport to win races.”

Makowiecki is also a significant signing because the Frenchman had the chance to cement his links with Ferrari via a factory deal, but chose to compete with Aston in the WEC because it left him free to race other marques.

The 32-year-old will also drive for Honda in the Japanbased Super GT Series.

Le Mans greats selected

A flotilla of cars representing the rich history of the Le Mans 24 Hours will escort the French enduro’s new trophy around the famous circuit ahead of this year’s race.

A Bentley Speed 6, Jaguar D-type and Porsche 917 will be among the cars taking part in the parade on Saturday morning of the race weekend on June 22/23 as machines that best encapsulate the history of the great enduro, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary in 2013. The new trophy, which incorporates a replica of the original Rudge-Whitworth Cup dating back to 1923, replaces the previous trophy that Audi has retained by virtue of its 2010, 2011 and 2012 victories.

In total, 11 cars were picked as the result of a public internet vote and then the deliberations of a jury called together by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the organiser of the 24 Hours. The original idea of the ‘Vote for a Legend’ scheme was to pick one car from each of the 10 decades of the race, but a tie in the votes cast for the three 1990s nominees means that the Mazda 787B and Peugeot 905 will both take part in the parade.

The jury included former Le Mans winners Emanuele Pirro and Yannick Dalmas, who have nine victories in the event between them and legendary Porsche engineer Norbert Singer. Volkswagen group motor sport boss Wolfgang Durheimer, FIA President Jean Todt and Motor Sport contributor and long-time Autosport sportscar correspondent Gary Watkins were also on the panel.

The ACO plans to gather an example of each of the Le Mans legends as early as possible for a series of displays as it celebrates the race’s 90th birthday. The 11 cars will also be present in the Le Mans Village during race week.

Prototype privateers sought

Addressing the downturn in privateer LMP1 entries for the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Championship is one of the top priorities of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest.

The promoter of the WEC and the 24 Hours has expressed its disappointment in the presence of only two full-time P1 entries alongside the pair of factory cars fielded by both Audi and Toyota on the WEC entry. A further privateer car is entered for Le Mans, when Audi stretches its team to three cars.

ACO sporting manager Vincent Beaumesnil said: “The number of LMP1 entries we have is not a surprise, but nor do we regard it as satisfactory. One of our priorities for next year is to have more P1s.”

Beaumesnil predicts that there could be as many as 14 or 15 P1s on the grid at Le Mans next year. With the likelihood of seven or eight factory cars from Audi, Toyota and prototype returnee Porsche, that means there would be as many as eight privateer entries.

The ACO and the FIA, which jointly write the LMP1 rulebook, have already revealed that there will be a sub-class open only to privateers when the new energy-based formula comes into force next season. Privateer cars without energy-retrieval systems will be allowed a greater energy allowance per lap than their hybrid cousins.

The supply of customer P1 cars for next year could be limited. OAK Racing has announced that it is building a car, while Honda Performance Development and Japanese constructor Dome both have projects on the go.

Charity race date finalised

The Henry Surtees Brooklands Team Challenge will take place on June 25.

The annual event, which attracts names like Oliver Turvey, Sam Bird and Darren Turner, is a two-hour endurance race at MercedesBenz World. Teams of up to four drivers can be entered and all funds are donated to the Henry Surtees Foundation.

Last year’s event raised £33,905 for the Kent/Surrey/ Sussex Air Ambulance and Brooklands Museum Trust.