International news

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Dallara returns to Le Mans
Italian firm secures licence as new LMP2 era dawns | By Gary Watkins

Dallara will build its first Le Mans-rules prototype since 2001 when the new LMP2 formula comes into force for 2017. The prolific Italian constructor was granted one of four licences to supply P2 chassis, following a brief tender process that started in June.

Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and fellow promoters are limiting the number of suppliers in the popular LMP2 division, so that each is able to put together a proper business model as it sells the latest generation of cost-capped sports-prototypes. Constructors will compete for customers across the World Endurance Championship, the United SportsCar Championship and the Le Mans Series in Europe and Asia. But Dallara managing director Andrea Pontremoli says this was only of secondary importance when the Parma-based company decided to make a tender, in a bid to build its first carbon-chassis prototype since the car of the early 2000s (known internally as the SP1 and externally simply as the LMP).

Beyond the one-make racing

“We are looking forward to be able to make a reasonable business with the new rules,” says Pontremoli, “but this is not the main reason we have decided to enter now. We are getting involved because we were looking for competition.”

He pointed out that Dallara is primarily involved in one-make categories, from GP3 up to IndyCar.

Its entry into another open formula alongside Formula 3, where it has a virtual monopoly, will provide a training ground for its engineers.

“We consider this as an investment into research and development, because competition will help us come up with new ideas. GP2, GP3 and Indy Lights don’t offer real competition,” he says.

Dallara offered the same reasoning when it re-entered US sports car racing in Grand-Am’s Daytona Prototype division in 2008. That coincided with a dip in the market for DPs, so that it has produced only four cars over eight seasons in the category that P2 will replace from 2017.

Pontremoli admits that entry into the P2 marketplace still brought risk: “The cost cap is very tight, so we don’t know if it will be viable from a business point of view. It is definitely a risk.”

He wouldn’t put a figure on the number of cars Dallara expects to sell across the four years of the next LMP2 rules cycle, but did suggest that Dallara’s US satellite base in Indianapolis would be “a big advantage” and that he expects sales to be “half and half between the US and the rest of the world”.

A limited market

Limiting the P2 market to four players – down from the six constructors who have had cars on the grid this year – will not necessarily mean a profitable business. Bill Riley, whose Riley Technologies operation won the slot reserved for a US manufacturer in a joint bid with Multimatic Motorsports, points out that Grand-Am employed a similar business model at the start of the DP era, granting seven licences at the start of the category in 2003 and five in 2008. Yet Riley dominated the market and went on to build more than 40 of the chassis based on its original MkXI. The rest built cars in very limited numbers.

Riley entered into partnership with Multimatic, the North American automotive conglomerate, to give the North Carolina-based company the same “global presence” as rivals. The FIA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest at Le Mans, which framed the new rules together with the USC sanctioning body IMSA, demanded guarantees that bidders could service cars in all LMP2 markets.

“We wanted to make sure that we had a global presence, and teaming up with Multimatic allows us to have that — they have a big facility in the UK and offices all over the world,” Riley says. “We also believe that we will produce a better car by working together.”

Strakka back to P1

Putting in place the infrastructure needed to service customers was one reason why Strakka Racing, which built the Japanese Dome S103, opted against bidding to become one of the chosen constructors.

“We came to the decision that we would not meet the criteria demanded by the FIA and the ACO and that we wouldn’t be able to stand toe to toe with the other bidders,” says Strakka team principal Dan Walmsley.

That has resulted in Strakka abandoning the Dome project, which suffered a series of delays that prevented the S103 from racing in 2014. Instead, it will race a Gibson 015S in the remainder of this year’s WEC and focus on a return to the LMP1 division, in which it competed in 2009 and 2012-13, with a car of its own design.

“After evaluating all the options, the LMP1 privateers’ category now offers the best arena to create our own car, which we will use to showcase our growing knowledge of new design and manufacturing processes,” says Walmsley, who adds that this was another step towards Strakka becoming “a sustainable motor sports business”.

Gibson targets engine deal

The question remains whether limiting LMP2 to four manufacturers will create the viable business that the FIA and the ACO covet. Bill Gibson, whose eponymous company (formerly known as Zytek) has produced a line of successful P2 machinery, thinks not.

That explained why he didn’t enter the tender process.

“It was not commercially viable, leastways for us, though that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be for others,” he says. “It wasn’t an easy decision to take and is sad in many ways.”

There is also a second reason for Gibson opting against trying to continue in P2 beyond the end of next season: the rules precluded a chassis builder from supplying the one-make engine that will be used across all the arenas, with the exception of the USC. The likelihood is that Gibson will bid for that contract and a decision is due to be announced in September.

The French connection

Current LMP2 big hitters ORECA and Onroak Automotive (with its Ligier and Morgan chassis) were also selected when the ACO announced the successful bidders.

ORECA suggested that it reached break-even point only after building 10 of its ultra-successful 03 chassis, of which 20 have been produced since 2011. Onroak has hit that number with the Ligier JSP2 in just 18 months, but is refusing to talk about profitability for a new company established only at the end of 2012. Boss Jacques Nicolet claims the firm is still “at the investment stage”.

The jury is still out on whether the new rules will allow P2 constructors to operate in profit. Financial success for one or two is likely to lead to losses for the others.

Obituary: Peter de Klerk

South African Grand Prix driver Peter de Klerk has died aged 80. He came to the UK in 1958 and worked for Lotus, building engines for Graham Hill and Cliff Allison, before returning home to work on Alfa Romeo-powered Cooper and Lotus cars. That led to building a successful Alfa special in which from 1962 de Klerk contested the South African championship and two Grands Prix. He went on to race a variety of Brabhams, entering two more South African GPs, then turned to sports cars, in 1966 sharing sixth place at Le Mans in a Porsche 906.

He raced single-seaters in South Africa until 1980.