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rsz_ecurie_ecosse_picEcurie Ecosse By Black Bull drivers Marco Attard and Alexander Sims extended their Avon Tyres British GT Championship points’ advantage after finishing third in the series’ blue riband three-hour Silverstone 500 race on Sunday May 31.

It was the legendary Scottish squad’s third consecutive podium finish of the campaign after winning last time out at Rockingham and coming home third in Oulton Park’s second round of the season. The result sees the pair move 11.5 points clear of their nearest rivals, while Barwell Motorsport – who run the #1 BMW Z4 GT3 – remain second in the Teams’ standings.

After qualifying third in the dry on Saturday, Attard hinted at the car’s wet weather potential by maintaining the place at the start of Sunday’s initially sodden race. He and Barwell team-mate Jon Minshaw enjoyed a fierce but fair scrap over the first stint before a Safety Car period after half an hour prompted Ecurie Ecosse, along with most of its rivals, to pit early and install Sims.

So long was the caution though that the BMW factory ace was called back in just a handful of laps later to switch on to slicks. And with a minimum of three driver changes required during the race, Barwell’s strategists also opted to put Attard back aboard for his second and the car’s third stint.

With other teams choosing different tactics the race’s definitive picture didn’t emerge until Sims climbed behind the wheel for the final time with around an hour remaining. While Attard had done well to keep the car in contention on slick tyres in damp but drying conditions, his co-driver was able to make full use of the fresh rubber at his deposal and duly reeled off the race’s three fastest laps up until that point immediately after the stop.

That helped Sims close in and take fifth before the afternoon’s second Safety Car period – required while the leader’s crashed Aston Martin was retrieved – gifted not only another place but also a shot at taking third. And take it he did once racing resumed with an audacious sweep around the outside of Daniel Lloyd at Stowe and along the Vale.

There was little time to make further progress thereafter and he ultimately finished just 7.1 seconds shy of race victory despite Ecurie Ecosse having to serve a 20-second ‘success’ penalty as reward for winning at Rockingham.

Marco Attard: “It was really tricky, and actually went better than we thought it would because I hadn’t raced in the wet before. At least Friday’s test was good practice. Then I was out on slicks on a damp track, but once it dried they were fine. Then I just left it to Alexander! I don’t think we could’ve wished for a lot more this weekend, especially as we’ve extended our lead in the championship.”

Alexander Sims: “It was a solid race. We played it fairly safe under the first Safety Car before benefitting from the timing of the second as it cancelled out our Rockingham success penalty. I guess it worked out pretty well! I had a good little battle with Dan [Lloyd] again, especially around Stowe, so it was a lot of fun!”

Mark Lemmer, Barwell Motorsport Team Principal: “British GT’s three-hour event is always a race dictated by good strategy and, to be fair, a lot of the top teams really earned their corn today. Our engineers were absolutely on the money too, even with the 20-second success penalty, and both drivers also did a great job. So it was a real team result. The key in this championship is to score points despite a pit-stop penalty, and another podium means we’re absolutely on target.”

Ecurie Ecosse’s next British GT outing comes at Spa-Francorchamps in six weeks (July 10/11). But the team will be back in action before that when it travels to former French Grand Prix venue Paul Ricard for round three of the Blancpain Endurance Series on June 19 and 20.

 

For more information: www.ecurieecosse.com

Allan McNishFor the first time in the 90-year history of the Le Mans 24 Hours, two hybrid race cars are on the front row. On Thursday night, Audi Sport Team Joest with its three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars took the three best grid positions for the world’s most important endurance race.

The intelligent combination of TDI power and quattro drive with which Audi celebrated the first-ever hybrid victory at Le Mans last year outperformed the competition on the 13.629-kilometer race track in Western France on both days of qualifying. The squad of the number ‘2’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro decided the battle for the top spot on the grid in its favor. The fastest time of 3m 22.349s (242.5 km/h), which Loïc Duval had achieved right at the beginning of the first qualifying session on Wednesday night, remained unbeaten on Thursday.

For the 31-year-old Frenchman, who is running together with Le Mans record winner Tom Kristensen (Denmark) and Allan McNish (Scotland), this marks the first pole position at Le Mans, and the eighth for Audi. And as in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2011 and 2012, the brand with the four rings secured the complete front row on the grid.

Starting the race from position two on Saturday will be the number ‘1’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro of last year’s winners Marcel Fässler (Switzerland), André Lotterer (Germany) and Benoît Tréluyer (France). André Lotterer was one of the few drivers who in the final qualifying session on Thursday night managed to improve over the day before on a track that was just slowly drying after rain showers and, by setting a time of 3m 23.696s, advanced from third to second place. ??Le Mans newcomer Lucas di Grassi (Brazil), Marc Gené (Spain) and Oliver Jarvis (Great Britain) in the number ‘3’ Audi R18 e-tron quattro secured third place. The fastest lap of this squad (3m 24.341s) was driven on Wednesday by the seasoned campaigner Marc Gené.

Allan McNish said: “Congratulations to everybody at Audi Sport. We’ve spent a few rough weeks to prepare for this race. But we couldn’t have been off to a better start than on grid positions one, two and three. We’re on the top spot ourselves and have found a good balance in racing conditions for our car. On Wednesday, Loïc (Duval) managed setting a very impressive time on a pretty dirty track – that has made him enter the history books. Tom (Kristensen) and I felt very comfortable in the car as well tonight. We’re well set but, as always, these are very long 24 hours.”

As on the day before, incidents caused several red flags and shortened the time available for qualifying. Despite the few dry laps all three Audi teams managed to optimize the set-up of the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro cars on Thursday night for the race.

Before the race starts at 15:00, CEST, on Saturday another 45 minutes of practice time will be available in the morning’s warm-up session. 27 channels will broadcast the race live or delayed-as-live, including Eurosport in Europe.

To watch the race live visit: www.lemans-tv.com

 

 

 

Caption: Allan McNish

Audi's R18 prototype imageAllan McNish lies second in the FIA World Endurance Championship after the Scotsman claimed the runners-up position in his hybrid diesel Audi in the Spa Six Hour race this evening (Saturday May 4).

Dumfries-born McNish shared his Audi R18 e-tron quattro with Tom Kristensen (DK) and Loïc Duval (F) and finished 65.815secs behind the similar Audi of Marcel Fässler (CH)/André Lotterer (D)/Benoît Tréluyer after 168-laps around the famous 4.35-mile Ardennes track having started from third place on the 35-car grid.

McNish won the opening Silverstone race last month and now lies just one-point off the lead in the eight-race series.

He said: “From a team point of view, we [Audi] achieved an excellent result with a 1, 2, 3 heading into Le Mans – particularly as the third-placed Audi ran very strong with a Le Mans aero in both qualifying and the race and on a track that did not suit its ‘long-tail’ particularly.

“I was a little disappointed with my car in the race. It didn’t have the consistent performance it should have had. It certainly wasn’t like we had at Silverstone and so we are going to have to look at where the losses were.

“It seemed we lost grip and didn’t have the pure down force grip that the winning Audi had and so we have to understand what happened going forward.

“But from a championship point of view, we are right in the fight, we dropped to second, but just one point behind the ‘sister’ car’s drivers with a first and a second each – they’re ahead due to them claiming pole-position here at Spa.

“So it’s set itself up nicely for Le Mans where you can be certain Loïc, Tom and I are going to be going for the centre spot on the podium!”

McNish, who had started from pole-position and finished fourth in the corresponding Spa race 12 months ago, got in the car for the first time with 2½hrs remaining. Duval had grabbed the lead at the first corner and ran in the top-two for most of his triple stint before Kristensen took over in second place.

Allan remained in the top-two during his 85mins stint prior to handing over his leading Audi to Duval who finished the race – the final pit-stops for the Audi sportscars being out of sync.

The third round of the eight-race 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship is the Le Mans 24 Hours (June 22-23). Before the race weekend, 61-cars will take part in a one-day “test” at Le Mans on June 9.