BARRETT DELIGHTED WITH HISTORIC WIN
competing over the past year, and wasn’t expecting a great result, but once he settled after the first couple of stages he went reasonably well to take fourth. Andy Johnson in his Vauxhall Chevette HSR had a clean run to fifth, with Shawn Rayner rounding off the top six.
Seven-time Circuit of Ireland winner Jimmy Mcrae did well to bring his Vauxhall Firenza Can-am into seventh, commenting: “I always love coming to Killarney for these stages, fond memories and a great atmosphere. The Firenza has loads of power, the problem is stopping it!”
Stanley Orr made a brilliant start to the rally in his Mk1 Escort Pinto, third overall after the opening stage, but unfortunately he retired when the oil pump seized on the road section through Kenmare. Barry Jones lost three minutes on the opening Molls Gap stage when his Escort Mk2 incurred a puncture. This left him in 38th place but he then had a great drive to come into ninth.
OK, I’ll admit it. I was wrong about LMP3.
When the class was first announced I joined the sceptics that thought it was pointless, expensive, and just another ‘Formula Le Mans’ niche in an already crowded marketplace that would only ever attract a handful of cars. Oh, how wrong I was. Just over two and a half years since the Automobile Club de l’ouest made its announcement that LMP3 was incoming, it stands on the edge of taking the world by storm.
The numbers are frankly scary. Five brands have projects on the go. The largest of which, Ligier, has sold in excess of 80 chassis since the first JS P3 rolled onto the track just a year ago. LMP3 comprises 50 per cent of the European Le Mans Series grid, 40 per cent of the Asian LMS and is about to crack America too.
It’s the prototype equivalent of an avalanche, let alone a snowball effect.
LMP3 has been designed to be cost-effective prototype racing, with control aerodynamics, engines and internals, all fitted to super-capable, super-safe chassis.
But with that heavy regulation, there’s always a feeling that the machines could be capable of more, especially with the appetite for prototype racing right now perhaps larger than it’s ever been. Ginetta certainly thought so... So Ginetta built the G57-P2. The Leeds brand essentially established LMP3 as we know it. It was the first to commit to building a car, and as a result was the first to run one too. At the first-ever LMP3 race– Silverstone’s ELMS opener in April 2015 – five cars turned out. All were Ginettas.
The build schedule was a remarkable achievement. From concept to turn-key racecar in a little over eight months. But at the same time as announcing its LMP3 project, Ginetta always had a plan to make a hard-core version of the same design.
That is the G57 – an LMP3 car on steroids if you like. Designed to make the most of an LMP3 chassis, by moving it to a new level of performance, but still at a sensible cost.
“We always knew the LMP3 product had a lot more performance potential than it’s allowed to show under the regulations,” says Ginetta’s technical director Ewan Baldry, who knows a thing or two about fast sportscars having built the Juno marque.
“The rules were written with the mindset on cost and a strict performance level – not as fast as LMP2, but quicker than GT. You have to run a mandated single-element rear wing, small diffuser and spec engine and gearbox. But the chassis are easily capable of handling more.”
Using its in-house design and engineering departments, Ginetta set about exploring quite how much ‘more’ could be shoehorned into an already pretty quick race car. They started with the engine. Out went the heavily restricted five-litre 450bhp Nissan unit, and in came the trusty 6.2-litre Chevrolet LS3 V8 – a powerplant capable of up to 600bhp.
All of that extra torque needed controlling too. Ginetta worked with LMP3 gearbox supplier Xtrac to upgrade the P3 gearbox with stronger internals and also fitted an adjustable traction control system, something LMP3 cars must run without.
Together with the extra grunt, Ginetta linked up with Toyota Motorsport in Cologne to design the aero kit. The G57 runs a twin element rear wing, extra frontal aero and a huge rear diffuser compared to a stock P3 part.
“We’ve added about 30 per cent extra downforce to the G57,” says Baldry. “The P3 is very rear-end limited, so when we ran cars we were always looking for more grip from the rear in the set-up. Having the extra aero makes a huge difference, particularly through the high-speed corners.
“The Chevy engine was also the logical choice. We actually bought a range of engines when we were developing this car, but the simplicity and reliability of the single-cam, push rod Chevy won out. It gives accessible performance and costs about a third of the more high-tech units out there, and it is actually lighter than the spec P3 Nissan unit.
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