GINETTA GUNS FOR LE MANS

Bri­tish sportscar firm for La Sarthe

Motor Sport News - - Front Page - By Rob Lad­brook

Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer Ginetta wants to fight for out­right podium fin­ishes at the Le Mans 24 Hours after un­veil­ing its first thor­ough­bred LMP1 de­sign.

The Leeds mar­que is plan­ning to man­u­fac­ture 10 new pri­va­teer class LMP1 chas­sis in time for the 2018 season, with a ma­jor Le Mans at­tack top of its agenda along­side se­lected part­ner teams.

The LMP1 project will be Ginetta’s big­gest in­vest­ment to date, and will re­turn the brand to the en­durance show­piece for the first time since 2010.

Ginetta chair­man Lawrence Tom­lin­son said: “We aim to pro­duce a car that’s hot on the heels of the fac­tory LMP1 en­tries, and if you can do that you’re in the fight for out­right podi­ums at Le Mans. That has to be the aim for this project.”

Ginetta will re­turn to the top class of sportscar rac­ing in 2018 with a brand new LMP1 de­sign, which com­pany chair­man Lawrence Tom­lin­son hopes will be ca­pa­ble of fight­ing for out­right podi­ums at Le Mans.

The Bri­tish brand has un­veiled plans for a new pri­va­teer LMP1 machine, set to com­pete in the FIA World En­durance Cham­pi­onship and Le Mans 24 Hours in the LMP1-P cat­e­gory, which caters for non-hy­brid pro­to­types.

Ginetta hasn’t com­peted at Le Mans since 2010, when it ran a re­badged Zytek GZ09 P1 chas­sis fol­low­ing the firm’s brief merger with Ginetta.

This new P1 car will be pure Ginetta, with the ma­jor­ity of de­sign and de­vel­op­ment work con­ducted in house at its Leeds plant, but with key out­sourc­ing. Leg­endary chas­sis de­signer Adrian Rey­nard has been tasked with lead­ing the aero­dy­namic de­vel­op­ment.

Paolo Can­tone, who de­signed Peu­geot’s Le Mans-win­ning 908 HDI, is con­sult­ing on the chas­sis.

“Ginetta has been away from Le Mans for too long and as a com­pany we want to be there, fight­ing at the top level,” Ginetta chair­man Lawrence Tom­lin­son told Motorsport News.

“There is cur­rently a void in LMP1 with Audi pulling out, and the top-line field of LMP1-H [hy­brid] cars is cur­rently very thin, so there needs to be an­other level un­der­neath that. And we’re go­ing to pro­vide it.”

Tom­lin­son added that an ini­tial run of 10 chas­sis has been com­mis­sioned, and that Ginetta was “well un­der­way” with the de­sign of the new car.

The chas­sis will fit the Au­to­mo­bile Club de l’ouest’s new 2018 LMP1 rules, which in­clude new, safer mono­coque de­signs and re­vi­sions to the weight lim­its.

Lead­ing the way

Ginetta has a strong his­tory in club rac­ing, run­ning mul­ti­ple sin­gle-make series across the globe, but has also proven its ca­pa­bil­i­ties in the pro­to­type ranks in re­cent years.

The firm was the first to com­mit to the ACO’S LMP3 con­cept when it was an­nounced, and its cars made up the en­tirety of the P3 field for the cat­e­gory’s de­but year in the 2015 Euro­pean Le Mans Series.

While Ginetta has now largely with­drawn from the LMP3 arena fol­low­ing a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion with pow­er­train sup­plier ORECA, its cars paved the way for LMP3 to thrive.

Ginetta did ten­der to be­come one of the ACO’S four ap­proved LMP2 chas­sis con­struc­tors for 2017 on­wards, but lost out on the con­tract. Tom­lin­son said that re­jec­tion forced the firm to re­assess its op­tions.

“When we were over­looked for the LMP2 con­tract, we sat back and looked at other op­por­tu­ni­ties, and LMP1-P will be the new LMP2 in essence,” he added.

“LMP2 will be­come a very spec series from now on, with ho­mogenised cars. In terms of de­sign there is no free­dom any­more. Teams buy one of four chas­sis, fit the spec en­gine and off they go. There is no free­dom to en­gi­neer any­more. From this year that free­dom moves to LMP1-P, where there is far less re­stric­tion.

“Cur­rently we’re look­ing at four fac­tory LMP1-H cars for this year [from Porsche and Toyota]. Bud­gets for the hy­brid cars are now equal to, or in ex­cess of, some

For­mula 1 bud­gets, and that’s wor­ry­ing. There­fore to sus­tain the class there needs to be growth be­neath it, and that’s where LMP1-P and this project comes in.

“With Audi gone, we aim to pro­duce a pro­to­type ca­pa­ble of run­ning hot on the heels of the works hy­brid cars, sec­onds per lap faster than LMP2.

“The rules al­low us to be 60kg lighter than P2s and with a few hun­dred horse­power more. And if you can do that sud­denly you’re in the fight for over­all podium fin­ishes with the fac­tory cars, and that’s the aim.

“We’ve done projects like this be­fore. We’re the first to con­firm a new LMP1-P project to the 2018 rules pack­age, just like we were the first to com­mit to and pro­duce an LMP3 prod­uct. I ex­pect more brands to fol­low us into LMP1-P and I think the class has a bright future.”

Build is un­der­way

The story of Ginetta’s move back to­ward the LMP1 ranks has pro­gressed each year since 2014.

Hav­ing com­pleted its LMP3 chas­sis, Ginetta then launched its G57-P2 pro­to­type, which works as an up­graded LMP3 car ca­pa­ble of match­ing LMP2 per­for­mance. The firm is also said to have ex­per­i­mented with more pow­er­ful pro­to­types for some time, with per­sis­tent ru­mours sug­gest­ing Ginetta had con­ducted test­ing work with a mule chas­sis mated to a Bent­ley en­gine last year, some­thing Tom­lin­son “can­not con­firm nor deny” ever took place.

Tom­lin­son con­firmed that the P1 car would use a Me­cachrome [former Re­nault F1 part­ner dur­ing its dom­i­nant V8 era] en­gine.

Ginetta has also built up its in-house pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties, with the ad­di­tion of au­to­claves and car­bon­fi­bre pro­duc­tion tool­ing in re­cent years. Tom­lin­son con­firmed that some key as­pects of the build would be out­sourced to class-lead­ing firms, and that Ginetta would also make key ap­point­ments to its in-house team, to work with Rey­nard on the aero de­vel­op­ment.

“We’re well down the line with the car con­cept,” Tom­lin­son added. “We’re also very ex­cited to have Adrian onboard. He’s been a class-lead­ing de­signer for many years and brings a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence to the ta­ble. The Gib­son chas­sis that won ELMS last year was an evo­lu­tion of the Rey­nard pro­to­type he first penned back in the late 1990s, so it shows the qual­ity of what he pro­duces.”

The LMP1 project marks per­haps the big­gest in­vest­ment Ginetta has made in its his­tory. Tom­lin­son said the new car would be a brand new be­spoke de­sign, re­quir­ing “multi-mil­lion pound com­mit­ment”.

“Cre­at­ing an LMP1 car and an LMP3 car are two very dif­fer­ent things,” he said. “This project will be a real blank sheet of pa­per de­sign, with no bas­tardi­s­a­tion of any cur­rent chas­sis we de­velop.”

Tom­lin­son did how­ever play down talk of Ginetta’s Team LNT fac­tory op­er­a­tion re­turn­ing to Le Mans for the first time since 2009 when it ran a Zytek P1 for Nigel Moore, Richard Dean and Tom­lin­son him­self.

“We won’t fo­cus on a sin­gle fac­tory team, in­stead we plan this to be a cus­tomer rac­ing project,” he added. “We have a lot of in­ter­est from both new and cur­rent cus­tomer teams, and each one would re­ceive full fac­tory sup­port for the cars.

“This is some­thing we’re in­cred­i­bly ex­cited about, and we’ve had great sup­port from the ACO too.”

Ginetta led the way with LMP3 de­sign

Tom­lin­son: podi­ums pos­si­ble

New pro­to­type will run in the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours

Last Le Mans at­tempt back in 2010 with Nigel Mansell

The G57-P2 is ca­pa­ble of LMP2 pace and has proven pop­u­lar in cus­tomer rac­ing

Adrian Rey­nard is de­sign­ing

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