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Dunlop

Notes From London Launch For Silverstone 6 Hours

The London launch for the FIA season opener provided plenty of insight into what is still a far from settled picture for the drivers in LMP2.

Alex Brundle’s main deal is done for 2013 of course, the full WEC with the #24 Oak Racing Morgan Nissan, but there are other part season possibilities still up for discussion.

John Martin’s season is sorted too – He’ll be back with ADR Delta after an impressive 2012 with the team’s Oreca Nissan effort now a two car affair as the team is redubbed to reflect the arrival of Roman Rusinov, his G-Drive backers and Nissan Nismo support. What we, and indeed the rapid Aussie, don’t yet know though is which of the two cars he’ll be joining – Tor Graves is named so far in the #25 car, Rusinov confirmed in #26. 

The answer will come later this week during the Paul Ricard pre-season tests where the team will be running with “quite a lot of drivers!”

Darren Turner meanwhile has already started his season, just back from Sebring after a trying time in the ALMS season opener for the AMR team.

The WEC effort though looks very strong – “Yes, it’s a big year for Aston Martin and with five cars at Le Mans that’s a pretty spectacular effort.

“The new car went well, it has the speed and it is a more comfortable race car but as with last year I think all the GT cars operate on a bit of a knife edge in terms of getting the tyres to work and there’s still progress to come there.

“What’s likely to help us is the BMW programme, they ran on Dunlops previously but now with their car on Michelins too we might see more development weighted towards a front engined car rather than the Porsches and Ferraris.

Strakka meanwhile were out in force with their newly updated ARX 03c now sporting the team’s very handsome black based livery once again.

“We’re looking forward to taking up the challenge again,” said Danny Watts.  Entirely unfazed by the stronger factory challenge in LMP1.  We are going to approach it in exactly the same way we always do, to win the battles we can and to beat whatever opposition presents itself, whether that’s another privateer or a factory car.”

WEC CEO Gerard Neveu was full of enthusiasm for the season ahead, the Series boss just back from a whistle stop tour of all eight WEC venues and keen to show that some of the lessons of the first season had been taken on board:

“We have a very exciting grid and we have some very enthusiastic promoters too.  I think we’ll see several other events providing the kind of effort we saw in Fuji last year and I expect the race meetings in Brazil, and particularly in Austin to be great shows.

"As for Silverstone, it is a great and traditional part of endurance racing history and to start the season there, together with the ELMS as the first of our Endurance Super Racing Weekends will be great for everyone, the teams, the media and, of course, the fans.  I hope we can see bigger crowds enjoying the racing, and finding out all about what makes endurance special, with a fully open paddock and real access to the teams and drivers."

The WEC race winners will also be awarded the famous and historic RAC Tourist Trophy, the ornate trophy has one of the longest and most storied histories of any world wide with legends including Carraciola, Nuvolari, Moss and Bell engraved on its flanks.

It’s likely to be taken in 2013 by one of the factory LMP1s of course but one man present has been very close indeed to already having his name on the roll of honour.

Darren Turner: “I’ve had it taken from my grasp twice in recent times, we won the FIA GT1 race on the road only to have the win taken from us later for a technical problem, and a few years prior to that in 2005 we were winning well, again in a GT1 Aston Martin but the tyres were going off, our team-mates were following (Pedro Lamy and Peter Kox) but were being caught by a Maserati so we had to let them by – Gutting!”

We’ll have a full interview with Toyota’s Stephane Sarrazin in the next couiple of days.