Le Mans: which British drivers are taking part?
By LJ Hutchins
Thursday, June 11th, 2009
This weekend is the concluding episode in the trilogy of the summer’s prime motor-racing events – the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This epic endurance race, taking place at the Circuit de la Sarthe in northern France, is already underway with qualifying taking place today.
Hundreds of thousands of words have been written already about this year’s race. And hundreds of thousands more will no doubt be added this weekend, from the keyboards of people far more informed about it all than we are.
However, as fans of sportscars, we could hardly let it pass unmarked even if it isn’t strictly within the site’s open-wheel remit.
So, if you’re wondering about the widely diverse collection of British entrants, of which there are more than enough to choose from, here is our handy list.
They include long-established racing drivers, the sons and brothers of well-known names, team managers usually confined to their offices – and the UK’s science and defence minister Lord Drayson who has posted audio from his iPhone.
We hope you enjoy learning a little more about them all.
|Anthony Davidson||Aston Martin Racing||LMP1||Aston Martin, returning to Le Mans competition in the 50th anniversary year of its historic win, hopes it can challenge Peugeot and Audi for the title. This is optimistic, but not out of the question.|
|Darren Turner||Aston Martin Racing||LMP 1||Team-mate of Davidson and Jos Verstappen in the Aston 008 car. Former BRDC Young Driver of the year and McLaren tester, now a leading British sportscar driver with BTCC and DTM to his name.|
|Stuart Hall||Aston Martin Racing||LMP1||Young British sportscar specialist driving with Harold Primat and Peter Kox in the Aston 009 car.|
|Allan McNish||Audi Sport Team Joest||LMP1||Potential race-winner in one of the strongest cars in the field, the Scots former F1 pilot is partnered by Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello. Has a long history of Le Mans success with a win in 1998, two ALMS titles and conspicuous Sebring success.|
|Jamie Campbell-Walter||Creation Autosportif||LMP 1||Campbell-Walter is a Scots racer with a long history of GT and sportscar competition. His Oxford-based team is an established Le Mans competitor and has developed its own chassis.|
|Lawrence Tomlinson, Richard Dean and Nigel Moore||Team LNT||LMP1||In-house Ginetta squad driving a Ginetta-Zytek 09S. Tomlinson is the company’s team principal, Dean its managing director. Moore, aged 17, will be the youngest British driver ever to compete in the race.|
|Danny Watts||Strakka Racing||LMP1||Former open-wheel specialist and A1GP Team GBR pilot is making a splash after signing to Strakka and going on to qualify the on top spot in Barcelona in his first outing. Strakka is the latest iteration of Peter Hardman’s EDM Racing.|
|Peter Hardman||Strakka Racing||LMP1||Strakka team boss and longstanding racer in a number of historic and modern series. Team is running a Ginetta-Zytek 09S.|
|Nick Leventis||Strakka Racing||LMP1||Completing the Strakka trio, Leventis is the 29-year-old protege of Hardman with a career spent in historic and endurance events.|
|Mike Newton||Ray Mallock Ltd||LMP2||Newton is a businessman with a racing CV including several Le Mans appearances. RML Group, based in Northants, competes in the Le Mans Series and BTCC under its own name, and the in the World Touring Car Championship as the works Chevrolet team. It is running a Lola B08/86-Mazda.|
|Tim Greaves||Bruichladdich Bruneau Team||LMP2||The team will be piloting a Radical SR9-AER. Greaves is the former principal of the Team Bruichladdich Radical outfit, and is driving alongside France’s Pierre Bruneau.|
|Stuart Moseley, Phil Bennett||Team Barazi-Epsilon||LMP2||Moseley is an experienced Le Mans competitor while Bennett has made his name in the BTCC. The two Brits are driving alongside team boss Juan Barazi, in a Zytek 07S/2.|
|Jonny Kane||Speedy Racing Team Sebah||LMP2||Kane is a Northern Irish F3 and Indy Lights veteran who test-drove for the Arrows F1 team and moved into sportscars in 2002, competing in LMS and ALMS and driving for big names like TVR and Spyker in the FIA GT. Sebah Racing has won the LMS title three times. The team is running a Lola B08/60-Aston Martin.|
|Guy Smith||Quifel ASM Team||LMP2||Smith is a former Le Mans 24 Hours winner, having taken the flag in 2003 alongside Kristensen and Capello. He has a long and distinguished sportscar pedigree. The Portugese team is running a Ginetta-Zytek 09S/2.|
|Oliver Gavin||Corvette Racing||GT1||Pratt & Miller Racing is based in Michigan, and has been one of General Motors official racing teams since 1999, helping to develop the Chevrolet Corvette C5-R. It runs Corvette Racing and has two cars in this year’s race. Gavin was the British Formula 3 Champion 1995 and also won his class in Le Mans racing several times. He was a test driver for the Pacific Grand Prix team and drove the F1 safety car.|
|Leo Mansell||Team Modena||GT2||Son of Our Nige and brother of WSR competitor Greg. Racing for the Ferrari GT2 team in the ALMS for the 2009 season. Team is running a Ferrari F430 GT2 and competes in several series worldwide.|
|Lord (Paul) Drayson, Jonny Cocker, Marino Franchitti||Drayson Racing||GT2||Team owner and driver Lord Drayson is a British businessman, amateur racing driver, member of the House of Lords and the UK’s current Minister for Science. Marino Franchitti is Dario’s younger brother and has been driving sportscars since 2001. Cocker has been competing in the FIA GT championship. Team is running a Aston Martin V8 Vantage GT2.|
|Rob Bell, Andrew Kirkaldy, Tim Sugden||JMW Motorsport||GT2||Bell, a regular driver in the LMS, won the GT2 title in 2007 and 2008. Scot Kirkaldy is a LMS GT2 podium finisher. Le Mans veteran Sugden also has a long racing CV as well as working as the team’s marketing manager. Team is running a Ferrari F430 GT2.|
|Sean McInerney, Michael McInerney||Virgo Motorsport||GT2||Father and son partnership running for Essex-based outfit. Defending their 2008 Le Mans Series GT2 Team Title. Running a Ferrari F430 GT2.|