Category Archives: GT Racing

Sims to debut in British GT with BMW & Ecurie Ecosse

British driver Alexander Sims will debut in the British GT championship with Ecurie Ecosse.  The Factory BMW driver will run alongside Marco Attard for six of the seven rounds that make up the season in a Barwell Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3.

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The 2008 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award winner is confident that he can mount a serious challenge for race wins in his rookie season, and is happy to be back racing in a British championship.

“It’s fantastic to be back racing in a British championship and really exciting to be coming back to British circuits,” said Sims.

“Last year the level was pretty damn high at the front. I haven’t tested but I would hope I would be up to speed very quickly.

“I’m not saying it’s going to be a breeze, but we should consider ourselves contenders.”

The only trouble is that due to a calendar clash, Sims will miss the race weekend at Snetterton, and that could dash his hopes of mounting a serious title challenge.  But he cannot wait for the new challenge that has been presented to him.

“I’m over the moon, as getting a full-time drive in a championship as prestigious as British GT is just fantastic” added Sims.

“It’s a great opportunity to embed myself within BMW’s network of teams, and to work alongside a gentleman driver as talented as Marco. Ecurie Ecosse and Barwell enjoy a very impressive track record together, with last year especially strong thanks to Marco and Olly [Bryant]. I simply cannot wait for us to begin working together.”

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His team-mate Attard is optimistic that he and Sims will be fighting at the front of the field in 2014.  Attard won once with Oliver Bryant during 2013, and is hopeful of more success this year.

“It’s great to be back with Ecurie Ecosse and the guys at Barwell,” said Attard.

“I can hit the ground running now that I’m continuing with the same car and team, and have a full season already under my belt. This, combined with having a driver of Alexander’s calibre alongside me, means I have put myself in the best possible position to challenge for the title again.

“I’ve got good faith in Alexander.  It’s a matter of him pushing me more and more.

“We had a couple of issues last year without which we would have been alright. Hopefully with the combination of Alex and myself we should be up there.”

Barwell Motorsport Team Principal Mark Lemmer is thrilled about his 2014 British GT driver line-up.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to have such a fantastic driver line-up across both championships, and it’s great to be able to welcome Alexander to our fold; he is undoubtedly one of the most exciting young British talents in the world of GT racing,” said Lemmer.

“I fully expect Ecurie Ecosse and Barwell to be pushing for both titles!”

The British GT Championship begins in April at Oulton Park.

Sources: Autosport, http://www.ecurieecosse.com/, http://www.britishgt.com/

World Endurance Championship 2014 Schedule

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After the success of this years FIA World Endurance Championship, including the battles for supremacy in all four classes, the schedule for the 2014 campaign was released yesterday at Austin, and see’s no surprise that the same eight circuits that this years calendar used.  The LMP1, LMP2, LMGTE Pro & LMGTE Am classes will once again start at Silverstone and end in Bahrain.  There was talk of swapping Spa for another European venue such as Monza, but the Belgian round was retained after extra talks with the circuit bosses.

Gerard Neveu, CEO of the FIA WEC, said: “This calendar represents a further step to establishing the brand of the FIA World Endurance Championship in the countries that we visit.  It is important for the seven races outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans to have a stable calendar so the fans know when and where the FIA WEC will be bringing the Spirit of Le Mans to a circuit near them.  It also represents stability for our teams, sponsors and partners and it will allow us to be able to continue to build on the foundations that have been laid over the past two seasons.”

Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO, said: “2014 will be a very interesting year with the launch of the new LMP1 regulations and the arrival of Porsche with their P1 challenger to rival the cars from Audi and Toyota.  We also expect to see more cars in LMP2 and GTE as the championship continues to grow.  I am very happy with this calendar as it gives stability for the teams and partners in these difficult economic times.  I am looking forward to an exciting 2014 season.”

An expanded schedule for the 2015 World Endurance Championship has not been ruled out.

Provisional 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship Calendar
Subject to confirmation by the FIA World Motor Sport Council

28-29 March – Official Test Days
18-20 April – Silverstone, Great Britain
09-10 May – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
01 June – 24 Heures du Mans Test Day, France
14-15 June – 24 Heures du Mans, France
29-31 August – Sao Paulo, Brazil* TBC
19-21 September – Circuit of the Americas, United States
10-12 October – Fuji, Japan
31 October-1 November – Shanghai, China
13-15 November – Bahrain International, Bahrain

An Interview with… Alexander Sims

Give Alexander Sims a racing car and generally he’ll be at or near the front of the field in it.  I am really grateful to Alexander for taking some time out of his busy schedule to answer some questions for me.

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Paul Hensby: How do you feel your Blancpain Endurance Series season is going?

Alexander Sims: If you asked me before Spa I would have said very well. Now that we didn’t finish and therefore didn’t score points I’d have to say that its been ok but not great. Silverstone and Paul Ricard were very good and I think we did a very good job at both. Unfortunately at Monza and Spa we had some issues with the car which we didn’t need and ultimately cost ourselves valuable points in the championship standings

PH: How similar are Alvaro’s, Stef’s and your own driving styles? Do you have to compromise on set-up to help all three or are you all happy?

AS: We are all pretty similar and require a similar setup. This is always helpful as when you are in the car an hour each, it helps a lot if you feel comfortable for your entire stint.

PH: What’s the atmosphere like within the Hexis Racing team, with the bosses & your teammates?

AS: It is really amazing, they are the perfect mix between ultra professional and very friendly. We work very hard and are serious when we need to be but then outside the meetings and sessions on track we get on very well and have a lot of fun.

Blancpain Endurance Monza (ITA) 13-14 04 2013

PH: Just how good is the McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car to drive? Is it as good as it looks?

AS: The car is excellent to drive. It is very responsive and has a strong base to work with each weekend. Depending on the Balance Of Performance we are sometimes more or less competitive that other manufacturers but certainly the McLaren can be a very fast car.

PH: You’ve also raced in GP3 & Formula 3 this year, just how difficult is it to jump from one series to another?

AS: I’m very thankful that I now have a good level of experience from driving so many different cars at time. This certainly helps the process of jumping in with little or no testing and being competitive straight away. I have to hand it to the teams though this year, both Status and T Sport have a strong car and there was not much I needed adjusting setup wise with either to get it feeling good.

PH: How pleasing is it to be competitive in GP3 & Formula 3 almost as soon as you get in the car?

AS: Its obviously a very nice feeling to confirm my pace having been away from single seaters for a while. Other than that its very enjoyable this time around as I have learnt to enjoy it more and put less pressure on myself.

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PH: How different was the GP3 car from this year compared to the one you last raced with back in 2011?

AS: It has been improved a lot, it really is a fast car now! It has a lot more power and no turbo and so the throttle response is better and helps the driver affect the car balance a bit more.

PH: Are there plans to continue in Formula 3 alongside your Blancpain duties?

AS: Yes, at the moment we have plans to do the Nurburgring next weekend and there is a possibility of Zandvoort but it is not confirmed yet.

PH: What’s the best race track you’ve ever raced on?

AS: Macau, plain and simple. It has an amazing mix of crazy long straights and then a really long challenging middle sector which is insanely busy with corners. The thing that separates it most from other circuits I’ve been to though is that it is a street circuit and the armco barriers are the white lines… If you go a bit wide or cut the corner by 5cm too much then boom, you are in the wall!

PH: Are there certain races on your so-called ‘bucket list’ you’d like to do in the future?

AS: Monaco would be cool but that’s about it really.

PH: Would a return to the Le Mans 24 hours perhaps be on the cards one day?

AS: I very much hope so! It was an amazing experience and I would love to do it again many times.

PH: Are there any races you look back on and think ‘wow, did that really happen?’?

AS: Silverstone race 1 in GP3 was pretty mega. Starting from the pit lane I came 2nd, overtaking all of my championship rivals in the process!

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PH: You tested briefly a GP2 car last year, and I know you’ve said your happy in GT Racing, but if GP2 or indeed F1 came calling, what would you do?

AS: Well I think anybody would be silly to turn down a good F1 opportunity unless they were very settled and happy with where they were. I’m not saying any F1 chance would be worth giving up what you have but it would have been taking very seriously as a consideration.

PH: Do you remember what made you want to be a racing driver? Did you have any racing heroes growing up?

AS: To be honest nothing really made me start racing in the first place other than I went karting once and kind of enjoyed it. It was never a massive passion for me. I followed F1 a bit from the age of 13 or so onwards but even then I was not mad on it. Once I started car racing it was more relevant and I could relate to it better and now I do really quite enjoy sitting down and watching the F1, WEC, DTM etc

Thanks again for taking the time to read & answer my questions Alexander! Good luck at the Nurburgring (in both series!) & for the rest of the Formula 3 & Blancpain seasons!

Alexander Sims is currently racing the Hexis Racing McLaren MP4-12C GT3 car in the Blancpain Endurance Series, and has also raced in the GP3 series with Status Grand Prix and the Formula 3 Euro Series with T-Sport.