British GT – Igoe and Keen steal a march in GT3, while Century Motorsport have a day to remember in GT4

Michael Igoe and Phil Keen started their season with the victory as fans were welcomed back to the British GT Championship for the first time in over a year.

The series returned with another revised calendar following the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic, with the traditional Easter opener at Oulton Park not scheduled until the penultimate weekend of the season.

The WPI Lamborghini duo of Igoe and Keen dominated at Brands Hatch to take the lead of the GT3 and overall lead of the series at this early stage.

Beachdean Aston Martin duo Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam were second having started on pole ahead of Barwell’s Lamborghini driven by Leo Machitski and Dennis Lind, who kept Adam more than honest for large parts of the race.

Defending champions Pro-Am Yelmer Buurman and Iain Loggie were fourth in RAM Racing’s Mercedes ahead of Richard and Sam Neary, who topped the Bronze-Am class.

Gus Burton and Will Burns picked up the GT4 spoils after Charlie Robertson hit strife late on to give perennial challengers Century Motorsport victory in the BMW M4, Century helping themselves to a 1-2 finish courtesy of Pro-Am class winners Chris Salked and Andrew Gordon-Colebrooke.

Burton and Burns had led the first stint, but being a Silver Crew instead of a Pro-Am pairing they had an extra 20s added to their pit stop time, which ended any chance of them leading after the stops when the second safety car period bunched the field up.

Burton picked his way through the field in the competitive BMW and was given a huge slice of luck when the leading Ginetta had to pit.

James Kell and Jordan Collard took third behind Ginetta ranks graduate Salkeld and Gordon Colebrooke, in Team Rocket RJN’s McLaren.

Salkeld was himself involved in one of the early Safety Car incidents, contact with a Toyota terminally ending Scott McKenna’s and John Ferguson’s race.

The result means that Century take an already significant lead in the GT4 teams championship, 42 points clear of any other team after the opening weekend of 2021.

Next up, the championship heads to Silverstone in 5 weeks time to take on the crown jewel of the British GT season, the 3-hour Silverstone 500 race.

*Image courtesy of Dan Buckel, via the British GT Gallery

Team WRT make it 2 from 2 at the Red Bull Ring

Image courtesy of ELMS


Belgium squad WRT with Louis Delatraz, Yifei Ye and ex F1 driver Robert Kubica in car 41 dominated at the Red Bull Ring and made it 2 from 2 following there win in Barcelona in April.

41 cars from 3 different classes took the start at the sunny & dry Austrian circuit, all cars got away well but that wouldn’t last long, has on lap 2 a huge accident involving 3 cars at turn 3, car 22 spun and took out car’s 3 & 18 this would be the end of there race and bring the first safety car period while the marshal’s cleared the debris, after a 20 minute delay in proceedings, it was back to green racing with Car 26 (G-Drive Racing) leading in LMP2, car 4 (DKR Engineering) and car 88 the Ferrari (AF Corse) . It was nose to tail in all classes with the lead changes plus with the pit stop cycle it made for a very interesting race, at the halfway point car 26 (G-Drive Racing) still leading while in LMP3 car 07 (Neilsen Racing) took over at the front and in LMGTE (Iron Lynx) Ferrari Car 80 would now lead in class.

Image courtesy of ELMS

The 2nd part of the 4 hour race would change dramatically with the heavens opening and heavy rain starting to fall, most teams opted to stay out on slicks this would turn out to be the wrong option has cars spun on different parts of the circuit, it was now clear, wets would be the best tyre to use, so there was a sudden rush to the pits, has the weather got worse and the rain heavier track conditions deteriorated with cars spinning off, so race director (Eduardo Freitas) had no option but to bring out the 2nd safety car period of the race, the rain was still heavy and cars where still spinning even behind the safety car, has the race went into its final hour and still under caution, the lead had changed in LMP2 with car 41 (Team WRT) car 02 (United Autosports) in LMP3 and car 80 (Iron Lynx) still leading in LMGTE.

With just 55 minutes remaining the race finally went back to green and the rain slowly stopping, the track was still damp / tricky the battle was on for the overall lead in LMP2, after 3 and half hours of racing and 134 laps covered, car 26 (G-Drive Racing) and (Team WRT) car 41 are neck and neck, the pressure pays off with 15 minutes to go, the (G-Drive Racing) car 26 makes a tiny error at turn , this allows car 41 (Team WRT) a slight advantage, he snicks through to lead the race and take the chequered flag, in LMP3 (Cool Racing) car 19 takes the its first win of 2021 while in LMGTE Ferrari took the top 3 spots with car 88 (AF Corse) taking the class win.

 

Official Result

LMP2 Class

1st  Car 41 – Team WRT

2nd Car 26 – G-Drive Racing

3rd Car 22 – United Autosports

 

LMP3 Class

1st Car  19 – Cool Racing

2nd Car 11 – Eurointernational

3rd Car 08 – Graff Racing

Image courtesy of ELMS

LMGTE Class

1st Car 88 – AF Corse

2nd Car 55 – Spirit of Race

3rd Car 80 – Iron Lynx

Pit Crew’s Endurance Racing Explained

Image courtesy of FIA WEC

Endurance racing stands out from any other forms of motorsport, in that it tests not only the skill and stamina of the driver, but the reliability of the car, whether its at 24 hours of Le Man’s, 24 hours of Daytona or 12 hours of Sebring.

Car manufacturers boast and take pride in their cars winning but its not just open to the elite manufacturers (Ferrari, Toyota, Porsche, Aston Martin, Peugeot) private and independent teams (privateers) can take part, and there are several classes, for example WEC (World Endurance Championship) has 4 classes Hypercar (New for 2021 was LMP1), LMP2 and LMPGTE with 2 classes PRO & AM.

Image courtesy of HYPERCAR

 

HYPERCAR (Formally known as LMP1)

Le Man’s prototypes, these are built to a set specification set out by the governing body’s (FIA, ACO) with a minimum weight of 1030kg and have a total combined output of 500KW (Engine + Hybrid system) they must be based around road going vehicles and BOP (Balance of Performance) is a level playing field, plus for WEC run on Michelin tyres.

LMP2

LMP2 cars are smaller, lighter and less powerful but they do have potentially better power to weight ratio, minimum weight allowed is 930KG, fuel tank capacity of 75 litres, with a 4.2 litre V8 engine with 500BHP.

Image courtesy of LMGTE Pro

LMGTE (PRO + AM)

Also, on the grid are LMGTE car’s these are race cars derived from street cars, they have a fuel tank capacity of 90 litres with either a normal aspirated engine 5500CC MAX or a turbo/supercharged engine 4000CC MAX plus a minimum weight of 1245KG. There are 2 classes in LMGTE (PRO) which will have drivers especially professional / factory drivers (AM) these are amateur drivers or gentleman drivers.

Within each race there is 4 races, with all classes competing for prizes, whether its for overhaul victory or winner of each class, (The podium will have 4 ceremonies).

 

Le Man’s is the most famous and prestigious of all the endurance races and has been held since 1923 at the 8.5-mile road circuit at Le Sarthe, Le Man’s, France, Endurance racing has several racing deries throughout the world

FIA-WEC     World Endurance Championship

IMSA           International Motor Sport Association (Based in the USA)

ELMS           European Le Man’s Series

Asian Le Man’s Series (Based in China, Japan)

IGTC            Intercontinental GT Challenge (GT Cars Only)

Plus, there are stand-alone endurance events such has SPA 24 hours, 24 hours of the Nurburgring but these are mainly for GT car’s but still have different classes (GT3, GT4) and based on different specifications & regulations.

 

Manufacturers use these races / events to test certain types of parts / engineering which is then put in their road cars which we buy today.

Team’s can use 2 to 4 drivers depending on the length of the race, plus depending on the event / series regulations, they must only drive for a certain length of time or stint, so a driver can double or triple stint has long the teams go by he set regulations for that series / championship. 

Endurance racing his ever more popular and fans can enjoy and interact with teams and drivers in the paddock, in 2019 a staggering 252,500 fans attended the Circuit De La Sarthe for the Le Man’s 24 hours.

Terminology

LMP —– Le Man’s Prototype

LMDh — Le Man’s (ACO) Daytona (IMSA) hypercar / hybrid car

LMGT — Le Man’s Grand Tourer

BOP —– Balance of Performance

FIA —— Federation Internationale de l’Automobile

ACO —- Automobile Club de I’Quest

Hypercar – FIA ACO specialist prototype / car based on road gong vehicles

Prologue – Testing / Media Day for WEC

ADAC Total 24 Hours – Nürburgring Qualifying Race

Images courtesy of ADAC

A Total of 31 GT3 Cars in an 85-car entry will start this weekends Nürburgring 24 hours qualifying race, last years event was cancelled due to the covid pandemic, this weekend’s race will once again run behind closed doors with no spectators’ it will be a 6-hour dress rehearsal & set the grid for the main event which will take place on the weekend of the 5th to 6th June, 6 manufacturers will enter 31 cars in the GT3 (SP9) class (Audi 3 Cars, Ferrari 3 Cars, Lamborghini 2 Cars, Mercedes-AMG 8 Cars, Porsche 8 Cars and last years winners BMW 7 Cars).

Image courtesy of ADAC

The remainder of the grid will be a mix of GT4 cars plus 2 cars which are entered in the SP-X clas a Mercedes-AMG GT3 EVO & the other entry is the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SC9 004C which has been also entered in this year FIA WEC championship has a Hypercar.

Image courtesy of ADAC

Over 240 drivers will take to the full 15.8 mile circuit nicknamed the Green Hell, which has been held since 1970 in the Rhineland’s of Germany.

International Women’s Day 2021 – The interview with Kirsten Landman, South Africa’s top female Enduro Racer

Kirsten Landman, Dakar 2020

I had the absolute privilege of speaking with Kirsten and was able to ask some questions which she very kindly took the time to answer.

Kirsten is South Africa’s top female enduro racer and has been riding since the age of 8 years old when she started riding dirt bikes for fun with her uncle and cousin round their garden and then her dad started to take her to the track on a Sunday which quickly progressed to both Saturdays and Sundays. Kirsten started riding professionally at the age of 22 and has now truly made a name for herself worldwide in the hard enduro racing scene.

Indeed Kirsten has been the first female rider to finish races such as Redbull Romaniacs silver class, Redbull Sea to Sky, Redbull Megawatt 111, Redbull Braveman & the Roof of Africa. Whilst competing at the top level of her sport all over the world, and most times being the only lady to do do, Kirsten has achieved her South African Springbok colours!

As a tomboy growing up and wanting to keep up with the boys, Kirsten loves the challenge of being a female rider competing against the boys on rough terrain and describes herself as very competitive even off the track – she will race to the front door and even race the dogs to the swimming pool! To say Kirsten excels in her sport is an understatement and the list of achievements is pretty impressive!

2018:

X-Race Namibia, Expert Class : 2nd overall, 1st lady

Redbull Romaniacs, Bronze Class : 15th overall, 1st lady

Sea to Sky, Turkey : 31st overall, only lady competitor in the Gold Class

WildWood Rock : 6th overall, 1st lady

Roof of Africa Gold class Finisher : 25th overall, 1st lady

2017:

IMPI Gold class finisher : 25th overall & highest placed female finisher

Powasol Timberland Extreme Enduro : 14th overall in gold class, first lady finisher

Redbull Romaniacs Silver Class : 45th overall, first lady finisher

South African Overall Silver Class National Champion in a male dominated class

Roof of Africa Gold class : 33rd overall

2016:

King of the Hill : 28th overall in expert class; made history being the first lady to ever finish expert class

FIM Super Enduro World Series, Prague: 4th in world championship

Alfie Cox Redbull Invitational Extreme Enduro:Kirsten was the only female to compete, making it into the semi- final and ranked 15th amongst the best male extreme enduro riders in South Africa

Redbull Romaniacs : 48th overall; the first Female in history to finish the race in silver Class

Redbull Braveman : 2nd in Silver class; only female to finish

Redbull 111 Megawatt Poland : 30th overall out of over 1000 entries, only female to qualify and finish

Redbull Sea to Sky : 24th overall in Gold class, reaching the top of Mount Olympus, bettering her previous years position by over 30 positions

South African National Enduro Championship:Kirsten raced a consistent season finishing on the podium at all rounds, but finished 2nd overall. This is the best Kirsten has done in all her years racing the National Enduros.

Roof Of Africa : This was Kirsten’s first attempt at Gold class, going out on a whim & no expectations, Kirsten made history again and became the first ever woman in the 49 year history of the Roof Of Africa and finished the Gold class, completely unassisted

2015

Redbull Romaniacs : Kirsten attempted silver for the first time but due to complications, she didn’t manage to finish.

Redbull Sea to Sky : 56th overall, becoming the only woman in history to ever finish a gold class at any extreme hard enduro event

Redbull Braveman : 1st overall in silver class (only riding against men)

Roof of Africa : 32nd overall in the silver class, first lady finisher

National Enduro Series : 3rd overall in the mens silver class

2014

Redbull Romaniacs : 47th place in bronze class out of 160 bronze riders and first lady home

Roof of Africa : 23rd in silver class, first placed female finisher unassisted

National Enduro Championship : 4th place in silver class

Kirsten Landman

In 2020 Kirsten competed in the Dakar and finished 55th overall and was the 3rd female finisher. What is the Dakar, I hear you ask?

The Dakar Rally, or “The Dakar” was formerly known as the “Paris–Dakar Rally” and is an annual rally raid organised by the Amaury Sport Organisation. Most events since the inception in 1978 were staged from Paris, France, to Dakar, Senegal, but due to security threats in Mauritania, which led to the cancellation of the 2008 rally, events from 2009 to 2019 were held in South America. Since 2020, the race has been entirely in Saudi Arabia. The rally is open to amateur and professional entries, amateurs typically making up about eighty percent of the participants.

The rally is an off-road endurance event and the terrain is much tougher than that used in conventional rallying. The vehicles used are typically true off-road vehicles and motorcycles, rather than modified on-road vehicles. Most of the competitive special sections are off-road, crossing dunes, mud, camel grass and rocks. The distances of each stage covered vary from short distances up to 800–900 kilometres per day.

In the Dakar 2021 there were 108 bike entries, only 63 of which finished the event. Just to finish the event is an achievement in its self.

Kirsten was considering taking part in Dakar 2021 but was unsure about doing the Dakar back to back and then due to the Covid pandemic the economy in South Africa took a downturn and Kirsten was unable to get the funding she needed to take part. As it turned out Kirsten may have been unable to take part had she got the funding as whilst training on the bike one session, Kirsten took a nasty fall and dislocated her shoulder which put her out of action for four months.

Kirsten Landman

Kirsten’s next challenge is to compete in the Dakar 2022 in the Malle Moto class. What is that, I hear you say!

Malle Moto, which is French for ‘Trunk Motorbike’, is a category in the Dakar which riders of motorcycles and quads are almost completely unassisted. There are very few riders who take on this added challenge and it is considered to be the toughest category you can possibly compete in.

Competitors are allowed to pack one Malle (trunk) (there are restrictions on the maximum dimensions) which the organisers will transport to each bivouac. The trunk should contain their spare parts, tools, equipment and any necessary personal belongings. The organisers will also transport one spare headlight, one set of wheels and tyres, a tent and a travel bag.

Every day, the riders must prep their bike for the next stage without any outside assistance which may take a few hours, depending on the condition of the bike. They must also prepare their own road books before every stage and there is a common canteen to eat from. This all has to be done by the rider after each stage, which can run for many gruelling hours. After the rider has done all this, they then need to get enough sleep to be ready for the next stage. It is not uncommon for competitors to survive on just two or three hours of sleep everyday, for two weeks!

Kirsten Landman

Although Kirsten can do a lot of her own bike maintenance already, she is unable to take apart an engine and fix it or work on anything electrical so preparation is already underway with Kirsten learning these new skills in preparation for Malle Moto.

Kirsten knows that time management will play an important role in this. I asked if she was worried about taking part in such an arduos event by herself with no assistance – Kirsten is not really worried about doing it by herself as knows the route having taken part in Dakar 2020 and she is really looking forward to the challenge of doing the event by herself. New challenges excite Kirsten, the harder the challenge is, the better it is.

I asked Kirsten who her inspiration was and she said it was Laia Sanz who is known as The Queen of the Desert. Laia is the best female motorcycle rally racer in history, has won the title of best Dakar racer five years in a row and was the only woman to finish the race at all in two separate years. She is also the three-time Women’s World Enduro Champion. WoW!

Surprisingly, well to me anyway, Kirsten does not ride her motorbike on the road, she finds road bikes uncomfortable and feels that riding on the roads local to her to be somewhat dangerous. Kirsten is far more at home on her dirt bike riding through the mud. Although Kirsten lives in a beautiful place, her two most favourite places to ride are Romania, where she has competed five times and went back again just for some casual riding and La Sutu, which is a country within her country with beautiful mountain ranges and extreme riding.

Kirsten’s best feeling about being on a motorbike is the feeling of accomplishment, knowing that she has achieved the end of the race and got to the finish line. It is the sense of adventure she loves, the fact that she is outdoors, loving the nature around her and being lucky to have such great roads to ride on and travelled the world in the process. Kirsten has made some very passionate lifelong friends through her love of riding with that unspoken rule that as you ride a motorbike, you just get along, the people are just so cool.

Kirsten Landman

So Kirsten, what is the one thing people would never know about you just by looking at you? Baking. Kirsten loves to bake cakes, muffins and cooking in general, she is a big foodie and finds that when she is baking she can switch off from her riding and relax. I, myself can totally relate to that but unfortunately I like to eat my baking too!

Kirsten’s most embarrassing moment on a motorbike came when she was competing in an event and was absolutely desperate for a wee so she pulled over, popped the bike on the stand and walked round to a bush. Just as she was mid flow, another competitor stopped to see if she was okay and walked round and caught her peeing! Ooops!!!

As a youngster Kirsten was a tomboy and used to live in a big smallholding which had a massive garden. When she was around 8 or 9 years she was running around the garden with a friend pretending they were characters from the Jungle Book, they got hold of some matches and decided to make a fire like their characters. When they finished playing they thought they had put the fire out but during the night the wind caught up and the whole garden ended up on fire nearly spreading to the next door property. The fire brigade came and put the fire out thankfully but that is probably the worst thing Kirsten’s mum caught her doing as a kid!

I asked Kirsten if she has a lucky thing/ritual before the start of a race as it seems a lot of racers do. Kirsten is no exception, she always puts her left knee brace on first and then her right one and then puts her right boot on first and then her left one. Kirsten will then sit on the bike, put her head on the handlebars and say a prayer.

Kirsten Landman

The first motorbike Kirsten owned was a Yamaha PW80 which was a limited edition bike. Unfortunately the bike was sold many years ago and has now become a collectors item. Kirsten has been looking for one for a while now with the idea of restoring it and then putting it in her house on display. I definitely like that idea, how cool would that be to have your bike on display in your house.

If Kirsten hadn’t been a racer, she would have liked to become a vet. Kirsten is an animal lover and has five rescue dogs that live with her and has re-homed so many more animals. Kirsten is part of the Saving Animals Movement (SAM) and raises money to help animals who are malnourished, overbred or in dire need of help and helps provide them with medical assistance and finding them new forever homes.

Would Kirsten ride pillion? Even if Valentino Rossi offered to take her out pillion on the road, she would say no! She is absolutely terrified of going out on the road! Now if you were to offer Kirsten a pillion ride on the track, she would happily go with you as long as you were an experienced rider on track.

I asked Kirsten what her friends and family would assume she had done if she got arrested and there was no hesitation in saying that it would be because she had got into an argument with someone over an animal. If Kirsten sees an animal being treated unfairly, she does get very emotional which may have led to one or two arguments in the past ……..

Kirsten Landman

You can check out Kirsten’s website at Kirsten Landman and follow her progress with her preparations for the Malle Moto 2021. You can also follow Kirsten on Facebook and Instagram at : Kirsten Landman.

Thank you Kirsten for taking the time to speak with me, I really appreciate it and wish you good luck for the Dakar next year.

BK

GT World Challenge to pioneer initiative integrating real-world and virtual racing

It was announced yesterday that the SRO Motorsports Group – the promoter of the GT World Challenge – will be forming a partnership with sim-racing hardware developers Fanatec, who provide the wheels for all the drivers in the F1 Esports Series. Fanatec will become the title sponsor for the GT World Challenge (across all regions) as well as this year’s new GT2 European Series.

However, the main announcement was a revolutionary, world first amalgamation of both real-world and virtual racing. At all five rounds of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup including the flagship 24 hours of Spa, there will also be a designated zone in the paddock for simulators with the official GT World Challenge game Assetto Corsa Competizione.

The teams that compete in the Pro Cup and Silver Cup classes will nominate a driver within their line-up to compete in a race that will count towards points in the team’s championship. Thus making the GTWCE Endurance Cup the first series to have virtual racing count for points in a real-world racing series.

Image courtesy of Assetto Corsa Competizione gameplay

Last year during the halt on real world racing, both professional and sim drivers competed in their own championships. SRO ran its own GT E-Sport Series in which F2 driver Louis Delétraz won over McLaren factory driver Ben Barnicoat. However the races they did were not then counted for points towards the real-world racing that returned later that year, this is a world first to see virtual racing count towards a championship in real world motorsport.

But it’s not like it hasn’t been attempted before. After the success of the Las Vegas eRace in which sim drivers competed against full-time Formula E drivers in a standalone race, Formula E were evaluating whether to have a sim race to replace a cancelled ePrix and have it count towards the championship. There was also potentially some suggestion of some sim races making up a part of the NASCAR Euro Series schedule, but the idea of doing that is not an extremely popular one amongst drivers and fans alike.

Will it work?

I love sim racing and as much as I love seeing the barriers between the two be broken down, it’s definitely a different ballpark from real-world racing and I don’t think it’s a good idea to combine them together if it means the drivers are obligated to do both. I’d personally opt to keep them separate so no one driver is disadvantaged in the sim racing side that would negatively impact their chances in the real-racing championship.

There is a vastly different set of skills needed to succeed in Esports racing and the fact now that there is a chance that a real-world racing championship can be decided by points from a sim race is very conflicting to me. All I can say is, I’m glad it’s only towards the team’s championship and not the driver’s championship.

Image courtesy of Assetto Corsa Competizione gameplay

It does seem to be a bit of a missed opportunity that instead of the real world drivers doing these races, that the manufacturers and teams don’t instead have a sim driver compete for them. At the very least, a professional driver and a sim driver could share the driving duties, like maybe reigning GTWCE Endurance Cup champion Alessandro Pier Guidi could swap out the virtual Ferrari 488 he’s driving halfway through a race with, for example, 2019 F1 Esports champion David Tonizza.

A bit like what Tonizza and his many F1 Esports counterparts will be doing when the F1 Virtual Grand Prix series returns at the end of this month. That being where the Esports racers will do a five-lap qualification race to decide the grid, and then hand it to the F1 drivers and other competitors racing in the VGP itself.

What I’m saying is, the concept could certainly have been executed much worse. But in the end, I feel rather conflicted because I love seeing the Esports racing side being embraced but having the real world drivers compete for points that will end up affecting the real-world racing championship, it’ll certainly be a challenge for a lot of them, that’s for sure. But I’m still not sure exactly how to feel about this.

For better or for worse, this will certainly be an interesting experiment but I certainly hope it doesn’t become the norm. Nevertheless I’ll be watching when this format takes shape, which will be at the opening round of the GTWCE Endurance Cup at Monza on the weekend of April 18th.

Feature image courtesy of SRO / Patrick Hecq Photography

Celebrating disabled drivers

In any sport it’s an incredible feat to be able to compete whilst having a physical disability. Motorsport is one of those sports where the differences between a driver without a physical impairment and drivers who do, can be highlighted in some areas but can be completely unnoticeable if you weren’t aware of a driver’s disability beforehand.

To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we decided to talk about a few drivers who are breaking down barriers in racing for those with disabilities.

Alex Zanardi

Having competed in F1 for many years, Alex was competing in the CART World Series at the Lausitzring in 2001. Exiting the pits 12 laps from the end of the race, he lost grip on cold tyres and slid into oncoming traffic, where he was hit by another car at over 200mph. He survived despite losing nearly 75% of his blood volume, but lost both his legs in the crash.

With the use of hand controls Alex went on to race again in the World Touring Car Championship, Blancpain Sprint Series, Spa 24 Hours, Daytona 24 Hours, and also made a one-off appearance in DTM in 2018 at Misano. However he made a real name for himself by competing in the Paralympics.

Alex won a handcycling gold and a relay silver in the London 2012 Paralympics (both events taking place at Brands Hatch) and another gold and silver in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Paralympics, as well as plenty of other accolades in the Para-cycling World Championships.

Unfortunately Alex was involved in a para-cycling road race accident in June of this year, when he lost control of his handbike on a hill and hit an oncoming truck. He suffered severe facial and cranial trauma, and was placed into a medically induced coma.

We all know from the ordeals he’s had to go through that if anyone can overcome this, it’ll be Alex Zanardi. A true hero to disabled people all around the world.

Billy Monger

After great success in karting, Billy Monger was competing at Donington in British F4 in 2017. In race three he collided with a slow moving car and his legs were buried in the wreckage. He was extracted and airlifted to hospital, but unfortunately had to have his legs amputated.

But this didn’t break Billy Whizz’s spirit. With the help of hand controls, Billy returned to single seaters in the 2018 British F3 championship, scoring four podiums and two pole positions to end the season sixth in the standings.

Billy moved up to EuroFormula the following year, where he achieved the seemingly impossible in a wet Pau Grand Prix. Making a clever call to pit for wets on the formation lap, Billy rose through the field to third then held his nerve in the tricky conditions to win after the two leaders collided.

You’ll see Billy as part of Channel 4’s F1 coverage, and he’s expressed interest in joining the new Extreme E off-road electric series for next year. I certainly hope this happens as Monger is one of the most inspiring individuals you could ever know and he deserves to race.

Nathalie McGloin

McGloin is a British racing driver who is also a tetraplegic. She injured her spine in a road traffic accident as a teenager and has been competing in the Porsche Sprint Challenge against able bodied men. She’s the only disabled woman in the whole of the UK to hold a race and rally licence in the UK, and competes with radial hand controls that she pushes forward to brake and backward to accelerate, meaning she steers with one hand at all times!

Not only has she managed many podium finishes in the Porsche championship (including an outright victory at Silverstone in 2018), she’s also the President of the FIA Disability and Accessibility Commission. Definitely deserving of a place on this list.

Robert Kubica

Robert Kubica, Alfa Romeo (Florent Gooden, DPPI / Alfa Romeo Media)

Perhaps the most well known name on this list. He enjoyed huge success as the first Polish driver in F1, including his famous win with BMW Sauber in 2008. However all that changed in the lead up to the 2011 season.

After testing his new Renault F1 car, Robert entered an amateur rally event and collided with a guardrail, resulting in elbow, shoulder and leg fractures and partially severing his right forearm. He thankfully survived, but the injuries put him out of F1 for the foreseeable future.

Robert stuck to the rallying scene on his road to recovery and won the WRC-2 championship in 2013. But in 2017 he returned to F1 machinery with a Renault test, which ultimately led to a fairytale opportunity to return as a full time driver with Williams for 2019.

He scored their only point of the year at Hockenheim but wasn’t kept on for 2020. Nevertheless seeing Kubica back in F1 did feel right, and he has since took up a position as Alfa Romeo’s development driver while also competing in DTM this year, where he took a podium at Zolder.

Nic Hamilton

The first thing you’d think of is that he’s the brother of a certain seven-time F1 world champion. But the younger Hamilton has been making a name for himself for years.

Nic has had cerebal palsy since birth, resulting in physical impairments his whole life. But having initially gotten a taste for competition on video games (long before Esports was in the mainstream), he started competing in the BTCC-supporting Renault Clio Cup and then in European Touring Cars.

2019 however was when he finally got to where I feel he belonged, British Touring Cars. Seeing someone with cerebal palsy in the headline races on a terrestrial TV channel is incredibly uplifting to witness.

Frédéric Sausset

When on holiday in 2012, businessman and motorsport enthusiast Frédéric contracted a life-threatening infection from a scratch on his finger, which resulted in him becoming a quadruple amputee. However he didn’t let this prevent him from fulfilling his lifelong ambition of racing the 24 hours of Le Mans.

OAK Racing converted one of their LMP2 cars so Frédéric could drive it in the 2016 race. He used a special steering wheel which connected to a prosthetic on his right arm, and he had two thigh operated paddles built into his seat insert for the accelerator and brake.

The result was that Sausset and his teammates entered into the grueling round-the-clock race and finished it. A remarkable achievement and one that cannot even be imaginable for someone in his position, but he did it.

Caleb McDuff

Caleb McDuff (Photo courtesy of Ian McDuff)

Last but not least, Caleb McDuff is a 12-year old kart racer who is profoundly deaf. When he competes in karting, he can’t utilise his implants and so he races in total silence. Which, when you consider how reliant a lot of drivers are on the sound of their vehicle to race, is just incredible to think about.

Not only is Caleb able to compete in karting but he’s actually pretty good. Last year, he won the Super One National Karting Championship’s Honda Cadet category so he’s clearly capable of overcoming his impairments. I would very much hope he’s able to make the step up to cars in the future, whether that be single seaters or tin-tops.

Every single one of these people are so incredibly inspiring and serve as reminders that the human spirit is impenetrable. Whatever the cards you are dealt with in life, you can achieve whatever you set your mind to and we are bound by absolutely nothing. So happy International Day of Persons with Disabilities to you all!

Why you should watch the FIA Gran Turismo championships

Image from gameplay

The weekend of February 16th this year, seems like such a long time ago. Why was this date so significant though? Well that was the last time we saw the FIA Gran Turismo championships when it was took place in Sydney.

It was an incredible event, which saw two sets of races take place. There was the Manufacturer Series races in which BMW took victory, and then the Nations Cup which saw the home crowd chanting for local hero Cody Nikola Latkovski in his efforts to overhaul Takuma Miyazono, but falling short by a mere 0.03 seconds at the line.

The second event of 2020 was due to take place in May at the Nürburgring in support of the 24 hour race but as we all can probably guess, that was cancelled due the pandemic. Since then, the FIA Gran Turismo championships have sat in limbo for the majority of the year with no real evidence to suggest how it would return. Well now, it’s back!

Having qualified through both competing in their respective online regional championships and extra stage qualifications, the competing drivers will participate in their own region’s finals. The drivers from Europe, the Middle East and Africa will have their own event in which the top eight will progress onto the world final, as well as the top four from the Americas final and the top three from the Asia/Oceania final.

Unlike before when all these events would take place with all the drivers present in one location, the finals will now take place remotely in the same way the F1 Esports are having to do this year due to travel restrictions. If you’ve been following the Gran Turismo championships up until now, there are some names you’ll probably remember.

First up is the most notable name, Igor Fraga is back. The FIA Formula 3 driver was the inaugural FIA Gran Turismo Nations Cup champion and followed that up with winning the Manufacturers Series the following year, however his Nations Cup effort was thwarted in the semi finals. He wasn’t in attendance of the Sydney World Tour event as he was across the Tasman sea in New Zealand wrapping up the Toyota Racing Series title.

Along with Fraga, there are other Gran Turismo championship regulars. These include World Tour winners such as Takuma Miyazono, Giorgio Mangano, Nicolas Rubilar and Ryoto Kokubun, and also Sydney World Tour runner-up Cody Latkovski who may not have a World Tour event win to his name but did win Gold for Australia in last year’s inaugural FIA Motorsport Games Digital Cup competition which took place on Gran Turismo Sport.

Then you have recognisable names that are regularly competing. Including the likes of Jonathan Wong, Bernal Valverde, Daniel Solis, Baptiste Beauvois and Coque López. There’s even a former GT Academy winner amongst the ranks, Nick McMillen who went on to have a career in real racing for a few years.

One notable absence from the GT Finals is last year’s Nations Cup champion Mikail Hizal. I had the fortune of running into him and a few other Gran Turismo championship regulars in a lobby not long before the first World Tour event last year. I told him it was his turn to win it and he did just that, winning all of his races in the finals. However this year, he took a sabbatical to focus on his studies so he may be back for next year.

There are also some new faces to the competition, one of which is the first woman to be competing, that being Emily Jones who has made a name for herself in the sim racing sphere as of late. She competes in the officially sanctioned Australian Supercars Pro Eseries, finished third in the Asia/Oceania Gran Turismo regional online championships and competed in the Le Mans 24 Virtual as part of the all-woman lineup Richard Mille Racing Team alongside Katherine Legge, Tatiana Calderón and Sophia Flörsch.

Following the Nations Cup in the World Final will be the Manufacturer Series final. The organisers will draw the participants from the ranks of the players who competed in the Online Championships. Whoever were the top ranked drivers for each manufacturer within GT Sport’s online championships, they will be the ones to represent their chosen manufacturer in the world final.

It’s unclear how the Manufacturer Series races will work as they typically involve driver swaps when the players have all been in the same location. But unlike high end sims such as iRacing, rFactor 2 and Assetto Corsa Competizione, GT Sport doesn’t feature a driver swap system within the game itself.

Perhaps they’ll follow what the Le Mans Esports Super Final did this year, which takes place on Forza Motorsport 7. Instead of doing driver swaps like they did in 2019, they instead made every team race one of their three drivers in each race and eliminated teams one-by-one so then two drivers of a particular team would do some races, up until all three were able to compete.

In any case, it’s bound to be interesting to see who will be crowned Nations Cup and Manufacturers Series champions of the FIA-certified Gran Turismo championships. To keep up with the action, be on the lookout on Gran Turismo’s social media channels to find out the dates but rest assured that the regional finals take place this month with the world final taking place in December.

You can watch all the action live on Gran Turismo’s YouTube channel, in which you’ll be blessed with the voices of lead commentator Tom Brooks and sim racing shed dweller Jimmy Broadbent. To wet your appetite, I’m going to attach a video of the Sydney World Tour final. To quote Jimmer, the cars may not be real, but the racing well and truly is!

Frederick On Top in British F3

image courtesy of British F3

Kaylen Frederick wins both Sunday races in dominant fashion.

Race One:

The third of the weekend’s British F3 races was won in emphatic fashion as Kaylen drove an excellent race to finish 8.6 seconds ahead of second place Nazim Azman and third Ulysse De Pauw. De Pauw was later disqualified from the race.

Louis Foster started on pole position but a cautious start following yesterday’s jump saw Frederick lead into turn one and did not look back.

Behind him there were several scraps with one between Varrone and Peixoto ending up with Varrone being forced into the gravel. He retired there and then.

Race 2:

This time it was Kaylan Frederick who started on pole and after a good get away lead from lights to flag, just a few seconds in front of Miami and Prior.

There was little to shout about in this race, with the two retirements of Horston and Varrone. Horston will be disappointed in his mechanical failure as he was running in the final podium place.

After that there was little action as Frederick continued his impressive driving to take his second win of the day. Already emerging as a title challenger.

Big Crash in GT’s as Race 2 Ends Under Safety Car

image courtesy of THEWFGAMER Instagram page.

The British GT season kicked off with a bang at Oulton Park this weekend.

Race 1:

Race one saw Lewis Proctor start from pole position and lead into the first turn for the GT3’s. Connor O’Brien looked to do a similar thing in the GT4 category.

There was close action before the pit stops as the World’s Fastest Gamer, James Baldwin, looked to pile the pressure on Angus Fender in third.

Following the stops, Mitchell had found his way into third with Oliver Wilkinson taking over from Lewis Proctor. Michael O’Brien replaced James Baldwin. In the GT4’s, Kibble, Connor O’Brien’s teammate, also lead.

However, after a charge from Michael O’Brien and a penalty for speeding in the pit lane for the leader, O’Brien and Baldwin took the lead, with the number 2 car seeing it out to the flag.

The Jensen team won the first race with James Baldwin winning his first ever British GT event. Behind Jensen, Wilkinson finished second and Macdonald rounded out the GT3 podium. It was a simple affair for Kibble in the GT4 as he took the chequered flag with Collard and Caroline behind.

Race 2:

Phil Keen was raring to go from pole in Race 2 and lead into the first corner. Contact on the opening lap for Race 1 winner Michael O’Brien saw him drop to the back of the field.

Neary and Griffin both suffered problems and the two retired a few laps into the race.

Little was happening  for much of the remainder of the race but an unfortunate incident between Jones and Connor O’Brien saw the race finish under a lengthy safety car. It appeared as if Jones was trying to lap O’Brien but contact was made and the two spun off the track, hitting Fender in the process.

So Balon took the flag in the GT3 category with Collard and De Haan just behind. Flewitt won in his category, followed by Vaughan and Maththiesen.

Not the best way for Keen (Balon’s teammate) to draw level with Jonny Adam on wins, but I‘m sure he won’t mind too much.

Overall a cracking way for the GT season to kick off.