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Ginetta LMP1s Show Record-Breaking Speed On Fuji Debut

8th October 2019 • Sam Tomlinson

The pair of Team LNT-entered Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AER LMP1 cars again showed real potential in the second round of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship at Fuji Speedway, at 6 hours the longest race thus far for the AER powered Ginettas. The pair showed record-breaking speed, and posted some of the fastest sportscar racing lap-times ever seen at the famous Japanese circuit c, as they took the fight to the all-conquering Toyotas on their home track.

#5 Ginetta G60-LT P1 AER - Luca Ghiotto, Ben Hanley, Egor Orudzhev F2 Championship front-runner Luca Ghiotto joined the team in Fuji after topping the Ginetta times at the pre-season Prologue test at Paul Ricard. Ben Hanley and Egor Orudzhev completed the trio in Japan. After the #5 Ginetta scored fourth place overall on its WEC debut at Silverstone, the new for Season 8 Success Handicap system, designed to promote closer racing in the class, dealt out a 35-kilo weight addition, shaving a theoretical 0.66 of a second from the potential lap time.

Friday’s pair of Free Practice sessions saw first Ben and then Egor break a WEC record at the track, the FP2 trap speed for the car of 325.3 KM/h (over 203 mph) the highest ever recorded in the eight years that the Championship has raced at Fuji and 30-40 km/h faster than the Toyotas, one of which would finish the session behind the #5.

At the start of the race, Egor had a fantastic run down the outside to catch and pass the second-placed Toyota and even briefly took the lead before the Toyotas managed to edge back ahead. 

Thereafter the car had a very solid run until Ben Hanley suffered a front left brake issue saw the car requiring attention. Despite that delay, the car still came home a strong 11th overall posing very competitive times despite carrying the success handicap weight. 

#6 Ginetta G60-LT P1 AER - Charlie Robertson, Mike Simpson, Guy Smith

Charlie Robertson moved over from the #5 crew for the Japanese race joining Silverstone pairing Mike Simpson and Guy Smith. First out for qualifying was Mike Simpson, the Ginetta Factory Driver producing a stunning effort - 1:25.889 would prove to be the fourth-fastest time of the session, faster than Le Mans lap record holder Kamui Kobayashi’s effort, Simpson becoming only the second man ever to outpace a Toyota Hybrid driver in qualifying in a non-hybrid LMP1. 

And it looked set to be better still as Charlie Robertson took over in the #6 for his qualifying effort, his first flying sector up on the efforts of both Simpson, and the second-placed Toyota, but, pushing hard he would suffer a half-spin, the car unable to restart, the #6 would start from the back of the field, and a lap down on the rest.

That though would set the scene for a stirring comeback drive, Charlie starting the race and grabbing back the lost lap to the GT field in just 15 laps, and almost to the front of the LMP2 field before the first fuel stops were required, with excellent lap times that were the match for the LMP1 cars leading the field.

That charge, plus a further stint later in the race would see Charlie claim better lap time averages than two of the factory Toyota drivers and, on lap 171, the second-fastest lap of the race overall, an astonishing achievement in light of the strength and experience at Fuji of both the Toyota factory team and LMP1 rivals Rebellion Racing.

After further fast lappery from Mike Simpson, Guy Smith climbed aboard as the rain arrived, the 2003 Le Mans 24 Hours winner showing blinding pace in the prevailing conditions, proving to be the fastest man on track in the wet.

Sadly though a late-race penalty saw the #6 dealt a massive 6 minutes stop and hold in the pits from fourth position - the car would finish a fighting ninth overall.

Lawrence Tomlinson said post-race: “There was a lot to be proud of over the weekend with the car showing massive pace, proving again that the Ginettas are a force to be reckoned with.

“All six drivers found pace here, and in the case of Mike in qualifying, Charlie in the race and Guy in the wet, their ultimate lap times were fantastic - what a credit to the Ginetta ladder that is.  Charlie was racing in the Ginetta Junior Championship just 7 years ago and here he is beating the lap times of World Champions and Le Mans winners!

“It’s a matter of when, and not if, we’ll be challenging for a podium finish.”

Next up for the Team LNT Ginettas is round three of the 2019/20 FIA WEC at Shanghai International Circuit on 10 November 2019.