The scene is set for Zhuhai to become the focal point of the auto industry this weekend with the first-ever Chinese endurance event, the 1000km of Zhuhai, to take place this Sunday, 7 November.
As the final round of the inaugural Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, this race will determine the winners of the first ILMC titles for manufacturers in the prototype categories (LM P1) and GT (LM GT2), and for the teams in each of the four Le Mans categories (LM P1, LM P2, LM GT1 and LM GT2). Both manufacturer and team titles will be awarded following Sunday’s 1000km/six-hour race.
The ILMC was created by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest as a true Endurance World Cup. This new Le Mans series serves as an opportunity for manufacturers and teams to battle on a continuous and global level throughout the endurance season, in addition to providing the prefect context for revenge following the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This year’s first Intercontinental Le Mans Cup consists of three races on three continents: Europe, North America and Asia. The 1000km of Zhuhai is the third round of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, following the Silverstone 1000km in England and the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (Georgia, USA).
In 2011, the ILMC will expand to include seven events with races in North America, Asia and Europe, and will also include the 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (worth double points).
Quick recap on ILMC standings
On Sunday, 13 June 2010, Audi triumphed in the 78th 24 Hours of Le Mans, monopolizing the top three places on the podium. The Ingolstadt make not only won the race but also set a new distance record: 397 laps, 5410.71 km in 24 hours, beating the previous record that dated from 1971. Peugeot’s hopes of winning the race for a second year in a row after its 2009 victory were dashed by too many mechanical glitches.
The second part of 2010 saw the birth of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup with the inaugural round on the Silverstone circuit in England. The 1000km event set the scene for a revenge match as both Peugeot and Audi entered cars backed up by a marvellous GT2 field with entries from Ferrari, Porsche and BMW. Peugeot won this first round, scoring a double at Silverstone and taking the lead in the prototype manufacturers’ classification. The battle in GT2 saw the AF Corse Ferrari in the lead ahead of the Prospeed Porsche, giving the Italian manufacturer top standing in the GT2 manufacturers’ classification with four points over its German rival. In the teams’ cup the leaders were Peugeot in the LM P1 category, OAK Racing in LM P2, Larbre Competition in LM GT1 and AF Corse in LM GT2.
The next ILMC round took place in North America with the Petit Le Mans on the Road Atlanta circuit in Georgia. The race, the last on the American Le Mans Series calendar, lasted 10 hours. The same teams lined up to do battle, reinforced by an armada of American squads and the Porsche Hybrid, which ran outside classification. This second round saw a second double for Peugeot ahead of Audi. Following the results from Round 2, the French manufacturer further opened the gap over its German rival in the prototype manufacturers’ category with 95 total points. Audi (59 points) must win in Zhuhai and score a double to bag the 2010 ILMC title.
In the GT2 manufacturers’ category there was another battle between Ferrari and Porsche, but victory went to American manufacturer Corvette. In the overall classification, Risi Competizione’s third place enabled Ferrari (83 points) to keep the lead from Porsche (72 points), who had scored good points at Road Atlanta thanks to the Flying Lizard team. Thus the Zhuhai round will be the clincher as only eight points separate the leading GT2 manufacturers. The Ferrari teams (AF Corse and Risi Competizione) and Porsche (Proton Felbermayr and Prospeed) will go head-to-head to decide which manufacturer will win the first ILMC title. BMW will also be out to score its first victory in this category, while Jaguar will continue its learning curve with the new XKR. In the teams’ cup the leaders, who will all race in China, are Peugeot Sport Total (LM P1), OAK Racing (LM P2), Larbre Competition (LM GT1) and Risi Competizione (LM GT2).
The scene is set
And so the 1000km of Zhuhai is set to be an intense battle which will result in the very the first crowning of the ILMC champions. Activity began heating up on the Zhuhai International Circuit today with unofficial free practice. Tomorrow promises a busy schedule with Team Manager and Driver briefings, two official Free Practice sessions (one at 10:30, one at 15:30) and the ILMC 1000km of Zhuhai official finish line picture. Qualifying takes place on Saturday and the race will begin at noon on Sunday 7, November. There is a seven-hour time difference with central Europe.
- Car Racing News