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Sunday, 24 April 2016

2016 Paris ePrix - Formula E Round 7

Da Costa races past Napoleon's tomb.
My feelings about the Paris ePrix are somewhat mixed. Really great that Formula E came to Paris and a great field of drivers but the track left something to be desired; like many of the spectators I found it difficult to see very much of the race. Luckily I could see the giant TV screen.  With no raised platforms around the circuit and two safety fences the viewing was very limited.  Having said that I enjoyed seeing all the drivers and I did manage to get a picture of each car by getting there early. Many spectators were not so lucky.

Les Invalides, where Napoleon is buried, provided the backdrop to the circuit that was a temporary street circuit with 14 corners packed into 1.93kms.   The race was over 43 laps.

Here are pictures of each of the drivers that I took on April 23rd at Les Invalides in the order they were classified and the with cars they drove.

Lucas di Grassi
1st Lucas de Grassi
ABT Schaeffler FE01
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
Current Championship Leader

Lucas had a great weekend to win his third race of the season and consolidate his Championship lead. He took the lead at the start and was only led during the pit stops to change over to the second cars.

A former Formula One driver with Virgin he won the first ever Formula E race in 2014.  He has been successful in GP2 and currently also drives for Audi in Endurance racing.

Lucas di Grassi in his ABT Schaeffler during the Super Pole session.
2nd Jean-Eric Vergne
Jean-Eric Vergne

Virgin Racing Engineering DSV-01
DS Virgin Racing
Good to see a Frenchman on the podium!

Jean-Eric equalled his best ever Formula E result with a well earned second place in the Paris ePrix.  Always in contention he was helped by the Fanboost vote in his fight to get on the podium.

Jean-Eric Vergne had four seasons in Formula One with Torro Rosso before coming to Formula E where he was immediately competitive but has yet to score a win.

Jean-Eric Vergne during the Super Pole session in his Vergin Racing Formula E car.
3rd Sebastien Buemi
Sebastien Buemi

Renault Z.E. 15
Renault e.dams
A return to the podium for the former Championship leader.

Only on the fourth row of the grid, Sebastien had a great race to get onto the podium passing his team mate Prost on the way and forcing Sam Bird into an error.

Sebastien, although still in his twenties, is a very experienced racer and drove for three season in Formula One for Torro Rosso.  He had had a number of Formula E wins and helped Renault to the manufacturers championship in the first year of Formula E.

Sebastien Buemi driving hard in the Qualifying session in Paris.
4th Nicolas Prost
Nico Prost

Renault Z.E. 15

Renault e.dams
A good points scoring finish in his home race.

A reasonable drive in his home race to make it a 3rd and 4th placed finish for Renault edams.

Looks very like his four times World Champion father and has proved his worth as a driver in his own right.   Already has one win in Formula E and has also won in Formula 3 and Formula 3000.  Also competes in Endurance racing with Rebelion.

Nico Prost in the Super Pole session.
5th Stephane Sarrazin
Stephane Sarrazin

Venturi VM200-FE-01
Kept up his record of scoring points in every race.

Was the third of the French drivers who made it into the top five and continued his good points scoring record.

Stephane is now aged forty but still driving well.  He had one F1 Grand Prix start back in 1999 for Minardi.  He had two wins in F3000 and has finished second in the Le Mans 24 hours on three occasions.  A versatile driver he has won in Endurance racing and rallies.

Stephane Sarrazin in his Venturi during qualifying.
Sam Bird
6th Sam Bird
Great Britain
Virgin Racing Engineering DSV-01
DS Virgin Racing
Won the pole position but failed to convert it after a poor start.

Made a rather poor start from Pole and then later took to the escape road after being put under pressure by Buemi.  In the end he recovered well to finish sixth.

A winner in GP2, LMP2 and Formula Renault 3.5 Sam is a great driver.  He already has three wins to his name in Formula E.  He also drives a Ferrari in Endurance racing.

Sam on his Super Pole lap that got him on pole position.
7th Robin Frijns
Robin Frijns

Amlin Andretti
A good race in this less favoured car.
Following reliability problems the Andretti team has reverted to season one technology so seventh was a good result for Robin.

Robin was 2012 Formula Renault 3.5 champion and has also won in GP2 and the Blancpain series.  So far has had reserve driver contracts with F1 teams but never made it to a GP start.  Still young though, so.....

Robin Frijns qualifying in his Amlin Andretti Formula E car in Paris.
8th Antonio Felix da Costa
Antonio Felix da Costa

Team Aguri
A reasonable result for a season one car.

Spent the whole weekend in either his Red Bull wooly hat or a crash helmet.   After a few non-finishes he was back in the points in Paris.  Like Frijns was using last season's technology.

Antonio is a previous Formula E winner and is also a winner of the Macao Grand prix.   He has also raced in DTM for BMW where he is also a winner.

Da Costa's Aguri coming into the pits during Practice 2.
9th Bruno Senna
Bruno Senna

Mahindra M2Electro
Mahindra Racing
A points scoring finish.

A fourth points scoring finish for Bruno this year.

Bruno drives in Formula E racing and also in Endurance racing. A nephew of the late Ayrton Senna, he competed for three seasons in Formula One where his best placing in a GP was sixth.

Bruna Senna takes the Pit Lane Hairpin during practice.
10th Daniel Abt
Daniel Abt
ABT Schaeffler FE01
ABT Schaeffler Audi Sport
Led the race during the pit stops.

Was the last driver in the points and had the honour of leading the race as he was one of the last to make a stop to change cars.

Daniel won the German Formula Masters Championship in 2009.  He has also won in F3 and GP3.   He currently races in the team associated with his family.   He has previously had a pole and a fastest lap in Formula E.

Daniel Abt about to pit his car in practice.
11th Jerome d'Ambrosio
Jerome d'AmbrosioBelgium
Venturi VM200 E1
Dragon Racing
Just out of the points.

Jerome finished the top Dragon driver this weekend but was still out of the points.  Disappointing as he had been in the points in five out of the last six races.

Jerome did a season and a bit of Formula One.  He won in Formula masters and GP2.Two wins have come his way in Formula E.

Jerome d'Ambrosio and his Dragon in the pit lane.

12th Nick Heidfeld
Nick Heidfeld

Mahindra M2Electro
Mahindra Racing
Fastest Lap during a comeback from the back of the grid.

Fastest lap gave him some points after hitting the wall during his qualifying run and thus starting from last place on the grid.

Nick had a long Formula one Grand Prix Career that saw a pole position, a fastest lap, and over a dozen poddium finishes but no wins.   He has still to win in Formula E but he has had wins in F3 and F3000 and the American Le Mans series.

Nick Heidfeld in the pitlane.
13th Oliver Turvey
Oliver Turvey 
Great Britain
Nextev TCR FormulaE 001
Less than 14 seconds behind the winner due to the safety car but only 13th place! 

A good seventh in qualifying but the race didn't go as well.

Long time McLaren test driver.  He has won in F3, Formula BMW, Formula Renault 3.5 and LMP2.

Turvey in the pit lane.
14th Mike Conway
Mike Conway

Great Britain
Venturi VM200-FE-01
Disappointing weekend.

Qualified 17th after being hit by Nick Heidfeld and finished second to last of the finishers.

A Bromley lad like me, I wanted him to do better!

Successful in Formula Renault Formula 3, GP2, Mike has even had a win in Indy Cars.  He came in to Formula E after Jacques Villeneuve decided to quit.  Just one point in Formula E so far but i think there is more to come.

Mike Conway in Qualifying.
15th Simona de Sylvestro
Simona de Sylvestro
Amlin Andretti
Last placed finisher.

The only woman to score points in Formula E but not so lucky this time out, although she qualified in the top twelve.

Simona has raced mainly in the USA including the Indy Car series where her best finish is a second.  She has driven five times in the Indy 500.

Simona entering the pit lane hairpin.
Nelson Piquet Jnr
NC Nelson Piquet Jnr
Nextev TCR FormulaE 001
Reigning Formula E Champion

The reigning Champion is not having such a good time this year and has only scored points in one race.  Paris worked out no better for him.  Rather a waste of his talent to be in an uncompetitive car.

Nelson Piquet Jnr was very successful in the lower formula and made it up to Formula One with Renault and had already got a podium finish when he became embroiled in the crashgate scandal.  Since then he driven in the NASCAR formula, Rallycross and Formula E.

Nelson Piquet negotiating the pit lane during practice at Les Invalides.

NC Ma Qing Hua
Ma Qing Hua

Team Aguri
Crashed heavily near the end 

Ma Qing Hua did not have a very successful Formula E debut and crashed after 38 laps which brought out the safety car until the end of the race.

His most successful results to date have been in Touring Cars and he has won both in Chinese Races and in the World Touring Car Championship.  He has also been contracted as a test driver in Formula One.

Ma Qing Hua makes his Formula E debut.
NC Loic Duval
Loic Duval

Venturi VM200 E1
Dragon Racing
Hit mechanical problems early on.

Very unlucky to retire so early on in his home race.

Loic is probably best known as a Le Mans 24 hours winner and World Endurance Champion.  In Formula E he scored a couple of podiums last season.

Loic Duval in practice for the paris ePrix.
Ex-F1 driver Tim Schenken (2nd right) helps out as Nico Prost picks his qualifying group.
So what are Formula E cars and how do they differ from each other?   They are fully electric single seater racing cars.  They all share the same Dallara chassis Spark bodywork and Williams battery.  However, they can use any electric motor and gearbox and can modify the rear suspension.   The cars can only race for about 25 minutes so in each race the drivers change cars.
The Venturi mechanics manoeuvring their car in the pits 
Jean Todt (centre), President of the FIA, arrives to see his dream of a Formula E race in Paris come true.
Below are a few pictures of spectators trying to watch the race.

John Etherton asserts his copyright to all of the photos on this blogpost.  However, you may post the photos elsewhere on the web as long as you credit the photographer, John Etherton, and this blog post, and provide a link to this page.

John Etherton affirme son droit d'auteur à l'ensemble des photos sur ce billet de blog. Cependant, vous pouvez poster des photos ailleurs sur le web aussi longtemps que vous créditez le photographe, John Etherton, et ce blog, et fournissez un lien vers cette page.

Visit my daily blog Auto Vitesse by clicking here.  A new car photo and description each day.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

2016 Tour Auto Optic 2000 - The first day

Eric Vandevelde in his 1955 Jaguar XK140 in the beautiful Burgundy countryside.
What more could you wish for in April than a nice sunny day, to be in some beautiful French villages and countryside, to see some of the best classic cars in the world and watch some motor racing action?  This is the 2016 Tour Auto Optic 2000!  For the third year running I headed out to Burgundy with my camera to capture the first day’s action. 

The cars and their drivers are divided on this event into those who are competing in the speed competition and those who are taking part in a regularity rally.   The cars are then further divided into classes depending on their age and performance.

The day started out sunny but cold and this seemed to catch quite a few of the quick drivers out and they had minor offs at the corner where I was standing on the special stage.  Later it became one of those perfect spring days that we all love.

The following cars were some of the stars on the 1st stage at Sens-Les Gaillards, pictured either on the first stage, at the lunch stop or on their way to the lunch stop.  Times varied from just under 5 minutes 30 seconds for the fastest car to over 7 minutes for the slower cars or those who hit problems.

Best of the Competition cars on Index of Performance
Top in terms of Index of performance on the first special stage was this 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce driven by Alexis Raoux.
Frédéric Puren in this 1954 Porsche 356 was second in the Index of Performance on Sens-Les Gaillards stage.
This Alfa Romeo 1900 CSS was fourth in the Index of performance on stage 1 driven by Adrien Cathiard.
Competition VHC 1965 & prior GT Cars
2nd of the VHC GTs and fastest of the Shelby Cobra 289s was Ludovic Caron.
This Lotus Elan driven by Damien Kohler beat many more powerful cars and was third fastest of the VHC GTs.
This Porsche 904 GTS was running in the GTP category and was the 4th fastest VHC car at Sens-Les Gaillards.
Competition VHC 1965 & prior Touring Cars
The fastest VHC Touring Car was this 1965 Ford Mustang 289 driven by Christian Odin.
Second fastest VHC Touring Car and fastest lay driver in the VHC category was Daniella Ellerbrock in this Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint GTA
Third fastest VHC Touring Car was the Lotus Cortina of Richard Depagneux.
Competition VHC 1965 & prior Sports Prototypes
Top VHC Sports Prototype was the Porsche 550 RS Spyder driven by Jean-Philippe Grand.
Also running as a Sports Prototype was this Ferrari 625 TF. 
Competition Cars 1966 to 1971 Touring Cars
Fastest in this category was this 1971 BMW 2800 CS
Second fastesrt in this category was this 1970 Alfa Romeo 1750 GTAM
Competition Cars 1966 to 1971 GT Cars
The Benezet's Porsche 911 ST 2.5L was fastest in this category.
Second fastest G1/2 GT was this Lotus Europa JPS of Pascal Rapallino.
Competition Cars 1966 to 1971 Sports Prototypes
The fastest GT40 of Philippe Vandromme filling up with petrol in Noyers.
Second fastest GT40 was that of Marc Doncieux.
Competition Cars 1972 to 1981 GT Cars
Fastest time of the day in all categories was made by Christophe Van Riet in this Porsche 911 RS 3.0L.
Also fast was this Ferrari 308 GrpIV Michelotto.driven by Florent Jean.
Just one second slower was the other Ferrari 308 GrpIV Michelotto of Francois-Xavier Entremont.
Competition Cars 1972 to 1981 Touring Cars
Second fastest Touring Car in this age group was Jean-Claude Basso in his BMW 3.0SCL
Competition Cars 1972 to 1981 Sports Prototypes
Mr John of B had an off and a few issues on his run in the Ligier JS2-DFV.
This CG Proto 548 was a welcome participant in the Sports prototype category.
Régularité – Basse
This Porsche 904 GTS led those going for the lower target time in the regularity section.
Régularité – Intermédiaire
This Porsche 914/6 led the regularity section after the first stage.
This Alpine Renault A110 1600S had equally low penalties.
Régularité – Haute
Leading the cars going for the faster target time was this BMW 3.0CSL.
Famous Drivers
Amongst the drivers this year were Jochen Mass and Guy Frequelin, neither of who need any introduction.
Jochen Mass in a 1971 Group 4 DeTomaso Pantera going well on the Sens-Les Gaillards stage.
Guy Frequelin in a Porsche 911 RSR Replica
Best of the rest

The following cars weren’t all quite so successful on the first test but I enjoyed seeing them, so here they are:
Anthony Beltoise drove this 1972 Chevrolet Corvette C3
1966 Ferrari 275GTB
The Renault Gordini R8 is always a crowd pleaser.
Mustn't forget the Jaguar E-Types.
1969 Ford Escort 1600 TC
1957 Maserati 200 SI
1975 Lancia Stratos GrpIV
John Etherton asserts his copyright to all of the photos on this blogpost.  However, you may post the photos elsewhere on the web as long as you credit the photographer, John Etherton, and this blog post, and provide a link to this page.

John Etherton affirme son droit d'auteur à l'ensemble des photos sur ce billet de blog. Cependant, vous pouvez poster des photos ailleurs sur le web aussi longtemps que vous créditez le photographe, John Etherton, et ce blog, et fournissez un lien vers cette page.

More photos of cars from this event can be seen by clicking here to visit my daily blog Auto Vitesse