Third podium of WSR season for Ellinas at Le Mans

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Strakka Racing’s double race-winner makes third visit in as many race meetings to Formula Renault 3.5 Series rostrum

Tio Ellinas secured yet more Formula Renault 3.5 Series silverware during round 15 of the season at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit in France on Sunday, 27th September, with a fighting third place finish in the second race of the weekend.

Having qualified on pole position for Strakka Racing, the Cypriot led away at the start and maintained his place at the front into the mandatory pit-stops after a brief Safety Car period. Although missing out on the chance to challenge for victory after all of the pit visits played out, third place still marked a very strong result and consolidated a top six championship placing.

“We had a great start to today after an amazing qualifying”, said Ellinas, “The balance in the race wasn’t quite the same and the Safety Car spoiled our advantage a bit. Still, third was very good points and I’m pleased to be on the podium for the third meeting running. I’m looking forward to Jerez now.”

Arriving at Le Mans off the back of the team’s first ever one-two result last time out at the Nurburgring in Germany, hopes were high of continued success during the penultimate event of 2015. Ellinas produced an exceptional performance in round 15 qualifying to take pole position by almost half a second, his best lap a time of 1m20.648 seconds (186.8 km/h), while team-mate Gustav Malja ended the session 13th quickest.

Making an excellent start to the race, Ellinas led away through the first sequence of turns and although only a few tenths of a second ahead of Tom Dillmann over the course of the first five laps, the Strakka driver remained unflustered. Due to an incident further back in the order, the Safety Car was deployed at the beginning of lap six which corresponded with the scheduled opening of the mandatory pit-stop window. After the re-start on the eighth tour, Ellinas led away again and then pitted for his stop at the end of the lap. Malja meanwhile, who held 14th position prior to the Safety Car, made his stop a lap later than his team-mate from eighth place.

When the order settled around mid-distance, albeit with the lead three cars still to pit, Ellinas held fourth position with Malja in the top 10. Hopes of a bid for victory didn’t work out, though, with Ellinas having to settle for a nonetheless strong third after Egor Orudzhev and Matthieu Vaxiviere emerged ahead following their pit visits.

Under huge pressure from Dean Stoneman throughout the second half of the race, Ellinas kept his rival at bay to claim the third podium of his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 campaign. Malja, meanwhile, moved up into ninth position on lap 16 and remained there to the finish sandwiched between newly crowned Formula Renault 3.5 Series Champion Oliver Rowland and Nyck De Vries.

“The second race was pretty good”, said Malja, “Before that we struggled a bit for pace but we learned a lot from the first race and the set-up for race two was really good. Now, we’re already looking for the Jerez preparation and to bounce back there.”

In round 14 on Saturday, 26th September, Ellinas started fifth on the grid while Malja lined-up in 10th position, just 0.4 seconds separating the team-mates in race one qualifying. Unfortunately, at the start of Saturday’s contest, Ellinas didn’t get away from the line cleanly and slipped back to the tail of the top 10 with Malja also edged back to 12th position. Quickly moving back into 11th place on the first lap, Malja closed up behind Ellinas initially before the gap opened back up and with 10 laps complete the pair were split by roughly 2.5 seconds. As the race progressed, positions remained unchanged although Malja did begin to come under some pressure from Nicholas Latifi as the race approached mid-distance.

Following a pit visit and retirement for Latifi, Andre Negrao became the new threat but Malja comfortably saw off his rival to hold 11th position to the chequered flag. Ellinas finished the encounter in a clear 10th place but due to a time penalty for Matthieu Vaxiviere, the Cypriot was elevated into ninth spot. While Ellinas maintains sixth in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series standings with 113 points, Malja ended the Le Mans weekend ninth in the title race on 69 points. In the team championship, Strakka Racing is fourth with 182 points.

The final two races of the 2015 Formula Renault 3.5 Series will take place at Jerez in Spain over the weekend 17th/18th October.



STAMFORD, CT – HARMAN International Industries, Incorporated (NYSE:HAR), the premier connected technologies company for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, announced that star French soccer/football player Raphael Varane, who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and the French National team as a central defender, will serve as a Global Brand Ambassador for JBL®.

Beginning in September 2015, Varane will participate in global marketing and brand awareness programs for JBL’s portfolio of audio products across consumer lifestyle, professional audio and automotive audio.

Varane was named one of the ten most promising young players in Europe for 2014 and also recognized among the three-man shortlist for the World Cup ‘Best Young Player’ award. His tenacity, precision and standout performance were evident when he represented France in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and embodies the quality and superior performance JBL stands for within the audio industry and beyond.

JBL Raphael Varane

“Raphael’s energy, creativity, and passion for excellence make him an ideal athlete ambassador for the JBL brand,” said Ralph Santana, Chief Marketing Officer of HARMAN. “He is well respected globally for his commitment to performance under extreme conditions and his technical precision on the field – qualities that are synonymous with the JBL and HARMAN brands. Just as Raphael brings excitement to the game of soccer for fans, JBL impassions audiophiles with a superior listening experience. We’re thrilled to have Raphael as part of our ambassador team.”

“As a professional athlete representing an entire nation on the field, every game needs to be my best game yet. There are many things that inspire me and help me focus during practice and as I prepare for a big game. My coaches, team mates, family, and music are among my top sources of inspiration to train and perform my best.” said Raphael Varane. “Music is a motivator for me and helps to bolster my energy and concentration as I prepare to play. JBL delivers amazing sound quality through their many products and are a perfect fit for my active lifestyle. I’m thrilled to join their brand ambassador program in an effort to share my passion for music and HARMAN products with others who use music to thrive.”

Varane joins a striking lineup of global figures serving as HARMAN brand ambassadors, including fellow soccer/football and World Cup champion, Jerome Boateng; two-time NBA All-Star, Damian Lillard; NBA All-Star and 2015 MVP, Stephen Curry; GRAMMY® Award-winning rock bands Maroon 5 and Linkin Park; global musician, producer, artist and humanitarian Quincy Jones, Indian film composer, record producer, musician, singer and philanthropist AR Rahman; and international piano superstar and United Nations Messenger of Peace Lang Lang. 

“As one of the World Cup’s ‘Best Young Players,’ Raphael is on a fast-path to greatness in European sports and is already a role model among his fellow athletes and to soccer fans around the globe,” said Michael Mauser, President of HARMAN Lifestyle Audio Division. “We are excited to match Raphael’s passion, commitment and performance, as well as his use of music as a source of inspiration.”

About Raphael Varane

Raphael Varane was born on April 25, 1993 in Lille, France, and is a professional soccer/football player for Spanish Club Real Madrid and the French National team as a central defender. He was recently named one of the ten most promising young players in Europe for 2014 and also recognized among the three-man shortlist for the World Cup ‘Best Young Player’ award. Raphael was part of the 2014 UEFA Champions League Final and the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Raphael Varane has been represented by VIP-Consulting since 2011, and managed by Frank Hocquemiller, his exclusive image rights agent.

Autofarm’s founder ticks one off his bucket list with entry at Porsche Rennsport Reunion


Josh Sadler will travel 5,400 miles to race at the world’s largest Porsche event with his Autofarm-prepared 911

BICESTER – Having competed for close to 50 years, revered Porsche specialist Josh Sadler is making the 5,400 mile trip to California to race at the Rennsport Reunion, ticking off a key item from his bucket list. Sadler 73, will race the factory prototype Porsche 911 he has owned as ‘a box of bits’ for over thirty years, before finally assembling and restoring the car in 2013.

The Autofarm-prepared Porsche 911

The Autofarm-prepared Porsche 911

Rennsport Reunion is the world’s largest gathering of Porsche race cars, drivers and enthusiasts and is held at the historic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “This event is iconic in the Porsche world and I simply had to do it before I got too old. It was on my bucket list and one I really wanted to tick off,” says Sadler. “I was fortunate to gain an entry and thought I’ll crate up the car and do it!” Sadler will race in the Eifel Trophy on Saturday 26th September and expects a steep learning curve. “I have never been to Laguna Seca and don’t have an XBox to practice on. I’m sure we’ll work out which way it goes and have a bit of fun.”

Sadler is ticking one off his bucket list with trip to US

Sadler is ticking one off his bucket list with trip to US

HARMAN on board of the new Ferrari 488 GTB Spider


The new Ferrari 488 GTB Spider features premium JBL by HARMAN audio for best-in-class listening experience – even at top speed

International Motor Show (IAA), Frankfurt, September 16, 2015 HARMAN International Industries, Incorporated (NYSE:HAR), the premier connected technologies company for automotive, consumer and enterprise markets, brings its engineering excellence to the new Ferrari 488 GTB Spider, which features a state-of-the-art JBL professional premium sound system. Ferrari unveiled this new two-seat sports car at the IAA 2015 and together with HARMAN highlights the thrilling combination of speed and sound.

The premium-branded JBL Professional sound system delivers immersive sound into the interior of the vehicle through a total of 12 speakers and a 1280-watt, 16-channel JBL Professional Class-D high-performance amplifier – creating rich and powerful sound with excellent dynamics, even when the car is traveling at speed – which it will, thanks to its new 670 HP biturbo engine.


QuantumLogic Surround (QLS)

To enrich the superb sound of the JBL PRO system, the Ferrari sports cars will also feature QuantumLogic Surround, which gives audio tracks a controlled sound quality by introducing revolutionary new audio algorithms to extract signal streams and impulse responses from the original recording. Individual voices and instruments, as well as embedded reverberant spatial information, are identified and then re-authored into a precise multi-channel soundstage. And to guarantee a best-possible fidelity, it has also Auravox Tuning on board for a best-in-class listening experience and maximum aural immersion.

Commenting on the premium JBL PRO audio system in the Ferrari 488 GTB Spider, Michael Mauser, President Lifestyle Division, HARMAN, commented, “Ferraristi expect the best of the best, be it the engine or the audio system. So we at HARMAN have aimed at providing a best-possible sound experience, so the audio system will sound as great as the car.”


Lone Star Le Mans beckons for Strakka Racing

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After debuting its Gibson 015S chassis at the Nürburgring, Strakka Racing heads to the USA for the start of the fly-away stretch of the WEC season, where it will tackle Circuit of the Americas for the first time.

Strakka Racing travels to Austin, Texas next week, hoping to convert the Gibson’s head-turning pace into a win against its LMP2 rivals. Drivers Jonny Kane, Danny Watts and Nick Leventis will have to get acclimatised to the circuit quickly though, as the trio have no prior experience at the 3.4-mile circuit.

“The simulator work we have done back at base is key for all three of us really,” says Kane. “We knew going into this season that the three of us hadn’t driven at Circuit Of The Americas (COTA) before, so being able to spend extensive time working on learning the track before the event has helped us get ready.

“Our sim enables us to go out at a new circuit, or a circuit we don’t know well and immediately have braking points and lines through corners to build off.”


Strakka Racing founder Nick Leventis has spent time testing at the circuit before the weekend as extra preparation for the event this weekend, hoping to gain an advantage over the five other COTA rookies in the LMP2 class.

Since opening back in 2012, Circuit of the Americas has held rounds of Moto GP, Formula One, the Tudor United Sports Car Championship and X Games. Popular with drivers for its tricky undulations, COTA makes for some spectacular racing on its mixture of medium and low-speed corners.


“I can’t wait to get on track,” says driver Danny Watts. “I’ve seen races at the track on TV and have always wanted to tackle that iconic hill leading to Turn 1; it looks steep on screen, so I can’t imagine what it’s like when you’re actually there driving!”

On-track action for the WEC teams runs from the 17th to 19th of September with the race starting 17:00 local time on the Saturday in Austin, Texas.




Sensational one-two at Nürburgring for Strakka Racing

Strakka Podium


Ellinas heads home Malja for second win in as many weekends during dramatic rain-hit encounter in Germany

Silverstone-based Strakka Racing celebrated a memorable one-two finish, its first ever in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series, during an incident-packed and highly dramatic 13th round of the season at the Nürburgring in Germany this afternoon.With light rain ahead of the start meaning a wet track was declared by officials, the majority of lead contenders still opted for slick tyres and the rain only became a factor during the incredibly tense final laps.

Starting the race fifth and sixth on slicks, drivers Tio Ellinas and Gustav Malja both had very high hopes of challenging for the podium. Nobody, though, could have predicted the superb one-two result – especially when Ellinas sustained damage to his front wing while battling for third place at the end of the first lap.Having to work hard to compensate for the lack of downforce, the Cypriot had to try and drive around the issue until his mandatory tyre change at the end of lap five when he pitted from third place, having been as high as second. Malja pitted from fifth position a lap later and the real turning point of the race for Strakka came shortly after when the Safety Car appeared following a spin for Aurelien Panis.

As the highest placed cars of those to have pitted in eighth and ninth, with Malja moving ahead of Ellinas through the stops, when racing resumed on lap 11 both Strakka drivers made excellent re-starts and instantly challenged Tom Dillmann.Through a nail-biting few corners Ellinas and Malja swarmed all over their rival and, after swiftly seeing off Dillmann, the pair continued their own private battle with Ellinas edging ahead.Running in fifth and sixth into lap 16, the team-mates had a waiting game until the lead quartet took their pit stops and that started to happen soon after.With only race leader Pietro Fantin still to pit with five laps to go, Ellinas and Malja held second and third and at the end of lap 18 Fantin dived into the pitlane.

Gustav Malja Strakka Nurburgring2015-1623

Assuming first and second, Ellinas and Malja looked set for a superb dream result for Strakka but the conclusion wasn’t as straightforward as anticipated when rain began to fall with a couple of laps to run.Initially holding a three second advantage over Malja, as the track became increasingly slippery and with grip at a premium the gap between the pair reduced to nothing.Nose-to-tail into the final tour, lap 22, a wicked twitch for Ellinas out of the second turn looked to have relegated him to second but he managed to regain the lead when Malja had some wheel spin – Ellinas taking his second victory just eight days after his first.

“It was a very long race”, said the winner, “I got a good start, tried to overtake for P3 [at the end of lap one] but had my front wing chopped and had a broken front wing until I pitted. I was hanging in there and then, at the stop, we changed the front wing.“I kept my head down and tried to go as quick as I could. I’m delighted for the win, the team did a really good job and we judged it well. I was trying dry lines at the end but when I could see Gustav closing, I knew I had to change my lines!”

Second place for Malja marked his best result yet in Formula Renault 3.5 and second podium of the year, as well as top Rookie, having climbed the rostrum for the first time in Hungary in June.“The final lap was the most intense of my career”, said the Swedish racer, “I made it past Tio in the Mercedes Arena [on the last lap] but then I had some wheel spin on the exit and he got back in front.“It’s an amazing result for myself and for the team – they made a fantastic pit stop and I think we all deserve this following all the hard work we’ve put in.”

Round 12 on Saturday, 12th September, didn’t go quite to plan for Strakka when Ellinas wasn’t able to convert his second place grid start into a podium result after being put wide on the first lap.Initially launching away well from the grid, Ellinas was edged back to fourth into the first corner and subsequently elbowed out wide, dropping him to sixth where he remained to the conclusion. Malja made a great getaway at the beginning of the race to climb into the top eight, from 10th on the grid, and just like his team-mate he ran in the same position throughout.


In terms of the championship battle, Ellinas’ success has hoisted him into the top six, just 10 points shy of fourth position, with Malja into eighth place. In the team standings, Strakka Racing departs Germany in fourth position.

France is the next destination on the Formula Renault 3.5 Series calendar with rounds 14 and 15 of the season taking place at the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit over the weekend 26th/27th September.

Ansible Motion’s chief designer shortlisted for BEEAS Awards


Bob Stevens

Hethel’s Bob Stevens selected as finalist for prestigious British Engineering Excellence Awards

Hethel-based design engineer Bob Stevens has reached the finalist stage of the British Engineering Excellence Awards. Stevens, a designer at leading simulator manufacturer Ansible Motion, located at the Hethel Engineering Centre, was nominated for the coveted British Design Engineer of the Year award.

The award, now in its sixth year, recognises engineers capable of creating innovative designs within strict commercial limits. Stevens was responsible the concept design, R&D and product development of Ansible Motion’s driver-in-the-loop simulators that are increasingly relied upon by car makers and motorsport teams around the world. The company recently opened its R&D Centre at its base at the Hethel Engineering Centre. The award also seeks to recognise engineers who work to promote engineering in the broader community. Since 2009, Stevens has mentored groups of Year 9 (13-14 year old) and Year 12 (16-17 year old) schoolchildren under the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) programme as well as hosting multiple work experience placements for schoolchildren looking to learn about design and manufacturing.

“It is a real privilege to get to the finalist stage,” says Stevens. “It is great that the awards also seek to recognise the importance of promoting the value of engineering to future generations. Facilities such as Hethel act as an incubator for technologies such as our Driver-in-the-Loop simulators and it’s equally important we nurture young talent in the same way.”

The winners will be announced at a gala lunch at the Hurlingham Club, London, on 29th October.


Falken Motorsports continues Nürburgring success with second place in VLN

Falken scorches to another podium in searing temperatures

Falken VLN Nürburgring2

Peter Dumbreck and Alexandre Imperatori defied temperatures well above 35°C to finish second at the fourth round of the VLN series this weekend.

After a light collision in qualifying necessitated replacing the steering rack during the session, Alexandre Imperatori grabbed sixth place on the grid in dying moments of the session.

Heat was a major issue during the race with cockpit temperatures reaching 70°C, as ambient temperatures exceeded 35°C. A flying opening stint from Alexandre Imperatori saw him snatch the lead on the opening lap. After six laps, shortened due to the high cockpit temperatures, he handed over to Dumbreck, who himself was also suffering with a wrist pain as a result of the practice incident.

As the track temperatures passed 50°C, Falken was able to secure fastest lap with an 8:12.920 minutes and after four hours’ racing the team got its second podium in as many races.

The weekend success follows Falken’s victory at Watkins Glen last weekend where the US team scored a class victory in its Porsche. The weekend also saw Falken’s drift teams win events in Sweden and the UK, culminating a successful week for the Japanese tyre manufacturer.


Falken VLN Nürburgring

Zircotec secures further volume OEM orders for motorcycle-specific exhaust coatings

Aesthetic and durability characteristics see ceramic finish selected over paint for two new special edition European market motorcycles.

bike exhaustPlasma-spray specialist Zircotec has secured a further two key orders for its Endurance Range ceramic coating developed for motorcycles. Applied using Zircotec’s proprietary process, the improved durability and aesthetic attributes have led to two orders of over 2,000 units, highlighting the increases in capacity the firm has achieved in the past 18 months.

“Motorcycle manufacturers have come to Zircotec seeking contemporary exhaust finishes that will last,” adds sales director Peter Whyman. “Enquiries from the sector are up threefold in the past year. Chrome can look dated and quickly tarnishes whilst paint can’t withstand the heat cycling experienced on exhausts. Our ceramic exhaust coating not only passes stringent OEM durability tests but we can offer a range of different colours and textures that complement today’s styling trends.  With surface temperature reductions of close to 25 percent and an extremely robust finish, our heat resistant coating has added appeal for motorcycle applications.”

manufacturing imageInvestment of over £250,000 in the last 18 months has enabled the Oxfordshire firm to expand capacity and handle the higher-volume demanded by OEMs, with batches of 500 parts per week regularly being processed for one motorcycle OEM. “Our flexible process means we can now handle OEM quantities, making it ideal for motorcycle manufacturers looking to offer differentiation, perhaps for a special edition or limited run,” adds Whyman.

The firm now offers four colours with the option of different textures providing something exclusive for OEMs needing a differentiator. “The range is expanding and we are able to create derivatives so OEMs can even have a bespoke finish for themselves.”

Tom Harris announces Sprint Car campaign in the US

Brit commits to Bob East chassis for multi race campaign through the summer


Leading British stock car driver Tom Harris will make his race debut in Sprint Cars, the US’ most prestigious short oval category this summer. Harris, 26, from Banbury, Oxfordshire, has purchased a front running Bob East chassis to tackle three events (Gas City, Jul 10th, Kokomo Jul 11th and Lawrenceburg Jul 12th) in the USAC Sprint Week in the Amsoil National Sprint Championship before returning in late July/August to compete in a further six events. The switch to US racing follows Harris’ successful debut in the lower Midget category in January and marks the first time in the modern era that a British driver has entered the Sprint Car category that regularly sees top drivers from NASCAR and Indycars.

“We talked at the start of the year about making the switch to racing in the US as the best way to progress my career. We’ve won pretty much everything we can here in the UK and had to stop talking about and just do it,” says Harris. “This is a major commitment from Tom Harris Motorsport and my supporters including J Davidson, Neil Stuchbury Motors R&C Metals, Carbody, PRG Utilities, Elan PR and Lucas Oils to make this happen. After working well with Bob East at the Chili Bowl, it was the right move to continue that relationship and we will run the car with a British crew from his workshop. There is a lot to learn but with Bob guiding us, we will get to grips with it quickly.”


Harris will return to the UK during the summer to qualify for the BriSCA F1 stock car World Final and will continue to support his UK customers but ultimately sees a brighter future in the US. “From the test in late 2014 and then the Chili Bowl, we’ve seen the huge opportunities available to forge a professional career in the US,” adds Harris. “We’ve reached the limit in what we can do build-wise with the cars in UK and we have won nearly every title as a driver or constructor. Now we move on and take on the best the rest of the world has to offer.”