Full reveal, specification and images of young entrepreneur Marc Philipp Gemballa’s first completely bespoke production-ready off-road capable supercar, named MARSIEN
Inspired by the legendary Paris Dakar rally era, the MARSIEN enables the ultimate driving experience for both on and of road use, creating a completely new supercar segment
The vehicle has been developed in collaboration with internationally-renown automotive partners including performance exhaust manufacturer Akrapovič, suspension pioneer KW Automotive and Porsche engine specialist RUF Automobile
MARSIEN, formerly known as ‘Project Sandbox’, perfectly blends all the comforts of a modern-day supercar with incomparable off-road capabilities
A flawless combination of futuristic yet timeless design and cutting-edge technology
Today, Marc Philipp Gemballa has revealed its off-road capable, bespoke supercar to the world and confirmed its production name: MARSIEN.
With his newly founded company MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH (not associated in any form with Gemballa GmbH), the 27-year-old entrepreneur and son of late Uwe Gemballa has launched his very first production ready supercar named MARSIEN starting a new era in 2021.
A NEW ERA BEGINS Growing up in an environment where building the fastest and most powerful production car on the planet and setting the next world record on the Nürburgring was key, now over a decade down the road, the market has changed radically. Marc Philipp believes the horsepower game is over, that tuning is done by the OEMs themselves and that the market is constantly being flooded with an influx of new supercars with brandishing hyped horsepower figures. Marc Philipp realised, when aiming to build a successful company for the future and not just toss the next imitator product onto the market, he needed to come up with something very special for his clients.
AN ENTIRELY NEW CONCEPT – DEFINING A NEW SUPERCAR SEGMENT Inspired by the legendary Paris Dakar rally era and more than two years of intense design and engineering development has resulted in the young entrepreneur’s first project: an ultra-modern yet timeless looking supercar.
The new concept of the vehicle forms a hybrid between a modern-day supercar with all its comfort and day-to-day practicality combined with off-road capabilities enabling the ultimate driving experience for both on and off-road with the latest technologies.
BASED ON THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY Looking for the latest cutting-edge platform featuring state-of-the-art technology for their first project and with the need of the base vehicle to be equipped with a modern and sophisticated all-wheel drive system to master the intense challenges in the off-road terrain, the all-new Porsche 992 Turbo S provided the perfect base to realise the young entrepreneur’s vision.
Manufactured in Germany, tested in the sand dunes of the Arabian desert and available to clients worldwide, production is limited to just 40 units with more than half of the small series production sold prior to launch.
THE NAME – MARSIEN With its outstanding design, cutting-edge technology and strong performance, the name of the vehicle needed the right moniker to capture its unique qualities and reflect the characteristics and DNA of the vehicle.
During the intense test phase in the beautiful Al Faya desert, the development team was amazed by the stunning red desert sand in combination with the sharp fossil rocks and mountain backdrops shaping the landscape of the desert making it very special and unlike any other. “We felt like as if we were in an entirely different universe,” says Marc Philipp Gemballa. The Al Faya desert located in the emirate of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates has been famous ever since for its unique and extremely red desert sand and Mars-like environment visually. “Since it looked and felt like we were on Mars paired with the futuristic design and the vehicle’s off-road capabilities, we couldn’t think of a more fitting name for our first project.” The name ‘MARSIEN’ was born – derived from the French word ‘Martian’ or ‘from Mars’.
THE EXTERIOR – HOLISTIC The MARSIEN features a full carbon fibre body. All exterior components are produced in pure carbon fibre, exclusively designed for performance, light weight and cooling. Each body panel is manufactured by a leading German carbon fibre specialist who also supplies leading OEM supercar manufacturers and several leading Formula one teams.
For the design, Marc Philipp Gemballa left nothing to chance and brought on board designer and Porsche aficionado Alan Derosier, known for his stunning Porsche 908 design study, who has been responsible for the ultra-modern yet timeless looking design of the MARSIEN. His artistry can be found in every smooth curve and sophisticated lines of the MARSIEN’s spectacular and timeless design.
Besides the full carbon fibre body, the exterior features functional design upgrades such as a completely bespoke taillight. Featuring the latest LED technology, the rear light has been developed together with light specialist GERG Lighthouse, enabling a completely holistic design appearance of the MARSIEN.
The shape of the MARSIEN had to prove its aerodynamic efficiency and undergo intensive CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) analysis. A development effort that is crucial for optimum driving dynamics at all speeds, efficiency, and maximum safety. A task which has been accomplished by engineering partner KLK, who has gained expertise in developing aerodynamics for LMP1, Formula E, and Formula One racing teams for over 20 years.
The MARSIEN is currently undergoing full road homologation process by renown and certified German technical service provider FAKT, who has been integrally involved in the development of the body. Marc Philipp Gemballa’s technical team are working hand in hand with FAKT to ensure the vehicle successfully passes the relevant crash tests required for approval and road homologation in Europe (including Switzerland), Middle East, the USA, as well as other major global markets in the future.
The exterior paint is applied by a state-of-the-art and certified paint shop via a team that is able to fulfil the most daring customer colour requests. The launch vehicle has been painted in an elaborate tripe layer pearl white with special metallic flakes and received additional protection through a ceramic coating.
Combined with the standard exposed carbon fibre components such as the front splitter with side flaps, side sills, wing mirrors, the air intakes and outtakes, decklid as well as the exhaust frame and rear diffuser with rear flaps; the conversion has been created to take a sophisticated and overall dynamic appearance. There is also the offer a fully exposed carbon fibre body on request as part of its special options list. For the ones this is not enough, there is also the option to have a fully exposed carbon fibre body.
THE DRIVETRAIN – POWERED BY RUF A truly bespoke vehicle requires a unique powertrain of the highest quality. Consequently, Marc Philipp Gemballa teamed up with legendary Porsche engine specialist RUF Automobile for the engine development of the MARSIEN. Founded in 1981, RUF Automobile is known for its Porsche engine expertise, having already worked with Marc’s father Uwe Gemballa to produce powertrains for various vehicles in the 1980s.
The engine upgrade ‘POWERED BY RUF’ enables the six-cylinder boxer engine to deliver over 750 horsepower and 930 Newton meters of torque. “Despite the enormous power reserves, the engine complies with the latest EURO 6 emissions regulations and has been subject to the strictest WLTP and RDE tests,” explains Moritz Renner, technical director of MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH.
For clients that are looking for even more power, there is second stage power upgrade by RUF Automobile taking the engine up to 830 hp with enhanced VTG turbo chargers and a revised ECU mapping and transmission setting.
The engine is protected from overheating even under extreme conditions. The airflow of the central radiator has been completely redesigned, now directing the hot air from the radiator through a NACA duct over the carbon fibre bonnet and around the A-pillars, to the rear of MARSIEN.
BMC, the air filter specialist based in Italy has developed an air filter insert that is uniquely fitted for the dusty conditions in the desert. While protecting the engine from dust and foreign particles, it maintains a sufficient flow of fresh air to allow the engine to work optimally. With innovative technology and first-class design, the drivetrain is singularly equipped for the MARSIEN.
The Porsche PDK transmission has also been revised and adapted to the new conditions so that the enormous power reserves arrive at all four wheels without loss consistently. Extended driveshafts have been developed with reinforced Porsche Cayenne joints to reliably enable the enormous spring deflection and the engine’s high torque.
For the sound of the vehicle, the leading performance exhaust manufacturer Akrapovič has developed an entirely new titanium exhaust system exclusively for the project, focusing on a bespoke sound experience, light in weight and further increasing the power output of the RUF Automobile-upgraded boxer engine.
CUTTING EDGE SUSPENSION AND CHASSIS TECHNOLOGY For the suspension the young entrepreneur teamed up for a technological partnership with the leading suspension and chassis technology pioneer KW Automotive. Together the two companies have developed a bespoke suspension system, which has been exclusively created for the MARSIEN. The off-road capable supercar has had extensive changes to the chassis of its base vehicle including a completely new developed double wishbone front suspension setup equipped with KW Automotive’s solid piston damper technology, featuring an intelligent active damper control as well as an adjustable ride height system for on road and off-road use.
At the touch of a button, the adjustable ride height system enables an electronically controlled hydraulic lift increasing the ride height from Turbo S on road level, up to an overall ground clearance of 250 mm, enabling the ultimate on and off-road driving experience.
Due to the Dynamic Damping Control (DDC) system, the compression and rebound forces of the dampers are optimally adjusted in real-time, ensuring immediate response behaviour. Each damper contains two electromagnetic proportional valves that regulate the forces separately and adjust the damper forces within just 20 milliseconds perfectly to any driving situation, no matter which terrain – be it on snow, sand, or the worst dirt road imaginable.
Furthermore, the driver can choose between several driving modes via the drive mode knob on the steering wheel, which automatically adjusts damper, transmission setting, engine mapping, as well as the ride height accordingly for the selected drive mode. Besides the standard Porsche modes, the new off-road modes include gravel, mud, sand, and snow – always protected by solid aluminium skid plate, covering the entire underbody of the vehicle.
For perfect driving conditions in both on road and off-road mode, the MARSIEN comes with two specially designed forged aluminium wheel sets with centre locking system, running on Michelin Ultra High Performance (UHP) tyres for on road and All Terrain tyres for off-road use.
And for the drivers looking for the ultimate off-road experience and don’t mind limited road usability, there will be an optional off-road package equipped with Reiger Suspension rally specification off-road dampers further enhancing the suspension travel and increasing the ground clearance to a fixed off-road ride height.
GRANTING BESPOKE INTERIOR DREAMS The MARSIEN’s interior design echoes the elegance of the exterior. The conversion comes with a full leather or Alcantara interior handcrafted with the highest quality of materials, equipped with a bespoke Carrera GT-inspired lifted carbon fibre middle console, as well as GT style door lashes, carbon fibre side sills, and further carbon fibre accents throughout the interior with the ability to full customisation.
The interior is an example of the fine balance between form and function, with tasteful hand-stitching of the logo and paddles for manual gear switching. Similar stitching can be found on the floor mats and headrest, while the logo is imprinted on the fire extinguisher and the armrest.
Finally, the metal plaque displaying the individual production number of the limited series of just 40 bespoke vehicles is embedded in the carbon fibre centre console – giving a special touch to the cabin. These small details give the interior its unmistakable character, while the MPG yellow sets the tone.
Prior to the world premiere of ‘Project Sandbox’, the MARSIEN has already been in high demand: besides the exclusive launch edition, limited to only ten units, more than half of the small series production series has sold out before the official launch, leaving only a few of the original 40 vehicles available, while MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH is preparing for the start of serial production later this year.
The price for conversion starts at EUR 495,000 net excluding taxes, duties, shipping, plus any special options and the cost of the Porsche 992 Turbo S base vehicle.
Double wishbone front suspension Multi-link rear suspension KW Automotive solid piston dampers with two electronic valves and semi-active Dynamic Damper and Chassis Control (KW DDCC) and adjustable ride height via Hydraulic Lift System (HLS)
250 mm in off-road mode / 120 mm in on road mode
L 4714 / W 2030 / H 1450 (in off-road mode)
Wheels & Tyres:
On road wheel set – Bespoke 20″/21″ forged aluminium wheels with centre lock system in with Michelin Ultra High-Performance tyres Off-road wheel – set Bespoke 19″/20″ MPG forged aluminium wheels with centre lock system in with All Terrain tyres (Vmax 210 km/h)
Full carbon fibre body
Fully bespoke full leather / Alcantara interior with carbon fibre accents
BORN AND RAISED IN A 911 With the newly founded company MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH (not associated in any form with Gemballa GmbH), the 27-year-old son of Uwe Gemballa has today launched his very first project. Born and raised in a sports car enthusiastic family, Marc Philipp developed his passion for automobiles from a very early stage. After completing his business studies at EBS University of Economics and Law, he gained automotive industry experience, working for various sports car manufacturers including Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, and Porsche.
TIME FOR A CHANGE Marc Philipp grew up in an environment where building the fastest and most powerful production car on the planet and setting the next world record on the Nürburgring was key. But over a decade down the road, the market has changed radically. The horsepower game is over, tuning is done by the OEMs themselves, and the market is constantly being flooded with an influx of new supercars with brandishing hyped horsepower figures. Marc Philipp realized when aiming to build a successful company for the next decades – and not just toss the next imitator product onto the market, he needed to come up with something very special for his clients.
THE VISION MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH sees a new market opportunity in the creation of special design lead vehicles in a small production series – with a vision of creating holistic masterpieces – combined with a new fresh design and technology-focused approach, leaving the era of tuning behind, and ultimately achieving a USP position in the market.
More than two years of intense design and engineering development has resulted in the young entrepreneur’s first project: an ultra-modern yet timeless looking supercar forming a hybrid between a modern-day super sports car with all its comfort and day-to-day practicality, combined with off-road capabilities equipping unique people for their adventure featured by the latest and cutting-edge technologies. MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH is taking the extreme from on road to off-road, building his very first supercar combined with off-road capabilities in a limited small series.
PARTNERS Supported by a worldwide network of dealers, suppliers, and business partners and clients, Marc Philipp Gemballa is starting a new era in 2021 launching his very first project with his newly founded company MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH (not associated in any form with Gemballa GmbH). Among the carefully selected partners are designer Alan Derosier, suspension technology partner KW Automotive, engine specialist RUF Automobile, tyre manufacturer Michelin, leading performance exhaust manufacturer Akrapovič, engineering partner VELA Performance, and Aerodynamic engineers KLK Motorsport.
DELIMITATION This press release is published by MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH. MARC PHILIPP GEMBALLA GmbH is not associated in any form with Gemballa GmbH, and/or any of its subsidiaries, and/or its trademarks.
Intelligent Money British GT Championship GT4 Pro-Am champions Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey graduate to GT3 class with 720S GT3
Pairing will contest Silverstone 500, Spa-Francorchamps and Donington Park rounds
Team Rocket RJN returns to GT3 class; McLaren Customer Racing team also runs a trio of 570S GT4 cars including McLaren Driver Development Programme at British GT rounds
McLaren Customer Racing will be represented by an additional 720S GT3 for Team Rocket RJN in the Intelligent Money British GT Championship at selected rounds this season as reigning GT4 Pro-Am Champions Mia Flewitt and Euan Hankey graduate to the championship’s top GT3 class later this month.
Double Pure McLaren GT Series champion Flewitt joined forces with McLaren Factory Driver Hankey for the 2020 British GT season after contesting two rounds of the 2019 championship’s GT4 class with Stewart Proctor. The pairing competed in a 570S GT4 prepared by Balfe Motorsport, taking overall GT4 victory at Oulton Park in their second race. In addition, they won eight of the nine rounds in the GT4 Pro-Am class on their way to the British GT GT4 Pro-Am championship title.
Flewitt and Hankey will contest three rounds of the 2021 season in the Team Rocket RJN McLaren 720S GT3. They will make their first appearance at the Silverstone 500 three-hour race on June 26-27, returning to action at Spa-Francorchamps on July 24-25 and the season finale at Donington Park on October 16-17.
Team Rocket RJN already runs two McLaren Driver Development Programme cars as well as a third 570S GT4 in this year’s British GT Championship. The team will now make its return to the championship’s GT3 class, in which last year it won on its debut with the 720S GT3, driven by James Baldwin and McLaren GT Driver Michael O’Brien.
“We are very pleased to welcome Mia and Euan to the Team and very much looking forward to getting our GT3 car back on track. We already have a busy GT4 programme with 3 cars this season but to add the McLaren 720S to the programme is fantastic. Mia and Euan are a great pairing and obviously very familiar with working together during their time in GT4.” Bob Neville, Team Principal, Team Rocket RJN
“I’m super excited to be joining Team Rocket RJN for select rounds in British GT this season! I will be sharing their McLaren 720S GT3 with my driver coach and co-driver Euan Hankey. Stepping up from GT4 was always the plan for this season but it’s been a challenging year so far to make it happen. I’m forever grateful to all who have helped and supported us to get here. Bring on Silverstone!” Mia Flewitt, Intelligent Money British GT Championship GT4 Pro-Am champion
Continental GT3 Pikes Peak powers through dynamic testing
Race engine completes prove-out phase using renewable fuel
More than 750 bhp in testing and 1000 Nm from reworked 4.0-litre V8
30 per cent more downforce than standard Continental GT3
Revised chassis, water-cooled brakes and 3D-printed parts
Bentley bids for triple crown of Pikes Peak records
Targeting Time Attack 1 record, to add to Production SUV and Production Car records attained in 2018 and 2019
Car developed in conjunction with GT3 customer team Fastr
Pikes Peak International Hill Climb to take place on 27 June 2021
Bentley’s Continental GT3 Pikes Peak racer is now in final preparations for the world’s most demanding and famous hill climb competition, having completed three dynamic test sessions and renewable fuel engine development.
The most extreme road-going Bentley ever built, the car represents another strand of Bentley’s ambitious and transformational Beyond100 programme, which will see the brand become the world’s leading sustainable luxury mobility company.
For its assault on Pikes Peak on 27 June, the car will run on renewable fuel, initiating a research and development programme that aims to offer renewable fuels to Bentley customers in parallel to Bentley’s electrification programme. This two-strand strategy is set to maximise the pace of Bentley’s progress towards outright carbon neutrality, as part of its Beyond100 journey.
Continental GT3 Pikes Peak – Technical Details With the start line at 9,300 ft, the course climbs to 14,100 ft – where the air is a third less dense than at sea level. This environment means that the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak features modifications to its aerodynamics package, its chassis and its engine, turning it into the most extreme iteration of a Continental GT – or indeed any Bentley road car – ever.
The engine – based on Bentley’s race-proven version of its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 road car engine – has been thoroughly reworked to generate more than 750 bhp and 1,000 Nm at sea level for testing – and the engine will run even higher power levels for the race itself New pistons and conrods are installed to turn additional boost pressure (over 2.2 bar) into power, having to handle an increased dynamic pressure ratio. The carbon fibre intake manifold is thicker and reinforced versus the standard item, for the same reason. Custom, one-off titanium exhaust manifolds have been 3D-printed via laser sintering by Akrapovic, and lead to larger turbos paired with external wastegates, venting into very short exhausts and dedicated screamer pipes that exit behind the front wheels.
The engine runs on 98RON Renewable Racing Fuel. The fuel is a dedicated blend of advanced biofuels specifically designed for motorsport, and is a technological stepping stone to sustainably-created eFuel with a greenhouse gas reduction of up to 85 per cent.
The high performance engine places additional demands on the cooling system, and for Pikes Peak the engineering team have developed a secondary cooling system that’s installed at the back of the car. Air scoops replace the rear windows, and channel air through a secondary radiator that exhausts through ducts in the boot lid. The system runs via a dedicated secondary water pump.
The gearbox is Bentley’s standard racing unit, already designed to handle the torque loads involved, but rear driveshaft diameter has been increased to provide additional durability. The gearbox runs a specially-formulated lubricant created specifically for the car by Mobil1, who have also supplied high-performance oil for the engine.
The chassis has been set up and tuned to suit the specific nature of the Pikes Pikes course. Both front and rear axles run significantly reduced camber to the standard Continental GT3 setup, focusing the car on low-speed cornering performance. The softest springs and anti-roll bars from Bentley’s range have been fitted, to allow more movement in the body and so maximise weight transfer for braking. The brakes themselves are water-cooled, to handle the increased loads that an all-out attack on the course will bring.
The aerodynamic modifications sees a 30 per cent increase in overall downforce at sea level, while maintaining the standard car’s aerodynamic front / rear balance – validated during the first track sessions. The biggest rear wing ever fitted to a Bentley dominates the rear of the car, sitting above a highly efficient rear diffuser that surrounds the transaxle gearbox. To maintain the aerodynamic balance front-to-rear, these devices are paired with a comprehensive front-end aerodynamic package comprising a two-plane front splitter flanked by separate dive planes. The majority of these parts were made with carbon nylon filament using rapid prototype, additive manufacturing techniques at the Bentley factory in Crewe.
The car is now resplendent in its race livery, which combines the black-and-gold theme of Roger Clark Motorsport (that runs the car in the UK) with Bentley’s instantly-recognisable Pikes Peak mountain graphic that featured on the Pikes Peak variants of the Bentayga and Continental GT.
An Extraordinary Team for a Triple Crown Attempt Bentley’s pinnacle Pikes Peak project – its bid for the third and final part of a triple crown – is being run in conjunction with British Continental GT3 customer team Fastr, who have successfully campaigned their Bentley race car in time attack competitions across the country. Technical teams from Bentley and Fastr have worked together with specialists from M-Sport in Cumbria to extract the maximum possible performance from the Continental GT3 package, which will be run in Colorado by the same team.
Two parallel testing programmes have yielded promising results over recent weeks. On arrival in the USA, the Continental GT3 Pikes Peak was immediately put through its paces with two chassis set-up development tests at Willow Springs. High altitude testing then took place in Aspen, Colorado, focusing on engine performance and calibration. Meanwhile, back at the base of M-Sport in Cumbria, a development engine has been running on a high-load test bed, evaluating the performance of the renewable fuel selected by Bentley for the event – with powerful, reliable results.
To break the record, the car will have to complete the nearly 5,000 ft climb, which includes 156 corners, at an average speed of more than 78 mph to cross the finish line in less than nine minutes and 36 seconds. Three-time Pikes Peak champion and former “King of the Mountain’ Rhys Millen (NZ) returns to drive, having captured Bentley’s two existing Pikes Peak records – the Production SUV record attained in 2018 with a Bentayga W12, and the outright Production Car record scored in 2019 with a Continental GT.
The Continental GT3 Pikes Peak continues its final testing and development activities over the next two weeks, ahead of the 99th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb on 27 June.
Driver teams confirmed for Audi Sport’s Dakar project
Audi to herald energy revolution in cross-country rallying
Dakar record winner, World Rally champion and DTM champion start for Audi
Audi is the first car manufacturer to fight for overall victory in the famous Dakar Rally with an electrified powertrain, thus also heralding an energy revolution in cross-country rallying.
Audi Sport has succeeded in recruiting three illustrious driver teams for the ambitious project.
Mattias Ekström/Emil Bergkvist (Sweden), Stéphane Peterhansel/Edouard Boulanger (France), and Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (Spain) will compete for Audi in the world’s toughest rally from January 2 to 14, 2022. “It’s no exaggeration to speak of a ‘dream team’,” says Julius Seebach, Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH and responsible for motorsport. “Stéphane is the most successful Dakar driver of all time. Carlos is a multiple Dakar winner and World Rally champion.
With Mattias, we already celebrated many Audi successes in the past. He is one of the world’s most versatile drivers. In addition to a lot of speed, they are all adding an extreme amount of expertise and motivation to our team. The same goes for their co-drivers, who play an increasingly important role in the Dakar Rally.”
“In the end, the drivers and co-drivers make the difference at the Dakar Rally,” says Andreas Roos, who is responsible for the factory motorsport commitments at Audi Sport. “The fact that we will have three driver teams at the very highest level is reassuring. We can put a checkmark behind this point. Now it’s up to us to complete the development of our innovative car and kick off the energy revolution in cross-country rallying in January.”
“At the Dakar Rally, teamwork and reliability are crucial,” says Sven Quandt, team principal of Q Motorsport. “You need a well-bonded team, a super reliable car, and reliable driver teams. You can’t permanently drive at the limit in the Dakar Rally. The right strategy is crucial. I’m very happy that we will have three renowned and strong teams competing for us. We know their qualities very well.”
Mattias Ekström (42) has spent almost his entire career under the banner of the four rings, particularly in the DTM, where he won the title twice with Audi (2004 and 2007). The Swede underlined his versatility by winning the World Rallycross Championship in 2016, as well as successful stints in the World Rally Championship, NASCAR, and in Australian Supercars. In 2021, he is competing for CUPRA in the new Extreme E electric off-road series. Earlier this year, he also made his debut in the Dakar Rally.
“The Dakar will definitely be one of the most exciting adventures of my career,” says Ekström. “To be able to tackle this exciting project together with the team, with which I celebrated my greatest successes, is fantastic. Although I’ll be turning 43 this year, I feel like a junior compared to Carlos and Stéphane. In this sport, you need a lot of experience in all areas. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m really looking forward to it.”
Mattias Ekström’s co-driver is his compatriot Emil Bergkvist (26), who used to be a rally driver himself. “I come from the same region as Mattias. He has always been an idol for me, every motorsport enthusiast in Sweden knows him,” says Bergkvist.
“When I stopped driving, I called him and asked if I could work for his team. Now, I am his co-driver. It’s an honor for me to be able to work with Mattias and be part of this great project at Audi.”
Stéphane Peterhansel (55) is “Mister Dakar” and a living legend in his sport. The Frenchman has won the world’s toughest cross-country rally 14 times, which includes six victories on a motorcycle and eight more in the car category. “I love nature and beautiful landscapes,” says Peterhansel. “At the Dakar Rally, we travel to fascinating places that you would never see otherwise. The Dakar is one of the last adventures in this world. And it is on the verge of a radical change: the future is electric. In ten years, everyone will be driving electric cars. The Dakar is an extreme test for this technology. We want to be the first team to win the Dakar Rally with an electric powertrain. I’m looking forward to tackling this very ambitious project with Audi.”
“A new era is coming. The whole world is moving towards electric mobility and motorsport has to do the same,” says Peterhansel’s co-driver Edouard Boulanger (42). “Audi brings a lot of experience from Le Mans and Formula E and is not starting from zero. History has shown: When Audi does something in motorsport, it does it right. Being allowed to be a part of the Audi squad is another important step in my career and a big responsibility. I don’t want to disappoint expectations.”
The trained engineer has become familiar with the Dakar Rally over many years in various functions. In 2021, he started together with Stéphane Peterhansel for the first time and won the rally outright. “I’ve admired Stéphane since I was a kid,” says Boulanger. “We’ve known each other personally for 13 years and more recently we’ve been working together in the cockpit. He is the best in the sport.”
Carlos Sainz (59) is also a living legend. The Spaniard is a two-time World Rally champion (1990,1992) and has celebrated three Dakar Rally victories to date: in 2010, 2018, and most recently in 2020 at the premiere in Saudi Arabia. “Even at 59,
I’m still hungry, otherwise, I wouldn’t have taken on this new challenge,” says Sainz. “Even as a child, it was my dream to become a rally driver. My passion is unchanged.” The Audi brand has always been something very special for “El Matador”. “The Audi quattro changed the World Rally Championship forever,” says Sainz. “Now we are trying something similar at the Dakar Rally. The engineers have much more freedom in the Dakar Rally than in other racing series. I have full confidence in the Audi engineers and will try to help them with my experience to develop a fast and successful car. The Dakar is the ultimate challenge for an electric powertrain. It is a fantastic, extreme project. I can’t wait to test the car for the first time. What I’ve seen so far gives me confidence.”
Sainz will share the cockpit with Lucas Cruz (46), who was part of one of his countryman’s junior rally teams at the start of his career, before discovering cross-country rallying for himself. “2021 is my 20th year in the sport,” says Cruz. “I have competed in the Dakar Rally with different drivers before Carlos asked me to work with him at Volkswagen in 2009. I would never have dreamed of doing that. A year later, we won the Dakar together for the first time and three times since then.”
“Carlos is super professional,” says Cruz. “He only has one goal: to win. He demands that everyone else is as focused as he is: the mechanics, the engineers, the co-driver. We have a good connection. I’m the calming influence in the car. Working with him is a great pleasure.”
Cruz is also intrigued by the idea of tackling the Dakar Rally with an electrified powertrain. “Audi is the first manufacturer to enter such a car,” says the Spaniard. “It’s important and positive for our sport to take this step and rely on new energies in the world’s toughest motorsport event. It’s very complicated in the Dakar Rally. Audi is daring to do something that no one has done before. It’s the future.”
Brands Hatch, 16 May 2021 – Han Sikkens and Lucky Khera share wins in the opening Trofeo Pirelli races of the season, with Graham de Zille winning both races in the Coppa Shell.
Trofeo Pirelli. Rain forced the drivers onto wets whilst the cars were on the grid minutes before the start of the race. Due to standing water on several corners, the Safety Car was deployed just before the half-way point and, after a thrilling re-start, Lucky Khera (Graypaul Birmingham) successfully managed to re-take his position from John Dhillon (Graypaul Nottingham), but was unable to catch Han Sikkens (H.R. Owen London) for the win. Dhillon kept the fast-paced Paul Hogarth (Stratstone Manchester) behind him to secure the final step on the podium.
Coppa Shell. Graham de Zille (Meridien Modena) started from pole position in his class and took his first win of the season. Laurent De Meeus (H.R. Owen London) worked his way from 10th on the grid to finish 2nd in his class in the very challenging conditions. Paul Rogers (JCT600 Brooklands) held his nerve and completed the podium.
Trofeo Pirelli. After another dry qualifying session with Khera taking pole, rain once again forced the drivers onto wets whilst the cars were on the grid minutes before the start of the race. The rain soon eased but the track remained wet and slippery throughout the race. The race winner, Khera, led from start to finish, with Dhillon in 2nd and Sikkens in 3rd.
Coppa Shell. De Zille continued Saturday’s form, starting from pole position in his class and third overall. He took his second win of the season, finishing third overall. In his first Ferrari Challenge UK race weekend, De Meeus had an impressive start to his championship, finishing second in both races. Paul Simmerson (Graypaul Birmingham) lost out to De Meeus but still secured his first podium finish of the season.
Pirelli Ferrari formula classic
Saturday. In the first race of the season, Chris Butler won in his 328 GTB, with Vance Kearney and Wayne Marrs finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively, each in a F355 Challenge.
Sunday. In the second race of the weekend, Chris Butler secured his second win of the season with Wayne Marrs, while Robert Rees completed the podium in his 328 GTB.
In the final race of the weekend, Chris Butler completed a hat trick of wins. Peter Everingham and Myles Poulton finished second and third in their 328 GTB and 328 GTS respectively.
Schedule. The next event in the Ferrari Challenge UK season will be at Donington Park on the 12-13th June.
14-16 May Brands Hatch Indy & Grand Prix 12-13 June Donington Park 10-11 July Snetterton 17-19 September Silverstone – Ferrari Racing Days 01-02 October Oulton Park
Three Aston Martin Racing partner teams vie for glory in WEC GTE Am
Aston Martin champion Paul Dalla Lana returns to series with his own team
D’station Racing make the step up to world championship level
Le Mans-winners TF Sport aim for title after coming so close in 2020
Three Aston Martin Vantage GTEs will compete for FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) GTE AM honours as D’station Racing, NorthWest AMR and TF Sport all vie to give the car its first world title in the class when the 2021 series begins at Spa-Francorchamps, in Belgium, on Saturday.
The Vantage GTE, powered by a version of the four-litre, twin-turbo-charged V8 engine found in the road car from which it derives, was all-conquering in the WEC GTE Pro category during the 2019/2020 season. Recording five wins from eight races, including both Pro and Am classes at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans, the car took Aston Martin to the FIA GT Manufacturers’ World Championship title and carried Danish duo Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen to the drivers’ crown.
It also helped TF Sport come within a hair’s breadth of winning the GTE AM crown, as the Le Mans class winners and long-time Aston Martin Racing partners finished runners up in the championship with four class victories – the most of any team. This year TF Sport aims to go one higher with a new driver line-up and a fresh resolve as GTE Am race-winner Ben Keating (USA) joins the squad along with co-drivers Dylan Pereira (LUX) and Felipe Fraga (BRA).
The last driver to win the GTE Am world championship with Aston Martin, Paul Dalla Lana (CDN) – in 2017 – also returns with his Vantage GTE, this time with his own team NorthWest AMR. Dalla Lana, embarking on his eighth season of WEC, is the most experienced Aston Martin driver in the field, and the most decorated having won 16 class victories during his stint with the works team. He is joined by two-time Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona winner and Intercontinental champion Augusto Farfus (BRA), and the 2020 Asian Le Mans Series champion Marcos Gomes (BRA).
TF Sport will also play an assisting role in D’station Racing’s first full foray into WEC, as the Japanese team enters a Vantage GTE for the first time at world level. No stranger to the famous wings – D’station leads the Super Taikyu Championship in Japan with its GT3 variant of Vantage – Satoshi Hoshino (JPN) is joined by regular co-driver Tomonobu Fujii (JPN) and rising British GT star Andrew Watson.
David King, President of Aston Martin Racing, said: “The Vantage GTE set the standard in FIA WEC last season, ensuring that Aston Martin is the reigning FIA GT Manufacturers’ World Champion. The car was equally competitive in the GTE Am class, and only missed out on the title at the last round. This year our aspirations lie in the hands of our world class partner teams, and I am confident they will be front runners in a very competitive class.”
The WEC will be contested over six rounds in 2021, beginning with the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps on 1 May. New rounds in Portugal (8 Hours of Portimão) on 13 June, and Italy (6 Hours of Monza), follow before the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place on its non-traditional date of 21-22 August. The championship then concludes with the 6 Hours of Fuji, in Japan on 26 September, and finally the 8 Hours of Bahrain on 20 November.
The WEC action begins on 26-27 April with the official two day Prologue test, also at Spa. Free practice for the Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps will begin at 1530 CET on Thursday, 29 April, with the race taking place from 1330 CET on Saturday, 1 May.