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Ghiotto, Smith headline eight-man Ginetta test roster

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Ghiotto, Smith headline eight-man Ginetta test roster
By:
Jul 22, 2019, 3:54 PM

Former Le Mans 24 Hours winner Guy Smith and Formula 2 race winner Luca Ghiotto are among the drivers who will test the Ginetta LMP1 car at Barcelona this week.

Smith and Ghiotto will join six other drivers split across the pair of works Team LNT Ginetta G60-LT-P1s at the WEC Prologue test at the Circuit de Catalunya this week. 

Ginetta boss Lawrence Tomlinson said he had brought in Smith, who first sampled the Ginetta at Paul Ricard earlier this month, for his experience.

"Guy has a lot to offer, not just as the 2003 Le Mans winner with Bentley but for the amount of knowledge of sportscar racing he has," Tomlinson told Motorsport.com. 

Smith, who stepped down from the factory Bentley GT3 squad in May last year, played down the likelihood of him racing the car.

"It's not really my plan, but I was curious to see how the cars had moved on," said the 44-year-old, who last raced at prototype with Dyson Racing in the American Le Mans Series in 2013. "Lawrence asked me to have a go, and I thought why not?"

#7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3: Guy Smith

#7 Bentley Team M-Sport Bentley Continental GT3: Guy Smith

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

Tomlinson explained that Ghiotto had been recommended to him by the boss of the UNI-Virtuosi F2 team, Paul Devlin.

"Paul worked with us back from the early days of Team LNT and recommended Luca," he said. "He's clearly a bit of a rising star and we like to keep our eyes open for up-and-coming drivers."

Former Peugeot and Toyota LMP1 driver Stephane Sarrazin has also been brought in by Ginetta for the Prologue. Tomlinson said that the Frenchman's knowledge of the AER turbo engine from his WEC campaign in 2018/19 with SMP Racing would be invaluable for the team. 

Another ex-SMP LMP1 racer Egor Orudzhev will also drive one of the Ginettas, with his Russian backer believed to be keen on keeping him race sharp despite the end of its own WEC programme.

Ex-Rebellion driver Mathias Beche and LMP2 stalwart Stephane Richelmi complete the line-up for the test together with factory Ginetta drivers Mike Simpson and Charlie Robertson

Orudzhev, Beche, Richelmi and Robertson will drive the #5 car, while Smith, Ghiotto, Sarrazin and Simpson will test the #6 Ginetta.

Ginetta G60-LT-P1

Ginetta G60-LT-P1

Tomlinson revealed that he is close to confirming two cars for the full season after previously refusing to commit to running more than one and stated that a decision on drivers would be made in the days after the test.

"It looks like it will be two for Silverstone [the opening WEC round in September] and the full season unless something dramatic happens," he said, also confirming that the cars would be run by Ginetta's in-house LNT squad rather than by a customer team.

The Algarve Pro European Le Mans Series squad is helping LNT run the two cars at the test. 

"They were here anyway with all their equipment [after racing in last weekend's European Le Mans Series round], so it made sense for them to help spanner the #5 car," said Tomlinson. "That leaves our guys free to work on the #6 car, which is running with the AER engine for the first time."

#25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca 07 Gibson: Olivier Pla, John Falb, Andrea Pizzitola

#25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca 07 Gibson: Olivier Pla, John Falb, Andrea Pizzitola

Photo by: ELMS

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