Friday, February 12, 2016

News: Manor reborn as Booth targets Le Mans

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The white rose of Yorkshire is set to speed around the historic circuit at Le Mans as Manor confirms that it will compete a full season in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) - which includes the famous 24 hour race.

Twenty‐six years after entering its first season of competition, a new subsidiary, Manor Endurance Racing Limited, has been established by Rotherham-born John Booth and sporting director Graeme Lowdon. The team will initially enter one car into the LMP2 class of the championship, which is considered to be one of the highest calibres available to independent teams.

Since 1990, Manor has won over 190 races and 19 national or international championships or invitation events. With a base at Dinnington in Rotherham, Booth's Manor Motorsport is one of the most respected names in national and international motor racing. The operation achieved great success in Formula 3 and Formula Renault and played a major role in the development of several of today's greatest motor racing talents. Formula 1 world champions Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton both graduated from the John Booth school of excellence.

John Booth, team principal at Manor (pictured), said: "We are delighted to be joining the World Endurance Championship. It is a fantastic series that visits iconic tracks all over the world. The level of competition is very high and we are really looking forward to racing again.

"The LMP2 class is specifically designed for teams independent of manufacturers and/or engine suppliers which places the focus firmly on how the team performs.

"I can't wait to see the car running now. We have lots to do but we have a great team of people to get it all done."
Graeme Lowdon, sporting director at Manor, added: "It's really great to be racing again and the FIA World Endurance Championship provides a fantastic challenge for us.

"Pre‐season testing starts soon and there is a lot to do but we have never been afraid of a bit of hard work.

"There is a real buzz within the team at the moment, we have enjoyed great support from the fans over the last few months and we are very keen for them to get fully involved in what we are doing. We all have a great passion for motorsport and we are keen to share that passion."

Manor Grand Prix was an unlikely name to make it onto the F1 grid in 2009. Having secured financial backing from LDC, it became Virgin Racing when they announced a link up with Richard Branson. Russian company, Marussia Motors acquired a significant shareholding in 2010 and the team became Marussia Virgin Racing.

FRP Advisory LLP were appointed joint administrators to Manor Grand Prix Racing Limited, trading as the Marussia F1 Team. Without financial backing the company ceased trading in 2014 resulting in 200 redundancies.

Then in 2015, a formal agreement was reached with Manor's creditors through a CVA in order to allow the team to come out of administration, following new investment from businessman Stephen Fitzpatrick. Manor F1 took their place on the grid for the 2015 season.

The new Manor WEC team has no connection to the current F1 outfit. Both Booth (team principal) and Lowdon (CEO) left their roles at the end of last season.

The team will have the option of utilising the mothballed Dinnington site which has been empty since F1 operations moved from Rotherham to Banbury in Oxfordshire to be closer to McLaren, their technical partners for the 2012 season. Another move down south is likely to be on the cards.

Manor has chosen the ORECA LM P2 05 chassis which is set to be powered by a Nissan engine. Thailand's Tor Graves will rejoin the team as a named driver. The 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship Runner Up (LMP2) drove for Manor in 1998, 2003 and also during the team's successful 1999 British Formula 3 campaign.

The first race of the WEC season takes place at Silverstone in April.

Manor WEC website

Images: Manor Endurance Racing Limited / Marussia Manor F1

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