50 years after Gulf’s second victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours, the famous oil and fuel brand has announced its partnership with the DragonSpeed LMP1 team for the 2019 edition of the endurance classic, with additional support from FAI?Auto Parts and Trico windscreen wiper products – the latter also seen on Gulf’s victorious Ford GT40 in 1969.
The livery of DragonSpeed’s BR Engineering BR1-Gibson features the legendary Gulf blue and orange racing colors and pays homage to Gulf’s three outright wins at La Sarthe – prominently displayed on the car’s tailfin – while the rear wing lists Gulf’s past world championship sportscar victories at ten legendary race circuits.
“It all sounds a little romantic, and I suppose it is,” said Gulf Oil International’s Head of Marketing, Alexandra Ip, “but Gulf is very proud of its incredible sportscar racing heritage, particularly at Le Mans, so when the opportunity arose to compete 50 years on with a competitive car in the top category, we couldn’t turn it down.”
“If any brand embodies the excitement, passion, and spirit of Le Mans, it has to be Gulf,” said Dragon Speed Team Principal, Elton Julian. “We are delighted to race in these famous colors and become part of Gulf’s amazing Le Mans and endurance racing history. We are proud to represent Gulf as we seek to capitalise on our recent performance gains and take the fight to our LMP1 rivals.”
DragonSpeed boasts a growing sportscar racing pedigree, in 2019 becoming the first team to secure LMP2 class wins in the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series, and IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. The team also made its Indianapolis 500 debut last month, qualifying Britain’s Ben Hanley in its first visit to the famed Brickyard – no mean feat considering the stellar names who didn’t make it into the field.
Hanley will form part of the Gulf DragonSpeed driver lineup at Le Mans, together with Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Renger van der Zande of Holland and Swedish pilot Henrik Hedman. Fans should look out for Hedman’s spectacular Gulf Le Mans tribute helmet design.
DragonSpeed is also keenly anticipating the battle for LMP2 honors. Its number 31 ORECA O7-Gibson is one of the favorites in the 20-strong class, having won the most recent WEC round at Spa. Team leader Roberto Gonzalez of Mexico is joined by former Grand Prix winner Pastor Maldonado and 2014 WEC LMP1 champion Anthony Davidson in the red Soliq-sponsored machine. With extra points on offer at Le Mans, Gonzales, Maldonado, and DragonSpeed also retain an outside chance of taking the LMP2 driver and team titles.
Practice and qualifying sessions take place this Wednesday and Thursday, with the 87th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours starting at 15.00 CET on Saturday 15 June.
story and photo courtesy of DragonSpeed