Star driver line-up, star manufacturer with a history of producing race winning prototypes and funding from a country trying to make its mark in motorsport. A sure fire runner that wasn’t. What a shame.
This is one way to sum up the Ginetta G60-LT-P1 Prototype and probably the kindest on paper as I fear any other, particularly from team members, would involve a great deal of swearing. This is because, in reality, the failure of the G60 and its drivers to bring home any remarkable result has so far been no fault of their own.
The car was one of the first to be announced as part of the World Endurance Championship’s attempted revival of the non-hybrid Privateer P1 class, announced to bulk up the sharp end of the grid after Porsche announced its departure from the sport at the end 2017. Ginetta announced that they would develop and sell a customer prototype powered by a turbocharged Mecachrome V6, a similar powerplant to the one the French engine firm run in Formula 2.
Two were sold to Manor Racing to be run under the CEFC TRSM Racing banner with funding coming from Chinese firm CEFC China Energy. The drivers hired were quick too. Charlie Robertson, Dean Stoneman, Leo Roussel would drive the #5 car (cover photo) and Oliver Rowland, Alex Brundle and Oliver Turvey in the #6 car.
But it all went wrong, not because of anything the car did, but because of a poor business mistake. TRS, a subsidiary of, CEFC was in such a troubled financial position that it was unable to participate in the Spa 6 Hours. According to Autosport Ginetta, “cited problems with securing promised sponsorship funds from Chinese firm TRS…[but insisted at the time] “the current situation is a short-term cashflow problem”.
Whilst this last quote would turn out to be a gross understatement, they were still able to creatively fund their campaign obtaining sponsorship from companies based in their home county, Yorkshire. Brands Yorkshire Tea and Harrogate were amongst several brands who lend a hand to help Ginetta feed and finance their Le Mans campaign.
Short term it may have been to allow the cars to enter the Le Mans 24 Hours but not enough to develop the cars. Because of the lack of development in qualifying the #5 car (in which Ginetta test driver replaced Stoneman) only out qualified the fastest LMP2, a category that had been made faster that year, by nine tenths of a second. Worse was that the #6 machine was slower than the four fastest LMP2s.
In the race, the #5 finished 5th in the P1 class but last on the road, whilst the #6 retired with electrical failure 137 laps in. Fallout was inevitable.
Ginetta blamed the Mecachrome V6, claiming it had had turn the engines down to conserve them, denying the cars of 50bhp. So in a shock move they switched to AER, who supplied rivals ByKolles.
A few months later as Ginetta as the list of races which Ginetta would not run in grew the Manor team who had run the car, parted ways with Ginetta leaving them with no cash flow and no team to run the cars.
So is this the end of the British build, French powered and temporarily Chinese funded prototype? For the moment yes as no buyers or organisations have, at the time of writing, come through to run the cars.
There is still time however, the 2018 24 Hours was only the second round of the WEC’ Superseason as it moves to a winter format so there is stilll time, if the team wishes, to run in the season ending 2019 running of the French enduro.
Until then the Ginetta G60-LT-P1 will remain the greatest what could have been of 2018 because, with stable funding, what glories might it have achieved?