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Issue 21

CO NTEN TS Issue 21

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Cover:

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Patrick Dempsey The Hollywood superstar talks to l’endurance about driving and, more specifically, driving fast.

Awards:

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Drivers of the Year We couldn’t decide on one, so we speak to speak to both our choices, Jann Mardenborough and Max Martin.

After 13 years away from the sport, Toyota returned with the TS020 and took the challenge to Audi.

Series of the Year It might be a national championship, but British GT delivered last year, not only on entries but quality of racing too.

Features:

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Car of the Year

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Team of the Year Peter Baron’s team were dominant in the WEC and a force in Grand Am they’re our team of the year.

Gulf 12hrs in Pictures Nick Busato gives us a photo review of one of the newest endurance races, the 12 hours at Yas Marina.

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Petit LM in Pictures Jamey Price and Nick Busato bring us the best from the classic race at Road Atlanta.

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British GT Championship, Nurburgring Dan Bathie used a Nikon 3D00s and 300mm F4 Nikkor + 1.4x TC. Shutter speed 1/500th at F7.1, ISO200. 5

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British GT Championship, Donington Park Adam Pigott used a Canon EOS 60D and 70-200 F2.8 + 1.4x Tele. Shutter speed 1/1600th at F4, ISO100. 7

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ALMS Sebring Winter Test, Nick Busato used a Nikon D3 and 14-24 F2.8 Shutter speed 1/40th at F9, ISO100. 9

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British GT Championship, Donington Park Adam Pigott used a Canon EOS 60D and 70-200 F2.8 + 1.4x Tele. Shutter speed 1/3200th at F4, ISO250. 11

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Nurburgring 24 Hours, Nurburgring Dan Bathie used a Nikon D300s and 10-20mm F4-5.6 Sigma. Shutter speed 1/80th at F4, ISO1250. 13

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British GT Championship, Donington Park Adam Pigott used a Canon EOS 60D and 70-200 F2.8 + 1.4x Tele. Shutter speed 1/2000th at F4, ISO100. 15

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British GT Championships, Donington Park Adam Pigott used a Canon EOS 60D and 70-200 F2.8. Shutter speed 1/500th at F3.2, ISO100. 17

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Photos: Nick Busato and Jamey Price

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Patrick

Actor. Racer. Philanthropist. Hugely passionate motorsport fan. Jack Evans meets

Dempsey L

ast night, we had a problem with the car,” Patrick Dempsey explains on qualifying day of the Petit Le Mans weekend. “The motor was just not working because of a computer glitch, and I was stuck out there to do three laps to qualify for night racing tomorrow. I had no speed whatsoever. So I’m trying to get on it right away and I hit the kerb in Turn 3 and spun the car on the out lap. And out there you’ve got everybody in the world coming by you—GT cars, prototypes—and you’re just trying to stay mentally focused to think ‘Okay: I’m a professional driver. I’ve got to do my job and get the car back to the pits and do my three laps. I’ve got to do this.” But there’s just one problem with that for Dempsey. By his own admission, he is not a professional driver. As a world-famous actor coming to the sport less than ten

years ago and now racing his own team’s LMP2 Lola-Judd B12/87 at Petit Le Mans, he still has much to learn from racing with the world’s best. “I’m at a distinct disadvantage to people who have been racing professionally since they were twelve,” he says. “I really have to keep that in perspective.” But out on track, Dempsey’s disadvantage does not change what he has to do. Professional actor by day, he must be the professional racer at night, stranded backwards in Road Atlanta’s Turn 3. All his experience, lacking in years relative to those experts speeding by inches from the nose of the Lola, must be called upon just to get back on track, get back to the pits, get the next three laps, always take the next step in his endurance racing career. This late in his life, it’s a tough career, made all the more difficult by compromise with a separate one in the entertainment world. Dempsey

often has to sacrifice seat time for screen time and misses races to appear in movies. “It’s really tricky because I’m limited to the amount of testing I can do because of my schedule. To really get fast you need time and money. That’s been the challenge; I try to test as much as I can but most of the time I’m learning in the race.” So when the race day comes, Dempsey must balance success with learning. To wring a degree of both from the short, fast moments on track, he surrounds himself with a legion of the most experienced crewmembers and co-drivers, all working to advance Dempsey Racing. That’s not to say that the team is merely a cash-injected training project for its namesake owner, though. Patrick himself is a fully dedicated team owner. “I didn’t want to just splash in and dump a bunch of money on it,” he says of his approach to the sport. “We really wanted to work our way

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It becomes a passion and an addiction... You just want to keep getting faster and faster

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we had a really strong foundation and that I would have respect from the racing community and could earn that respect, hopefully, over time.” “Then I realized how much pressure you’re under—you’ve got to make payroll, responsibilities for budgeting. In the first month we had deadlines and had to start throwing some money into the program to keep it going and that stuff. So I learned early on that it was going to take a lot of work to keep a team in existence.” But once it existed, Dempsey could not give it up, and found the challenge of running a racing team just as thrilling and purposeful as his own search for speed. “It becomes a passion and an addiction,” he explains. “You just want to keep getting faster and faster and you just keep getting deeper and deeper. But the deeper you get into the series the more money you need to raise and the more work you need to do. It’s just snowballed.” The hard work he puts in makes the owner of Dempsey Racing very much a fellow employee. Still, the team does work hard to help out their “newest” member. The pitwall provides him with data needed to fine-tune his learning at an 89-degree curve over the weekend. As he says of Road Atlanta before getting back in the car for the second time and after the previous night’s rough practice session:

“I’m losing time in Turns 3 and 4. I can see in the graphs that that’s where I’m losing out to Joe (Foster). Now I can make that up if I can focus. I can look at the data and then move forward.” And in sharing the car with such repositories of experience as Joe Foster and Dane Cameron, Dempsey benefits from both their coaching and their speed. It’s a sometimes distant goal to keep pace with true professionals, but often motivates the comparative rookie to push on. “I can only determine how good I am against my teammates and how Dane’s doing. Dane I think is one of the top drivers that we have right now; he’s very quick, and if I can stay within a second of him I’m doing really well.” Even if Dempsey can get within that one-second target on a weekend, there is still always enormous pressure to go faster still, because even if the blue-and-white Lola is down the order on track, all the attention is on its driver in the paddock. At the qualifying day autograph session, the longest lines extend not from the polesitting team’s transporter, but from Dempsey Racing’s. It’s been that way since Patrick first started in racing in 2006, as an investor in an IndyCar team. The sport had always been a distant passion for him, and having recently begun acting in the award-winning U.S. television drama Grey’s Anatomy,

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Dempsey, or “McDreamy” as he and his hair were immediately dubbed, had an opportunity to take a step in. Shortly thereafter, he made the shift from sideline participant to driver, competing in the Koni Challenge Series (now Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge) and founding Dempsey Racing from the remnants of Hyper Sport Racing. “I thought: ‘I don’t want to be stuck on this island anymore, I want to be out there in the car.’ And this is at the beginning of the whole Grey’s phenomenon and the visibility really helps bring in people who aren’t necessarily interested in racing.” The visibility also helped bring in Mazda, who sponsored Dempsey’s Daytona 24 Hours ambitions as he and a racing school instructor named Joe Foster campaigned their RX-8 in the Florida enduro in 2009. The Mazda program continued on to be a multi-season Grand-Am effort, while Dempsey himself went racing at the Baja 1000 and Le Mans to “catch up,” and appeared in the RX-8 whenever possible. But Dempsey’s first goal was not Grand-Am or Baja or even Le Mans. “I started here. I first came to Petit about 10 years ago and was like ‘this is what I want to do; this is the series I want to be in.’” A decade later a Dempsey Racing LMPC car starts every American Le Mans Series race and the Lola appears for some. At Petit, Patrick is at the wheel with scores of followers watching. “It’s nice to see the fans

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show up,” he says, but the attention doesn’t always make his difficult job easier. “I’ve really had to adapt and learn publicly. That’s always challenging. And especially when you’re comparing yourself against some of the best road racers in the world.” “Still, I chose to arrive in a very public way.” Dempsey Racing’s first goal has been completed: race in the ALMS. The next one is a bit tougher: win Le Mans. “That’s the race everybody wants to win,” Dempsey says. “Our goal is to get fast enough and competitive enough as a team to where we’re not making any mistakes. And now we’re just working on getting the right program in place to get to Le Mans.” It’s distant and difficult but to follow in fellow actor Paul Newman’s footsteps and compete near the top at the great 24 Hours would be a dream come true to Grey’s “McDreamy.” Still, on the long road to Le Mans, Dempsey first must improve himself, meet his own goals for speed, get as fast as the experts. And while he is no expert now he is getting closer, and he has made one major advance. “I think I’m definitely a professional driver in my approach now.” With that accomplished, it’s only a matter of time until he is a professional driver in his skill. And from there, he will be on his way to Le Mans, no longer just an actor, but a racing driver - no mean achievement.


I first came to Petit about 10 years ago and was like, ‘this is what I want to do... This is the series I want to be in.’ 29

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Spa 2 4 Hours: In Pictures Jake Yorath and Dan Bathie present a visual story of the classic Belgian race.

N端rburgring 2 4 Hours: In Pictures Dan Bathie travels to what is surely the worlds maddest race.

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Gulf 12 Hours: In Pictures Nick Busato shows us the Gulf 12 Hours at the Yas Marina circuit.

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1/ Yas Marina is famous for the fascinating looking hotel based in the centre of the circuit. It’s modern architecture is a photographers playground. 2/ A background of palm trees litters the circuit creating an exotic feel.

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1/ More of that stunning architecture here. It helps to create a really interesting way to frame photographs. The contrasting livery of the United Autosports car stands out amongst the patterns and shapes of the hotel.

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1/ Even the pit lane is a work of art as the cars travel under the circuit.

4/ Looking down from within the Yas Marina hotel.

2/ Stop watch at the ready. Time is everything in this sport. 3/ Practice makes perfect with every element of the crew - including the refuellers.

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1/ Back to the hotel. 2/ The modern architecture of Yas Marina creates many unique opportunities. The shadows cast by the building help to create interesting textures and patterns. 3/ Stripes.

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1/ Hot brakes. Hot exhaust.

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1/ More of those famous stripes. 2/ The team wait for their car to reappear after another lap of the circuit. 3/ United Autosports Audi R8 LMS Ultra at Yas Marina...or Paul Ricard?

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1/ An Audi R8 goes over the crest into the pit tunnel. 2/ Through the tunnel. Just like a scene from Monaco! 3/ Matt Bell.

4/ McLaren MP4-12C GT3 being pushed around the paddock. 5/ Sunset and a Ferrari. Perfect.

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1/ Night comes around, although the huge spot lights keep the track illuminated throughout the race.

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1/ The Yas Marina hotel turns into a stunning backdrop. 2/ A bright Ferrari red bursts through the somewhat grey surroundings.

4/ Giant spot light creates a powerful flare onto the race track.

3/ Podium.

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Jann

‘The Gamer’

Mardenborough

Drivers of the year

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Max

‘The rain master’

Martin

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VIRTUAL REALITY Playstation to pressure, GT Acadamy winner Jann Mardenborough excelled in his first year of real life racing. Words and Photo: Jake Yorath

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I

Photos: Dan Bathie, Jake Yorath.

t is 17 minutes to five on the 30th of September 2012, and all is well at GT Academy. They are 55 minutes from seeing their British star Jann Mardenborough win the British GT Championship at his first shot at the Donington Park season finale. One minute later, and it’s over. The RJN Nissan 370Z is smoking heavily and on its way to a costly 20 minute halt. “I got to the pits, and I was looking in the guys’ faces, and I saw one of them mouth something colourful and I knew that was it,” remembers the young Welsh star. “My first out lap was really good and the first flyer felt amazing. I was on it. On the second flyer, at the compression point on the crest in the Craners, I felt the rear of the car wiggle. It hadn’t done that before... I braked a little bit early for the Old Hairpin, and attempted to turn right. It went vaguely right, but the next thing I knew I was on the grass. I got on the radio and I told the guys it was either a puncture, or a broken

damper. I didn’t want to admit it to myself but I knew, secretly, it wasn’t a puncture. I could see in the mirror there were no bits of tyre, just smoke. It was like a Jamaican Rasta car - smoke everywhere, billowing out.” It was a defining moment in the season, leaving the RJN team championshipless and Jann sat in the car, with nothing to hide behind in the garage while team mate Alex Buncombe could only look on. All the hard work had been done, but the title was gone. “I wanted to put the steering wheel through the window, but you can’t do that sort of stuff with everyone there. You have to sit there, be professional, take it on the chin,” he recalls, smiling more than he was at the time. At that moment, his GT Academy training came to the fore.“When you’re on your own you can have a good punch at something. But there’re cameras in the car, around the car, all the TV crews are there... I’m not going to make a

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m y se lf bu t to it it m d a to t n a w 't n “ I d id a pu n ct ur e. � 't sn a w it , ly et cr se , ew I kn

Photo: Adam Pigott

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Photo: Adam Pigott

“ I knew I could hold the BMW off. The Aston was a different matter.�

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spectacle, even if my heart’s telling me I have to hit something! You just can’t do that.” Unfortunately for the Mardenborough family, he couldn’t hold it in forever. “When I got home there were doors slamming, and things being thrown. You have to save that moment for when you’re not surrounded by important people. It was horrible. At first I wanted to hit something and then it was just so sad – to the point where I wanted to cry. The whole year was leading to that moment, we were at the front...” And it was a supremely difficult pill to swallow, to come so close and see it slip away. “To lose the championship, and see the car that won it only in fourth... It’s another kick in the stomach. We didn’t expect Perfetti and Caine to win, and for them to do it without winning a race was really frustrating.” Mind you, it was no bad season for the 20 year old – one he describes as ‘the best gap year ever’. In his first ever season of racing, he went from being just any other kid to being one of the most highly regarded talents in motorsport. Typically, though, he’s modest about that. “It’s had its up and downs. Many ups, a few downs. For people to say, ‘oh, you’ve had a fantastic year’ is really nice because I feel there’s a lot more to come. It has been fantastic.” At the top of that list of highs is the stand out race of the British GT season at Brands Hatch, where he and team mate Buncombe won by the smallest margin in the series history – Jann’s first win. “It was a proper race, where we didn’t win because there was a safety car, or a crash, or whatever,” he explains. “We had to work so hard for the win. We were coming from Rockingham, where we knew the car wouldn’t be at its best. Rockingham’s a stop start track, a Porsche track, and we knew the chances of a result were slim. We knew the car would go well at Brands. We’re good in high speed stuff, so it was our best

track of the season. “Qualifying was OK, our best of the British GT season, in the bottom end of the top ten. In the race, Alex started. He did a mega job, and was in first pretty quickly. He handed it to me and the [EcurieEcosse BMW] Z4 was about five seconds behind, then we had a safety car to bring the gap back down.” Though the gap had shrunk, he remained untroubled, running at the front – but there was a threat he wasn’t yet aware of. “Fifteen minutes from the end, they warned me. Until then, Bob [Neville, team boss] was on the radio with information on the Bee Em - four or five seconds gap, and I could see it behind me. Then he was like, ‘Oh, there’s an Aston catching the Bee Em really quickly’ and I thought to myself, ‘What Aston?’ Then I saw him - the car was on rails, catching the Bee Em at a stupid rate. I thought if they had a fight it might buy me some time. It didn’t - he passed the Z4 pretty much straight away! “At that point I was like, ‘Ah, fuck. Here we go’,” he laughs. “I knew I could hold the BMW off, hold the gap, push when I needed to. The Aston was a different matter. One more lap and he probably would have passed me. That car was quicker, so it was inevitable.” But there wasn’t one more lap – the Nissan rode out victor by just 22 thousandth of a second, the closest finish in British GT history. “It’s... [searching for the word] not the quickest car out there, but that race it felt amazing. All the jigsaw pieces fell into place. So yeah - that was the highlight.” Those jigsaw pieces come from one of the most unique ideas in motor racing history, and one of the most popular. Jann’s victory in the GT Academy put him on the road to becoming a star, and he’s regarded by many to be the most naturally capable of the graduates. But naturally capable though he is, he’s the consummate professional he is thanks to the faces around him at the academy. He speaks extremely

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highly of his team mate in 2012, Alex Buncombe. “Alex has so much experience, in single seaters and sports cars. Don’t forget, he’s bloody quick - Al is on it from first practice, each weekend. He gives great technical feedback, and he’s so relaxed around the team. It’s a great opportunity to be able to copy, emulate what he does. He keeps a cool head, a lot of the time, and he says what he feels. If he doesn’t like something, position of the steering wheel for example, he’ll say something. “I think Lucas [Ordoñez, the first winner of GT Academy] has had an amazing part in it too, the way he conducts himself in public, with press, and guests and at PR events, and how he is around race teams. I’ve learned a lot from him. Especially at Dubai, because that was the first time I’d raced with him. It’s given me more information on my role, what it’s like. “ Therein lies a key lesson that the youngster has learned from his experienced team mates that confidence in yourself is key. There’s been a sea change since Mardenborough made his debut just over 12 months ago at the Dubai 24 Hours, let alone before his GT Academy victory. “Before GT Academy, I was a little shy,” he muses. “If you look at my first interview, at national finals last year, I was talking on the TV... I was talking so fast. I can’t watch it back, it’s so cringey. Everything’s coming at me and I don’t know what to say, I’m stuttering. I wouldn’t have the confidence to talk to a random person about what I do. “In school I wasn’t the most confident person, I had my set of friends and I wouldn’t leave that bunch of people. I used to be scared of answering the door to people I didn’t know, or even ringing my [soccer] coach up on Saturday morning to tell him I was injured or ill, that I didn’t want to be playing. I had to get my mum or dad to do that for me! My mum and dad still tease me. I wouldn’t even take something

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back to a shop if it was broken... I just couldn’t do it. Now I can talk on TV, do interviews, do speeches in front of guests for Nissan. I think it’s because I love what I do, and talking about it is easy.” “At Dubai, with three other drivers, I wouldn’t say anything. I thought ‘I’m new here, I don’t wanna disturb anyone’. Now, I’ll have my word and give my feedback to. I’ll put my point across, even if that’s the exact opposite to what another driver is saying.” It could have been a whole lot different. Dad Steve was a professional footballer in his time, a career path that Jann was nudged onto alongside his brother. “Secretly, I think he wanted me to become pro,” admits Jann. “I just wasn’t good enough! It wasn’t natural. It didn’t come naturally to me, whereas my dad and my brother can talk about it at the dinner table, talk about running with the ball. In their minds, they can picture how to evade that defender, shift their body to get around him. They can foresee what the guy will do. I can’t do that – it’s impossible! But I’m just like that for racing, now – it comes easily. If I’m attacking someone, if I position my car a certain way I know what he’s going to do to defend that move before he’s done it. “I really wanted to turn pro, I was training really hard, but it never came off. At 19, I was coming to every training session, and the coach’s son wouldn’t bother turning up but got the position on the Sunday. ‘Can I really be bothered with this now? I’ve given everything since age 11 and if it isn’t going to come off now, it never will.’ So I decided just to pack it in and watch my brother. A few months down the line, I was in GT Academy...” Fed up with being a footballer (and who can blame him?) it was time for a change, and the GT Academy gave him a new outlet for his competitive spirit, and he made an extremely fortunate off the cuff decision. “I always played racing games, I loved either racing games or shooty


Photos: Dan Bathie, Jake Yorath.

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“ I always played racing games, I loved either racing games or shooty games.�

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Photo: Jake Yorath.

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games. I was already playing, on a gap year from uni, and I thought ‘I’ve got nothing else going on, I’ll enter – got nothing better to do!’ So for two weeks solid I must have been at it for four to five hours every day, going round in a 370Z around this fancy track, and it was torture.” The competition was already teaching him one of the most vital skills a racer can have - the race driver’s excuse. “I had a wheel and pedals and everything, but my pedals were a bit faulty. If you hit the brake hard, you could see the throttle stick open slightly on the trace on screen. It would only be about five percent or something, but it would just kill the lap. At least it taught me about mechanical skills, because I opened them up and reset the sensor and the pedals every two hours or so. It was a nightmare.” If, however, you’re of the opinion that sitting at the Playstation and throwing a virtual Nissan around a track for a few hours a day sounds easy, think again. “Just qualifying was almost the hardest part of the entire program. Mentally, spending four to five hours a day, not going any quicker than the day the before... ‘I’ve wasted five hours of my life. What have I learned? Nothing. I’ve just gotten myself angry, I’ve missed lunch, I’ve got a headache.’ I could have been out with my friends! It was days like that I’d just rather watch telly or go out. But I stuck at it, and I’ve reaped the rewards!” The rewards he reaped in 2012 were huge, and already the rumours are swirling around Jann’s future does it lie away from sportscars. For one more year, perhaps, he’d prefer it didn’t. “I’d like another year in the GT3. We’ve got leftover business, the whole team has. It was a tough pill to swallow - I want it even more now than I did at the time. We want to show that the car is quick.” It won’t be long, for sure, before we know, but what we do know is that he’s an exceptional talent with a huge potential. There would be few in sportscar racing sad to see this young lad go.

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Photos: Jake Yorath.

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MAX Jake Yorath INTERVIEWS THE HOTTEST PROPERTY IN GT RACINg, Max Martin.

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T

o call 2012 a breakout year for Maxime Martin would only be partly accurate. His performances for Marc VDS racing were the highlight in a season of stellar drives on just about every weekend for a variety of teams, in a variety of series. But 2012 came off the back of a 2011 that saw him win the ADAC GT Masters, shine in the Blancpain Endurance Series and win four races in the GT1 World Championship. “For sure, 2012 was one of the best seasons I’ve had because I fought for the championship in everything I did, and I was fighting for victories in the races I did,” he muses. “I raced quite a lot... It’s always nice to be busy. Last season was also a good season, though. We had victories in GT1 and Blancpain. I feel like I’ve just continued a good run.” That run has seen him become just about the hottest property in GT racing, culminating with a BMW works driver berth off the back of performances with the Marc VDS Z4 GT3. The drive sees him become a DTM test and reserve driver as well as a full season drive in the new Z4 GTE in the American Le Mans Series for RLL Racing. It is hard to pick a highlight of the Belgian’s 2012 races - not just because he raced so much, but because there were not many races he was anything other than top drawer. The final stint at Monza for the Blancpain series, where Martin destroyed a quality field of GT drivers in an arguably slower car, in horrible conditions, stands out. Perhaps it was the first lap of the Spa 24 Hours, when he went side by side with Frank Kechele up Radillion, holding his nerve to keep the lead.

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I MISS DRIVING THESE MORE DIFFICULT CARS, LIKE THE GT1

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That early action at Spa perhaps has a little to do with his preference of race format. “I prefer the sprint races,” he says. “I guess it’s two different things to do - endurance racing and sprint racing. But now, you see the 24 hours in Spa for example, it’s a sprint race and everyone’s pushing from the beginning to the end. That makes it a bit better to be involved in.” His father, conversely, was no stranger to endurance racing and won the Spa 24 Hours four times with Ford Capri and BMW M3 machinery. “My father was a role model for me. He was a racing driver himself and drove for BMW Motorsport during the 1989 DTM season, as well as winning the Nürburgring 24 Hours in a BMW M3 in 1992. He even won the 24hour race in Spa on four occasions. He used to take me with him to the racetracks when I was a kid, so I came into contact with motorsport at a very young age. Nowadays my dad has a BMW dealership in Brussels. Up until last year I used to work for him there.” His ability was passed down, and Max began in Minis before moving into Renault racing. He moved up to Megane Trophy racing in 2007, but only began to really show his talent in 2009 aboard the Morgan Aeromax in FIA GT3. A victory at Silverstone in the GT3 European series was the

“In GT3, it’s all ABS, traction control... It’s easier, which makes it more difficult to make a difference”

highlight of the campaign, but it was enough to take him one stage further in 2010 - the GT1 World Championship. “I miss driving these more difficult cars, like the GT1 car,” he reminisces. “The carbon brakes, no traction control - there’s potential for mistakes in a car like that. You see now in GT3, it’s all ABS, traction control... It’s easier, which makes it more difficult to make a difference. But the speed is nearly like the GT1, so I guess that’s good.” His prowess has seen him racing all over the world – 33 races in 2012. It’s not just GT cars either, the Belgian stepping into an LMP2 at Le Mans for OAK Racing. Alongside Marc VDS team mate Bas Leinders and impressive amateur David Heinermeier Hansson, he ran well until technical trouble put paid to the effort. “It’s completely different to drive an LMP2. There’s a lot of downforce and aero, with carbon brakes and a lot less weight. Everything is different. What I didn’t like, because I’m not used to it, was to have my head without any protection, out in the air. I don’t like it. I didn’t really do formula cars, so for me it’s quite strange. But it’s a cool experience, and Le Mans is fun.” As well as starring at Le Mans and Spa in 2012, he shone very brightly indeed at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Politics

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Issue 21 prevented him from taking the pole position, but alongside Leinders and Markus Palttala, he finished as top BMW with Marc VDS Racing. “I learned a lot doing N24. You learn about traffic, about the track – there’s always something to learn about the track. It’s amazing. Fourth place for us in the 24, on our debut as a team and for the drivers, was perfect. It was great.” It was so good, he couldn’t stay away. “I did some VLN races after in the Porsche, and then the final race with the VDS BMW. It’s a great championship on an awesome track.” And 2013 will bring new challenges. Moving into the ALMS means he’ll be driving almost entirely at circuits he’s never driven before, for a team he doesn’t know, in a car pretty different to the Z4 he’s already used to. But if anyone can excel in his new environment, it’s Maxime Martin. Oh, and you can be sure that won’t be all he does – after all, he’s the most relaxed man in motorsport. “I’m quite cool all the time, I’m not very stressed. You need some stress, sometimes, to push - but that’s a good stress. Some people are stressed and then they’re panicking. Maybe because I’m used to driving every weekend, you’re used to the stress. It’s my job, and when you know what you’re doing it’s easier.” Don’t expect him to get any slower.

Words: Jake Yorath Photos: Dan Bathie & Jake Yorath

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NO


I’M NOT USED TO HAVING MY HEAD WITH PROTECTION. I DON’t LIKE IT.

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匹敵 74


匹敵 (THE RIVAL)

TOYOTA TS030 CAR OF THE YEAR

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匹敵 (THE RIVAL)

TOYOTA TS030 CAR OF THE YEAR

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匹敵 A

fter a twelve year hiatus from sportscar racing’s premier prototype ranks, Toyota’s return to Le Mans and global motorsport competition raised many an eyebrow, and for good reason. The Japanese autogiant were perceived by some to be an ill-prepared underdog, but turned out to be a calculated and ample threat to the establishment. The time frame, too, seemed unbefitting of their effort’s nature, and seldom did they disappoint fans in the process. Securing three victories (from six starts) in its debut season, the TS-030 fired a bold shot across the bow of the Audi juggernaut. While its accolades, and the timeline in which it achieved them, are impressive, Toyota’s latest weapon is an item of interest due to circumstance and execution. As a car which inherited the competitive void left by Peugeot’s departure, its emergence as a force of reckoning has been nothing short of revelation. Prior to its debut, there was a common perception the TS-030’s development had potentially been hampered by bean-counter naivety. Initially, Toyota’s bent toward (relative) economic conservatism, and hesitance to pledge further commitment had caused a degree of anxiety amongst fans. Did the marque have the ability to produce a competitive package? The company’s approach toward the TS-030’s development has been unconventional compared to recent factory exploits of similar stature. With plans to field a single car, partial season effort known from the outset, there was reasonable concern over whether the marque was taking its latest venture as seriously as competitive requirements deemed necessary.

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Hurdles faced during the car’s early development, and a lack of race running prior to its debut didn’t serve to allay these concerns. While the car missed its initially planned Spa introduction, turning wheels in anger for the first time at Le Mans proved a formidable baptism of fire. Early-race action against a fourstrong Audi onslaught – which saw Toyota dicing for the overall lead, on equal terms – are a memory many sportscar fans will likely recall in a favourable light. While both cars had been retired by the close of the eleventh hour (one of which in particularly spectacular fashion), any doubts regarding the credibility of the effort (from an engineering perspective, at least) had been convincingly allayed. For a car that debuted at Le Mans (with, if reports are believed credible, nine months of lead time), its opening performances were far more spirited, and capable than could have reasonably been expected. While Le Mans served as a worthy precursor to what would later be a break-out season for the TS-030, the car only began to truly shine during its later appearances. Tyre and fuel consumption deficiencies, combined with sprint conditions, more often than not resulted in displays of tactical flamboyance. With each showing the team seemed to have achieved some gain, however marginal, without comprising its efforts in the process. Overall, the TS-030’s development appears to have been a self-imposed challenge, in achieving practicality and sufficiency, within (relatively) stringent economic confines. Emerging at Silverstone with a modest cache of updates – most notably an updated, full-width rear wing (or, as TMG referred to it


匹敵 ‘an extravagant wheel arch’) – the TS-030 proved its single-lap pace unequivocally, shooting to the overall lead during the opening stages of the race. Despite being hampered by tyre and fuel consumption deficiencies, its speed proved sufficient to gain the marque a maiden WEC podium, and a first ousted Audi. In Brazil, the extent to which the car had emerged as a genuine contender had become much more evident. While still facing disadvantage in fuel and tyre usage, its performance at Silverstone had served as a forewarning. Having secured its maiden pole, the TS030 proved potent and able on raw speed, dictating overall pace from the outset. The race itself, although subject to minor rainfall, would eventuate as a Toyota walk-over. Despite holding a strategic advantage (in numbers), the Audi camp had no answer on pace, relinquishing to the Japanese marque for the first time, and affording the TS-030 its maiden victory (also securing Toyota’s first ever outright triumph in a global sportscar championship). Bahrain’s sweltering desert conditions initially appeared in Audi’s favour. By the time the race rolled around, changes were afoot. Toyota usurped the race lead within the opening laps, and begun winding out a steady margin. Although contact with Strakka’s HPD entry would later bring an otherwise barn-storming performance to an abrupt end, at approximately mid-race distance. Undeterred by earlier setbacks, Toyota’s debut showing of the TS030 on home-soil served as ample recompense. Surging to an early lead, it was again evident that Toyota’s efforts were strung out on pace alone, in a bid to secure glory on

home-soil. As in earlier appearances, the team seemed to be finely skirting the margins of tolerance afforded by its equipment. Issues with debris pickup on the tyres, particularly during Lapierre’s mid-race stint, initially seemed detrimental to the team’s already strained tyre preservation efforts. A late-race strategic call to doublestint tyres – coupled with an impressive closing effort by local hot-shoe, Nakajima – served as a turning point in the team’s securing homeland triumph. By the time the WEC had reached Shanghai, China for the final event of the series, the competitive scenery no longer resembled the early stages of a card game; hands had been shown, ambiguity gave way to clarity, and the TS-030 had been convincingly established as a contender. Again starting from pole, Toyota would lead throughout the opening hours, before receding into the Audi duo’s wake, during a mid-race pit cycle. This proved a momentary setback, as Toyota demonstrated some modest gains in its tyre and fuel preservation efforts, assuming the lead once more, prior to the end of the fourth hour, before waltzing to a third victory. Toyota’s TS-030 is perhaps not, to any great extent, more technically extravagant or radical in design than its rivals. Although, the marque’s latest crack at top-flight prototype racing has proven a modest performer within challenging (albeit self-imposed) confines. In its infancy, the TS-030 has taken the first steps toward reaffirming the marque’s sporting and technical ability on a world stage, and added outright competitive flare to a championship that would likely have been lacking in that regard otherwise.

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Series Year of the

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Avon Tyres

British GT Championship

r

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here wasn’t much debate in the office about where the ‘series of the year’ title should move after being handed to the Blancpain Endurance Series in before. There wasn’t really much debate that it should move, either. After a 2012 that couldn’t quite match a stellar 2011, the BES was relegated by the stand out national European series - the Avon Tyres British GT Championship.

Sure, we’re biased, having attended every round this season - but it gave us a chance to see just far this series has come. Not five years ago it was a series in a sorry state but in 2012 it came of age, with five different pairings vying for the title in the most thrilling series finale racing has seen for ages. It’s going to be the Nissan! No, the Ferrari! No, it’s going to be the BMW! No, the BMW’s hit the Ferrari! It’s going to be... Christ, we’d forgotten they were even there - it’s the Motorbase Porsche! Yes, to end a near perfect season of action, the underdog took it. In fact, car salesman Michael Caine and ‘Swiss lollypop magnate’ Danielle Perfetti didn’t even win a race but, through force of sheer consistency (if that isn’t a contradiction in terms) they took the title. But it wasn’t a single race that made the British GT Championship our pick, but the fact that it was lendurance.co.uk

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consistently mega. In years gone by, the premier GT Championship had filled its grids with ancient Marcos and Porsche machinery and even a rather curious Lancia Stratos resurrected in the mid ‘90s. But 2012 saw current model GT3s from Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari, Nissan, Mercedes, Mclaren, Audi, Ginetta, BMW, Corvette and Lamborghini. There were race wins for more than half those brands and very little to chose between them, with well balanced pairings (despite the usual whinging) and teams. Despite rain that would’ve worried Noah at Oulton and barely getting the season finale away in time at Donington, there’s nowhere we’d rather have been. All the spectacle of GT3 with all that an SRO event brings for fans - close access to the cars, drivers and teams and a good support package - cement the award.


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TEAM OF THE YEAR

STARWORKS

Words: Jack Evans Photos: Nick Busato & Dan Bathie

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FIVE SECONDS...

S

tarworks Motorsport’s 2012 season started off five seconds too slow. Approaching the end of the year’s first race, the team’s regular Grand-Am pilot Ryan Dalziel powered their Ford Riley prototype around the high banks of Daytona for its 761st time. Just ahead, at the same pace, A.J. Allmendinger of Michael Shank Racing took a brilliant 24 Hours of Daytona overall win. The gap was five seconds.

Starworks had struggled for a day for a victory they lined up first on the grid to chase; earlier that week Dalziel had grabbed the pole from a tough prototype field. Team boss Peter Baron had flown in two top endurance experts for the middle stints, too, and Venezuelan investor-driver Enzo Potolicchio had helped pay for a new Riley chassis with the enviable Ford powerplant. The odds, for this newly challenging team, looked good. They took the start with race-leading pace from Dalziel and kept momentum up through seamless transitions to prototype master Lucas Luhr and Le Mans hero Allan McNish. Venezuelans Alex Popow and Potolicchio proved, in the night hours, that their value didn’t end with a tourism sponsorship. As past winners and factory-backed efforts fell out of the 24 Hours of Daytona, two small teams emerged at the fore—Starworks and Michael Shank. Baron’s squad held the advantage when Luhr made contact with another car, doing little damage but setting the pit stop cycle against them. When Dalziel returned for the final laps, he was chasing an impossible target. He was at its heels when the chequered flag fell. “I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed,” he said. In fact, the whole team could agree, and many of the fans. That dark horse

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I WOULD BE LYING IF I SAID I WASN’T DISAPPOINTED

RYAN DALZIEL

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collaboration of sportscar stars, raw talents, and behind-the-scenes expertise had stunned all with its sudden Daytona prospects. The turn of luck after 24 hours was a hard blow to everyone. By only five seconds. Little did the dejected Starworks team know, standing second on the Daytona podium in January, that they would have the biggest season in sportscars in 2012. From the Speedway, the one-off lineup dispersed. McNish returned to Audi for pre-season testing, Luhr to Muscle Milk Racing in the American Le Mans Series, and Popow and the #2 Ford Riley went into storage for later Grand-Am rounds. Dalziel, Potolicchio, and Peter Baron, however, had more business in Florida. They had just two months to complete preparations for an ambitious attempt on the LMP2 World Endurance Championship, beginning with the 12 Hours of Sebring. Their new venture required a new car, and for this Starworks chose the formidable Honda HPD ARX-03b package. But knowing that they would be battling with five other similar Hondas as well as a class of eleven ALMS and WEC P2 cars, Baron again decided to reach across the Atlantic for some supplementary speed. And the man he got had plenty of that: Stéphane Sarrazin, Peugeot’s former pole man, unemployed since that team’s withdrawal from the sport. So Starworks went into Sebring with another new car, another new driver, and

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S MAN LED A T LE

87.5%

LAPS

WORLD ENDURANCE CHAMPIONSHIP STARWORKS REVIEW 2012

CHANCE OF BEING ON THE PODIUM

TROPHY CABINET WEC LMP2

LE MANS

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looking for another new start to 2012. From a second in class grid start, Sarrazin battled through the morning and turned the HPD over to his teammates with the lead. The race was tense for everyone at Starworks as competition from OAK Racing and the ALMS P2 Level 5 car kept the pressure high, but a wholly incident-free, consistently quick 12 Hours got them a debut class win. And as their good fortune had it, breakdowns for faster opponents granted the white Honda a finishing spot next to two winning Audis. So the team that stood disappointed on the overall podium at Daytona, stood elated on the one in Sebring. With renewed vigour for a busy year ahead, Baron and company commenced their twelve-round Grand-Am season at Barber Motorsports Park just two weeks later. The Riley Ford was restarted for Dalziel and Potolicchio while a new chassis was added for Popow and Sebastian Bourdais (yet another talented freelancer of the Peugeot diaspora). While controversial imbalance of performance in favor of non-Rileys may have kept those two cars just out the championship points lead throughout the Grand-Am season, the efforts of the team did secure them the inaugural North American Endurance Championship title for their second at Daytona and wins at the Six Hours of The Glen and Brickyard Grand Prix. Dalziel would finish second in the drivers’ points for the entire series (having switched co-drivers from Potolicchio to old friend Lucas Luhr after the Venezuelan dramatically withdrew himself to protest a bad ruling over an incident at the Brickyard). But if their impressive enough Grand-Am season didn’t go as well as Starworks had hoped, their WEC debut surely made up for it. The Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps after Sebring was their only poor round of the year—a mechanically troubled eighth place run—and every other race saw them on the podium. The biggest race of them all saw them on the top. Dalziel and Potolicchio (pre-protest in June) teamed up with two-time LMP2 class winner Tom Kimber-Smith for Starworks’ Le Mans debut. Their qualifying time started them an unfortunate ninth in class, worryingly far behind seven Nissan-powered P2’s. But in the latest hours of the night those Morgans and Orecas would begin to stuffer mechanical attrition that never afflicted the Honda teams. As their rivals dropped out around them, Kimber-Smith delivered his speed, Dalziel delivered his consistency, and Potolicchio delivered an astounding set of stints for a 44-year old investor. From ninth and nowhere Starworks won LMP2 by a lap and took seventh overall. It was a singular achievement to make any season successful enough, but they were far from done. There were still five endurance races left around the world, and the team appeared in the top three at every single one, taking another win at the Six Hours of Bahrain. Indeed, Spa in May was their only hiccup, and Starworks won the LMP2 World Championship by 23 points.

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In 2012, Peter Baron’s white livery was worn at the top level of endurance racing by three different cars, driven by seven different drivers, in two different series, in 21 races for a pair of championships. For a team that expanded into such success within the year, it’s hard to imagine how a season could have gone better. But Ryan Dalziel certainly can. And so can Peter Baron. They won Le Mans and the WEC, but they started off slow. Five seconds too slow. And the Grand-Am title eluded them, so 2013 must be an improvement. If it is, or if it even comes close to the awesome success of 2012, they can only again be our Team of the Year.

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Petit Le Mans: In Pictures Nick Busato and Jamey Price present to us the spectacle that is Petit Le Mans.

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1/ Flying Lizards, in what would be their last race in GT2 before moving to a GTC programme for the 2012 season. (Photo: Jamey Price) 2/ Another team moving onto new machinery for 2013 is RLL Racing - the M3 GT2 being retired and being replaced by a new shiny Z4. (Photo: Nick Busato)

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1/ Golden light. (Photo: Nick Busato)

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1/ Focus. (Photo: Jamey Price) 2/ Rubber laid down across the pit road certainly adds an element of atmosphere. (Photo: Jamey Price)

4/ Petit Le Mans is an international event - even without the WEC’s support. (Photo: Jamey Price)

3/ Conditions were somewhat bleak in the early practice sessions but that didn’t stop AF Corse going all out. (Photo: Nick Busato)

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Issue 21 1/ Cutting a bit too much. (Photo: Jamey Price)

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1/ Tree snake. Here’s hoping that this car can bring the fight to the Corvette’s in 2013. (Photo: Nick Busato) 2/ The track was hot. Very hot. So much so that the cars seemed to melt into the tarmac. (Photo: Jamey Price) 3/ A wild Rebellion burst through the darkness. (Photo: Nick Busato)

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1/ Driving off into the twilight zone. (Photo: Nick Busato)

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1/ Muscle Milk aimed to duke it out with Rebellion. (Photo: Nick Busato) 2/ Dicing through the GT field. Traffic is certainly an issue on this 2.54 mile circuit. (Photo: Jamey Price) 3/ Some guys get the best spots. (Photo: Jamey Price) 4/ Like a spaceship the Rebellion car disappeared into the night. (Photo: Nick Busato)

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1/ A moment of calm as one of the many LMP2s bask in the glorious sunset of Petit Le Mans. (Photo: Jamey Price) 2/ The twists and turns of the Road Atlanta circuit provide a challenge for all. (Photo: Jamey Price)

4/ The Deltawing pushes on into the night. (Photo: Jamey Price) 5/ Bright lights shine at darkness comes into full effect. (Photo: Nick Busato)

3/ Light pockets are a photographers best friend. (Photo: Nick Busato)

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1/ Colours of the night. (Photo: Jamey Price)

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1/ Darkness may have arrived but the race showed no signs of calming down. (Photo: Jamey Price)

4/ Core Autosport provide a quick splash and dash for their battle worn car. (Photo: Jamey Price)

2/ A Rebellion makes it way through the famous set of turns that make Road Atlanta so unique. (Photo: Jamey Price) 3/ Exhaust glow. (Photo: Nick Busato)

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1/ ESM certainly had a striking livery for Petit Le Mans. (Photo: Jamey Price) 2/ Flat out for the Lizards. (Photo: Nick Busato) 3/ Pitch black. (Photo: Nick Busato) 4/ Bath time for ESM. (Photo: Jamey Price)

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