GT Cup graduate Gibbs completes Speedworks' LMP3 Cup Championship line-up
20.04.2017: • Cheshire outfit ready for action in LMP3 Cup Championship
• Gibbs joins Butel in
• Cheshire outfit ready for action in LMP3 Cup Championship
• Gibbs joins Butel in sportscar squad’s potent Ligier JS P3
• Season set to fire into life at Donington Park this weekend
On the eve of its debut in the LMP3 Cup Championship at Donington Park this weekend (22/23 April), Speedworks Motorsport has announced that Dean Gibbs will partner single-seater convert Jack Butel in its potent Ligier JS P3 sports prototype.
A lifelong motorsport aficionado, 46-year-old Gibbs took the plunge last year by getting behind the wheel himself for the first time, contesting the GT Cup in an Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and concluding the campaign a commendable seventh in the overall standings.
Seeking to accelerate his apprenticeship in the discipline, the Nottingham-based driver made contact with respected sportscar squad Speedworks and was invited to test the five-litre, 420bhp Ligier JS P3 at Portimão in southern Portugal in February.
Confessing that his initial laps were something of an eye-opener, it was not long before Gibbs was hooked and he is now eagerly – if somewhat apprehensively – anticipating the 2017 curtain-raiser in the fiercely-disputed endurance racing series.
“After dipping my toe into the water last year, this feels like the natural next step,” he revealed. “I got on well with both the team and the car at Portimão. The Ligier is obviously very different to the Aston Martin – there’s no ABS or traction control to look after you for starters – and you have to learn to use the aero rather than mechanical grip, which requires a different mindset.
You really need to place your trust in the car, and entering some of the faster corners felt like a bit of a leap of faith at first!
“It took me a couple of days to properly get the hang of it and feel comfortable in the Ligier, and I’m under absolutely no illusions that I’ll be facing a steep learning curve this year. Donington will definitely be a case of in at the deep end, but I’m treating each race weekend as an opportunity to improve.
“I got to spend a bit of time with Jack in Portugal, and I’m looking forward to working with him; he seems like a great lad and is clearly pretty handy behind the wheel, so I’m sure he can teach me a lot over the course of the season. We both bring different strengths to the table, and I think we will forge a very solid partnership. I can’t wait to get started!”
Speedworks has established an enviable reputation as a regular race-winner in both sportscar and touring car circles, and Team Principal Christian Dick is excited about the campaign ahead as the Northwich, Cheshire-based outfit prepares to tackle the first rung on the Le Mans Prototype (LMP) ladder.
“We’re delighted to have recruited Dean to race alongside Jack in the LMP3 Cup Championship this year,” he affirmed. “When he came out to test with us in Portugal, it was immediately apparent that he would fit in well and we soon struck up an excellent rapport.
“Dean is well aware that he has a lot to learn and the Ligier is a very different animal to the Aston Martin he drove last year, but he has a great bunch of mechanics and engineers around him and a fast and talented young team-mate in Jack who will help him to get to grips with the car and championship as quickly as possible. We look forward to supporting him in his development.”
The ACO-endorsed LMP3 Cup Championship will take in six rounds in 2017, beginning at Donington Park this weekend and calling at Brands Hatch GP, Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium, Silverstone and Snetterton before returning to Donington for the finale in mid-September.
Russell Atkins -Matt Sayle Photography