In the latest of a series of announcements from Arthur Lapierre, the Frenchman has announced the driver line-up with which DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw will make their Formula Virtual debut in 2016. After signing Adrien Simon and agreeing a loan deal with Westwood for Jochem van Snelheid, it was believed the line-up was already decided. However, with the arrival of the French manufacturer, Monegasque DS Automobiles Young Driver Programme member Olen Inman has also been promoted to the teams ranks, leaving questions as to which two of the three will be racing in 2016.
'It is with great pleasure I am talking to you all again today. We've got some exciting news today, as we announce our 2015 driver line-up. Adrien Simon is going to lead the team as he has done since our first ever race, and will take the wheel of the number 21 car. He's been a constant presence at the front of the Formula Virtual grid, and we believe that he is the man to lead us into this exciting new period.'
'Our second driver, who will take the prestigious number 22 car, will be Olen Inman. As a member of the Young Driver Programme, we've been very impressed with the way in which he's applied himself. In his first season in International car racing, he won the VWRS in great style with 5 victories, 11 podiums and 3 pole positions, while his first season in the Formula Virtual paddock has seen him take a further victory and a second place, and currently he is in 2nd position, a fantastic achievement against more experienced competitors.'
'We've agreed a deal with Westwood to make use of Jochem van Snelheid, and at the moment the most likely destination for him is with a DS-Downton customer as we look to use him to help our development in the future.'
'We will also shortly be making a decision about our test and reserve driver.'
In a series of moves that has sent shock waves through the world of Formula Virtual, front-running team Liverpool have overhauled their team mid-season, and have announced that Karl Beckenbauer is to leave the team following the German V-Prix to join Warrior Racing for the rest of the season.
The German has been ever present for the team, but after he was lured away by Ocelot for 2016, the relationship between Beckenbauer and Liverpool bosses has become strained at times, and it's believed that the termination of the contract between Vauxhall and the team spelled the end of Karls time at Liverpool.
'It's with a heavy heart that we are going to be saying goodbye to Karl after Germany. He has been a wonderful servant for the team since day one, and we wish him all the best for the future. We are hopeful that when his career comes to an end in Formula Virtual that he will continue racing in our other teams, as both Robert and myself hold Karl in the highest regard, and also as a close friend. Danke Karl.' Said team principal Arthur Lapierre.
However, the shocks weren't over, as the team immediately announced his successor for the rest of the season.
'Of course, we need to fill this seat for the remainder of the season, and also, in discussion with technical partners Downton we feel the need to plan ahead for 2016. Due to this, we shall be terminating the contract with Vauxhall following the French V-Prix, and from the British V-Prix we will be running the Downton-DS unit, and we will be altering our livery to reflect this. Further to this, DS-Downton factory driver Kip Maxwell will replace Karl in the car. Kip has a wealth of experience with both of our teams and with him in the car, we will gain valuable information for next season and beyond. Kip will take the wheel from the British V-Prix onwards, with us giving Karl a farewell race in his home country in the German V-Prix, before he heads over to Warrior to complete the season.'
Ingram have today finally confirmed the paddock rumour that they have resigned Frenchman Jean Mattson on a one year contract.
DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw extend partnership with Downton High Performance Engines
Further to the announcement from Downton engine chief James Austin that Downton-DS engines would power four teams in Formula Virtual 2016, DS Automobiles team principal Arthur Lapierre was in Saint-Ouen to discuss their part of the deal along with the structure of the team going forward:
'As you all know, we are currently in the process of becoming DS Automobiles Team Mathershaw, and today we reveal the final details of the deal. The PSA Group will take over 30% of the team immediately following the final round of 2015, at which point Liverpool V-Prix Racing will cease to exist. Our technical partnership with Downton is well underway, and this enhanced deal will bear fruit at the beginning of next season.'
'We are extremely pleased that Downton and ourselves have secured a fourth team to run our units. We've got a great group of guys both in Salisbury and here in France, and between us we are determined to overhaul the Honda-powered Franklins. Our situation is unique to the sport, as we effectively have two works teams running these engines, and the requirements of both ourselves and Downton Motorsport leads to an engine that is the most technically advanced on the Formula Virtual grid.'
'As a team, we've worked alongside Downton for a while now, and as a manufacturer, DS Automobiles have been working behind the scenes with both Downton and ourselves since the start of 2014. 2016 is the culmination of many years of work for both Robert and myself, and we are proud to be doing so alongside Bradley and his team. As such, we have formally extended our technical partnership until the end of 2021.'
Following this, Arthur Lapierre announced further Motorsport activities for the team:
'As well as our involvement in Formula Virtual, we have expanded into other forms of Motorsport. For the upcoming Nurburgring 24 Hours, DS and ourselves will enter three works cars, all of which will be prepared by my company, Lapierre Competition.'