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Nürburgring Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Nürburgring…

Photo: Porsche

***Friday’s Free Practice 1 came to an early end following an accident between the No. 31 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07 Gibson of Julien Canal and Marvin Dienst’s No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR, which saw the cars make side-to-side contact. The Rebellion entry did not take part in FP2 as a result, with left-side sidepod and suspension damage, but is expected to be repaired in time for tomorrow’s action.

***FP2 also saw a red flag, but for a German photographer who was standing in the run-off area in Turn 5. The photographer was escorted out of the facility and has been permanently banned from the WEC, ELMS and 24 Hours of Le Mans, according to FIA media delegate Jeff Carter.

***While the rain-impacted FP2 saw a larger gap, only three-tenths separated the four LMP1 hybrids in the opening 90-minute session. “What we saw today in FP1 was really remarkable,” Porsche’s Timo Bernhard said. “It shows how close the class it. This is high-class racing with just three-tenths between the four cars.”

***On Thursday, Bernhard met ESA Astronaut Dr. Matthias Maurer (pictured above), who is set to become one of the next Germans to go into space. Maurer, who is from the same Saarland region as Bernhard, got to experience closed confines of the Porsche 919 Hybrid, which he said was a reminder of the Soyuz capsule. “Just from procedure-wise, we spoke about how this race team is set up and he said it’s not too dissimilar to the space station and how he communicates,” Bernhard said.

***David Cheng said his team’s achievement of winning Le Mans, and placing both LMP2 cars on the overall podium, was not fully realized until his trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed, where the pair of Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibsons went up the hill. “As every single legendary car and drivers roll up behind you… Stewart, Pirro, Kristensen, McNish… All these guys come up and congratulate you on the job we did at Le Mans. It starts sinking in,” Cheng told Sportscar365.

***Just a day after the race, Cheng, Ho-Pin Tung and Alex Brundle flew to Shanghai to surprise Jackie Chan during his film festival awards night, where they presented him with the winning trophies. As the trophies were too big to fit into luggage, the drivers had to carry them around on their numerous stops throughout China in a week-long media tour, which gathered further attention.

“Even when we took the train to Wuhan, we saw a lot of people posting pictures on Weibo (Chinese social media) of us with the big trophies hanging off our shoulders,” Cheng said. “Overnight it opened up Le Mans racing to a big, new prospective market.”

***While having initially had some doubts at the start of the season due to increased business commitments in team ownership, Cheng said he now plans to complete the season in the No. 37 car alongside Brundle and Tristan Gommendy. 

***It’s understood the BMW M8 GTE ran for the first time in the last week at a track near its base in Munich. BMW Team M-TEK will run a pair of factory entries in the GTE-Pro class next year, alongside a parallel effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by a U.S.-based team.

***The Ginetta LMP1 car has continued wind tunnel testing this week, with an on-track rollout currently scheduled for November. It’s understood the British constructor has yet to secure a firm order for a car, although is in dialogue with multiple teams.

***The Le Mans class-winning No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE of Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra is the only three-driver lineup in GTE-Pro and is expected to be so for the balance of the season.

***Ford WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell told Sportscar365 they have no plans to utilize a third driver for other races this season, despite extreme heat expected for the upcoming rounds at Mexico City and Circuit of The Americas, which has returned to becoming a day race. There was a three-driver lineup in the No. 67 Ford GT through COTA last year.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing has scored more than 1,000 manufacturer points since joining the WEC in 2012, a feat achieved with its results at Le Mans last month.

***Ricardo Gonzalez will not contest the Six Hours of Mexico due to business commitments. The former LMP2 World Champion, who serves as the promoter of the Mexico City event, is the owner of the new Arkansas State University Campus Querétaro, which opens on the Monday following the Sept. 1-3 event.

***Tockwith Motorsports, which is again present in the WEC paddock this weekend, takes its name from the small village of Tockwith in which it is based, near the city of York in northern England. The team has reverted to a two-driver lineup with Nigel Moore and Phil Hanson, after Karun Chandhok joined them for Spa and Le Mans.

Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. jason

    July 14, 2017 at 1:59 pm

    “BMW Team M-TEK will run a pair of factory entries in the GTE-Pro class next year, alongside a parallel effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship by a U.S.-based team.”

    -I hope that BMW will get the two parallel teams to run the same livery and same car numbers like what Porsche and Ford do now. I like continuity.

  2. Mike S.

    July 14, 2017 at 5:17 pm

    Yeah I don’t disagree but I don’t like the Porsche livery that is the same (and quite boring) between GTLM/GTE and LMP1. Can you at least keep the design but reverse colors around within the same class at least so the sister cars can be noticed before they are passing by for fans? I get it a rear main plate or windshield strip is different between sister cars cars but that isn’t enough. In GTLM announcers are even confused with as much multi class chaos as there is this doesn’t help to have almost identical looking sister cars. Was that the #911 or the #912? The Porsche LMP1 in red in 2015 has brought the current livery to be in the boring class.

    • NaBUru38

      July 14, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      The gold standard was the Ganassi and Penske Indycar liveries of the early 2010s. It was imposible to confuse thrm. Sideplates, mirrors and airbox arches were clasing colors (red, white, black).

  3. NorthSask

    July 14, 2017 at 5:21 pm

    I hadn’t checked on the start time for the COTA race, but that’s sad to hear that they won’t be racing into darkness this year. An endurance race that occurs entirely with the sun high in the sky just doesn’t have the same feel to it. But, this is definitely a WEC-like direction to take…

  4. Mike S.

    July 14, 2017 at 6:16 pm

    Yeah I am glad I went in 2015 when IMSA and Conti series, Yokohama GT3 Porsche and WEC were there. Knew that wasn’t going to last so I made my first trip there with all those series there at once. The kicker was the WEC race did go until 10pm there. It was amazing to see them at night going up to turn 1 or watching them pass under the bridge while standing on it. It says now race goes 12-6 pm local time. Hope it isn’t too hot again as that is hottest part of day.

  5. NaBUru38

    July 14, 2017 at 6:58 pm

    “A German photographer was standing in the run-off area in Turn 5”

    Holy cow! That’s beyond the usual crazy photographer techniques.

    A few years ago, a Uruguayan photographer was run over at a bridge in a rally stage. At the 2017 Dakar Rally, Sainz nearly run over a fan at a fast corner next to a cliff, and the fan filmed it all.

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