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Silverstone Friday Notebook
- Updated: April 14, 2017
***FIA World Endurance Championship drivers assembled Friday morning for the traditional group photo, prior to the start of on-track activity at a cold and windy Silverstone. A total of 27 cars are set for Sunday’s race, down from the 33 entries that took part last year.
***The new-look LMP2 cars have continued to impress, although now appear slightly more separated from LMP1 machinery in terms of top speeds. The No. 24 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca 07 Gibson was the quickest LMP2 car in the speed traps, at 276.9 km/h (172 mph), compared to the No. 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, which clocked in at 291.9 km/h (181.3 mph).
***Of note, the No. 4 ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO was the quickest car overall in the speed traps in FP1 (285 km/h), and completed 71 laps on Friday. A 1:45.512 lap time set by James Rossiter in FP2 put it 7th overall on the time sheets, behind the two pace-setting LMP2 cars.
***With the two LMP1 manufacturers opting for different aero packages, Sunday’s race could add some excitement. Toyota has opted to run in high-downforce trim, with Porsche in low-downforce. “We’re taking a different approach but in the end, I think the results we’re trying to achieve is the same,” said Toyota LMP1 debutant Jose-Maria Lopez. “We’ll see who has the right decision.”
***Manor completed a shakedown of its second, upgraded Oreca 07 Gibson on Wednesday at Rockingham, which marked Jean-Eric Vergne’s first laps in the LMP2 contender. The ex-Formula One driver makes his WEC debut this weekend. “Everything is just new for me. The car, the team, the championship. I’ve got a lot on my plate but I’m a quick learner,” he said.
***Christian Ried has reaffirmed plans for Proton Competition to upgrade to Porsche’s new mid-engined 911 RSR next year, should it become available to customers, as expected. Ried told Sportscar365 he intends to order four cars for a two-car assault in both the WEC and ELMS.
***The German squad has a 2015-spec Porsche entered in both WEC and ELMS this weekend, with Ried and Matteo Cairoli pulling double duty. Cairoli told Sportscar365 the only difference in the cars are the tires, with the ELMS utilizing a singe-specification Dunlop tire for the entire GTE class, and a bespoke Dunlop tire construction for the WEC Porsches in GTE-Am.
***KCMG could re-enter the WEC next year with a LMP1 Privateer entry, according to Philippe Charissoux, head of KCMG Composites, who was present at Silverstone on Thursday for the Ginetta LMP1 technical presentation. “KCMG has not drawn a line in endurance,” Charissoux told Endurance-Info. “Several programs remain under consideration for 2018, including LMP1 non-hybrid.”
***Benoit Morand is also looking to put together a LMP1 program for next year, in an undisclosed Swiss entry. An announcement could come after the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “LMP1 non-hybrid is not simple but the category offers interesting prospects,” Morand told Endurance-Info. “The key is the engine and development has already begun with a chassis around the engine.”
***Matt Griffin is set to be the busiest driver this weekend, as the Irishman takes part in both the WEC and ELMS races, as well as the pair of British GT Championship races at Oulton Park on Monday. Griffin, who has been riding a quad-bike between the WEC and ELMS paddocks at Silverstone, has been given permission to start from the rear of the GT3 field in Monday’s British GT race, due to missing qualifying on Saturday.
***Griffin’s WEC team, Clearwater Racing, is making its series debut. Nearly half of the crew are Asian-based, joined by personnel from Ferrari specialists AF Corse. “It’s easy for teams to [just have] AF Corse run it. But they didn’t want to do it,” Griffin told Sportscar365.
***The No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Darren Turner, Jonny Adam and Daniel Serra is running in Valero colors this weekend, as well as in September’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas. The GTE-Pro class contender will revert to its traditional AMR green for the remaining rounds.
***A section of advertising banners, currently obstructing fans’ views of Becketts, will be removed tonight, per WEC boss Gerard Neveu on Twitter, following complaints on Friday morning, including a tweet from Autosport’s Gary Watkins.
***FIA President Jean Todt will be in attendance for Sunday’s race. It will mark the Frenchman’s first WEC race since last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report