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European Le Mans Series

Paul Ricard Tuesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Tuesday notebook from the ELMS Paul Ricard test…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***Tuesday was the first of the two-day pre-season test for the European Le Mans Series at Paul Ricard. Out of the 42 cars on the test entry list, all but the Eurasia Motorsport Oreca 05 Nissan set laptimes.

***The fastest time of the day came from Olivier Pla in the Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan. This was a 1:48.100 set during the first of three sessions, and was 0.197 seconds faster than second place of the day and quickest in the afternoon, Pierre Thiriet in Thiriet by TDS Racing’s Oreca.

***After sessions in the morning and afternoon, cars took to the track for the night test session. SMP Racing was fastest in the evening, with a 1:48.745 coming from the BR Engineering BR01 Nissan piloted by Stefano Coletti.

***Out front in LMP3 was United Autosports, following a laptime of 1:53.364 in the team’s No. 2 Ligier JS P3 Nissan, recorded by Alex Brundle in the morning session. Duqueine Engineering and Dino Lunardi were 0.827 seconds slower in second.

***The GTE leader overnight is Marco Cioci, in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia. Also set in the morning session, Cioci’s fastest time was a 1.57.304. This puts him 0.288 seconds clear of second place, held by Matt Griffin in the No. 55 AF Corse Ferrari.

***Villorba Corse has added 22 year-old Italian driver Niccolò Schirò to its LMP3 Ligier, alongside Roberto Lacorte and Giorgio Sernagiotto.

***SO24! by Lombard Racing uncovered its Ligier JS P2 on Tuesday, with a purple livery harking back to the iconic Silk Cut color schemes of Group C cars. The team will race in ELMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.

***Four drivers are testing with Eurointernational at Paul Ricard. The team only has one Ligier JS P3 present, but Andrea Roda, Giorgio Mondini, Constantino Peroni and Marco Jacoboni will all contest the LMP3 class in what will expand to a two-car entry.

***Greaves Motorsport’s technical team has increased, with the signing of Ricardo Divila, known for his work on the Nissan NISMO LMP1 program.

***Dimitri Enjalbert tested with IDEC Sport Racing on Tuesday, while Jonathan Hirschi will try the team’s Ligier JS P2 Judd on Wednesday. While Paul and Patrice Lafargue are confirmed at the team, a third driver has not been chosen yet.

***British Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy tested in the Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan. “The Ligier is a different type of car to the Greaves Motorsport Gibson I tested. It handles differently, it’s a lot more twitchy, which you get used to. But I really enjoyed it. I didn’t particularly enjoy this circuit last year; it wasn’t my favorite but I feel I am getting to grips with it better.”

***Nissan will power no fewer than 71 cars this season between the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series, amounting to an impressive 57 percent of entries.

***Motors TV will continue to broadcast ELMS races through 2016, alongside live streaming.

***ELMS teams will begin to use the same internal messaging system as WEC teams have used for the past two years. This allows teams to communicate with officials through an intranet system.

***Andreas Wirth commented on his program with SMP Racing in the BR01: “I am very happy to be competing in the LMP2 class this year in the ELMS championship,” he said. “The BR01 is a really good car and SMP Racing is a very impressive team. Everything is going well with my teammates Julian [Leal Covelli] and Stefano [Coletti] although all three of us are new. We’ll have lots of fun. I think we are on track to get good results.”

***DragonSpeed is absent from the test as it raced last weekend at the Twelve Hours of Sebring. Nicolas Lapierre, Nicolas Minassian and Henrik Hedman finished fourth overall in their Oreca 05 Nissan. The team will compete in the ELMS with Lapierre, Hedman and Ben Hanley.

***Day two of the test will take place on Wednesday, March 23. Session one is scheduled for 9 a.m. local time and will last for four hours, while session two will run from 2-5 p.m.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report. 

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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