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European Le Mans Series

Paul Ricard Weekend Notebook

Jake Kilshaw’s weekend notebook from ELMS at Paul Ricard…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***The withdrawal of the Tockwith Motorsport Ligier JS P217 Gibson has reduced the European Le Mans Series entry in this weekend’s Four Hours of Le Castellet at Circuit Paul Ricard to 35 cars for the first time since the Silverstone round in April. The field is five cars smaller than last year’s Paul Ricard race.

***The 12-car LMP2 field is now evenly split between the Oreca 07 Gibson, Ligier JS P217 Gibson and Dallara P217 Gibson, with four of each. All four cars appear evenly matched at the French circuit, with two of each in the top six in Free Practice 2. 

***DragonSpeed has continued its domination of Free Practice, with Nicolas Lapierre going quickest in his No. 21 Oreca in both FP1 and FP2. The French-American team has led all eight practice sessions so far this season, between both of its cars, with Lapierre responsible for five of the session-topping times. The team also scored its second consecutive front row lockout in qualifying.

***LMP2 points leaders Leo Roussel and Memo Rojas are again joined by Nicolas Minassian with Ryo Hirakawa on Super GT duty in Japan for the second race in succession. The G-Drive Racing drivers will be chasing their second win of the season.

***The addition of the chicane on the Mistral Straight, with the aim of slowing down the 2017-spec LMP2 cars which are considerably faster than their predecessors, has resulted in times around five seconds slower for the top class and eight-ten seconds slower for the LMP3 and GTE cars.

***Duqueine Engineering has now replaced both of its Ligier JS P3 Nissans with Norma M30 Nissans, after previously making the switch on one of its cars last time out at Red Bull Ring. This brings the total number of Normas in the class to four, alongside the Oregon Team and M.Racing – YMR cars.

***360 Racing scored its first pole of the season in LMP3 while Matt Griffin, Aaron Scott and Duncan Cameron became the first repeat GTE polesitters of the year in their Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3.

***2015 ELMS LMP3 champion and six-time Olympic gold medallist Chris Hoy is back in endurance racing action this weekend in the 24 Hours of Portimao driving a Honda Civic Type-R in the SP3-GT4 category.

***Tomorrow’s race gets underway at 12 p.m. local time and will be streamed live on the series’ website as well as its YouTube and Dailymotion channels. 

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

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