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Le Mans Friday Notebook

Tony DiZinno’s Friday notebook from the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

Photo: Richard Prince/GM

***The No. 71 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia has been confirmed to switch to a new backup chassis, and the fully-prepped car was en route to the track today. It saves the AF Corse team, which has five other chassis entered plus the 8Star Motorsports No. 90 housed in its paddock complex, the need for a full rebuild.

***The other cars that had incidents yesterday are being repaired today. That includes the No. 29 Pegasus Racing Morgan Nissan, No. 52 Ram Racing Ferrari F458 Italia, No. 48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03 Nissan and No. 90 8Star Motorsports Ferrari F458 Italia.

***Aston Martin Racing revealed a new partnership agreement with solar technologies experts Hanergy Global Solar on Friday, which will see a thin layer of solar cells applied to the roof or rear windscreen to power the air-conditioning or other ancillary functions on the team’s Vantages. Jason Chow, Executive President Hanergy Global PV Application Group, was on hand for the agreement and helped explain the technology. Aston Martin Chairman David Richards confirmed this technology complies with the regulations and has already been tested, and that it will debut at the next round of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship season at Austin.

***Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia is a new father, and in perfect timing before Saturday’s race. Wife Irene gave birth to the couple’s first child, daughter Maria Garcia, at 3:45 a.m. Garcia flew from Paris to Madrid to be with his family, and will be en route back to France ahead of the 24-hour race.

***Of the American-entered teams, Corvette Racing has qualified second and fourth in GTE-Pro, with 8Star Motorsports, Dempsey Racing-Proton and Krohn Racing eighth, ninth and 13th, respectively, in GTE-Am.

***The legal battle between Don Panoz and Nissan has continued, as Panoz, Managing Partner of DeltaWing Racing Cars, published a half-page public letter to Nissan Motor Co., Ltd President and CEO Carlos Ghosn in newspapers today near Nissan North America’s headquarters in Nashville, Tenn. Nissan debuts the ZEOD RC this weekend. A Nissan motorsports spokesperson declined comment on the matter. The two companies are currently in a civil action suit over what Panoz claims to have been stolen intellectual property.

***Nissan-powered entries have locked out the top eight positions in the LMP2 grid; the first Judd-powered entry is the No. 34 Race Performance Oreca in ninth, with the HPD-powered Ligier JS P2 of OAK Racing Team Asia in 15th.

***Times have been much quicker on the whole this year in qualifying than in 2013. All four class poles were faster than a year ago (3:21.789 versus 3:22.346 in LMP1; 3:37.609 from 3:38.621 in LMP2; 3:53.700 over 3:54.635 in GTE-Pro; 3:54.665 over 3:57.776 in GTE-Am). Additionally, after only 43 of 56 cars clocked a lap sub-4-minutes in 2013 qualifying, 50 of the 54 that will start Saturday did so this year.

***While a senior-level Ferrari source had confirmed an announcement from the Italian manufacturer was due to take place at Le Mans this weekend, it’s understood those plans have been delayed. The ACO has stated no LMP1 manufacturer announcement is scheduled, while the organizers are in talks with two to three candidates for a possible Garage 56 entry in 2015. Ferrari, meanwhile, has yet to formally comment on its widely believed LMP1 factory program.

John Dagys contributed to this article

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony


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