***This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans features an influx of Russian entries, including three from SMP Racing, which plan to debut a Russian prototype next year. Team principal Sergey Zlobin confirmed the Paolo Catone-designed LMP2 coupe has continued development, with crash testing scheduled to begin in November prior to on-track testing shortly after.
***Zlobin said the SMP prototype will be Nissan powered and not utilize Ferrari powerplants as originally desired, due to Ferrari’s unwillingness to offer a customer supply of prototype engines. AF Corse will continue to operate the two-car LMP2 program in the FIA WEC in 2015, headed by technical director Benjamin Durand.
***Viktor Shaitar, who switched to SMP’s No. 72 Ferrari for Le Mans, will return to the wheel of the team’s No. 37 Oreca 03 Nissan for the remainder of the FIA WEC season, beginning with September’s Six Hours of Circuit of The Americas.
***Corvette Racing celebrated its 15th anniversary at Le Mans in style at scrutineering on Monday, displaying a banner thanking the French fans for their support, as well as inviting select fans into the team picture. The Pratt & Miller squad sounded sirens and “Born in the USA” was played on the PA.
***Gunnar Jeannette and Alex Kapadia are among a handful of drivers who have turned up to Le Mans hoping for a last minute ride. Kapadia turned his mandatory ten rookie laps at the Le Mans Test Day in Murphy Prototype’s Oreca 03 Nissan, while Jeannette arrived Monday with Frankie Montecalvo, who is racing the 8Star Motorsports Ferrari F458 Italia.
***Montecalvo, who is making his second Le Mans start after teaming with Jeannette and Pierre Ehret in a Luxury Racing Ferrari in 2012, said there’s a possibility of doing more FIA WEC races later this year but said his TUDOR United SportsCar Championship program with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports would take priority.
***Prospeed Competition could expand to a two-car effort in the FIA WEC later this year with a possible Porsche 911 RSR. The Belgian squad, led by Rudi Penders, is fielding both a 2011 and 2012-spec Porsche 911 GT3 RSR here this weekend but is evaluating possible options to rent a new 991-based model for later in the season.
***Tuesday’s activities shift back to Circuit de la Sarthe, with an autograph session scheduled for 5 p.m. local. On track action begins on Wednesday with a free practice session as well as the first round of qualifying in the evening.