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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***Audi mechanics worked through the night to build up a brand-new No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro following Loic Duval’s massive accident in Wednesday’s practice, that’s ruled the Frenchman out of the race. Work was completed by 8 a.m., with the finishing touches having been put on diesel-powered LMP1-H contender since. Marc Gene takes the place of Duval in the lineup.

***Duval, who sustained only bruises to his legs, remained in Le Mans hospital overnight for observation and is expected to be released shortly, according to Allan McNish. It marked the biggest accident yet for a 2014-spec LMP1 car, which features improved cockpit safety measures.

***More than one-third of the scheduled six hours of running time on Wednesday was eliminated due to red flags. In addition to the accidents from Duval and Fernando Rees (No. 99 Aston Martin), there were shunts for the Nos. 67 and 76 IMSA Performance Matmut Porsches, No. 41 Greaves Motorport Zytek-Nissan, No. 90 8Star Motorsports Ferrari and No. 37 SMP Racing Oreca-Nissan. All cars are expected to return for today’s final two qualifying sessions.

***Duval’s accident, meanwhile, ripped a large chunk of the catch fence out but ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil said they were able to continue without immediate repairs to the fence due to fans not being in the area. The fencing has since been repaired overnight.

***The ACO and Toyota have clarified the position of the Toyota TS040 Hybrid’s ERS braking system, which has been reported by some to be illegal. ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil said Toyota’s system is “OK” by the rules. The FIA issued a clarification this week of what could be done with the braking systems. “We have read the regulations. Frankly some others need an explanation,” said Toyota Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon. “We are not doing more than what a clever F1 system is doing with the fully mechanical system. Functionally we are doing the same, so nothing new.”

***ACO President Pierre Fillon said there are no plans to to build additional garages for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015. It’s understood to be a reversal of an initial concept to expand the grid that comes in the wake of a series of unexpected withdrawals from this year’s race.

***The Rebellion R-One Toyota, which makes its Le Mans debut in only the LMP1-L car’s second-ever race, shares a handful of parts from other winning prototypes, including the headlights from the Peugeot 908, which claimed overall honors here in 2009.

***Corvette Racing has brought some American flavor to France by shipping 3,000 pounds of food and drinks. The crew can request whatever goes over, particularly items that are not available in France. It includes Mountain Dew, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, peanut butter and jelly and A1 steak sauce. All the comforts of home, more than 4,000 miles away!

***Laurent Aiello is racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup round at Le Mans, with his Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car carrying the same livery as the Porsche GT1-98 that he, Allan McNish and Stephane Ortelli took to victory in 1998. It marked Porsche’s most recent appearance in the 24-hour race with a factory prototype operation.

***Other notable drivers taking part in the single-make race, which counts as rounds of the French and British Carrera Cups, include Nicolas Armindo, Kevin Estre, Earl Bamber and Khaled al Qubaisi.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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