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Bahrain Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Bahrain…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***SMP Racing sporting director Sergey Zlobin confirmed to Sportscar365 plans for a two-car BR01 effort in the WEC next year. Zlobin said they have all six drivers already confirmed but wouldn’t rule out additional customer cars, should there be any interest.

***The new 2016-spec Aston Martin Vantage V8 will make its public testing debut on Sunday during the Rookie Test. Darren Turner will be among the drivers that will put the updated car through its paces. Team principal John Gaw said the 2016 Aston is roughly 25 percent new but utilizing the existing chassis.

***Gaw has ruled out an Aston Martin Racing effort in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona due to availability of the 2016-spec GTE car. “I think we’ll watch on with much interest,” he told Sportscar365.

***The scale of AMR’s 2016 WEC program has yet to be confirmed, with no decision on drivers or the number of cars the British manufacturer will enter in GTE-Pro and GTE-Am. The team is set to lose Stefan Mucke to Ford, but will add one new factory driver to its overall roster in the winner of the Aston Martin Evolution Academy.

***The new Toyota TS050 Hybrid, which will feature a turbocharged engine and battery storage devices, is not expected to begin on-track testing until early next year. Technical director Pascal Vasselon said the slight delay is due to the Japanese manufacturer’s late decision to go with a new engine for 2016.

***Vasselon told Sportscar365 that Toyota’s 2016 driver lineup could be confirmed in January. There will be at least one change, with Alex Wurz having announced his retirement. Toyota test and reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi is understood to be the leading canidate to take the seat.

***While Ford’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship driver lineup will be revealed on Saturday, Sportscar365 understands its WEC roster won’t come until early January. Both Muecke and Olivier Pla are understood to have already been signed by the Detroit manufacturer.

***There are are a number of other onlooking team principals on-site this weekend, including JOTA Sport’s Sam Hignett, who is working to finalize the driver lineup for their Oreca 05 Nissan for the WEC next year, as well as both Tim and Jacob Greaves.

***GP2 ace Julian Leal will join Memo Rojas in the AF Racing BR01 Nissan in Sunday’s Rookie Test. The 25-year-old Colombian currently drives for Carlin Motorsport and will be making his LMP2 debut alongside IMSA veteran Rojas.

***While a number of GP2 and GP3 drivers are expected for the Rookie Test, only Matheo Tuscher is pulling double-duty between the WEC race and the support series this weekend, with the 18-year-old Swiss driver also taking part in the GP3 race in addition to making his second start with Rebellion Racing.

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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