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Bahrain Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Bahrain International Circuit…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

***The five quickest GTE times in Thursday’s Free Practice 1 were all set by Porsche 911 RSR-19s, with the No. 56 Team Project 1 entry of Matteo Cairoli splitting the two factory GTE-Pro machines.

***The ACO and FIA declined to comment on Ferrari’s Balance of Performance change, which is understood to have been made under the so-called “black ball” rule that was previously used once in the first season of the automatic BoP system when the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE was debuting.

***The minimum weights on six GTE-Am cars were adjusted in an amended BoP table sent by the FIA on Thursday morning. It indicated that the success ballast for nearly half of the class field were erroneous when the initial table was released last week. 

***Three of the cars have lost weight while the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo has gone up from 1300 to 1315 kg, along with the No. 98 Aston Martin from 1247 to 1257 kg and the No. 777 D’Station Racing Aston from 1247 to 1252 kg. Other cars affected included the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche (1279 to 1269 kg), No. 54 AF Corse Ferrari (1275 to 1270 kg) and No. 47 Cetilar Racing Ferrari (1290 to 1275 kg).

***A reason for the initial erroneous information was not given.

***Michelin is expecting lap times to “tumble” over the second weekend according to Pierre Alves, Michelin’s endurance racing program manager. “Our technicians and engineers will take a close look at the data and tires after the first race to help our partners to optimize the performance of their Michelin Pilot Sports for the 2021 championship’s final round,” he said.

***Hypercar teams have a choice between ‘Soft Hot Weather’ and ‘Medium Hot Weather’ compounds for both races, while a split approach has been made in GTE, where the ‘Medium’ and ‘Medium Hot Weather’ options are available for this weekend, with ‘Soft’ and ‘Medium’ compounds declared for the 8 Hours of Bahrain.

***Goodyear, the exclusive tire provider of LMP2, meanwhile, has brought a single tire compound with a “much wider operating window” suitable for both races. 

***Mike McGregor, Goodyear’s endurance program manager explained: “Last year, we gave teams the option of two tire specifications to help them with the temperature transition from desert sunlight into darkness. A 15 C difference in track temperature is possible as night falls. This year, we’ve developed a tyre with a much wider operating window and we will supply this to all LMP2 category teams. It has been proven in the 47 C track temperatures of Portimao and the 12 C night time of Le Mans.”

***LMP2 teams are permitted to use 18 tires during qualifying and the six-hour race, with the allocation increasing to 26 tires for the second weekend. This does not include the permitted 12 tires for each pair of Free Practice sessions.

***Robin Frijns said that he would “logically” be part of Audi’s LMDh driver lineup in 2023 during Thursday’s pre-event press conference. The Dutchman’s statement follows confirmations of both Nico Mueller and Rene Rast earlier this month during the DTM season finale at the Norisring. 

***Nyck De Vries could be replaced by Ryo Hirakawa as Toyota’s official test and reserve driver next year, although team director Rob Leupen refused to confirm such details and said there’s “a lot of possibilities.” He told Sportscar365: “Let’s wait and see what’s going to happen.”

***Recently crowned ABB Formula E World Champion De Vries was present at Toyota’s most recent test alongside the Japanese driver, who Leupen said they would like to “monitor” for future test opportunities. “We would like to have well-developed race drivers for the future. Ryo could be one of them.”

***It’s believed that Toyota is unlikely to see any changes to its race driver lineup next year or expand to a third car for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Alexander Stehlig, the head of operations for Porsche’s WEC program, is the highest-ranking Porsche Motorsport boss on-site this weekend. It comes after Pascal Zurlinden’s sudden departure from the German manufacturer’s motorsport department that was confirmed earlier this week.

***Thomas Laudenbach, who took over as Head of Porsche Motorsport from Fritz Enzinger on Oct. 1, will be present during next weekend’s season finale.

***David Floury began his new full-time role with Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe on July 1. The former ORECA technical director has remained in the same position as chief race engineer for its Hypercar class program although has been also assigned to other projects within the Cologne-based company.

***ORECA, meanwhile, has replaced Floury with ex-Renault F1 engineer Remi Taffin, which was announced last week.

***LMP2 points leader Sean Gelael is sporting a new helmet design this weekend that incorporates the Taco Bell logo, one of his personal sponsors on the No. 28 JOTA Oreca 07 Gibson. The Indonesian and co-drivers Stoffel Vandoorne and Tom Blomqvist are searching for their first class victory but head into the weekend with a one-point lead in the title race.

***With the team opting out of the Bahrain double-header, the pair of Glickenhaus 007 LMH cars have already arrived in the U.S. for its next expected outing in March’s 2022 season-opener at Sebring International Raceway. The American-flagged operation had ruled out both Bahrain and Japan from its schedule earlier this year due to the company’s road cars not being sold in those regions.

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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