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Bahrain Wednesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Wednesday notebook from Bahrain International Circuit…

***A 31-car grid has been retained for this weekend’s 8 Hours of Bahrain, although with the G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 Gibson making its first FIA World Endurance Championship start of the season and Proton Competition back to its two full-season Porsche GTE-Am entries only.

***The TDS Racing-run Oreca features Michelin tires for the first time in the WEC, with the G-Drive entry having run on Dunlop rubber in the European Le Mans Series this year.

***Job Van Uitert, who has been one of several drivers to be re-classified from Silver to Gold rating by the FIA, is understood to be finalizing his 2020 plans. The 21-year-old Dutchman is now being managed by 5P Athletes, run by Oliver Kristensen, son of nine-time Le Mans winner Tom.

***The No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE, which was excluded from last month’s 4 Hours of Shanghai, is the same chassis this weekend despite initial questions whether the car would need to have been impounded by the FIA due to the team’s appeal for the ride height infringement.

***Sportscar365 understands that a hearing will not likely come until January, leaving the GTE-Pro class results of the race still provisional.

***James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi’s exclusion gave the class win to Porsche’s Michael Christensen and Kevin Estre, who have extended their class points lead as a result. Estre has credited the No. 92 team’s “consistency” for putting them atop the standings.

***This weekend’s event will mark the first long-distance endurance race for Porsche’s new 911 RSR-19, which conducted extensive testing at the nearby Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.

***Calado revealed to Sportscar365 that he overtook a Toyota TS050 Hybrid in Shanghai, due to the significant reduction in power the LMP1 hybrids faced, particularly at the top-end.

***The Toyotas are still running with the largest Success Handicap this weekend, with the No. 8 car at a 2.72-second handicap compared to the reference car, and the No. 7 Toyota at 2.51 seconds slower. This compares to the 2.74-second handicap both cars had in China.

***The WEC has released an updated entry list for Sunday’s Rookie Test, featuring several additions including Gabriel Aubry, Andrew Watson and Lasse Sorensen, the younger brother of Aston Martin Racing factory driver Marco, in the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

***Despite appearing on the entry list, Aston Martin Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award, 19-year-old Johnathan Hoggard, will not test on Sunday, per an Aston Martin spokesperson.

***Hoggard, however, will get a chance to test the Aston Martin Vantage GTE at a yet-to-be-determined later date, as part of his prize for winning the award.

***Other additions for the test include LMP3 ace Colin Noble and 18-year-old Frenchman Charles Milesi in Racing Team Nederland’s Oreca 07 Gibson, Bahraini driver Isa bin Abdullah Al Khalifa in the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca as well as Philipp Sager and Marius Nakken in the No. 57 Team Project 1 Porsche.

***The sessions will run from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1-4 p.m. on Sunday.

***The later mid-December date of the Bahrain WEC race has enabled the event to merge with the National Day of Bahrain, which falls on Monday. Sakhir International Circuit will host festivities beyond Saturday’s eight-hour contest to celebrate the 1961 coronation of King Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa.

***The enhanced weekend schedule includes support races for the MRF Challenge single-seater series and the Porsche BWT Sprint Challenge Middle East.

***Testing of Ginetta’s 2020-spec LMP3 car is in full-swing of late, according to Charlie Robertson who has been a part of the car’s development program. “We’ve done around 2,000 km since Shanghai [last month] mainly at UK circuits, so we’ve had lots of useful cold weather running,” Robertson told Sportscar365.

***The 2020/21 WEC schedule will be released on Thursday. Sportscar365 understands that Kyalami is likely to be among the additions in the new-look calendar, which could also feature Monza. As previously reported, Shanghai is understood to have been dropped, with the championship set to remain at eight rounds, despite exploring an additional race.

***Manfredi Ravetto is no longer with ByKolles Racing. Ravetto confirmed to Sportscar365 that his contract as team manager with the Austrian-flagged team was only for the 2018-19 season.

***ByKolles has yet to comment on the WEC’s change of language regarding Le Mans Hypercar entries, which will require a link to an “automotive brand”.

***A FIA spokesperson confirmed to Sportscar365 that the recently released technical regulations for the class have been mistakenly titled “Le Mans Prototype Hypercar” instead of its new name “Le Mans Hypercar” that was announced by the ACO last week.

***On-track action gets underway on Thursday at 2 p.m. local time with Free Practice 1 followed by a 90-minute night session from 6:30-8 p.m.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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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