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Barcelona Monday Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from the pre-season test prep day at Circuit de Catalunya…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

***All 30 FIA World Endurance Championship cars took to the Circuit de Catalunya track for the annual pre-season group photo on Monday evening.

***This year’s Prologue will be split into a quartet of four-hour test sessions spread across two days. The first takes place on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., while an evening session is booked for 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

***Just over a dozen drivers have stayed on following last weekend’s European Le Mans Series event. The majority, including Alessandro Pier Guidi, Nico Lapierre and Will Stevens, were in the 4 Hours of Barcelona ELMS race, while Aston Martin’s Ross Gunn was contesting the Michelin Le Mans Cup support round.

***Three teams have also stayed on: WEC debutant Cool Racing, and Porsche GTE-Am teams Dempsey-Proton Racing and Team Project 1.

***There is a half-and-half split in the number of LMP2 teams using Goodyear and Michelin tires at the Prologue. High Class Racing, Jota Sport, Jackie Chan DC Racing and Racing Team Nederland will sample Goodyear’s new development rubber during the test.

***TF Sport is bringing in a fresh bright red livery to its new second-gen Aston Martin Vantage GTE. Other new designs in the paddock include a dark red scheme for the rookie Red River Sport Ferrari squad, and a yellow and black pattern for the Racing Team Nederland Oreca.

***Two teams – Rebellion Racing and the two Jota Sport-run LMP2 Orecas – are running in black carbon with their full-season liveries yet to be revealed.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon said the manufacturer will not run outside the EoT regulations at this edition of the Prologue after it did so in 2018 to test a new cooling system. “We expect the 14kg to be there for Silverstone, so we are definitely going to run with it here,” he said, referring to the additional weight Toyota received in the pre-Prologue EoT.

***Team LNT is receiving technical and logistical help from Algarve Pro Racing in Spain. Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson explained that the partnership is currently just for the Prologue. “Rather than bringing out kit down from base… it was easier just to use this and some of his guys to jump in and do that whilst we’re building car No. 6,” he told Sportscar365. “We’re sharing resources and engineering with them, so it’s quite handy.”

***The Ginettas are running with AER’s P60C engine for the first time this week. The G60 cars previously ran with the P60B configuration, which SMP Racing used for most of last season, throughout their 2019 private testing program.

***ADAC GT Masters racer Adrien de Leener is testing with Dempsey-Proton Racing. The Belgian driver, who currently races for Timo Bernhard’s Porsche team in the German national GT3 series, will share the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR with Thomas Preining. Christian Ried and Matt Campbell will drive the sister No. 77 car.

***Proton team owner Ried told Sportscar365 that he would be interested in purchasing a pair of new-generation Porsche 911 RSR-19s for the 2020-21 season, but wants to see the cars on track first.

***Ried stressed that Dempsey-Proton’s full-season driver lineups have yet to be decided, but confirmed that both cars will contest the entire 2019-20 campaign.

***Rebellion CEO Calim Bouhadra told Sportscar365 that driver budgets are a “factor” in determining the Swiss team’s lineup, amid reduced budgets from traditional sponsorship and partners for the upcoming season.

***It’s understood at least half of the six-man Rebellion driving squad brought sponsorship to the program last season.

***Bouhadra said the team will keep developing the Rebellion R13 Gibson throughout the season, with a focus on increased engine power. He said they made a “big step” in aero at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***Bart Hayden has been retained as Rebellion’s team manager although the crew is expected to be trimmed following the Prologue, should funding for the second car not materialize.

***Longtime Ligier Automotive race engineer Matthieu Leroy has joined ORECA and Rebellion Racing this season. Leroy was most recently a race engineer for the now-defunct Extreme Speed Motorsports operation in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and had been a part of OAK Racing for a number of years.

***Mark Patterson is set to turn his first laps in an LMP2 car since his heavy testing accident at Monza two months ago. The U.S.-based South African is driving the High Class Racing Oreca this season.

***United Autosports has purchased three Oreca chassis from the U.S. in the ramp-up for its new-look LMP2 program. Team co-owner and managing director Richard Dean confirmed to Sportscar365 that it took delivery of both JDC-Miller Motorsports Orecas that contested the 2017 and 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship seasons, with one to be used as an on-site spare at all races.

***United’s primary WEC chassis, meanwhile, was purchased from American Porsche racer Patrick Kelly. It had completed a 200km rollout in California earlier this year as PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ initially planned second LMP2 entry.

***PR1/Mathiasen team principal Bobby Oergel, however, told Sportscar365 that it expects to take delivery of a new second chassis by early September, with Kelly’s chassis the only readily available new Oreca in existence on short notice.

***United made the decision to switch from a Ligier JS P217 Gibson to the Oreca earlier this month.

John Dagys contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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