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COTA FIA WEC Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday FIA WEC Notebook from COTA…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***The Lotus CLM P1/01 AER has had a challenging debut weekend, with gearbox issues preventing the new LMP1-L car from qualifying this evening. With the German squad not having the necessary spare part on-site, a replacement was flown from Hewland’s U.K. base and landed in Austin this evening, in order for the car to make the grid tomorrow.

***Qualifying saw the first two penalties handed to LMP1-H cars for energy overuse, with Neel Jani having had his quick time disallowed due to his No. 14 Porsche 919 Hybrid exceeding the ERS limit, while Lucas Di Grassi was stripped of one of his laps for exceeding fuel consumption. Audi said both of its R18 e-tron quattros suffered faulty lap trigger signals.

***It was a big day for Onroak Automotive and OAK Racing as its debuting Ligier JS P2s captured two pole positions in a single day at COTA. Olivier Pla and Roman Rusinov put the Nissan-powered Ligier on LMP2 pole in the FIA WEC, while Alex Brundle took OAK’s Honda-powered car to the top spot for Saturday’s TUDOR Championship race. Remarkably, both cars are making their respective series debuts.

***The pole-sitting Toyota TS040 Hybrid is running in a revised aero configuration this weekend based off its Le Mans package but with increased downforce. While Toyota started the season off with a different high-downforce package, technical director Pascal Vasselon explained the latest update has proved to be more efficient. It is expected to be used in all remaining rounds this year.

***RSR Racing has continued to explore a move into the FIA WEC for next year, with Paul Gentilozzi having met with series officials this weekend. One option includes running a leased Oreca 03 Nissan in LMP2, although Gentilozzi has voiced concerns of the open-top car not being competitive against the new-generation coupes. He said a final decision about his team’s 2015 plans will be made in the coming weeks.

***Nissan’s Darren Cox has not denied reports that the new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO features a front engine design. “We wouldn’t be coming if we didn’t think we’d be at the pointy end,” he told Sportscar365. The car will test for the first time, in private, in November, prior to its launch on Dec. 8 in Florida.

***Loic Duval and James Calado make their respective driving returns after separate accidents ruled them out of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Duval has taken part in Super Formula races in Japan, having finished fourth in his comeback race in late August, while Calado tested with AF Corse prior to this weekend.

***What have some of the FIA WEC drivers done on their three-month summer break since the last round at Le Mans? Porsche’s Romain Dumas won the Pikes Peak Hill Climb while three-time Le Mans winner Andre Lotterer made his Formula One debut as a one-off driver with Caterham at Spa.

***Incoming Porsche Motorsport Vice President Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser revealed that “it will not take long” to see Porsche’s new 991-based FIA GT3 car. While Walliser, who takes over from Hartmut Kristen next month, would not go into any specifics, he said the potential new car would have to break cover within the next two years.

***Walliser said the plan is for both its factory GT squads, Porsche Team Manthey and Porsche North America, to continue in the FIA WEC and TUDOR Championships, respectively, next year, alongside the works LMP1 effort.

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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