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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s news and notes on the eve of the 88th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: ACO

***The FIA announced a post-qualifying Balance of Performance adjustment to the Porsche 911 RSR-19, which has gained 1 liter of fuel capacity. It marks the fifth consecutive year that a post-qualifying BoP change has been made to the GTE-Pro class at Le Mans.

***A clarification was also issued by the FIA late on Friday, confirming penalties for GTE-Pro cars not adhering to the new refueling procedure. A car gets a stop-and-hold plus 10-second penalty for the first infringement, a 60-second hold for the second and two-minute hold for any further instances.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon said it “looks like” it would have been possible for Kamui Kobayashi to have “approached” the Le Mans lap record of 3:14.791 set in 2017, also by the Japanese driver. Kobayashi’s second lap in Friday’s hyperpole was called off after breaching track limits, which the Japanese driver said left him feeling “a little bit disappointed”.

“What is not totally clear is what he gained with the track limit infractions,” Vasselon told Sportscar365. “Sometimes [with] track limits you can lose time. This we have not analyzed yet. The two main factors, which could have made it possible to beat the record, was good track grip and the format of the hyperpole, which was to have two outings with two sets of new tires without traffic.”

***Vasselon said he was a “bit surprised” at the No. 1 Rebellion only doing one lap in hyperpole, alluding that the Swiss team could have had more pace.

***Kobayashi gave Toyota its fourth consecutive Le Mans pole, out of five editions contested with the TS050 Hybrid. It also marked the driver’s third personal pole in four years. Despite his car carrying an extra 7 kg of weight this year, Kobayashi still went 0.23 seconds quicker than the 2019 qualifying lead time set by Kazuki Nakajima.

***In addition to the 20-second in-race penalty for the No. 21 DragonSpeed Oreca from FP2, the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari will have ten seconds added to its first pit stop due to two infringements by Emmanuel Collard in FP3. Five seconds will be added to the Ferrari’s stop due to Collard not slowing to 80 km/h within the required time while under a yellow, while the Frenchman was also found speeding under a red flag, resulting in another five-second penalty.

***The No. 11 Eurointernational Ligier JS P217 Gibson will also be serving a 20-second penalty in the race due to Christophe D’Ansembourg not slowing to the required speed while under a Full Course Caution in FP4.

***Mark Patterson, meanwhile, has been handed one penalty point due to speeding by more than 10 km/h in the pit lane during Friday’s FP4 session.

***The No. 82 Risi Competizione and No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari will both start from the rear of the grid after losing all of their qualifying times on Thursday due to the cars being “lifted” while under Parc Ferme conditions. Neither entry had advanced to hyperpole.

***Click Here for the provisional grid. Mike Conway will start the pole-sitting Toyota, while Bruno Senna will be in the No. 1 Rebellion for the opening stint.

***During the annual ACO press conference, which for the first time was in a previously-recorded video format, ACO President Pierre Fillon confirmed the name of the WEC’s new top class as ‘Hypercar’ beginning in 2021, in ode to the technical regulations bearing the Le Mans Hypercar name.

***MissionH24 unveiled a new version of its hydrogen-electric prototype on Friday, which is 150 kg lighter than the LMPH2G, with improved aerodynamics. The ADESS LMP3-based car is slated to complete demo laps on Saturday as part of pre-race festivities.

***Plastic Omnium has been announced as the supplier of the high-pressure fuel tanks for the hydrogen prototype class, which is still on track for a 2024 debut at Le Mans.

***Peugeot brand director Jean-Philippe Imparato has ruled out the French manufacturer contesting selected IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races with its Le Mans Hypercar, stressing it’s a “WEC program. That’s it for us.”

***IMSA has yet to confirm if LMH cars will be eligible in the WeatherTech Championship although series president John Doonan told Sportscar365 they are “very open” to the idea if the two platforms are able to be properly balanced.

“We need an opportunity to see the cars compete,” Doonan said. “I think as soon as we can get those cars on track, get them on the dynos and to wind tunnels and make sure we have a platform that allows for terrific competition, that’s exactly what we’re after.”

***Toyota’s Vasselon said the team is already “sorted” on its driver lineup for its two-car LMH program, which will be presented early next year. Technical details on the car, which is due to complete its first rollout next month, will also not be released until early 2021.

***Ferrari has continued to evaluate a top-class prototype return, according to its GT racing boss Antonello Coletta, who has indicated that a decision will be made by the end of the year. “We started with a technical analysis, assessing the pros and cons of technical regulations,” he said. “Our objective is to arrive at the end of the season to decide whether or not to try our luck in this category and in what configuration.”

***Michelin plans to re-assign its pit lane engineers to other entries in the event of a car retiring from the race. This tactic, which has not been pursued by Michelin before, is part of the tire manufacturer’s various adaptations to the challenges of working under COVID-19 protocols at Le Mans.

***Decorated race team Black Falcon, which has won the Nürburgring 24 twice and the Dubai 24 Hours five times, is racing at Le Mans for the first time this weekend. It’s entered in the Porsche Carrera Cup support race with a car for Carlos Rivas.

***Florian Latorre took pole for the Carrera Cup race, which starts tomorrow at 9:15 a.m. local time and features a 52-car field. Recently-crowned Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion Larry ten Voorde, who is contesting Le Mans with Team Project 1, starts second.

***A 15-minute warm-up session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. CEST (4:30 a.m. EST) while the race itself gets underway at 2:30 p.m. (8:30 a.m. EST).

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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