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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday news and notes ahead of the 24H Le Mans test day…

Photo: ACO

***Forty-one of the 62 entries that are set to take part in Sunday’s test day and the 24 Hours of Le Mans passed through scrutineering on Friday at Circuit de la Sarthe. The event, which typically takes place at Place de la Republique in the city center, is being held behind closed doors for the second consecutive year.

***The remaining entries, mostly GTE-Am cars, are scheduled to go through on Saturday morning. Team Project 1 was the first entrant to undergo scrutineering this year.

***High Class Racing is occupying the two temporary pit garages closest to pit exit. The capacity grid has required the use of the additional boxes for a second year, after United Autosports used them in 2019.

***Mathieu Jaminet is set to serve as Porsche’s reserve driver throughout the week, with the Frenchman on standby should there be a need among the factory or privateer lineups.

***Era Motorsport has increased its support staff for this year’s race according to Ryan Dalziel, who joins Kyle Tilley and Dwight Merriman at the wheel of the IDEC Sport-entered No. 17 Oreca 07 Gibson.

“As we’ve gradually understood ELMS, and depending on our logistics schedule in IMSA, we’ve been able to take one or two more people this time,” said Dalziel. “We’ll probably have more Era staff for Le Mans than IDEC. But we’re definitely leaning on IDEC heavily for everything we’re doing in Europe and their infrastructure.”

***As was the case at Spa, Corvette Racing is utilizing equipment from Larbre Competition, including one of the French team’s transporters. The No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R is the same chassis that Antonio Garcia and Oliver Gavin ran in Belgium with the No. 64 car that started the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season as the No. 4.

***Building on the popular #BamThor theme, WeatherTech Racing has created t-shirts with the #MacBamThor tagline, with Cooper MacNeil joining in on the fun alongside 2019 IMSA GTLM champions Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor.

***The Association SRT41 team, which is competing in the Innovative category, must carry out its driver changes in the garage. Two of the drivers, Takuma Aoki and Nigel Bailly, are paralyzed from the waist down. According to a WEC bulletin, the SRT41 Oreca will start “no further” up the grid than the back of the LMP2 field.

***Furthermore, the only Innovative-class car in the field has an unlimited allocation of dry and wet tires for the race.

***In addition to Jordan Taylor’s Dale Earnhardt Sr.-inspired helmet, co-driver Antonio Garcia has taken the wraps off a new helmet design for Le Mans paying homage to Spanish Formula One driver-turned team owner Adrian Campos, who passed away in January. 

***The No. 72 HubAuto Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 entry is carrying two flags, with the Taiwanese flag on the car but the Chinese Taipei flag adorned on the team’s signboard, which is supplied by the ACO.

***Both of the G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 Gibsons are running under the RAF (Russian Athletes Federation) flag after the World Anti-Doping Agency banned Russia from all international sporting competitions in 2019. This has extended to driver Roman Rusinov, who also cannot run under the Russian flag at Le Mans or in WEC events.

***Le Mans marks a rare instance of Dries Vanthoor competing with a team that shares the grid with his usual outfit Team WRT. The Belgian driver last did so at the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona, when he represented Land-Motorsport. Vanthoor, who is making his GTE-Pro debut with HubAuto Racing, caught up with his WRT crew-mates on Friday and said that he had a paddle tennis match booked with WRT team principal Vincent Vosse in the evening.

***WRT is running a pair of LMP2 cars in the same race for the first time, as its WEC and ELMS single-car entries converge for Le Mans. The team used a shakedown test at Spa last weekend as a dress rehearsal. “We brought all the people there: all the engineers, all the mechanics from the two crews,” Louis Deletraz told Sportscar365. “They have experience running four cars in 24-hour races in GTs, so I’m not worried at all.”

***Signatech Alpine team manager Philippe Sinault has been named this year’s ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ trophy recipient. The Frenchman has been ever-present in endurance racing since 2009 and has spent the last eight years with Alpine.

***It comes amid Alpine’s expected announcement next week of its participation in the Hypercar class in 2023 with an all-new car. Signatech Alpine is fielding the only grandfathered LMP1 car in this year’s race.

***Filipe Albuquerque is “super happy” about the resolution of a date clash between the WEC and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship that was to see the 6 Hours of Fuji and Long Beach rounds run on the same weekend, and thus rule Albuquerque out of his second WEC race this season.

***The WEC canceled and replaced the Fuji round with an additional race in Bahrain in late October. “I think it’s the first time I’m happy about COVID,” Albuquerque told Sportscar365. “To miss another round would have been a shame. John Doonan and Pierre Fillon both try hard to not have a clash. Let’s hope that next year there are no clashes.”

***ARC Bratislava has enlisted two Algarve Pro Racing mechanics to support the running of its new Oreca 07 Gibson, according to team boss Miro Konopka. The Slovakian squad, which is no longer using support from Eurasia Motorsport following its switch from Ligier to ORECA machinery, has also hired a gearbox from IDEC Sport after its original component got delayed in transit from the United Kingdom.

***Konopka also told Sportscar365 that ARC Bratislava has yet to decide its driver lineup for the Bahrain double-header later this year, with his son Matej not 100 percent confirmed due to business commitments.

***While Ricky Taylor was slated to serve as ORECA’s designated reserve driver, the reigning IMSA DPi champion has named as part of High Class Racing’s lineup. ORECA customer racing program manager Anthony Megevand told Sportscar365 that they no longer have an official reserve driver but have “a few names” that could jump in at the last minute if needed.

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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