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Le Mans Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s first of two notebooks from scrutineering in Le Mans town center…

Photo: MPS Agency

***A total of 39 cars passed through Place de la Republique in central Le Mans on Friday for scrutineering, team photos and media activities. Those timetabled for the morning encountered heavy rain and thunderstorms, while those arriving in the afternoon enjoyed much sunnier and warmer weather.

***The scrutineering process consists of cars going through the ‘pesage’ weigh station before heading to a second station for more technical checks. They are then wheeled around the corner for a group photograph with team members. Drivers follow their own route that includes stage interviews and an official sign-on procedure.

***Kessel Racing’s Ferrari 488 GTE Evo was the first to complete the process, followed by Team Project 1, Duqueine Team, all five Proton-run Porsche 911 RSR-19s, Prema Orlen Team, Vector Sport, Inter Europol Competition and ARC Bratislava in the morning.

***The afternoon batch consisted of Riley Motorsports, Cool Racing, Corvette Racing, JOTA, CD Sport, Nielsen Racing, IDEC Sport, United Autosports, Panis Racing, Ultimate, Richard Mille Racing Team, Alpine Elf Team, NorthWest AMR, TDS Racing x Vaillante, Inception Racing, Sprit of Race, AF Corse No. 21, Graff and WRT.

***While lots of drivers attended scrutineering, several stars were absent due to clashes with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round in Detroit, the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup race at Paul Ricard, and the Formula E event in Jakarta.

***Of note, ten out of 12 drivers in the IMSA DPi field at Detroit are due to race at Le Mans and are consequently absent from scrutineering. Two GTD drivers – Jan Heylen and Ben Barnicoat – are also in northern France next weekend.

***No drivers from the Inception-backed No. 56 Project 1 crew attended scrutineering, with Barnicoat at Belle Isle and Brendan Iribe and Ollie Millroy at Paul Ricard.

***Vector Sport attempted to compensate for the absences of Sebastien Bourdais (IMSA) and Nico Mueller (GTWC Europe) absence by introducing cardboard cut-outs to the group photo.

***Spirit of Race’s No. 55 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo has had some minor tweaks to its livery to honor Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. The car has additional gold touches, as well as the silhouette of the monarch on the left flank and the royal insignia on the right.

***The additions are an initiative by the team’s Bronze-rated driver Duncan Cameron, who told Sportscar365 that he expects that the tweaks will remain on the car for the race next week.

***Fellow British entrant JOTA has also been reveling in the Jubilee celebrations, with the team sharing a social media edit of its Oreca pulling the gold state carriage into Buckingham Palace’s forecourt.

***Cool Racing will be running the 100th Oreca 07 chassis at Le Mans, having recently taken delivery of the car. “It shows how successful the Oreca 07 has been in the past few seasons,” driver Yifei Ye told Sportscar365. “So cool to be racing this car and hopefully, we will make it to the end without any car troubles.”

***After a shakedown at Paul Ricard, Cool Racing tested at Aragon. Ricky Taylor, was not at scrutineering as he is affected by the Detroit clash, was a part of that test. “We got acquainted with him and other team staff,” Ye said. “He’s shown great pace, so I think we have a great lineup.”

***Wayne Taylor Racing technical director Brian Pillar will be traveling with Ricky Taylor to Le Mans and assist in the engineering of the Cool Racing Oreca, while also using it as a fact-finding mission.

 ***A substantial contingent of Hendrick Motorsports personnel are expected to attend Le Mans, as part of their fact-finding ahead of next year’s experimental entry with a modified NASCAR Next Gen Camaro. Program manager and Hendrick VP Chad Knaus was spotted at scrutineering today.

***Mikkel Jensen is set for his last Le Mans in TGE-Am before he joins the factory Peugeot effort, racing alongside Takeshi Kimura and Frederik Schandorff aboard the No. 57 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo. “It’s a different approach because next year, I really have to get everything right,” Jensen told Sportscar365. “It’s a different level of competition and I really try to enjoy this last Le Mans that I have in a more fun way.”

***Rodrigo Sales was behind in the special livery for Nielsen Racing’s Oreca, which sports a Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’ themed design. The festival often overlaps with Sales’ birthday on Nov. 2 and the half-Mexican driver wanted to recognize this. He told Sportscar365 that in amongst the traditional Day of the Dead symbols are likenesses of the pet dogs owned by himself, Ben Hanley and Matt Bell.

***Nicolas Lapierre appeared at scrutineering twice: the first time as team principal of Cool Racing and the second time as part of Alpine’s Hypercar driving squad.

***Unlike Toyota Gazoo Racing which underwent a pre-Le Mans shakedown with both of its LMH cars at Spa, Alpine did not head out on track between the TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa and Le Mans week.

***Alpine team principal Philippe Sinault told Sportscar365 that the team does not plan to recruit a reserve driver. Sinault indicated in March that a new reserve would be sought to replace Gabriel Aubry, who now drives for AF Corse in GTE-Am. Asked if that is still a plan, Sinault said “no” before jesting: “But I am ready, if we need!”

***The delay to the start of the ACO’s co-management of the Asian Le Mans Series with SRO Motorsports Group, caused by the latter retaining its UAE-based schedule next year, has resulted in additional 24 Hours of Le Mans automatic invitations for 2024 being deferred in accordance.

***It means that invitations for next year’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Gold Cup or Pro-Am class champion, and the champion of a combined classification for GTWC Asia and the Asian LMS GT class, will be determined by the results of the 2024 season, rather than 2023. This was confirmed to Sportscar365 by an ACO spokesperson.

***Porsche Motorsport has shipped a new LMDh car to the U.S. where it will soon begin the North American phase of its testing program, which is “on schedule” according to Porsche Penske Motorsport managing director Jonathan Diuguid. The second car arrived Stateside in late May and is currently being worked on at Porsche Penske’s Mooresville, N.C. base.

***The most recent Porsche LMDh test was a three-day outing at Aragon in mid-May. “We were just trying to log mileage on the car and the system,” said Diuguid. “I think the next test will be U.S.-based.”

***Saturday scrutineering will see the remaining 23 cars pass through Place de la Republique, starting with TF Sport at 9:30 a.m. and ending with Porsche GT Team at 2 p.m. (both CEST).

Davey Euwema and 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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