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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s final notebook prior to start of 92nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans…

Photo: Julien Delfosse/DPPI

***With track action for the 24 Hours of Le Mans on pause on Friday, the day’s highlight was the annual drivers’ parade in downtown Le Mans. The annual ACO Press Conference took place at the Stade Marie Marvingt in the morning (pictured above), while the four-hour Fun Cup support race was also held at the Circuit de la Sarthe, after which the track was opened to the public to traverse by foot or bicycle.

***ACO President Pierre Fillon denied there will be a four-car per manufacturer maximum imposed in the Hypercar class of the FIA World Endurance Championship next year, amid the newly-approved rule that mandates at least two cars per manufacturer in the class.

***Fillon told Sportscar365 on the two-car rule: “It will be more visibility for the fans to understand the classification. Because with one car, it’s very difficult to understand.”

***With Aston Martin joining the grid as the tenth Hypercar manufacturer in 2025, the increased 40-car full-season grid theoretically leaves room for only two privateer entries, compared to the four customer/satellite teams that are running this year.

***Fillon admitted that it would be “difficult” for a brand like Porsche to continue to have five cars in Hypercar given the grid limitations. “You can have some private teams,” he said. “After that, there is only 40 cars.”

***As part of the ACO press conference, three WEC teams were honored in the Sustainable Endurance Awards by DHL: Ferrari AF Corse (Positive Innovation Prize), Alpine (President’s Prize) and Team WRT (Highly Commended).

***Among the dignitaries on hand during the ACO press conference included representatives from WEC tracks, including both Andy Soucek and Reid Atherton, who share the tile of VP of Motorsport for Circuit of The Americas, which is making its WEC return this Labor Day weekend.

***While confirmed to host another round in 2025, Soucek, the former Bentley factory driver, indicated that its current deal is for two years, with an option for an extension.

***A provisional starting grid for the race confirms that the No. 12 Hertz Team JOTA car will keep its grid slot of eighth after the Free Practice 2 crash for Callum Ilott that forced the team to change the car’s chassis and miss Hyperpole as a result.

***JOTA team principal Dieter Gass told Sportscar365 that the team is “reasonably confident” about the team’s odds to make the start of the race with the No. 12 Porsche 963 amid the ongoing repair job after Callum Ilott’s crash on Wednesday evening.

***Gass further indicated that the team has been allocated a one-hour time slot starting at 8 p.m. CEST (2 p.m. EDT) to shake down the rebuilt car on the Le Mans airfield adjacent to the circuit. The replacement chassis that arrived at Le Mans on Thursday, meanwhile, was supplied to JOTA by Porsche Penske Motorsport, as confirmed by the team’s managing director Jonathan Diuguid.

***Diuguid told Sportscar365: “Other than facilitating the transfer and logistics of getting the chassis here and stuff like that, honestly, the JOTA guys have taken it all within their arms and they’re putting in a massive effort down in that garage with a lot of hours. It’s a group effort. I hated to see it happen to that car because it’s been quite quick all week. But I think they’ll be there on race day.”

***Diuguid clarified that Porsche typically has two spare chassis available for European WEC races and only one for flyaways.

***Ilott told Sportscar365 that a poorly-timed dashboard warning was a contributing factor in his crash, which occurred at the Forest Esses. “Through that corner, as it loads up, you get a little bit of a slide,” Ilott said. “At the same time I had a big alarm come up on the dash. I just got distracted by it and I looked down at the split-second that I probably shouldn’t have. I over-corrected, swung to the right, unfortunately missed most of the tire wall and hit the armco.”

***Peugeot Sport technical boss Olivier Janssonie says he has been “impressed” and “quite pleased” with reserve driver Malthe Jakobsen’s performances for LMP2 squad Cool Racing so far at Le Mans.

***Jansonnie didn’t deny that Jakobsen could be under consideration for a race seat at Peugeot next season when asked by Sportscar365. “It’s always good to have talented drivers, and he appears to be very talented, and making very few mistakes,” he said. “We are very pleased with what he has done so far.”

***Peugeot will wait until at least the end of the season before deciding whether to deploy more of its remaining EVO jokers on the 9X8 following the major update applied to the car earlier this year, confirmed Jansonnie. “There are no big plans on this for sure,” he said. “We still have a lot to learn from this car, and what we are seeing is very interesting: some points better than expected, some points worse.”

***Ferrari’s Antonio Fuoco lamented the timing of the red flag in the Hyperpole session, as Dries Vanthoor’s Indianapolis crash forced him to abort a lap that could have been good enough for pole position. “Honestly, that moment it looked like it was a really good lap,” Fuoco told Sportscar365. “But then the red flag came, we already used the peak for the tires, then when we went out I tried to push straight away but it didn’t work.”

***Proton Competition boss Christian Ried admits returning to Le Mans in a non-driving role has given him a different feeling compared to other tracks he has visited in WEC and IMSA this year. “I have to say it was really no issue in Daytona or Qatar or Sebring,” he told Sportscar365. “Coming to Le Mans it feels a bit different. It’s a special place and I still remember when we won in 2018 and I still remember my first outing here in 2006 with the 996 RSR. It’s very special driving here for sure.”

***United Autosports CEO Richard Dean has his busiest Le Mans yet, overseeing a total of four entries between the two LMP2 cars and the pair of McLaren 720S GT3 Evos running in the LMGT3 class that are running full-time in the WEC.

***Dean told Sportscar365: “The interesting thing for me is having the radio system that we’ve got set up where I’m listening to all four cars, I’m listening to all four race engineers, I’m listening to the management channel, the technical director. It’s a lot of voices in my head during that session.”

***Warm-up for the 24 Hours of Le Mans begins at noon local time (6 a.m. EDT), with the start of the race set for 4 p.m. (10 a.m. EDT). Support race action is provided by Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe and Road to Le Mans.

John Dagys and Davey Euwema contributed to this report

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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