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Le Mans Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Le Mans…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

 ***Larbre Competition’s art car was revealed in the Le Mans paddock Friday afternoon to much fanfare (pictured above). The GTE-Am contender, designed by French street artist Ramzi Adek, will be driven by Christian Philippon, Romain Brandela and Fernando Rees.

***ByKolles Racing will forgo the remainder of the FIA World Endurance Championship season following next month’s Six Hours of Nürburgring. Director of Racing Operations Boris Bermes told Sportscar365 that it was in their plan all along to focus on the European races only this year, in order to have additional time to further develop its CLM P1/01 NISMO for 2018, which will see an influx of LMP1 Privateer entries on the grid.

***Bermes said the goal at the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be to finish ahead of the LMP2 cars. The German squad is coming off its best-ever overall result of 6th in last month’s WEC Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, although Le Mans will see ex-Audi LMP1 factory driver Marco Bonanomi replace James Rossiter due to the Englishman’s Super GT testing commitments with Toyota. 

***Rossiter will rejoin Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer for the Nürburgring round, Bermes said.

***A number of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers and personnel will be making the trip from Detroit to Le Mans on Saturday evening after the race. Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan, Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ricky Taylor and Bill Riley will be among those taking a private flight to Le Mans, which should arrive early Sunday.

***Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor is scheduled on a Delta flight to Paris and is expected to be at the track in time for the afternoon session, with Onroak Automotive team principal Philippe Dumas also making the quick trip across the Atlantic.  

***MacNeil will get his first laps in a Ferrari 488 GTE car on Sunday, although he is no stranger to the Italian brand, as he is competing in this year’s Ferrari Challenge North America series, also with Scuderia Corsa. MacNeil will fly directly from the Ferrari Challenge round at Montreal next weekend back to Le Mans, in time for the team’s scrutineering appointment on Monday.

***Keating Motorsport features a number of Le Mans veterans, including team manager Greg Jones and lead engineer Tyler Hook, who both worked with team owner/driver Ben Keating in his Le Mans debut in 2015 in the Dodge Viper GTS-R in the GTE-Am class. The squad is the only U.S.-based team in the LMP2 class this year.

***As has been the case in the Asian Le Mans Series, the No. 49 ARC Bratislava Ligier JS P217 Gibson is receiving technical support from Lanan Racing, with a presence of OAK Racing personnel with Eurasia Motorsport, which sees Jacques and Pierre Nicolet as the wheel of its Ligier alongside Erik Maris, in one of only two all-Silver/Bronze lineups in LMP2.

***AF Corse is again the biggest team in the paddock at Le Mans, with the Italian squad operating or supporting no fewer than seven Ferrari 488 GTE cars in this year’s race. The team employs 120 people for the massive operation.

***Algarve Pro Racing held an event at the Place des Jacobins to launch the livery of its Ligier. The Portuguese team carries the support of SO24!, with driver Vincent Capillaire.

***While Mark Webber will serve as Grand Marshal, the ACO has yet to reveal the Honorary Starter for this year’s race. A number of names have made the rounds although 

***SMP Racing has yet to finalize the driver lineup for its post-Le Mans schedule of European Le Mans Series races. Both Mikhail Aleshin and Renault F1 Reserve Driver Sergey Sirotkin are understood to be unavailable due to their open-wheel commitments. Robert Kubica tested with the team last week at Monza.

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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