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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from Le Mans ahead of the official test day…

Photo: John Dagys

***All 60 cars on the event entry list are set to take part in Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day, but with additions to several driver lineups. Test Day regulations permit up to five nominated drivers per car.

***Fernando Alonso, who makes his Le Mans debut, is listed in both Toyota TS050 Hybrids, with test and reserve driver Anthony Davidson also nominated in the pair of LMP1 hybrids, as well as Jose Maria Lopez, who is confirmed in the No. 7 car for the race.

***United Autosports regular Wayne Boyd is listed in both of the team’s Ligier JS P217 Gibsons, with Alexander Imperatori in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson and Ryan Cullen and Matt McMurry in the No. 25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier. Alexandre Cougnaud, meanwhile, is an addition in the No. 39 Graff-SO24 Oreca.

***Dirk Werner, who is unofficially Porsche’s GTE-Pro reserve driver, is set to turn laps in both the Nos. 92 and 93 Porsche 911 RSRs, while recent Monaco Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup winner Nick Yelloly is a fourth driver in the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche in GTE-Am.

***Tony Kanaan, Sebastien Bourdais and Scott Dixon, meanwhile, are missing the test due to their IndyCar commitments in Detroit, with BMW’s Augusto Farfus and Phillip Eng, along with Loic Duval and Paul Di Resta at the Hungaroring for DTM.

***Eng, who made his Le Mans debut in 2016 in a Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche, is on the ACO’s list of experienced drivers that are exempt from the test day, along with Duval, Kanaan, Bourdais and Dixon.

***However Farfus, whose most recent Le Mans start was in 2011 and outside of the five-year maximum window, and rookie Di Resta, are expected to receive dispensation to race due to his Platinum driver rating, in a similar measure given to Kanaan last year.

***Up to 15 drivers will be coming from Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race in Detroit to the test day, either by private or commercial flights: Filipe Albuquerque, Juan Pablo Montoya, Ricky Taylor, Renger van der Zande, Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr, Harry Tincknell, Matt McMurry, David Heinemeier Hansson, Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Patrick Long, Christina Nielsen, Cooper MacNeil and Jeff Segal.

***There’s also a large contingent of drivers taking part in Saturday’s Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup race at Paul Ricard that will also be traveling tomorrow to France post-race, including Luca Stolz, Vitaly Petrov, Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey, Matt Griffin, Alex Brundle, Maxime Martin, Come Ledogar, Andrea Bertolini, Mikhail Aleshin, Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon, Matthieu Vaxviere, Nicki Thiim, Nick Yelloly, Fred Makowiecki, Romain Dumas and Dirk Werner.

***The 30-plus late arrivals will be required to complete a drivers’ briefing, scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, before being authorized to drive in the test.

***With all three of its drivers en route from either Detroit or Paul Ricard, the No. 85 Keating Motorsports Ferrari 488 GTE will be parked until Keating, Bleekemolen and Stolz arrive and receive authorization to drive.

***Race engineer Rick Mayer told Sportscar365 they evaluated utilizing an experienced Ferrari driver to shake down the Risi Competizione-run car in the morning prior to the race drivers’ arrival, although none were available, largely due to the Paul Ricard clash.

***Anders Fjordback is slated to turn laps in the No. 35 SMP Racing Dallara P217 Gibson on Sunday, in order to be qualified to race should the No. 49 High Class Racing Dallara be granted an entry. The Danish squad, as well as the No. 55 Spirit of Race Ferrari, are the two remaining cars on the reserve list, although both cars are not taking part in the test.

***A total of 47 drivers, including notable ‘rookies’ such as Alonso, Montoya and Jenson Button, will be required to complete a minimum of ten laps in the test in order to be eligible for race week. Nineteen of the drivers are in LMP2, with 14 in GTE-Am and nine each in LMP1 and GTE-Pro.

***A number of teams are coming off pre-Le Mans tests, including Toyota Gazoo Racing, ByKolles Racing, Jackie Chan DC Racing, Eurasia Motorsport and TDS Racing at Spa-Francorchamps and Rebellion Racing and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in Monza.

***The Spa test saw accidents for both the No. 33 OAK Racing-run Ligier of Pierre Nicolet and Tracy Krohn’s No. 44 Eurasia Motorsport Ligier, although both cars have been repaired.

***Rebellion team manager Bart Hayden told Sportscar365 they logged “at least” 1,500 miles in the Monza test with a single Rebellion R13 Gibson, although it was running to the FIA and ACO’s previous Equivalence of Technology, which was used in last month’s World Endurance Championship season opener at Spa.

***Hayden said it’s unclear how the revised EoT will impact this weekend’s running. “It’s difficult here because it’s very hard to get a proper clean lap,” he said. “But hopefully the ACO will get enough data to see whether things need to be tweaked after the test.”

***Rebellion recently shook down its freshly built third R13 chassis, which will be utilized as a spare tub, without engine and front suspension, for the remainder of the season. The team has previously utilized a similar strategy for its R-One and LMP2 programs in having a complete spare tub on-site at all rounds.

***Corvette Racing, which returns to Le Mans for the 19th consecutive year, has completed 10,698 laps, or 90,130.78 miles, in its 18 previous trips to the race. That represents four full trips around the Earth at its equator.

***The Pratt & Miller squad air freighted 32,516 pounds of equipment, excluding the weight of the two Corvette C7.Rs and a spare car, to France. It has also continued to utilize a U.S.-specification transporter for the month-long trip.

***SMP Racing and Cetilar Villorba Corse are expected to evaluate both the low downforce and standard aero kits on its Dallara LMP2 cars on Sunday. All Dallara entries reverted to the high-downforce kit in last year’s race due to aero-related issues, which the Italian constructor says has been fixed through an approved Evo update.

***The garages of the Nos. 91 and 92 Porsche 911 RSRs are sporting a retro brick design, along with trackside Porsche signage in the same decoration. The German manufacturer has scheduled a “reveal” event for Saturday morning in the pit lane.

***After initially appearing as German entries, the pair of CORE autosport-run Porsches are now running under the American flag. The Jon Bennett and Morgan Brady-led operation makes its Le Mans debut in bolstering Porsche’s four-car factory GTE-Pro lineup.

***Bennett, who will be taking part in the Road to Le Mans race in a LMP3 car, hasn’t hidden his desire of taking his LMP2 operation to Le Mans, potentially as early as next year.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

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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