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Le Mans Monday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Monday notebook from Le Mans scurtineering…

Photo: John Dagys

***It appears Onroak Automotive’s bid to run an updated version of its Le Mans aero kit has been vetoed, with rival LMP2 constructors against an evolution of the Ligier JS P217 Gibson outside of the category’s permitted single update in a four-year homologation period per chassis. 

***ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumsenil told Sportscar365: “The process is, if you have a lack of performance, you can ask for an update over four years. Then you decide what to do and you decide when you ask it and you decide if you do it or not.”

***Bill Riley told Sportscar365 that he was supportive of Onroak rolling out the updated kit this week, granted it fell within the rulebook, while ORECA President Hugues de Chaunac said “it’s really in the hands of the ACO” regarding a potential decision to be made.

***DragonSpeed team owner Elton Julian said he approved of the decision not to allow any changes to the Ligier. Julian, whose team campaigns an Oreca 07 Gibson, however, said that he hoped each of the four LMP2 constructors would be allowed to make an update kit during the off-season, despite the likely costs involved.

“We picked the car that we picked not by accident,” Julian told Sportscar365. “That’s part of the game. I hope that they allow everyone to re-homologate over the winter, which is good and bad from the cost side. I think Riley could use it. Right now, nobody is going to buy one of those two cars. I think it would be only fair.”

***Felix Rosenqvist and Ho-Pin Tung were two late arrivals to scrutineering on Monday, both coming from Berlin’s Formula E event. Rosenqvist was a surprise absence when the DragonSpeed crew met with officials. It turned out that the Swede missed his flight from Berlin on Sunday night, leaving him to re-book and arrive midway through Monday.

***Matthieu Vaxiviere said is “quite okay” and is now recovered from the foot injury that caused him to miss last month’s WEC Six Hours of Spa. The Frenchman’s seat at TDS Racing was taken at Spa by Ben Hanley, and Nicky Catsburg was placed on standby for Le Mans. However, Vaxiviere was declared fit to return to the cockpit, having turned laps without issues in the test day. 

***It will mark the open-wheel ace’s long-awaited Le Mans debut, three years after being forced to miss the race due to a back injury. “I was close to missing it again but everything is okay,” Vaxiviere told Sportscar365.

***Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekmolen and Ricky Taylor turned up to scrutineering wearing tuxedo-inspired firesuits (pictured above), in what the Keating Motorsports team owner/driver says stemmed from his maiden trip to Le Mans two years ago when he saw a similar model on display in the vendor village. “Bill [Riley] was not very excited about doing this!” Keating joked.

***Keating, who is nursing a wrist injury from an accident in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Detroit, said he doesn’t expect any issues in the race, having successfully completed laps at the test day with no pain.

***The team, however, will revert to its backup Mercedes-AMG GT3 car for the next WeatherTech Championship race at Watkins Glen, team manager Greg Jones told Sportscar365, citing the time needed to rebuild the GT Daytona class contender. Keating and Bleekemolen hold a 9-point lead over Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen, who are also taking part at Le Mans this weekend.

***Tracy Krohn has revealed the potential of additional outings later this year with the Ferrari 488 GTE he is driving this weekend alongside Nic Jonsson and Andrea Bertolini. Krohn and Jonsson are set for their 12th consecutive Le Mans start as co-drivers, with the pairing also contesting selected VLN and 24H Series rounds this year, including November’s COTA 24 Hours.

***As the debate about Ligier’s low downforce aero kit continues, Manor driver Vitaly Petrov has said he expects an all-Oreca fight for victory in LMP2 as things stand. “Maybe they will find something through practice and qualy ahead of the race,” Petrov said of the rival chassis manufacturers. “But at the moment, it’s difficult for them.”

***Gianmaria Bruni turned his first laps in a Porsche 911 RSR last week, during a two-day test with the CORE autosport-run Porsche GT Team at Road America. The Italian driver joined Patrick Pilet and Laurens Vanthoor in the test. Bruni is set to make his race debut with the German manufacturer in next month’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, alongside Vanthoor.

***McLaren GT factory driver Alvaro Parente, who returns to Le Mans for the first time since 2014, has yet to drive the No. 60 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE after missing the test day due to his Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup commitments at Zolder. “Obviously there is the background on the 458, but it will be three years that I haven’t driven a GTE car, so it will be a challenge for me to do the big race without knowing the car,” Parente told Sportscar365.

***Karun Chandhok spent part of Tuesday taking Tockwith Motorsports co-driver Philip Hanson around the Circuit de la Sarthe in a bid to aid the 17-year-old’s development. “There’s a lot to learn,” Chandhok said to Sportscar365. “It’s a tough circuit also. Now he’s driven it, we’ll look at some data, take him out on the bike, we’ll cycle around, talk about it, just try and bring him along.”

***Scuderia Corsa racer Christina Nielsen released a book in the build-up to the race, written in Danish. She said there were no plans for a translation into English, but hoped that the book would encourage women to get involved in motorsport. “A friend of mine who was an author said ‘I want to make this book’ and I’m actually pretty happy with the outcome,” Nielsen told Sportscar365.

***TF Sport boss Tom Ferrier drove overnight from the Silverstone 500 to arrive at Le Mans in time to see the team’s No. 90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE go through scrutineering. Ferrier is also entering a GT3 Aston Martin for Ahmad al-Harthy and Tom Jackson in the Road To Le Mans support race, and has had to expand the team to meet the extra demands.

James Newbold, Luke Smith and Ryan Myrehn 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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