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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Monday Notebook

John Dagys’ Monday notebook from the second day of scrutineering at Le Mans…

Photo: MPS Agency

***The majority of competitors in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans completed the scrutineering process on Monday in Place de la Republique, with notables including Aston Martin Racing, SMP Racing and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, in the Ford GT’s final outing as a factory team in the race.

***DragonSpeed unloaded its BR Engineering BR1 Gibson in a surprise Gulf livery, in the American team’s final outing in LMP1, while BMW Team MTEK rolled through administrative checks for only the second, but final time with the BMW M8 GTE, which also exits WEC competition following this weekend’s season finale.

***No fewer than 18 drivers made the dash to Le Mans from various race tracks over the weekend in order to complete their administrative checks on Monday. It included Patrick Long, Matt Campbell, Toni Vilander, Miguel Molina and Rodrigo Baptista, who all came from last weekend’s Blancpain GT World Challenge America round at Sonoma Raceway. 

***Several drivers were in action in DTM at Misano, British GT at Silverstone, ADAC GT Masters at the Red Bull Ring and Stock Car Brasil at Londina, as well as Cooper MacNeil, who was racing Ferrari Challenge in Montreal.

***It included five of the six Aston Martin Racing drivers and Blancpain GT America Sonoma race winners Long, Vilander and Molina. MacNeil swept the Ferrari Challenge weekend in support of the Canadian F1 Grand Prix, while Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Ho-Pin Tung was on Dutch language commentary duties for the F1 race.

***Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson, who are set for their 14th consecutive Le Mans as co-drivers, nearly didn’t make it into the race due to a number of unforeseen circumstances. The pairing were initially set to drive a second Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier JS P217 Gibson, although it was placed on the reserve list. 

***That led to Krohn and Jonsson to securing a deal with Proton Competition in its No. 99 Dempsey Proton-badged Porsche 911 RSR, which was initially due to feature Tim Pappas prior to his bone-breaking accident in Bathurst. The car had secured an automatic invite courtesy of the team’s GTE-m class win last year.

***The FIA released an updated Balance of Performance table on Monday afternoon, confirming a 1-liter fuel capacity increase for all GTE-Pro and GTE-Am cars. 

***It’s believed the change could be related to the new-for-2019 rule that abolishes the 14-lap mandatory stint length for GTE-Pro cars, which will re-open strategy and fuel-saving measures for teams.

***Rebellion Racing team manager Bart Hayden said they’re aiming to have an improved stint length average with the new low-downforce kit, which has gained top speed. “I don’t think we’ve necessarily picked up a lot of lap time with that — I think there should be a little there — but it should be more about getting past the LMP2 cars [on the straights]. That’s where we struggled last year,” he said.

***Dempsey Proton Racing will return with a two-car Porsche 911 RSR program in GTE-Am, according to team principal Christian Ried, who is the only confirmed driver so far. Ried, the only driver to have contested every WEC race to date, indicated to Sportscar365 that the 2019-20 season could be his last as a driver. 

***Development of ByKolles’ planned Hypercar entry has been put “on hold” according to the team’s Director of Operations  Boris Bermes as it awaits the final set of technical regulations, which could be released on Friday. Bermes told Sportscar365 they are “very interested” in seeing the finalized set first before finalizing its design. 

***Sportscar365 understands that among the revisions to the regulations include a provision that hybrids will be optional, at least for the production-based hypercars.

***The 2019-20 WEC entry list, which is due to be released on Friday, may not reach the 30-car mark. Sportscar365 has learned of at least two teams that were expected to submit full-season entries that have not, with an additional multi-car team in jeopardy.

***The WEC has apparently extended the entry deadline request to Multimatic, in a last-ditch effort to have at least one Ford GT on the grid next season.

***Corvette Racing program manager Doug Fehan would not confirm that the Corvette C7.R is undertaking its final Le Mans, ahead of debut of the new-generation mid-engined C8.R that’s slated for 2020. When asked, Fehan replied: “We’re looking forward to that ninth victory at Le Mans with the C7.R.”

***Paddock rumors suggest that Larbre Competition could make the return to GTE-Am for the 2019-20 season, potentially with a Corvette C7.R, which would therefore keep the car on the grid at Le Mans in 2020.

***Fehan has not ruled out additional WEC outings for Corvette Racinng after contesting the Shanghai and Sebring events this season with a single Corvette C7.R. Sportscar365 understands that two-race program was part of a prerequisite from the ACO to guarantee two entries for Le Mans. 

***An exclusive 10-minute screening preview of the upcoming “Ford v Ferrari” film will premiere in two Le Mans theaters on Friday. The footage will be screed at 7:15 and 8 p.m. at Pathe Le Mans and CGR Saint Saturnin, with free entry coupons now available at both box offices.

Daniel Lloyd and Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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