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Le Mans Test Day Notebook

John Dagys’ post-test notebook from Le Mans…

Photo: John Dagys

***Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day saw competitors take to Circuit de la Sarthe for the one-and-only opportunity to run on the 8.5-mile circuit before race week. The 60 cars combined to complete a total of 4,379 laps, or 37,080 miles over the eight-hour test, with the No. 9 Toyota TS050 Hybrid completing the most laps at 106.

***Kamui Kobyashi’s pace-setting 3:18.132 lap was more than 1.6 seconds quicker than the pole time set by Neel Jani for the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year. More impressively, it marked a five-second improvement for Toyota’s performance at the test day last year, with Porsche only improving by seven-tenths year-to-year.

***Toyota’s significantly improved pace has come despite aero cutbacks to the LMP1 hybrids this year, which was initially aimed to reduce up to 30 percent of downforce levels. While Porsche LMP1 team principal Andreas Seidl admitted Toyota’s pace was “impressive” the German manufacturer did not go for a qualifying simulation run with either of its Porsche 919 Hybrids. 

***LMP2 cars were atop the speed charts on Sunday, led by the Dallara P217 Gibsons from Cetilar Villobra Corse and Racing Team Nederland, at 212 mph and 211 mph, respectively. The No. 8 Toyota was the quickest LMP1 hybrid, clocking in at 205 mph, behind  a dozen LMP2 machines.

***Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin, who topped the time sheets in GTE-Pro in the test, related the blindingly fast LMP2 cars to being like LMP1 cars through traffic.

***The No. 43 Keating Motorsports Riley Mk. 30 Gibson struggled as the slowest LMP2 car in top speed, clocked at 197 mph. The American squad completed only nine laps in the morning session after sustaining a fuel leak, which was fixed over the lunch break. Ricky Taylor was quickest in the car, at a 3:38.671 lap time.

***Le Mans rookies Jose Maria Lopez and Yuji Kunimoto surpassed initial expectations, with the Argentinean, in his comeback following two accidents, posting the fourth best time of the test, and the quickest in the No. 9 car. Kunimoto, meanwhile, recoreded a respectable 3:22.396, having run 36 laps. 

***Marc Lieb completed 11 laps between the two Porsches, qualifying the reigning Le Mans winner as an eligible driver in the race, should he be needed. “I’m very glad that the ACO made the participation of reserve drivers during the test day mandatory,” Lieb said.. “If necessary, I’m ready to step in but in favor of my colleagues, I hope this will not be required.”

***Laurens Vanthoor split his day between the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson and No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR, impressively setting the fifth quickest time in the LMP2 class. The Belgian was due to also turn laps in the No. 92 Porsche but is believed to have been hindered due to an engine change for the car during the morning session.

***Vanthoor will serve as reserve driver for both Porsche GT Team and G-Drive Racing, and is tipped to fill-in for Alex Lynn in next month’s Six Hours of Nürburgring in the TDS Racing-run entry.

***Will Stevens, Marcel Fassler and Dries Vanthoor turned laps Sunday morning before flying to Zolder to compete in the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup Main Race. Ex-Formula One driver Stevens claimed victory in the race, his first in GT competition.

***A handful of cars are expected to receive time penalties in the start of official track action next week, due to multiple track limits violations sustained in the test. Race Director Eduardo Freitas issued numerous warnings throughout the day, more so than seen in recent years. 

***Toyota, along with other teams will take to the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit on Tuesday for a test session to shake down their rebuilt cars following the test day. The single-day test has more-or-less turned into a regular occurrence in recent years for selected competitors.

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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