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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Pre-Race Notebook

John Dagys’ pre-race notebook for 24H Le Mans…

Photo: John Dagys

***The FIA confirmed late Friday a Balance of Performance adjustment for the GTE-Pro class Porsche 911 RSRs, which sees the mid-engined cars receive an 8kg weight break. The No. 92 Porsche of Kevin Estre finished second in warmup, seven-tenths slower than the pace-setting No. 69 Ford GT.

***It’s believed the FIA and ACO had considered also giving the Fords a post-qualifying BoP adjustment, in the wake of their newly-found top-speed advantage over the GTE-Pro competition. Stefan Muecke was clocked at 300.5 km/h in Qualifying 3.

***Despite a strong performance so far this week, Aston Martin Racing Managing Director John Gaw remains cautiously optimistic on the outcome of the BoP in today’s race. “You don’t know until you’re five or six hours into the race whether it’s going to be two-tiered or whether it’s going to be a race,” Gaw told Sportscar365.”If everyone is going to be in the race, will we have the point-one advantage or not?”

***Aside from 90-plus degree Fahrenheit weather, which could impact Toyota and potentially other teams’ strategy, race week has seen not a single drop of rain, marking the first time since 2000, according to ACO President Pierre Fillon.

***Ahead of its bid for a maiden overall Le Mans win, Toyota Motorsport President Toshio Sato reportedly closed off his pre-race team talk with a heartfelt rally cry, saying: “Fight for victory. YOU CAN DO IT!”

***Nic Minassian has revealed efforts to start his own LMP2 team late last year were linked with DragonSpeed, whom he has now taken the role of Sporting Director. “My own team was going to be run with the second car,” Minassian told Sportscar365. “I couldn’t make it happen, so I’m still there and working with Elton as he was going to be.”

***Julian’s France-based, U.S.-flagged team makes its Le Mans debut this afternoon with the all-rookie lineup of Felix Rosenqvist, Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman.

***Newly retired Audi Sport boss Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich is at Le Mans, but as a spectator with his son.  “It’s always a pleasure to be at Le Mans, even though this year it’s not as a competitor,” Ullrich said. Of note, Peugeot Sport boss Bruno Famin was also spotted in the paddock this week, with the French manufacturer understood to have been in LMP1 working group meetings. 

***McLaren F1 Racing Director Eric Boullier is also here, along with Zak Brown, who co-owns the United Autosports LMP2 team, which is making its race debut. 

***Gibson Technology Technical Director Ian Lovett said the LMP2 engine supplier had experienced no significant problems during the build up to the race. Alex Lynn smashed the LMP2 lap record in qualifying by 11.2 seconds on Thursday evening. “Nothing major, a few sensors, a few little bits and pieces to take care of as we progress but so far so good,” he told Sportscar365.

***Defending LMP2 winner Gustavo Menezes is running a special helmet design. Designed by Jens Munser, it features a day-glo effect similar to that adopted on the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

***The tire longevity record at Le Mans, held by Audi Sport Team Joest in 2011 at 55 laps (five stints), could be broken this year by either Porsche or Toyota in LMP1. A number of LMP2 teams, particularly from the Ligier camp, are also estimating the possibility of completing five consecutive stints.

***Michelin has brought more than 5,000 tires to Le Mans, hauled to the circuit in 13 transporters, for its 29 technical partner teams in the race. A total of 90 Michelin staff are on-site to support the French tire manufacturer’s massive effort.

***Among the innovations for 2017 include new RFID-enabled tires that will display tire compound choices, stint length and other information that will be displayed on the race broadcast.

***The winner of Michelin Challenge Design, “Le Mans 2030: Design for the Win” was recognized during Friday’s ACO Press Conference. Tao Ni of China, was present to accept a prize, alongside a scale model of his car design.

***In addition to the Road to Le Mans, the Porsche Carrera Cup Le Mans race featuring 61 drivers from the British, French and Benelux championships was also on the support bill. Two-time GB champion Dan Cammish won with a final lap pass on Alessio Rovera at Indianapolis. Fellow Carrera Cup GB front-runner Dino Zampairelli was second.

***FOX Sports will carry live coverage of the race, between FS1 and FS2, with Eurosport leading the way on the European continent with its largely on-site commentary teams in various languages. Click Here for the full TV broadcast schedule. The race can also be viewed on the WEC App, for a fee.

***Be sure to download Andy Blackmore’s Dunlop Spotter Guide, featuring all 60 starters for the race. It also features chassis details, driver grading, pit garage allocations, as well as social media details for each team, making it a must-have for anyone following the race Click Here to download.

James Newbold and Luke Smith 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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