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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Saturday Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from the second day of 24H Le Mans scrutineering…

Photo: MPS Agency

***Scrutineering came to a close on Saturday with 23 cars passing through Place de la Republique for mandatory technical checks. Plenty of fans were in attendance for a day that started under sunny skies before some light rain crept in during the afternoon.

***The teams that underwent scrutineering on Saturday were: TF Sport, D’station Racing, DKR Engineering, Iron Lynx, Glickenhaus Racing, AF Corse, Team Penske, JMW Motorsport, Algarve Pro Racing, Toyota Gazoo Racing, GR Racing and Porsche GT Team.

***A total of 50 drivers missed the two-day scrutineering exercise due to clashes with other racing series. A dozen IMSA drivers in Detroit, six Formula E drivers in Jakarta and 27 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup drivers at Paul Ricard were unable to be in Le Mans town center this weekend.

***Nick Cassidy, Robin Frijns, Sam Bird, Antonio Felix da Costa, Sebastien Buemi and Alexander Sims are the Formula E drivers due to fly overnight from Indonesia to France for tomorrow’s test day. Jaguar reserve driver Norman Nato is also making the trip.

***Alessandro Pier Guidi cut a lonely figure in the AF Corse Ferrari team photo, as the only member of the factory GTE-Pro squad who attended scrutineering. The defending GTE-Pro winner’s five teammates are all taking part in the GTWC Europe fixture at Ricard.

***The ACO imposed a €3,000 ($3,215 USD) fine on each driver who missed the administrative checks this weekend. Article 5.1.1 of the Le Mans supplementary regulations states that the payment is an expense for entrants that submit a written request for a driver to miss the administrative checks more than seven days in advance of scrutineering.

***Iron Lynx team co-founder Andrea Piccini suggested that sports car racing series organizers should agree on keeping their calendars separate at this time of year. “Because it’s such a mess, and we all have to pay a penalty,” he told Sportscar365. The full Iron Dames crew missed their car’s scrutineering, which took place half an hour before they tackled qualifying for the Paul Ricard 1000km.

***All three drivers, plus two of their engineers and Iron Lynx’s Alessandro Balzan will fly overnight from Le Castellet to Le Mans.

***Team WRT driver Rolf Ineichen completed his administrative checks on Saturday afternoon after being absent for the Belgian team’s Friday scrutineering slot.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing has identified and assessed the hybrid system issue that caused its No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid to retire from last month’s TotalEnergies 6 Hours of Spa. “The issue was related to the high voltage converter, which failed,” said technical director Pascal Vasselon. “The part was new. It was very low mileage, something like 50 kilometers.”

***Toyota has been using hybrid converter technology in its FIA World Endurance Championship cars since 2016, before the current LMH era. “It’s the same concept [seen in the TS050 Hybrid], just adjusted to the same level of low-voltage power we need on this car,” Vasselon explained. “It’s a converter from the high voltage of the battery to the low-voltage circuit.”

***Laurents Hoerr is excited to be making his Le Mans debut with his “family” at the DKR Engineering team that has provided him with the platform to win several LMP3 titles in recent years: “I’m very much looking forward to it because it gives me the feeling of having built something: it was a team effort and we all made it together after this journey since 2019,” he told Sportscar365.

***The issues that impacted Prema’s pace in wet conditions during the 6 Hours of Spa were likely setup-related, with team principal Rene Rosin telling Sportscar365 that no mechanical failure or breakage was found in the No. 9 Oreca 07 Gibson.

***Rosin commented: “We are actually waiting for wet weather [in the test day] to validate. It was a mixture of factors. We just need to learn from our mistakes.”

***Rosin added that next weekend will mark his first time missing an FIA Formula 2 race in his role as team principal of the Italian squad. Le Mans clashes with the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which has F2 in support. Rosin backs the recent comments of FIA Deputy President for Motorsport Robert Reid who said that such a conflict should be avoided in the future.

***Richard Heistand is set for his second appearance at Le Mans, having made his debut with JMW Motorsport in 2020. He now joins Iron Lynx’s No. 80 crew. “We [tested] together in Barcelona one and a half months ago and I was very impressed about his pace,” co-driver Giancarlo Fisichella told Sportscar365.

***Heistand said of his new teammate: “When I first started watching Formula 1, it was when Fisi was in a Renault. Now I’m driving with him. It’s surreal.”

***Iron Lynx chief Piccini confirmed that the Italian squad’s No. 60 entry will revert to its original lineup of Fisichella, Matteo Cressoni and Claudio Schiavoni for the WEC rounds after Le Mans.

***He described the adjustment for Le Mans, in which Fisichella and Cressoni move to the No. 80 and Schiavoni is joined by Balzan and Raffaele Giammaria, as a way for Iron Lynx to spread its chances of getting a high result.

***Ben Keating is set for his first repeat appearance at Le Mans. Since the Texan first raced at the Circuit de la Sarthe in 2015, he has contested every race in a different car. For this year, he will once again drive TF Sport’s No. 33 Aston Martin Vantage GTE.

“Prior to this, I’ve done seven Le Mans in seven different cars,” Keating told Sportscar365. “I’m back in the Aston, and just because I really liked the way it drives in this particular race.” Keating has previously contested the race in a Viper, Oreca, Riley, Ferrari, Ford and Porsche.

***Keating also said during an interview on the public stage at scrutineering that he fancies doing more racing in the LMP2 class after GTE gets replaced by a GT3-based formula in 2024. “I think the analogue brakes of the GT3 car make everybody a hero,” he suggested. “I think it takes out some of the skill, and takes out some of the fun for me.”

***TF Sport has updated its Aston Martin’s livery since the opening two rounds of the WEC season. The 4 Horsemen-backed Aston now has a majority red design, with the light blue that previously took up most of the space now used as the secondary color.

***Laurens Vanthoor arrived at Le Mans after completing a private test at Imola earlier in the week, preparing for the next round of the DTM at the Italian venue.

***As was the case yesterday, ACO President Pierre Fillon attended scrutineering to mingle with the teams and guests. 1998 Le Mans winner Stephane Ortelli was also spotted in Place de la Republique, soaking up the atmosphere.

***ORECA’s former customer racing program manager Anthony Megevand has joined Cool Racing as its sporting director. Former Rebellion Racing technical director Bart Hayden was recently named in Megevand’s previous ORECA role.

***The 6 Hours of Fuji appears good to go, with a handful of team bosses confirming that shipping plans are coming together for the fifth round of the WEC season in September. However, several expressed concern at rising freight costs, with one team principal telling Sportscar365 that a single container is now setting them back approximately €40,000 ($42,899 USD).

***Attention shifts from Le Mans town center to the Circuit de la Sarthe, where the test day will take place tomorrow. Two four-hour sessions are booked, with a one-hour break in between.

***The first session is due to start at 9 a.m. CET (3 a.m. ET) and the second is scheduled for 2 p.m. (8 a.m. ET).

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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