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Le Mans Sunday Notebook

John Dagys’ Sunday notebook from the first day of scrutineering at Le Mans…

Photo: Olivier Beroud Images

***Le Mans race week kicked off on Sunday in the Place de Republique, with 22 of the 60 cars going through scrutineering in the town center. It included LMP1 entires from SMP Racing, CEFC TRSM Racing and ByKolles, as well as fan favorite Corvette Racing, which is making its 19th consecutive race appearance.

***While rain, which was in the forecast, held off for much of the day, thunderstorms are in the forecast again for tomorrow, which will see the bulk of the teams make their pre-race checks.

***ByKolles is unlikely to have a second CLM P1/01 LMP1 car on the grid in time for the next FIA World Endurance Championship race at Silverstone, as initially planned. The German squad has since shifted its focus to customer sales, according to team principal Manfredi Ravetto. 

***Ravetto said there are a total of four CLM chassis in existence. “ByKolles is very much expanding activities on the engineering side,” he told Sportscar365. “We are evolving and growing as a structure. One of our targets is to make our cars available to customers, sooner or later.”

***Ricky Taylor has become the first to have driven all four LMP2-based chassis, with the reigning IMSA Prototype champion making his race debut in the Ligier JS P217 Gibson this weekend alongside Come Ledogar and David Heinemeier Hansson.

***Taylor, who took part in last year’s race in Keating Motorsports’ Riley Mk. 30 Gibson, drove the Dallara-chassied Cadillac DPi.V-R to the IMSA title last year, while claimed Team Penske’s first win with the ORECA-based Acura ARX-05 last month in Mid-Ohio.

***A total of seven former and current Formula 1 drivers are making their Le Mans debuts this year: Fernando Alonso, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jenson Button, Paul Di Resta, Pastor Maldonado, Felipe Nasr and Antonio Giovinazzi.

***Ho-Pin Tung was absent from scrutineering today as he was in Zurich as reserve driver for Panasonic Jaguar Racing in the ABB FIA Formula E Championship. The reigning LMP2 winner’s Jackie Chan DC Racing team paid tribute to him with all of the team members wearing face masks for the official photo. 

***More than 25 drivers have been competing elsewhere this weekend in rounds of Formula E, Verizon IndyCar Series, Formula 1, ADAC GT Masters, British GT Championship, International GT Open and Ferrari Challenge North America.

***All of the affected drivers’ cars are set to go through scrutineering tomorrow with the exception of Tung, Oliver Turvey, and Matt Griffin whose cars went through today. The three drivers will be required to attend tomorrow’s session for their administrative checks.

***Of note, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon took a commanding victory in the IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway, while Nicki Thiim won the British GT race at Silverstone and Alessandro Pier Guidi picked up a GT Open win at Spa.

***Jackie Chan won’t be in attendance this week to see his team attempt to defend its LMP2 class win as he is currently filming a movie in China, but David Cheng expects the actor to attend more races in the future, including the Shanghai and Fuji WEC rounds.

***Tennis star Rafael Nadal, who will wave the French tricolore at the start of next weekend’s race, won the French Open on Sunday afternoon. The Spaniard beat Austria’s Dominic Thiem in straight sets at Roland Garros to clinch a record-extending 11th title at the Grand Slam event.

***Movie star Michael Fassbender, who has recently begun competing in Ferrari Challenge, will be a guest of honor in the race next weekend.

***Dirk Mueller recently took delivery of a Ford GT production car. The 2016 Le Mans GTE-Pro class winner’s mid-engined supercar features a grey color scheme with a red stripe. The German is believed to be the first CGR driver to have become a Ford GT owner.

Jake Kilshaw and Daniel Lloyd 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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