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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Sunday Notebook

Daniel Lloyd’s notebook from a scorching hot 24 Hours of Le Mans Test Day…

Photo: MPS Agency

***Sebastien Buemi’s fastest lap of the weekend for Toyota, which came under a revised EoT system for the LMP1 class, was 0.374 seconds short of Fernando Alonso’s table-topping effort in last year’s Test Day. The No. 8 and 7 Toyota TS050 Hybrids completed 108 and 112 laps respectively, and were the only cars in the whole field to break the century barrier.

***The quickest GTE-Pro cars were around one and a half seconds slower than the same event last year. Mike Rockenfeller’s 3:54.001 behind the wheel of the No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R compared to the 3:52.551 produced by Porsche’s Patrick Pilet 12 months ago. The Corvette still improved on its best time from the 2018 event, however.

***The fastest LMP1 non-hybrid lap from the 2018 Test Day was a time of 3:19.680 set by Mathias Beche in the No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson. The best of the privateers on Sunday was the sister No. 1 Rebellion, which posted a time of 3:21.323 in the hands of Andre Lotterer.

***Rebellion reportedly tested both its 2019 and 2018 Le Mans aero configurations on Sunday. The team spent most of the test working with its new low-downforce setting, which debuted in Free Practice 1 for last month’s Six Hours of Spa, but also ran its 2018 front bodywork for a handful of laps.

***Actor and 2015 Le Mans class podium finisher Patrick Dempsey has been awarded the ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ special award for his “dedication and enthusiasm” to sports car racing.

***In Sunday’s announcement, ACO President Pierre Fillon said: “He has come a long way since [his 2009 Le Mans debut] thanks to his hard work, his ability to concentrate on the task in hand, the way he soaks up advice and his absolute determination. That is the Spirit of Le Mans.”  

***Brendon Hartley revealed that he reached out to Toyota LMP1 technical director Pascal Vasselon in 2012 when he was searching for a full-time ride in sports cars. The New Zealander was then hired by Porsche in 2014 after a successful spell in LMP2 with Murphy Prototypes.

***The Keating Motorsports Ford GT’s eye-catching Wynn’s livery features the names of team owner/driver Ben Keating’s three Ford dealerships on the car’s side.

***Jeroen Bleekemolen put the Keating Ford 16th out of 17 entries in GTE-Am, and 2.8 seconds off the class pace. Team owner/ driver Ben Keating told Sportscar365 that he thinks the car, which ran without issues, “has another second and a half” to give.

***Graff and Signatech Alpine tested at Le Mans on Michelin tires for the first time, ahead of their respective 24 Hours debuts with the tire manufacturer. Both teams raced with Dunlop rubber last time around.

***The 1,300-strong team of Le Mans marshals was recognized with a standing ovation during the pre-test drivers’ briefing.

***Leo Roussel’s back injury sustained in a recent crash at Monza, which ruled him out of competing at Le Mans this year, was an aggravation of a prior crash in qualifying for the 2014 race. The Frenchman is being replaced by James Winslow in Inter Europol Competition LMP2 driver lineup.

***The red flag triggered by the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, which stopped on-track through the Porsche Curves in the morning run, was caused by an electrical fault, according to team co-owner David Cheng.

***The car completed only seven laps in the morning with Jordan King behind the wheel, but managed to clock a further 43 during the afternoon spell. This came despite an off-track moment for King at Indianapolis.

***Risi Competizione lost over an hour of its potential eight hours of testing time because the Sunday drivers’ briefing took place after the session started. All three of the Ferrari GTE-Pro crew’s drivers – Oliver Jarvis, Pipo Derani and Jules Gounon – had travelled in from other race engagements at Detroit and Paul Ricard.

***Risi was the only team that had all three of its drivers taking part in other motorsport events this weekend.

***Mission H24’s hydrogen-powered LMPH2G prototype turned two laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe in between today’s WEC sessions, in “race conditions”. An ACO bulletin said the mini-test was used to “gather precious data which will be put to good use as the program progresses”.

***Paul Dalla Lana has hinted at returning to the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour with the Ferrari 488 GT3 that he campaigned at the start of 2019. “I’ve been doing Daytona and Bathurst with Ferrari for the last couple of years and those are great events. I’m sure those will factor into the plans again,” Dalla Lana told Sportscar365.

***Dalla Lana isn’t yet sure if he will be able to test his new-gen Vantage GTE for its projected 2019-20 program before the official Prologue, while a delivery date has yet to be confirmed: “I’ve seen pictures of it! I know we’ll be in Barcelona for sure and we might even get to run again before that, although I think Aston’s got a lot on,” he said.

***The entry list for the 2019-20 WEC will be released during the annual Le Mans press conference on June 14, according to ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil.

***TF Sport has had to split its operations between Paul Ricard and Le Mans, with team principal Tom Ferrier not present at the Test Day due to his role in the pack-up from the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup round.

***A total of 11 cars are listed to take part in the annual post-Test Day shakedown on the Bugatti Circuit this Tuesday.

***Both Toyota TS050 Hybrids, both United Autosports Ligier JS P217 Gibsons, all four factory GTE-Pro Porsche 911 RSRs, both Rebellion R13 Gibsons and the No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE are slated to turn laps in the closed-off session.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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