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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Sunday Notebook

Sportscar365’s news and notes from the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

***The No. 17 IDEC Sport Oreca 07 Gibson is being re-tubbed following Dwight Merriman’s accident in the opening test session after he was “punted off” by another car, according to co-driver Ryan Dalziel. The front wishbone penetrated the car’s tub.

***The French squad, which is working with members of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship squad Era Motorsport, has a spare tub on-site. The team went through a similar process last year but with an accident in practice that saw the late addition of Patrick Pilet to the lineup after Merriman was ruled out due to a concussion.

***A new record speed for the Le Mans Hypercar formula in official track sessions was jointly set by three cars during the test day. Both Pipo-powered Glickenhaus 007 LMHs – driven by Franck Mailleux and Richard Westbrook – and the No. 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid of Kazuki Nakajima all achieved 331.8 km/h (206 mph) through the speed trap.

***An issue with the live timing and scoring led to all cars’ fastest lap times not being displayed during the majority of the afternoon session, after the ACO deployed a practice safety car procedure that is understood to have caused the glitch. 

***Toyota was satisfied with its test day showing as both GR010 Hybrids ran without problems, according to the manufacturer’s technical director Pascal Vasselon. “Both cars have done 1400 km which is a record I think for us at the test day,” he told Sportscar365. “We had a lot of test items and we could do nearly all of them.”

***Vasselon added that the grip levels were “exactly” in Toyota’s anticipated performance window. “We got the track grip which we had in our models,” he said. “So in terms of performance, we are just below 3:30 which is just what we were expecting.”

***Despite being listed to drive the No. 8 Toyota, Mike Conway stuck to his usual No. 7 car for the entire day.

***GR Racing’s stoppage that resulted in a red flag during the morning session was caused by an issue on the car’s front-left, according to Ben Barker who said that his teammate Tom Gamble encountered an “explosion” on the run out of Tertre Rouge. Barker said the force “tore the brake disc and rim apart and the tire blew off completely.” Gamble managed to bring the car to a stop without barrier contact.

***A fault on a “small part on the rear axle” prompted Roberto Lacorte to bring his Cetilar Racing Ferrari 488 GTE Evo to a halt at the Mulsanne Kink in the afternoon. This brought out one of two FCY periods after lunch. The other was caused by Scott Andrews sliding his Kessel Ferrari into the Porsche Curves gravel.

***Andrews admitted his off-track moment: “I touched the astroturf on entry, learning the limits of the track which got me,” the U.S-based Australian told Sportscar365. “We ran through what we wanted to do today. [Takeshi] Kimura is doing a very good job.”

***The IDEC Sport Oreca was the only car not to take part in the second session. TF Sport successfully repaired its No. 95 Aston Martin Vantage GTE after John Hartshorne went off at the first Mulsanne chicane. The car completed 15 laps after lunch.

***Nyck De Vries was crowned the first-ever World Champion in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship following Sunday’s incident-filled Berlin E-Prix, which was won by Norman Nato. Both drivers are due to arrive at Le Mans this week, driving for G-Drive Racing and Realteam Racing, respectively.

***The majority of the Formula E drivers are expected to arrive at the circuit tomorrow but will face mandatory COVID-19 testing, as has been the case for all competitors in the paddock this week. Risi Competizione team manager Gary Holland is also coming over from Berlin, where he was working for Dragon/Penske.

***Jim Glickenhaus is set to arrive at Le Mans on Tuesday ahead of his eponymous team’s debut in the race. Glickenhaus called team manager Luca Cianchetti on the phone immediately after the session to celebrate its achievement of leading the test day, although the Hypercar entrant is keeping grounded despite showing strong pace.

***Glickenhaus is auctioning a piece of damaged bodywork from its pre-season testing accident at Vallelunga, signed by the culprit Gustavo Menezes. The American driver turned seven laps aboard the No. 708 Glickenhaus-Pipo in the afternoon.

***United Autosports’ IMSA-based Oreca 07 Gibson is currently in the UK getting rebuilt following the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen according to team co-owner/managing director Richard Dean, who told Sportscar365 they “have access” to a spare LMP2 chassis if needed this week.

***Michael Fassbender turned a total of 11 laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe, posting a personal best time of 4:08.283. The Hollywood actor and GTE racer met his minimum 10-lap requirement to take part in future 24 Hours of Le Mans editions.

***AF Corse driver Francois Perrodo racked up the highest lap count of 61, equating to 831 km. One of Perrodo’s co-drivers, Nicklas Nielsen, was absent from Sunday’s running. It is currently unclear why the Ferrari factory driver was not on-site.

***The No. 18 Absolute Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 is now running under the German flag after being entered as a Chinese entity. Racing Team India’s LMP2 entry has also changed nationalities, with the Eurasia-run operation now under the Philippines flag.

***Alpine Endurance Team’s LMP1 car is carrying the name and national flag of double Le Mans winner Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, who passed away last month at the age of 84.

***The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has paid tribute to Spa-Francorchamps circuit CEO Nathalie Maillet, who passed away suddenly on Saturday evening.

“We are particularly shocked and upset by this news,” said ACO President Pierre Fillon. “We were [in] regular contact in the past few years, in particular in relation to the FIA World Endurance Championship. Nathalie was passionate about motorsport and spared no effort in defending our causes. On behalf of the ACO, I extend our heartfelt condolences to her friends and family and to the staff of Spa-Francorchamps. They can count on our support in this difficult time.”

***One of the architects of Ford’s 1966 and 1967 Le Mans victories, Mose Nowland, passed away recently. A Ford engineer for 57 years, Nowland worked on the manufacturer’s programs in IndyCar, NASCAR, NHRA and sports cars.

***Monday represents an off-day between the official test and Le Mans race week. The next track action takes place on Wednesday when Free Practice 1, qualifying practice and Free Practice 2 headline the bill.

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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