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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Sunday Notebook

Sportscar365’s paddock notebook from the 24 Hours of Le Mans test day…

Photo: Porsche

***Gianmaria Bruni told Sportscar365 that his trip through the gravel at Mulsanne in the first session of the day was the result of the No. 91 Porsche 911 RSR-19’s rear end suddenly stepping away approaching the braking zone. “Just before braking, the car went sideways and so I slid into the corner. We don’t know; we’re still looking at the data.”

***Bruni also explained that he brought the Porsche to a halt at Indianapolis with a front left puncture, but stated that this was a precautionary measure to avoid inflicting further damage. It is understood that the puncture did not cause the initial off-track moment.

***All of the 50 drivers who took part in other races yesterday arrived in time to take part in the test. The first batch to arrive were the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup drivers from Paul Ricard, most of whom took very early morning flights from Le Castellet to be at Le Mans for breakfast.

***The Formula E drivers from Jakarta and IMSA drivers from Detroit arrived slightly later, with most joining for the afternoon session only. Of note, Tristan Vautier took part in the morning run having flown overnight from Detroit. Realteam by WRT’s Norman Nato captained a minivan of Formula E drivers down from Paris. Alexander Sims, Nick Cassidy, Robin Frijns, Sam Bird and Antonio Felix da Costa all hitched a ride with the Frenchman.

***The removal of mandatory COVID-19 testing since last year has made it significantly easier for drivers and team personnel from other series to embed into the test day, with travel being the only significant hurdle to overcome for most.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing had a trouble-free day with its Toyota GR010 Hybrids, according to the manufacturer’s FIA World Endurance Championship technical director Pascal Vasselon. “In the morning we have done aero mapping, then we have done some mechanical setup and in the afternoon we have done tires,” he explained.

***Vasselon suggested that the impact of the enforced hybrid activation point for the Toyota is “a bit lower” at Le Mans than it was at Sebring and Spa. The Toyotas once again can only deploy their electric power after reaching 190 km/h.

***Glickenhaus Racing changed the steering wheel on its No. 708 Glickenhaus 007 Pipo after experiencing an electrical glitch during the morning session, according to team owner Jim Glickenhaus. It then set the second-fastest lap time overall in session two. 

***Vector Sport lost a significant amount of track time in the morning when its Oreca 07 Gibson suffered a suspension failure in the closing minutes of the opening session. The recovery and repairs meant it spent the first one and half hours of the afternoon session in the garage before Nico Mueller took the car back out on track.

***The D’station Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE encountered a sensor issue when it pulled to one side at pit exit, according to a TF Sport spokesperson. The No. 777 car returned to the track during the same afternoon session.

***Nielsen Racing LMP2 driver Rodrigo Sales was fined €2,000 ($2143 USD) for exceeding the maximum pit lane speed of 60 km/h by 19.3 km/h. There were also some five-minute stop-hold penalties handed out through the field due to drivers repeatedly breaching track limits.

***Toyota’s Ryo Hirakawa, who is gearing up for his first Le Mans since 2017, completed 51 laps making him the driver who covered the most distance at the test.

***Mathieu Jaminet and Harrison Newey turned five laps each aboard the Team Penske Oreca. Of the other additional test day drivers, Jody Fannin completed eight laps aboard JMW Motorsport’s Ferrari 488 GTE Evo, while Matej Konopka and Alex Peroni did not drive for ARC Bratislava and Algarve Pro Racing.

***In addition to being Team Penske’s reserve driver, Mathieu Jaminet is on standby duties for Porsche GT Team’s factory GTE-Pro operation. Jazeman Jaafar is named as JOTA’s reserve driver on its pit structure paneling, along with all other members of the British team’s crew.

***Dane Cameron is making his Le Mans debut next weekend. The Team Penske driver has contested the Rolex 24 at Daytona 13 times but has never previously done the French race, although he told Sportscar365 that he came close on a couple of GTE-Am deals in recent years.

“It’s a race where people really value experience and I just found it difficult to get in the first time,” Cameron said. “For how many Daytonas I’ve done, it’s a bit funny to be lop-sided. I’m zero [wins] for 13 at Daytona, so maybe we’ll be a bit more fortunate here at Le Mans!”

***Another surprise Le Mans debutant is Vautier, who is starting his home soil enduro for the first time. The 32-year-old Frenchman is also racing in LMP2 for the first time since the 2014 IMSA season when he did a few races with the Speedsource Mazda squad.

***Miro Konopka’s ARC Bratislava team, for which Vautier is driving, has an updated livery for Le Mans with some purple streaks adding to the already colorful design that the Slovakian outfit uses in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

***Peugeot LMH driver Paul di Resta was drafted into United Autosports’ LMP2 lineup for the test day to work as a “reference” for Le Mans rookie Josh Pierson, according to the 16-year-old American. Di Resta helped Pierson gear up for the test day while Oliver Jarvis and Alex Lynn traveled from Detroit.

***In addition to fellow British entrants from the No. 55 Spirit of Race entry and JOTA, Yorkshire-based United Autosports has also recognized Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee with a special decal on the side of both Orecas.

***Recent paddock rumors have linked Iron Lynx with the confirmed Lamborghini LMDh program. But team co-founder Andrea Piccini has said that the Italian organization is “working on many potential deals” and denied that an agreement has been reached.

***Piccini told Sportscar365: “The reason why we entered LMP2 with Prema is to be able to be in LMDh or LMH. I think we have to be ready quite soon. We have to take a decision in the next month. For now, we are looking around at all the possibilities to try and have the best option for the future.” Piccini is adamant that Iron Lynx would only get involved as a factory team.

***The Chevrolet Corvette C8.Rs are the same two chassis that did Le Mans last year, but with the numbers swapped around. Car No. 63 this week is chassis 005, which raced as car No. 64 last year. Car No. 64 this week is chassis 004, which raced as car No. 63 in 2021.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing’s FIA World Rally drivers, who are currently competing in Sardinia, sent a well-wishing message to their teammate and eight-time champion Sebastien Ogier who is gearing up for his Le Mans debut with Richard Mille Racing, as well as the Toyota Hypercar squad.

***Toyota has also released an informative video with Kazuki Nakajima in which the 2018-19 WEC champion explains how his team used intuition gained from simulator practice to manage its potentially calamitous clogged fuel filter problem at Le Mans last year.

***There is no track action on Monday, however BMW is set to reveal more information about its LMDh car in the morning.

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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