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Le Mans Test Day Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from Le Mans Test Day…


***Michael Shank Racing had a baptism by fire on Sunday, with its No. 49 Ligier JS P2 Honda having returned to the pits on a flatbed after a massive accident in the closing minutes of the session by Ozz Negri. The Brazilian, in his Le Mans debut, escaped injury after the LMP2 car snapped sideways entering the braking zone into the Michelin chicane. The team is still evaluating the cause of the accident, which brought an early end to the test for all competitors due to extensive barrier repairs.

***Mike Shank expects the car to be repaired in time for a shakedown on the Bugatti circuit on Tuesday. Both Negri and John Pew got their required 10 laps in to qualify for the race. Laurens Vanthoor put the car 8th on the LMP2 time charts prior to the accident.

***Porsche has reverted to its 2015-spec battery for the 24 Hours of Le Mans after issues in last month’s WEC Six Hours of Spa for its No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid. The German manufacturer has not revealed how much of a performance cut it will face with the change, although both batteries were built for the 8MJ hybrid subclass.

***A handful of other cars hit trouble over the course of the day, including the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which lost the majority of the morning session undergoing an engine change. The Richie Stanaway, Fernando Rees and Jonny Adam-driven GTE-Pro car returned in the afternoon to complete a total of 55 laps.

***Klaus Bachler turned laps in both the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR as well as the GTE-Am class No. 78 KCMG Porsche. The Austrian currently does not have a confirmed race seat but, like many other drivers, is prepared to be on standby should there be a need within the four-car Proton/KCMG Porsche camp.

***History was made with quad amputee Frederic Sausset turning his first official laps of Circuit de la Sarthe. Sausset’s Morgan LMP2 car is this year’s Garage 56 entry. Co-driver Christophe Tinseau posted the car’s quickest time of 3:48.253, which put them 33rd overall, less than three seconds behind the slowest LMP2 car. Sausset, meanwhile, turned laps within the 4:00 range.

***It was a mad dash for a dozen IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers and a handful of team and manufacturer personnel, who came from Saturday’s race in Detroit. Nine drivers in a private jet arrived Sunday morning prior to the start of the session, while Shank’s Detroit crew, as well as Ricky and Jordan Taylor, made it to the track around noon-time. Ryan Dalziel did not make the trip to Le Mans as originally planned due to a delay.

***The Taylor brothers, along with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating, claimed wins in Detroit, while the GT Daytona class podium also has Le Mans-bound drivers, in Joerg Bergmeister (Porsche Motorsport) and Christina Nielsen (Formula Racing).

***Sebastien Bourdais, who along with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Scott Dixon were forced to miss the test, scored victory in Saturday’s Verizon IndyCar Series round in Detroit. The second IndyCar race of the double-header weekend gets underway this afternoon.

***The ACO reported an attendance of 23,200 spectators for the test day, which saw dry, but overcast conditions.

***A number of teams, in addition to Shank, are scheduled to test on the Le Mans Bugatti Circuit on Tuesday, in what’s traditionally been used as a shakedown to bed in new components ahead of race week.

***Paolo Ruberti underwent successful surgery on Friday to repair his fractured vertebrae following his coaching accident at Hockenheim earlier in the week. The Larbre Competition driver is expected to spend the week in hospital in Germany before being relocated back home to Italy to begin his rehabilitation.

***Gas Monkey Garage, in conjunction with ViperExchange’s Ben Keating, have announced an eight-day cruise in the Bahamas for next month. The inaugural “Cruisin’ with the Monkey” will take over a Holland America cruise ship for 2,000 guests. Click Here for more information.

***The Le Mans media center has been re-named in honor of Michel Bonté, a longtime Sarthe journalist who passed away recently after a long illness. A ceremony was held Saturday with ACO President Pierre Fillon and WEC driver advisor Yannick Dalmas unveiling a plaque.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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