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Le Mans Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Le Mans…

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

***Michael Shank Racing has changed the engine in its Ligier JS P2 Honda after finding an issue this morning. Due to a ruling that non-FIA World Endurance Championship entries are limited to one engine for the entire week, the American outfit will be handed a five-minute stop-and-hold penalty in the race.

***The Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR also changed an engine ahead of qualifying, but will not incur a penalty as they are a full-season WEC entrant.

***The FIA and ACO have confirmed a reduction in aero performance for LMP1 hybrids next year. The height of the front splitter has been raised by 15mm, while the rear diffuser has been lowered by 50mm. Further performance cuts are expected.

***A change in the Equivalence of Technology for the class is expected post-Le Mans. ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil confirmed to Sportscar365 that there has been discussions on adjusting the K-Factor levels for diesel-powered cars. It comes after claims that Audi has been slightly disadvantaged under the current EoT.

***Unlike Balance of Performance, which can be changed at any time, even during a race weekend, only one EoT change is permitted over the course of a calendar year, starting after Le Mans each year.

***BoP in the GTE-Pro field has remained a big talking point in the paddock all day, with a Porsche driver telling Sportscar365 that the Ford GT could achieve lap times in the 3:49 bracket. Another GTE-Pro driver described the competition as a “two-tier” class, such was the advantage held by the turbocharged Fords and Ferraris over the normally aspirated Aston Martin, Corvette and Porsche.

***Gibson has released details of its new 2017 spec LMP2 engine. The GK428 is a 4.2-liter normally aspirated 90-degree V8, and will produce appx. 600 horsepower. It will be the standard powerplant for all LMP2 entries in the WEC and European Le Mans Series beginning next year, as well as being eligible for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

***During its annual press conference in the Le Mans Museum, the ACO confirmed the date for next year’s race, which is set to run on June 17-18, 2017.

***The press conference also placed a large focus on future technologies, such as biomethane and hydrogen-powered cars. A working group for experts on hydrogen technology has been assembled, with an eye towards having the technology at Le Mans in the next ten years.

***Strakka Racing had to change the left-rear wishbone and toe-link on Thursday after Jonny Kane made light contact with the barriers at the Esses in first qualifying. Strakka heads into this evening’s sessions eighth in class, 2.789 seconds off Rene Rast’s benchmark time in the G-Drive Racing Oreca 05 Nissan.

***G-Drive Racing is running two cars at Le Mans for the first time, with Simon Dolan, Giedo van der Garde and Jake Dennis in a Gibson 015S Nissan joining the full-season No. 26 WEC entry. “It’s actually a lot better running two cars, purely from a perspective of space, both in the garage and out the back of the garage,” team boss Sam Hignett told Sportscar365.

***Hignett added that G-Drive have “more than doubled” the size of their team over the winter to faciliate the expanded program, with the Gibson again running a full season in the European Le Mans Series.

***Running the venerable Oreca 03R Nissan in an LMP2 class flooded with new machinery, Jeroen Bleekemolen told Sportscar365 that Murphy Prototypes has decided to prioritize race setup over qualifying runs. “The level has gone up again in LMP2 even from last year, so it’s going to be tough to be honest,” said the Dutchman.

***Bleekemolen will drive with Marc Goossens and Ben Keating, the first time the Texan has ever raced a prototype machine. In order to prepare, Keating and Bleekemolen tested a Starworks LMPC car at Road Atlanta, before Keating completed two days in the 03R at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

***Tom Kristensen is on the camera this weekend, as the nine-time Le Mans winner is working for Eurosport on its international feed. Kristensen is focused on the network’s “24 Minutes” update shows, which are being broadcast throughout the week.

James Newbold contributed to this report

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

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