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Le Mans Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Le Mans…

Photo: John Dagys

***A number of drivers have been added to the entry list for Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day for testing purposes only, headlined by reigning FIA World Endurance champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Marc Lieb, in both the Nos. 1 and 2 Porsche 919 Hybrids. Lieb will serve as the team’s reserve driver.

***Lieb is coming off a successful test with the 2017 Le Mans-spec car at Motorland Aragon last month. “After one or two laps, I was happy in the car. It felt like yesterday,” he told Sportscar365. The German, who has taken up a new role as Porsche’s Head of Customer Racing, insisted he’s not after a drive at Le Mans and is happy to be on standby, if needed.

***Laurens Vanthoor, who does not have a confirmed race seat, is listed to test both factory Porsche 911 RSRs in GTE-Pro, as well as the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07 Gibson alongside full-season drivers Roman Rusinov, Alex Lynn and Pierre Thiriet. John Martin, who will fill in for Lynn in next month’s WEC round at the Nürburgring, is also due to test the G-Drive entry.

***Nico De Bruijn is the fourth driver in the No. 43 Keating Motorsports Riley Mk. 30 Gibson, with the Dutchman, who took part in last year’s race with Eurasia Motorsport, set to turn the car’s initial laps on Sunday morning as they wait for the Detroit-bound Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ricky Taylor.

***IDEC Sport Racing has added Paul-Loup Chatin to its test day lineup while Simon Gachet will test Panis Barthez Competition’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson, with Maurizio Mediani listed as a fourth driver in the No. 27 SMP Racing Dallara P217 Gibson and Nicky Catsburg set to turn laps in the No. 28 TDS Racing Oreca. Dean Koutsoumidis, meanwhile, will pilot the No. 45 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier.

***In the GTE-Am ranks, Jonny Cocker has been added to JMW Motorsport’s test day lineup in the team’s brand-new Ferrari 488 GTE, while Christian Ried is listed in all three of his Proton Competition-run Porsches. Khaled Al Qubaisi, meanwhile, has been confirmed in the team’s No. 88 Porsche.

***Both the Nos. 68 and 69 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs will be with two-driver lineups this weekend, as Scott Dixon and newly announced super sub Tony Kanaan are on IndyCar duty in Detroit, and as Platinum-rated drivers exempt from the test day.

***Ganassi IMSA team manager Mike O’Gara told Sportscar365 that Bourdais could return to the wheel of the Ford GT at Petit Le Mans in October, with the Frenchman targeting a comeback to IndyCar one month earlier at Sonoma Raceway following his pelvic and hip fractures sustained in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 last month. “I was impressed the other day when I saw him,” O’Gara said. “He has no cast and is already walking on crutches. It’s been a pretty quick recovery already.”

***Corvette Racing and Ganassi, which both had separate pre-Le Mans tests at Road America last month, did so without the FIA’s Balance of Performance configuration that was released late last month. Gary Pratt told Sportscar365 the Corvettes tested in 2016 Le Mans configuration, minus the 0.7 mm air restrictor increase it received for the test day, while Ganassi’s O’Gara said they ran in an “anticipated” configuration, utilizing the boost levels the Ford GT had in last month’s WEC race at Spa.

***What affect the BoP changes will have may not be fully seen until race week, although GTE-Pro manufacturers must declare their Le Mans lap time estimates to the FIA and ACO prior to the test day, after the test day and after qualifying, which is understood to influence potential adjustments between now and the race. The same procedure was in place last year.

***As it stands now, the Fords will run 20kg heavier and with a reduced turbo boost, across all power levels, compared to last year’s race, with the Ferrari 488 GTE remaining unchanged as it is the performance baseline in the class.

***The Keating Riley LMP2 car is carrying WeatherTech colors and has swapped garage stalls with Larbre to be located next to the WeatherTech-backed No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE of Cooper MacNeil, Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell. The two teams are operating independently of each other, with Kessel Racing again providing support to the California-based Scuderia Corsa squad, which expands to a two-car GTE-Am effort.

***The No. 98 Aston Martin Vantage GTE has remained on Dunlops for Le Mans. The entry list, which lists the GTE-Am class car on Michelins, is an error, according to a team spokesperson.

***Larbre Competition’s Art Car livery will be revealed tomorrow afternoon. The French-entered Corvette C7.R has been designed by renowned street artist Ramzi Adek and features a striking design which will be visible in both day and night.

***Eric Broadley, the founder of Lola and one of the most visionary designers and constructors of racing cars, died earlier this week at the age of 88. Sportscar365 sends its condolences to his family at this time.

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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