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Le Mans Wednesday Notebook

John Dagys’ Wednesday notebook as track action gets underway from Le Mans…

Photo: MPS Agency

***The FIA’s Balance of Performance adjustments to the GTE-Pro class are understood to have only seen minor power increases in the range of 4-5 horsepower for the BMW M8 GTE and Ferrari 488 GTE, with a similar reduction for the Ford GT. The biggest winner was the Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which has reportedly gained between 15-20 horsepower from its configuration at the Test Day.

***Porsche led a 1-2-3 class sweep in Free Practice, with the No. 66 Ford fourth in class. The pair of Aston Martins were 15th and 16th out of the 17-car field, and more than four seconds adrift.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon says it’s “difficult to say” whether the declared Equivalence of Technology puts the non-hybrid competitors within the targeted window. The fuel flow rate for non-hybrids have remained the same as the Test Day. “We see a few things but it might not be the full story,” he told Sportscar365. “We cannot really comment on the EoT decisions because we have a lot less data.”

***Vasselon said they don’t expect to go for a qualifying time in Q1 tonight, with the pair of Toyotas instead focusing on race prep. While the car is “slightly faster” than last year, based on the times from the Test Day, Vasselon declined to predict an ultimate best lap time, admitting Kamui Kobayashi’s 3:14.791 from last year was in optimal conditions.

***Michelin has been handed an additional €4,000 ($4,700) fine for not declaring tire references to the technical delegates 48 hours prior to the event. It marked a repeat offense, after it failed to have functional RFID chips installed on the tires at Spa.

***The FIA, however, has suspended an additional €5,000 in fines after “acknowledging the efforts of the manufacturer and the large quantity of tires that need to be produced.”

***With rain in the forecast for tomorrow, Andrea Pizzitola is expecting the fastest lap times to be set in the first part of tonight’s opening qualifying session. “For sure, we’re going to have one attempt, tonight,” he told Sportscar365. “Maybe, avoid the full darkness because it’s difficult to have a strong pace in the dark because the entry speed in corners is so huge.”

***Tony Kanaan and Fernando Alonso will swap their helmets following the race. Verizon IndyCar Series star Kanaan is in the No. 67 Ford GT while Alonso drives the No. 8 Toyota.

***Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez, drivers of the No. 7 Toyota, are sharing the same seat fitting and not changing between stints, which will likely speed up their driver changes.

***The No. 63 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, and Mike Rockefeller has a fourth name, Tripp, and an American flag over the door. The name is there to honor a young race fan who visited the team during the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January as part of the Make A Wish program for children with serious illnesses.

***Corvette Racing is displaying a new red, white, and blue logo on the front of both cars for Le Mans to signify their status as an all-American car and team.

***Thanks to a special agreement with the ACO, the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky will be one of just three locations outside of France to be showing a live, commercial-free feed of the race with locations in Berlin and Tokyo. The race will be shown on a 28-foot screen with live timing and scoring and private Skype chats during the race with drivers and other team representatives. Click Here for more information or to register.

***Michelin has a large presence of U.S.-based motorsport staff here this weekend, including North America motorsport director Chris Baker, motorsports marketing manager Sarah Robinson, and its IMSA track operations manager Robbie Holley, along with numerous other tire engineers that regularly work with its technical partner teams in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

***Its staff is sporting a brand-new collection of apparel this year, in a striking white, blue and yellow design. Kiswire and Rockwell Automation have come on-board as Michelin’s apparel sponsors, with the company’s branding on the short- and long-sleeved polo shirts, sweatshirts, windcheater jackets, parkas and softshell jackets.

***The roof of the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE has returned to the Turkish flag scheme that was used last year to recognize Salih Yoluc becoming the nation’s first Le Mans driver. The flag is complemented by an image of former Turkish president Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

***Aston Martin Racing has formed a partnership with European entertainment giant Sky through the end of the 2018-19 ‘Super Season’. The sponsorship tie-in will be launched in the Aston Martin Festival support race on Saturday, where Sky Sports F1 commentator Martin Brundle is set to share a Sky-liveried Aston Martin Vantage GT4 with Olympic cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy. Aston Martin’s Vantage GTE cars will carry the Sky branding for the remainder of the WEC season.

***On-track action for the Aston Martin Racing Le Mans Festival will also get underway tomorrow with Free Practice sessions at 10:30 a.m. and 11:55 a.m. followed by qualifying at 3:30 p.m. The 45-minute race will take place on Saturday at 10:15 a.m.

***The Road to Le Mans event got underway today with Free Practice while qualifying for both of the 55-minute races will take place on Thursday, beginning at 1:30 p.m. Race 1 will follow at 5:30 p.m. while Race 2 is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. on Saturday.

Jake Kilshaw, Ryan Myrehn, Daniel Lloyd and Luke Smith contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Old Trombone

    June 14, 2018 at 10:18 am

    A Turk putting Ataturk on the car is like an Englishman putting Clement Attlee on the car – a deliberate hint of dissent against the current situation…

    From a tiny Angora sheep paddock in the mountains of central Turkey now known as Ankara, Ataturk launched a tiny offensive against virtually the entire world – England, France, Greece, White Russia, and (unbelievably) the defeated Germany teamed up to invade Istanbul and tried to replace Ottomanism with Royalism. It was as if WWI just continued and moved house to Turkey 1918-1924. Most of the graves you see in Gallipoli have dates in the 1920’s…

    Ataturk (who famously defeated Churchill’s imperial forces including us manipulated Aussies who have regretted it ever since, in Canukkale, formerly known as Gallipoli, and afterwards wrote a heartfelt apology to all the mothers who had lost their sons in battle on both sides) led a Secular army to defeat religion which had corrupted Ottoman times to the point of rotten collapse. He then had a Constitution-style document made into law which banned religion from having any political power, banned religious symbols/clothes in government and universities, and gave the military the power to hold Coups whenever they saw elections get tainted by religious parties. Ataturk was extremely respectful of the American separation of religion and state. And Turkey’s current government is ‘righteously’ undoing every single one of those Ataturk amendments, which makes this driver’s nod to Ataturk particularly brave. And appropriate, and honorable, and of outstanding character.

    Clement Attlee defeated Churchill in the election of 1945, he was famous for saying “Charity is a cold grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.” The current British attitude to Austerity is very Churchillian, or just plain Chilly. I always think of this Attlee quote when I think about Greg Loles…

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