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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. 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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