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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Tuesday Notebook

Check out Sportscar365’s latest notebook on the eve of 24 Hours of Le Mans practice…

Photo: Alexis Goure/ACO

***Tuesday marked the second and final rest day for teams and drivers ahead of the start of official practice for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As well as the pit walk and the autograph session, the Pit Stop Challenge was also held in the afternoon for the third time.

***Ferrari AF Corse came out on top in the challenge with a time of 9.68 seconds, which compares to the benchmark time of 10.067 seconds set by Peugeot in 2023. Team WRT (10.65 seconds) and AO by TF Sport (10.75 seconds) topped the LMGT3 and LMP2 competitions respectively.

***Cool Racing’s No. 47 Oreca 07 Gibson will have to serve a five-minute stop-and-hold penalty during Free Practice 1 on Wednesday afternoon as a result of Le Mans rookie Frederik Vesti constantly abusing track limits during the test day.

***Meanwhile, Lamborghini Iron Lynx driver Matteo Cairoli was handed a suspended 30-second stop-and-go penalty for driving the wrong way around the track following a spin at Arnage. The Italian driver was also given one penalty point.

***The relevant stewards’ bulletin read: “After spinning at the exit of the Arnage corner, the driver drove on the track in the opposite direction for almost 100 meters before stopping on the right side in the escape road at the entrance of Arnage corner. Then, he received the help of the track marshals as he had an issue with the gearbox and was not able to engage reverse gear.

***It continued: “The Stewards determined it is a violation of article 9.1.1 of supplementary regulations of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2024. It is strictly forbidden to drive in the opposite direction on the race. In case the car is in a dangerous position, the driver has to follow the assistance and the instructions of the track marshals rather than to drive in the wrong direction.”

***Sportscar365 understands that the No. 19 Lamborghini SC63 is not the same chassis that participated in the Mobil Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. Instead, it is a freshly-built chassis that was shaken down at Magny-Cours prior to test day.

***Cadillac Racing duo Scott Dixon and Alex Palou arrived in France Monday evening having flown from the U.S. following last weekend’s IndyCar round at Road America. Sportscar365 understands that Palou, a Le Mans rookie, traveled to France to conduct his mandatory ACO simulator training in May between his IndyCar commitments.

***Alex Lynn pointed towards software improvements as one of the big gains Cadillac has made compared to its Le Mans debut twelve months ago. “It’s about how the tools interact with driver input,” Lynn told Sportscar365. “With a hybrid car, there’s many tools that the driver has at his disposal to improve the balance of the car. Whilst I think we had very good tools last year, what we have now is maybe two or three times as good.”

***Proton Competition’s Neel Jani downplayed the impact of the electrical issues that left the No. 99 crew sitting out the majority of the afternoon test session on Sunday.

***The Swiss driver told Sportscar365: “We tried some big setup changes, but unfortunately we ran into some electronic issues and we lost some valuable track time. But we all know the car well, and we have to say it’s better for this to happen now than later in the week!

***On the pace of the Proton 963, which ended up 22nd fastest, Jani added: “We know where the Penske [Porsches] are, and it’s not like we are going to be one second off. I also think things will change quite a bit compared to test day, because it looks like it will be a lot cooler this week.”

***Ferrari driver James Calado believes that the current driver weight rules have the potential to put off Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen from entering Le Mans in the future, estimating that a discrepancy of 10 kg between drivers in the same car is worth a lap time deficit of four-tenths of a second around the Circuit de la Sarthe.

***He said: “You see F1 drivers saying they won’t come here because of it. Maybe if [the rule makers] read the media they will change it, because one of the big names [Verstappen] isn’t coming because of that. He can’t compete fairly with unequal weight.”

***While many Hypercar drivers are relaxed about going into this year’s Le Mans with no tire warmers for the first time, Peugeot’s Paul di Resta voiced the opposite opinion. “It’s extremely tricky when the conditions are not right. You get mixed conditions or a very cold night, I think it’s verging on dangerous when you come out of the pits,” he said.

***He added: “I understand what they are trying to achieve, but the tire needs to be developed more. Nothing has changed [since last year]. Last year it was super-hot when we were here, but I fear for the time when it’s cold, damp… I don’t think the tire is ready.”

***Four Hypercar manufacturers have show versions of their cars on display in the Le Mans fan village this weekend: BMW, Ferrari, Peugeot and Porsche. The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 6 LMH Strada, the road going version of the Italian manufacturer’s LMH car, can also be seen there.

***The manufacturers village, meanwhile, features a presence from Toyota, Ford, Lotus, BMW, Alpine and Porsche as well as electric car manufacturer BYD. Notable cars there include the inaugural, Alexander Calder-designed BMW 3.0 CSL Art Car, the Ford Mustang GTD, the Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO that Kamui Kobayashi drove at the NLS season opener in April and a 1974 Porsche 911 Carrera RSR Turbo.

***LED screens have risen in prominence on the back of team garages this year, with many teams installing screens that feature a live feed to the inside of the garage. Lamborghini Iron Lynx, however, have taken things to a whole new level with a gigantic LED installation that covers the entire surface and plays various graphics and videos on a loop.

***Aston Martin factory driver David Pittard is on site at Le Mans, as he will be competing in the four-hour Fun Cup race on Friday morning. The British racer’s previous and to date only Le Mans appearance came in 2022, when he scored a GTE-Am class podium alongside Paul Dalla Lana and Nicki Thiim.

***Track action on Wednesday begins with Free Practice 1, which runs from 2 p.m. local time (8 a.m. EDT) to 5 p.m. (11 a.m. EDT). The one-hour Qualifying Practice follows at 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT), ahead of Free Practice 2 which runs from 10 p.m. (4 p.m. EDT) to midnight (6 p.m. EDT). Support categories Road to Le Mans, Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe and Fun Cup will also be in action.

John Dagys and Davey Euwema contributed to this report

Jamie Klein is Sportscar365's Asian editor. Japan-based Klein, who previously worked for Motorsport Network on the Motorsport.cоm and Autosport titles, covers the FIA World Endurance Championship and SUPER GT, among other series.

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