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Le Mans Tuesday Notebook

John Dagys’ Tuesday notebook from Circuit de la Sarthe…

Photo: MPS Agency

***All 180 drivers assembled Tuesday morning for the official group photo, under threatening skies. The photo was initially delayed due to a downpour, with intermittent rain hitting Circuit de la Sarthe throughout the day.

***Rain is currently not in the forecast for Wednesday, although showers are predicted for Thursday evening, as well as rain likely at some point in the race.

***The FIA clarified pit stop procedures in a bulletin sent to teams on Tuesday, confirming that cars can either be resting on its tires or on air jacks during refueling. Additionally, bodywork near the fuel coupling is not permitted to be removed during refueling, for safety reasons.

***The WEC’s deadline for Michelin to provide a supply of tires for storage and redistribution has been extended to the next round in Silverstone. The French tire giant was fined €250,000 ($300,000) for failing to provide the tires by the start of the season, with €200,000 of the fine having initially been suspended until Le Mans, in the case it didn’t deliver the tires.

***The extension comes following a letter submitted by Michelin to the FIA late last month regarding its commitments to ensure the “stability” of its tire specifications throughout the entire 2018-19 season. It is still subject to the fine if it is unable to deliver the tires by Aug. 16.

***Several teams have been penalized or warned for failing to declare test sessions within the permitted time period. Both DragonSpeed and Aston Martin Racing have received reprimands, while Porsche Team has lost one of its allocated closed testing day for its No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR for the same infraction.

***Porsche and DragonSpeed’s infractions are understood to have come during last week’s test on the Bugatti circuit, with Aston Martin being reprimanded for the shakedown of its newly built No. 95 Vantage GTE in England on Friday.

***DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian said they made gains with its BR Engineering BR1 Gibson during last Tuesday’s test on the Bugatti circuit, following the official Test Day, which he deemed more as a “shakedown” for the freshly built car. “Ben [Hanley] was quick in the dry and in the mixed. We were quickest overall, and we will carry that tiny little bit of momentum into the weekend,” he told Sportscar365.

***BMW’s 8 Series Coupe will make its public debut on Friday at Le Mans. The soon-to-be-released production car forms the basis of the BMW M8 GTE. “Launching the car at this unique event is very special for us,” said BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt. “This is the first time that the racing car is hitting the track before its production counterpart. Seeing both models side by side in Le Mans in 2018 is a real highlight.”

***As was the case with the Ford GT in 2016, BMW has taken advantage of the GTE regulations, which stipulate that production of the road car must begin prior to the final race of the calendar year.

***Fernando Alonso compared scrutineering with the parade ahead of the Indianapolis 500, but said it was a unique experience. “It was a moment that you can not [have] in other series, to be close to the fans and in the middle of the city,” he said.

***The fastest car at the Le Mans Test Day has only gone onto win the race once, with the No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval in 2013.

***United Autosports, Graff, AF Corse and Ebimotors are all competing in the Road to Le Mans races as well as the 24 Hours, while Nic Jonsson is the only driver entered in both. The Swede will co-drive an M Racing-YMR Ligier JS P3 Nissan with CORE autosport owner Jon Bennett.

***WEC teams TF Sport, Beechdean AMR and the Jota Sport-run R-Motorsport operation are amongst the teams running cars in the Michelin Aston Martin Racing Le Mans Festival.

***Several drivers of note in the field include AMR Managing Director John Gaw, Martin Brundle, Rik Breukers, Beechdean AMR team principal Andrew Howard and celebrity racers Sir Chris Hoy and Paul Hollywood.

Jake Kilshaw 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

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