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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Tuesday Notebook

John Dagys’ Tuesday notebook on the eve of official track action at Le Mans…

Photo: MPS Agency

***The 186 drivers taking part in the 87th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans gathered Tuesday morning for the traditional group photo on the start/finish line. It was followed in the afternoon by an autograph session on pit lane, giving fans the first opportunity to see the stars and cars of this year’s race.

***Intermittent showers greeted teams today, with rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for tomorrow, in what could severely impact running time. A four-hour Free Practice is scheduled from 4-8 p.m., with the first round of qualifying set for 10 p.m. – 12 a.m. local time.

***The Equivalence of Technology changes made to LMP1 non-hybrids is understood to have cost the turbocharged-powered AER-powered LMP1s around 4 liters of fuel capacity and 2 liters less for the normally aspirated, Gibson-engined entries. 

***As was the case last year, however, the Toyota TS050 Hybrids will still maintain a one-lap stint length advantage over the non-hybrids, as per the initial set of regulations agreed upon at the start of the 2018-19 season.

***A number of drivers have attributed revised curbing at the Ford Chicane leading to slightly slower lap times at the test day. It’s estimated to have impacted times up to 0.5 seconds, although could change in race conditions.

***An entryway between the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Keating Motorsports garages has been created and decorated with an American flag bead wall by Keating team manager Ben Levite.

***Bill Riley, who’s helping oversee Keating’s program, said the support they’ve received from Chip Ganassi Racing and Ford has been “all around great”. The team has a dedicated Ford engine engineer, with Multimatic also having assisted in logistics.

***Ben Keating told Sportscar365 that he’s still yet to decide on the prospects of additional races for his Ford GT, although confirmed he has not submitted a full-season WEC entry request. “Right now all I’m worried about is this weekend,” he said.

***Aston Martin Racing managing director John Gaw said that the Pro-class Aston Martin Vantage GTE could find itself in uncharted territory tomorrow, if anticipated rainfall arrives. The car’s new low-downforce aero kit only tested in the dry when it ran extensively for the first time at Monza last month.

***The hydrogen-powered LMPH2G prototype took to the streets of Le Mans city center after yesterday’s scrutineering. 2011 Le Mans LMP2 class winner Olivier Lombard was behind the wheel for the car’s first demo on public roads. The car will complete a demo lap on Circuit de la Sarthe in the buildup to Saturday’s race start.

***TF Sport team principal Tom Ferrier said he had a “Top Gear race” to Le Mans with Aston Martin factory driver Jonny Adam, who was racing a TF car in the recent British GT round at Silverstone. Ferrier said he drove to France while Adam flew, and only lost the race by three minutes.

***The TF Sport team once again requested a late scrutineering time on Monday after making the overnight trip from Silverstone to Le Mans for the third year in a row.

***The announcement of Goodyear returning to endurance racing marks the brand’s re-entry into international motorsport, having previously supplied tires to Grand-Am, and more recently selected teams in the American Le Mans Series until 2006.

***Goodyear was last present at Le Mans in 2006, with Intersport Racing’s Lola B05/40 AER, which finished fourth in the LMP2 class with Clint Field, Duncan Dayton and Liz Halliday at the wheel. 

***While not confirmed, Dunlop is expected to remain a tire supplier in the European Le Mans Series and not also be re-branded to Goodyear.

***A few late LMP2 entry requests, made past the May 21 deadline, is understood to have pushed the 2019-20 WEC full-season entry beyond 30 cars. The full entry list will be announced on Friday at the ACO’s annual press conference. 

***DragonSpeed’s BR Engineering BR1 Gibson is for sale following the team’s decision to exit LMP1 competition following this weekend’s season finale. The Elton Julian-led team will focus its sports car racing efforts in the European Le Mans Series and selected WEC LMP2 rounds, amid its planned expansion in IndyCar.

***Aston Martin Racing has sold 80 percent of its projected 75-car quota for the new Vantage GT3 and GT4 packages in 2019, according to Gaw. At least 60 cars have now been sold and built for customers since the program launched at the start of this year.

***Cetilar Racing is set to film a documentary charting its debut season in the WEC. The Italian team recently released a 50-minute account of its 2018 Le Mans journey, and is also planning to document this week’s event on film, according to team owner/driver Roberto Lacorte.

***A vintage Aston Martin DBR1 (Chassis No. 5) that competed in the 1959 World Sportscar Championship – the year of Aston’s only outright Le Mans win – has been on-site at Le Mans. The British marque recently released a video celebrating Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby’s triumph from 60 years ago.

***The 1999 Le Mans-winning BMW V12 LMR is also on-site this weekend, in the German manufacturer’s hospitality.

Daniel Lloyd 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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