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24H Le Mans

Le Mans Tuesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Tuesday notebook from the 24 Hours of Le Mans paddock…

Photo: MPS Agency

***A group photograph with all 62 cars entered into the 90th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was held on Tuesday evening. A separate photo was taken with all 186 drivers on the starting grid.

***With no track sessions on Tuesday’s timetable, most of the action at the Circuit de la Sarthe occurred in the pit lane. A pit walk and autograph session, followed by the inaugural Le Mans tire change competition, took place during the afternoon.

***A row of fans assembled along the pit lane as each crew of four mechanics took turns to change all four tires on their cars as quickly as possible. The winners of the competition in each class were No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing (10.1 seconds), TDS Racing X Vaillante (11.6 seconds), Porsche GT Team (time not published) and TF Sport (10.1 seconds).

***Motul is sponsoring the Raccordement or ‘connection’ corner where the Bugatti Circuit meets the Circuit de la Sarthe. The turn was renamed Virage du Raccordement Motul in a ceremony on Tuesday morning. The French lubricants firm’s oil products are used by all the LMP2 entries at Le Mans, as well as the Glickenhaus Hypercar squad.

***The Glickenhaus SCG 004C that contested the Nürburgring 24 two weeks ago is on display at the Motul stand in the fan village. It has not been cleaned since Richard Westbrook, Franck Mailleux, Felipe Fernandez Laser and Thomas Mutsch drove it to a 12th-place overall finish.

***ACO President Pierre Fillon, Stellantis Head of Motorsport Jean-Marc Finot and 1992 Le Mans winner Yannick Dalmas were on-hand to inaugurate the new ‘Allure Le Mans’ exhibition at the circuit museum. The display focuses on famous Peugeot models on loan from Musee de l’Aventure Peugeot. The 1992-winning Peugeot 905 Evo 1B and a concept model for the upcoming 9X8 LMH car are among the exhibits.

***Sebastien Buemi did not appear convinced at Alpine’s claimed straight-line speed struggles during the test day. “There is no reason they should be more down than [at] Spa, and they have more power than Spa,” he told Sportscar365. “We have been racing them since a long time now: there is no surprise. They will be much better in the race, when it counts.”

***Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director Pascal Vasselon confirmed where the Toyota GR010 Hybrids are able to deploy electric power around the 8.467-mile Circuit de la Sarthe: “We can use it on the exit of Tertre Rouge and the exit of some of the Porsche corners,” he said. The Toyota hybrid activation point has been 190 km/h (118 mph) at all three races so far this season.

***Alex Brundle is making his ninth Le Mans appearance, a decade on from his debut in the race alongside his father, Martin, and Lucas Ordonez. Brundle reckons that over the last decade, driver lineups have become more competitive and serious: “All the deadweight has gone from this race,” he said. “All the slack, all the moments when you thought, ‘oh I’ll just get out of it’, have been edited out from the way you have to drive it.”

***Alexander Sims is racing a GTE-spec Chevrolet Corvette C8.R for the first time since last year’s Motul Petit Le Mans seven months ago. The Brit has driven three very different types of cars in as many weeks, going from a BMW M4 GT3 at the Nürburgring 24 to a Mahindra M8Electro in the Jakarta E-Prix, and on to the Corvette.

***Eight-time FIA World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier has lost 2-3 kg in preparation for his Le Mans debut with Richard Mille Racing, as he seeks to maximize his performance in the No. 1 Oreca 07 Gibson.

***Reigning ABB FIA Formula E world champion Nyck de Vries was in the paddock today, working with Toyota Gazoo Racing as part of his reserve driver role.

***Former driver Paolo Ruberti is assisting Iron Lynx as a spotter for the No. 60 Ferrari crew. Driver coaches Andrea Fausti and Luca Persiani are performing the same duties for the No. 85 and No. 80 cars respectively, while Le Mans GTE-Am podium finisher Rino Mastronardi will fill in for the main spotters during the night hours of the race.

***Garage 59 looked at Aston Martin and Porsche as options for its GTE-Am debut at Le Mans before ultimately going for a loaned AF Corse Ferrari, according to team principal Andrew Kirkaldy. The team had an Aston Martin Vantage GT3 that it considered upgrading to GTE spec, but that was eventually sold.

“All the [conversion] work while doing a fairly major [GT3] championship, we thought we would just collaborate a bit with AF and it’s worked really well,” Kirkaldy told Sportscar365. “It was much easier to have a car that was there and proven. We’re not guessing with setups.”

***Kirkaldy added that having some AF Corse crew members on the entry ensured that it could have its car prepared by them on-site for when the Garage 59 team arrived at Le Mans on Sunday morning from the Paul Ricard 1000km.

***Garage 59, which ran Aston Martin GT3 cars until the end of last year, purchased a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 at the end of last year in addition to the two McLaren 720S GT3s that it runs in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS. West is set to drive the Ferrari in a German GTC series round at Hockenheim later this year.

***United Autosports has returned to the two temporary pit garages closest to pit entry. The team used those berths in 2020 before High Class Racing moved in for last year’s race. Team co-owner Richard Dean told Sportscar365 that United is facing the same pros and cons to using the temporary garages: one downside being the storage of fuel in drums due to a lack of connection to the underground fuel system, while an upside is more space at the rear of the garage.

***Toyota has launched a social media competition for one fan to win a signed team shirt by correctly guessing the manufacturer’s fastest hyperpole lap time. Click here for details.

***Jose Maria Lopez explained the “confusion” that caused a red flag at the end of the final test day session. The Toyota driver was nominated to stop and perform an extrication procedure with some marshals at the end of play. But a few minutes before the checkered flag, Lopez “had a moment” with an LMP2 car and went into the gravel in avoidance. This triggered an alarm in the car, so Lopez stopped to complete an electronic reset. “I was waiting until the end of the session and I think when they saw the car [there], they decided to put the red flag [out] because they thought I was ready to do it,” Lopez said.

***The Mission H24 project will attempt to set an electric-hydrogen speed record for the Le Mans circuit tomorrow. The LMP3-based prototype will carry out straight-line runs between Tertre Rouge and the Daytona Chicane at 1:35 p.m. local time (7:35 a.m. ET).

***The first Le Mans week track sessions take place on Wednesday. Free Practice 1, lasting three hours, is due to start at 2 p.m. CEST (8 a.m. ET). A one-hour qualifying session will begin at 7 p.m. (1 p.m. ET) followed by Free Practice 2 at 10 p.m. (4 p.m. ET).

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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