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Le Mans Wednesday Notebook

John Dagys’ Wednesday notebook from Le Mans…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***Weather has continued to be a talking point, heading into the start of official track activity at Le Mans. Thunderstorms are forecast for this evening, which could impact things later today. Free Practice runs from 4-8 p.m. local time, with the first of three qualifying sessions on tap from 10 p.m.-12 a.m.

***The No. 4 ByKolles Racing CLM P1/01 AER took to the Le Mans airport last night for a shakedown. The LMP1 Privateer entry is sporting a number of updates since the test day, including new sidepods, rear deck, and floor, as well as switch from a six to seven-speed Xtrac gearbox.

***Pierre Kaffer makes his first start with the team this year, with the German telling Sportscar365 that he’s slated to complete the season, except for Circuit of The Americas, which clashes with his full-season commitments in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT.

***The complexities of the hybrid-powered LMP1 cars and increased maintenance schedules has seen the factory squads take new approaches to race week at Le Mans. Audi, for instance, has been using a dedicated overnight crew to prep its cars between sessions, although slightly limited this year due to a season-long restriction on total crew allowed per team.

***One of the major changes to this year’s race is the minimum drive time, with each driver in LMP1, LMP2 and GTE-Am required to complete at least 6 hours to be classified. There is no requirement in GTE-Pro. LMP2 and GTE-Am Bronze or Silver-rated drivers were previously required to complete a minimum of 4.5 hours.

***No driver is permitted to drive more than four hours in a six-hour period, or more than 14 hours total in the race.

***There are other Le Mans-specific rules also in place. Each driver must complete at least 5 laps in the dark to be eligible to race. Qualifying is determined by the single quickest lap from one driver per car, unlike regular-season WEC races where it takes the best two-lap average.

***Slow Zones are in effect for the third consecutive year. It replaces the Full Course Yellow (virtual safety car) procedure for this race only. Safety cars can be used as well, with three Audi R8s dispatched due to the length of the circuit.

***Aston Martin Evolution Academy winner Ross Gunn is in attendance at Le Mans running the Beechdean AMR Twitter account. Gunn, who races with Beechdean patron Andrew Howard in the British GT Championship, will also sit in on Aston Martin driver briefings as he continues his learning curve.

***The No. 55 Ferrari F458 Italia GT driven by Matt Griffin, Aaron Scott and Duncan Cameron will eschew AF Corse’s traditional red with a patriotic British Racing Green livery. It matches the scheme used for the first time on Cameron’s GT3 machine in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Monza.

***Eurosport will again be the primary broadcaster at Le Mans, with 40 hours of live coverage from the week. It begins with Free Practice and Qualifying beginning this afternoon, followed by the final two qualifying sessions, the Road to Le Mans race on Saturday morning and the French endurance classic itself.

***The British Eurosport and International commentary team will be headed by Mark Cole, Martin Haven, Carlton Kirby and Jeremy Shaw, joined by driver experts Damien Faulkner and Sam Hancock, and Le Mans history stalwarts Neville Hay and Chris Parsons. Check schedules for any late changes, but the majority of the coverage will be on Eurosport 1 .

James Newbold 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

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Z0Tex

    June 15, 2016 at 10:19 am

    Since when have cars been allowed a 7-speed gearbox? I saw another report yesterday that mentioned the Ford GT’s also have a 7-speed? I thought the limit was 6 forward speeds for all classes?

    • Jack

      June 15, 2016 at 10:25 am

      2014 was the first I saw of the 7 speeds. And I still am not sure that that ford has 7, I saw the same report, and am still confused

    • Mike D

      June 15, 2016 at 12:31 pm

      LMP1 cars have been allowed 7 gears since 2014 (as Louis said, below). I think the Audi still runs a 6-speed to save weight.

      GTE-Pro cars are running to the new GTE rulebook this year. Technically, there is no limit on the number of gears listed in that rulebook – it’s “as homologated”.
      If you care to peruse for yourself, link: http://www.fia.com/file/37726/download/9251?token=y047BSpS

      LMP2 and GTE-Am cars (the latter is running to the 2015 GTE rulebook) are still limited to 6.

  2. Louis

    June 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    2014 they allowed it. All LMP1HY cars have 7 speed

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