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Le Mans Wednesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Wednesday notebook from the opening day of official track action at Le Mans…

Photo: MPS Agency

***Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe technical director Pascal Vasselon said the 20 kilowatts of additional power given to the Le Mans Hypercar class for this event — compared to the original 500 kW maximum for Le Mans — equates to roughly 1.6 seconds per lap. The Toyota GR010 Hybrid is running at 515 kW of power compared to the Glickenhaus 007 at the maximum 520 kW.

***The change therefore would put the Hypercar class target race pace lap time in the region of 3:28.400 compared to the ACO’s original 3:30 reference time. “It means that with the track grip increase, we will see later in the week below 3:30 as well with the 500 kW as planned,” Vasselon said following Sunday’s test day. “In terms of performance, we are exactly on the plan of the circuit.”

***David Floury is set to depart ORECA by the end of the year to take up a full-time job with Toyota. Floury, who serves as the company’s technical director, is understood to still be working with ORECA during the transition period as the Hugues de Chaunac-led organization works to find a replacement.

***Floury is working with Toyota this weekend in his usual chief race engineer position, which he has held as part of ORECA’s operational support of the Japanese manufacturer’s top-class FIA World Endurance Championship program.

***While initially set to terminate following the 2019-20 ‘Super Season’ ORECA’s support of the Toyota program was extended through the end of this month due to COVID-related staffing challenges. The extent of the support includes 5-6 ORECA-employed crew embedded in the Toyota operation.

***While it appears Alpine will not announce its new Hypercar class entry this week, it will still have a strong presence at Le Mans, with the French manufacturer’s Formula 1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon both slated for demo laps in Saturday’s pre-race festivities.

***Two-time F1 champion and double Le Mans winner Alonso will turn laps in an Alpine F1 car in the colors of the A521, with Ocon, fresh off a victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix, to be present in an A110 GT4 car. It will mark the first time in modern history that an F1 car will lap Circuit de la Sarthe.

***Sportscar365 understands that Alpine will become the sixth LMDh manufacturer for 2023, likely aligning with ORECA. It would mean each LMP2 constructor, except for Ligier, would have two manufacturers apiece for the opening season of the formula. Both BMW and Cadillac are understood to be going with Dallara.

***This year’s Le Mans grand marshal Derek Bell waved the flag to get Free Practice 1 underway on Wednesday afternoon. 

***A disgruntled Filipe Albuquerque tweeted his frustration at being unable to post a representative lap time in qualifying practice due to GTE traffic: “We have to rethink [qualifying],” said the United Autosports LMP2 driver. “This is so frustrating, Pro GT drivers destroying [flying] laps on their out laps is just unacceptable… qualified P12 and not lacking pace to be [in the] top six.”

***Toyota has reimagined its GR010 Hybrid with the livery of the Toyota GT-One, which is one of several cars to be on display in a special Toyota exhibit at the Le Mans museum.

***It has been revealed that Kyle Tilley sustained a shoulder injury that has ultimately ruled the Era Motorsport owner/driver out of the race. Tilley was also scheduled to take part in both the NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last weekend but was replaced as well. Tilley is still expected to be on-site this weekend.

***Thomas Laurent, who has replaced Tilley, was initially set to be an analyst on L’Equipe TV’s French-language coverage of the race. He’s since been replaced by Stephane Richelmi, who is serving as the primary driver of the MissionH24 project this weekend.

***Michelin’s ‘démonstrateur 46’ tire will appear at Le Mans for the first time fitted to the hydrogen-powered H24 prototype that will perform a parade lap ahead of the race’s start. Revealed earlier this year at June’s Movin’On international sustainable mobility summit, it is the first racing tire to be able to claim that 46 percent of the materials it contains are sustainable.

***All but one of the Porsche 911 RSR-19 customer chassis are present at Le Mans, spread between the GTE-Am and GTE-Pro classes. The exception is chassis No. 918, which was part of the initial ten-car batch presented at the end of last year. An additional car has since been built for Herberth Motorsport’s entry.

***The final entry list for the race was published late Tuesday, confirming that all of arriving ABB FIA Formula E World Championship drivers and late addition Laurent, have passed their scrutineering checks and have produced negative COVID tests. Click Here for the list.

***Progress is understood to have been made in Tuesday’s LMDh technical working group meeting, which had involvement from only the five confirmed manufacturers (Acura, Audi, BMW, Cadillac and Porsche) per the rules.

***SRO Motorsports Group founder and CEO Stephane Ratel is expected to be in attendance here later this week. There have been rumors that ACO could end up using SRO’s Balance of Performance system should it commit to a GT3 future.

***AF Corse driver Francois Perrodo brought his own Ferrari 250 GTO (#3387) to Le Mans and went on a road trip with a group of friends including triple Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti. Perrodo’s ex-NART car entered the 1962 edition of Le Mans, with Bob Grossman and Fireball Roberts driving it to sixth place.

***United Autosports, Team WRT, Rinaldi Racing, TF Sport, Iron Lynx, AF Corse, IDEC Sport and Herberth are the eight teams taking part in both the main event and the 55-minute support races for LMP3 and GT3 cars, which form part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup schedule.

***Road to Le Mans held its first practice session on Wednesday. Scott Andrews set the fastest lap of 3:45.948 in the No. 22 United Autosports Ligier JS 320 Nissan, while Julien Andlauer was the GT3 pacesetter for Porsche outfit TFT. Click Here for the results.

***Andrews and Andlauer are both pulling double-duty between Road to Le Mans and the 24 Hours. The third driver doing so is Jeroen Bleekemolen.

***GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser revealed that Corvette Racing has been opposed to IMSA’s alignment of the GTD Pro and GTD regulations, with the manufacturer having been in favor of class separation. BMW is also understood to have held a similar position. A number of privateer teams, meanwhile, had been in favor of the move.

“Each manufacturer should speak for themselves,” Klauser told Sportscar365. “We all have been brought together. I wouldn’t say everyone was one way and we were totally on an island. We had some allies in wanting to see class separation.”

***Association SRT41 could take part in other races around the world in the future according to team principal Frederic Sausset, who has revealed that it’s his “dream” to run the Rolex 24 at Daytona one day with its specially equipped Oreca 07 Gibson utilizing disabled drivers from America.

***Porsche’s head of factory motorsport Pascal Zurlinden says the manufacturer will “probably” announce its factory LMDh driver lineup after the first rollout of its Multimatic-based car, which is still on course for an initial rollout in December.

“It’s a bit of a silly season and everyone is speaking with everyone which is also the case for us, we can’t neglect it,” Zurlinden told Sportscar365. “But there is a time when we will be able to announce our drivers. It’s too early.”

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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