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LMP1 Teams Return to Action in Test at Paul Ricard

Toyota, Rebellion, ByKolles and more take part in test at Paul Ricard ahead of WEC’s return…

Photo: Laurent Mahiet

Toyota, Rebellion and ByKolles were among the teams that took part in a test at Paul Ricard this week to prepare for the FIA World Endurance Championship’s resumption.

The three LMP1 squads each took a single car to southern France to check on systems and gain mileage for their drivers ahead of the Total 6 Hours of Spa on August 15.

Toyota Gazoo Racing organized the Paul Ricard session, which it was required to offer to other WEC teams in accordance with the championship’s rules on open private testing.

The test consisted of a single day of running on Tuesday, followed by a 34-hour continuous endurance run from 9 a.m. on Wednesday to 7 p.m. on Thursday (CEST).

Toyota was the only team to take part in the full endurance test, covering over 5000 km, while others carried out single or two-day programs and a handful stayed on for some Wednesday night running.

All six Toyota WEC drivers returned to the wheel of the manufacturer’s TS050 Hybrid, while its newly signed test and reserve driver Nyck de Vries also hit the track.

The drivers each had a fitness evaluation before getting behind the wheel, as part of their first in-person meeting with the team since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Toyota equipped its car with the low-downforce bodywork that the team will utilize at Spa next month and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in September.

A similar approach was taken by Rebellion Racing, which fielded its No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson with the low-downforce aero that will feature on both its cars in the next two races.

Louis Deletraz, Nathanael Berthon and LMP1 returnee Romain Dumas – the three drivers in Rebellion’s extra car for Spa and Le Mans – all took part in the test, as did Bruno Senna and Norman Nato from the full-season No. 1 machine.

Rebellion arrived at the track on Monday and got in two full days of testing plus a Wednesday evening run until midnight, during which the R13 posted its fastest lap.

“It’s good to be back on the track,” said Senna. “It’s been a long time for us to see everybody here. Everybody is healthy so we’ve been really looking forward to hitting the track again.”

ByKolles Racing had already carried out some testing at the Nürburgring last month with its ENSO CLM P1/01 Gibson which is set to compete in the next two WEC rounds.

Tom Dillmann and recent signing Bruno Spengler shared driving duties at Paul Ricard with another professional driver over the course of two days.

The Austrian-flagged team’s ENSO CLM sported an updated front end to the one seen during its last WEC appearance in the 2019 Le Mans season finale over a year ago.

A ByKolles source said the team completed 120 laps on Tuesday and 130 laps on Wednesday, in what was a more detailed test than its Nürburgring outing.

Several other WEC teams also tested, including LMP2 outfits Signatech Alpine and Cool Racing, as well as GTE-Am squads AF Corse and Dempsey-Proton Racing.

The AF Corse car was the points-leading Ferrari 488 GTE Evo that is raced by Nicklas Nielsen, Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard, while Proton fielded two Porsche 911 RSRs.

European Le Mans Series squad Duqueine Engineering was also present with its Oreca 07 Gibson that will be competing in the 4 Hours of Le Castellet at Paul Ricard this month. WEC and ELMS entrant United Autosports is due to test at the circuit tomorrow. 

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

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