***All three LMP1 manufacturers took the wraps off its high-downforce aero packages on Thursday, as cars went through scrutineering at the Nürburgring. The revised Porsche 919 Hybrid, featuring a new nose design, was on public display during pit stop practice, with both the Audi R18 and Toyota TS050 Hybrid slightly more guarded.
***Audi confirmed late Thursday that it is running its third different aero package this weekend, as is the case with both Toyota and Porsche. LMP1 teams are permitted up to three different aero kits per season. Click Here for a full gallery from today’s activities.
***Matt Howson has been a late addition to the Manor squad, replacing James Jakes in the No. 44 Oreca 05 Nissan this weekend. The former Le Mans LMP2 class winner joins full-season driver Tor Graves and Antonio Pizzonia, who replaces Will Stevens, a move the British squad has yet to comment on.
***Howson and Pizzonia both make their return to the Graeme Lowdon and John Booth-led team, some 15 years after driving for Manor in junior open-wheel formulas. “It is really nice to be back with the team and I am really thankful to Graeme and John,” Howson said. “I only got notified to be here a few days ago but I am ready to go.”
***Manor’s driver shakeup is just one of many changes since Le Mans. Alex Brundle will complete the season in the No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca Nissan, taking the seat vacated by Nathanael Berthon prior to Le Mans, and filled in the 24-hour by the now ride-less Stevens.
***Brundle makes his first LMP2 race start since starring in the rain-soaked Shanghai round last year, in the Pegasus Racing Morgan Nissan. The Englishman, fresh off LMP3 class victory last weekend at the Red Bull Ring, told Sportscar365 that he only has five laps of experience in G-Drive’s Oreca Nissan, from the Le Mans Test Day.
***The No. 27 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan is again without David Markosov, this time due to personal issues. Nic Minassian and Maurizio Mediani will drive the car as a duo. Mikhail Aleshin joined Minassian and Mediani for Le Mans as a one-off.
***Lewis Williamson, meanwhile, makes his WEC debut in the No. 42 Strakka Racing Gibson 015S Nissan, replacing Danny Watts, which at the moment is a one-off but can develop into more outings later this year.
***The biggest story in LMP1 is the absence of Benoit Treluyer, who misses his first-ever WEC race due to a back injury from a mountain bike accident. The No. 7 Audi R18 will run with the two-driver lineup of Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler.
***Mathias Beche, meanwhile, returns to the No. 12 Rebellion R-One for the remainder of the season after Nelson Piquet Jr. took part in the opening three rounds, while Paolo Ruberti is back in action in the No. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R after his back injury prior to Le Mans.
***There’s also been a shakeup at Aston Martin Racing, which has dropped both Jonny Adam and Fernando Rees from its race lineups in GTE-Pro, with Darren Turner moving over to the No. 97 car alongside Richie Stanaway. Adam and Rees remain with the team and will be delegated to driving duties in other series.
***Ford Chip Ganassi Racing also has an adjusted lineup, with Harry Tincknell having been retained for the remainder of the season in the No. 67 car but American Billy Johnson not continuing in the No. 66 car, which currently leads the GTE-Pro championship. Johnson is set to focus on his duties in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge instead, where he currently leads the GS class championship.
***Stefan Muecke, Dirk Mueller and the Ford team took part in pit stop demonstrations at Ford’s plant in Cologne on Tuesday. More than 1,000 Ford employees were in attendance to see the Le Mans class-winning team in action.
***This weekend marks the second and final time this year where the Ford team is split between two events, with the IMSA crew taking part in Saturday’s Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. Both teams were in action simultaneously at Silverstone and Long Beach in April.