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Paul Ricard Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday WEC notebook from Paul Ricard…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***The No. 7 Audi R18 lost upwards of three hours in Friday’s afternoon test session after having repaired a “small mechanical issue.” Audi only has a single car at the test, with its No. 8 car currently being assembled.

***Only Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoit Trelyer are handling testing duties of the No. 7 car in the official Prologue test, with teammates Lucas Di Grassi, Oliver Jarvis and Loic Duval to test on Sunday and Monday with their new car.

***Audi DTM project leader Dieter Gass is overseeing Audi’s efforts this weekend, as Head of Audi Motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, is on vacation.

***Porsche has split its testing program up between its two 919 Hybrids, with the No. 2 entry of Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb running Friday and defending World Champions Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Mark Webber in the No. 1 car on Saturday.

***Team principal Andrea Seidl told Sportscar365 that both of the cars here are brand-new and effectively completing rollouts in full Silverstone spec. The German manufacturer completed an endurance test at Paul Ricard last week, completing more than 3,500 miles in a test chassis.

***Seidl is also currently acting as the interim technical director, following the departure of Alex Hitzinger. “We’re not a rush,” he said of finding a replacement. “2016 is fully lined up. We’re going to take our time on how we structure ourselves for the future.”

***ACO President Pierre Fillon said there are no plans to expand the grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans beyond 60 entries. Four new garages are being built at pit-out for this year’s race, which will mark the largest field since 1955.

***A World Championship title for the GTE-Pro drivers’ champion is still being proposed, according to FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu. Neveu told Sportscar365 they’re waiting for clarity, due to a similar world title, the FIA GT World Cup, which is awarded to the winner of the end-of-year GT3 race in Macau. Any potential change would only take effect for 2017 at the earliest.

***While operating separate programs, Tequila Patron ESM and RGR Sport by Morand have formed a technical alliance under Onroak Automotive. RGR Sport team owner Ricardo Gonzalez told Sportscar365 that engineers from both teams are working together, with the entire operation being overseen by Onroak’s Philippe Dumas.

***ESM has made the switch from Honda to Nissan power this year, meaning all three Ligier JS P2s are identical in specification. RGR’s Ligier is the same chassis that he drove last year, when under the G-Drive Racing banner.

***The 2015 LMP2 title-winning No. 26 G-Drive chassis, meanwhile, is now in the hands of Greaves Motorsport for the European Le Mans Series. ESM has retained its two 2015 chassis, which were converted to Nissan engines.

***ByKolles Racing is without both Simon Trummer and Pierre Kaffer this weekend, leaving only LMP1 debutant Oliver Webb to handle testing duties of the brand-new CLM P1/01 AER. Kaffer is on testing duties with Audi in Japan, while Trummer is due to undergo surgery next week but is expected to be back to full health for Silverstone.

***Gonzalez said his RGR Sport team has three to four OAK crew members, including its engineer and chief mechanic. The remainder of the team is made up of the Morand Racing staff, led by team manager Benoit Morand.

***Technology giant Dell and could accounting software company Xero have come on-board as primary sponsors of Strakka Racing’s Gibson 015S Nissan this season. Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis return to the British squad in what will be the first full season campaign with the open-top prototype.

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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