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Paul Ricard Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from FIA WEC Prologue at Paul Ricard…

Photo: MPS Agency

***Thirty-four of the 35 entries for this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue pre-season test at Paul Ricard completed laps in the first eight-hour segment of track action, which was open to all competitors.

***Only the No. 5 CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta G60-LT-P1 Mecachrome has yet to take to the track, as it is waiting on parts. However, the car, along with the No. 10 DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR1 Gibson has been added to the list of cars eligible for the overnight testing, bringing the total entries for the entire 30-hour test to 15.

***Larbre Competition has added Thomas Dagoneau and Romain Brandela to its slate of drivers for the test, alongside Fernando Rees, Erwin Creed and Romano Ricci in the team’s No. 50 Ligier JS P217 Gibson.

***In addition to Rene Binder and Tom Dillmann, ByKolles is also testing ex-Audi LMP1 driver Marco Bonanomi and former European F3 racer Kang Ling in its ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO, alongside the previously confirmed Dominik Kraihamer and Oliver Webb.

***Afiq Ikhwan Yzid, who was originally listed in the No. 37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07 Gibson, is not here, leaving the car to his three Malaysian co-drivers for the test. Ben Hanley, meanwhile, has been added to the No. 31 DragonSpeed Oreca, in place of Nathanael Berthon.

***A handful of cars and drivers were prohibited from taking part at the start of the session, due to either not attending a drivers’ briefing or not having completed mandatory license checks. The list included Bonanomi, Brandela, Dagoneau, Pastor Maldonado, Khaled Al Qubaisi and Paul Dalla Lana, as well as the No. 10 DragonSpeed BR1 and No. 5 Manor Ginetta.

***The pair of SMP Racing BR1 AERs are sporting low-downforce Le Mans aero kits at the test, with the DragonSpeed entry in the Russian constructor’s standard, high-downforce trim. A BR Engineering representative told Sportscar365 they’ve yet to decide on what aero package SMP will use for next month’s season-opener at Spa.

***SMP will run with a five-driver lineup at Spa, with its sixth pilot for the 24 Hours of Le Mans not yet announced. Sportscar365 understands that at least one ex-LMP1 factory driver has been in discussions with the Russian squad for the seat.

***Both of the SMP BR1s running at the Prologue are brand-new, having completed rollouts late last month. The team’s test car, meanwhile, completed 5,000 kms in pre-season testing, according to the team source.

***The points allocation for the re-formatted round at Sebring, which has been reduced to 1,000 miles, is not expected to pay out 1.25x points, as originally announced for the 1,500-mile race length. “We will discuss the details and I expect them to be modified because they cannot be exactly the same,” said WEC CEO Gerard Neveu.

***Porsche’s three-year deal to become the new safety car provider for the WEC and Le Mans underlines the German manufacturer’s commitment to GT racing, according to Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser.

***The Porsche 911 Turbos were presented on-track this morning, with Gianmaria Bruni and Kevin Estre at the wheel. “We were asked what we modified on the car [for it to become the safety car]. ‘Why modify? The car has great performance on the track. That’s a big difference to other cars in the world with a regular street car,'” Walliser told Sportscar365.

***Walliser confirmed that an eighth customer Porsche 911 RSR will be delivered by mid-year, designated to EbiMotors, which will borrow one of Proton Racing’s chassis until post-Le Mans. He said there’s “still a waiting list” for the mid-engined car, which has generated significant customer interest.

***A revision in the regulations no longer sees tires matched by sets, with teams now limited to a total number of tires per weekend, instead of sets. Up to 18 tires can be used for qualifying and a six-hour race in LMP1, LMP2 and GTE-Pro, with 26 tires allowed for GTE-Am competitors.

***Michelin has rolled out with new or updated tires for all four categories, including supply for all teams competing in LMP1, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am. As a result, 32 of the 36 full-season entries are Michelin-shod, including LMP2 entries from Racing Team Nederland, Larbre Competition and DragonSpeed.

***In another change for the season, GTE-Am has adopted the same-generation tire that’s currently used in GTE-Pro. Previously, the cars had raced on tires that were used the previous year in the factory class. As was the case, soft, medium and hard Michelin tire options are again available. 

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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