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Paul Ricard Saturday Notebook

John Dagys’ Saturday WEC notebook from The Prologue…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

***Thousands of fans turned up to Paul Ricard on Saturday to watch the second and final day of The Prologue. It included a free pit walk and autograph session during the lunch break.

***Audi swapped cars on Saturday because of a suspension-related issue that had caused a small puncture in the tub, according to Audi Sport technical director Joerg Zander. “The rectification can’t be dealt with here properly. We don’t want to risk anything from that so we rather wait until we get back to the factory,” he told Sportscar365.

***The No. 5 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, which stopped on track in Saturday morning’s session, was only for precautionary measures, per a team spokesperson. The car returned to action without any issues in the afternoon, setting the third quickest time of the weekend.

***Ford Chip Ganassi Racing had a positive European debut with its Ford GTs, which ended the test 3rd and 4th quickest in the GTE-Pro class. The team will remain at Paul Ricard for a 30-hour endurance test on Monday with a single car, utilizing all six drivers.

***Ford WEC team principal George Howard-Chappell has spoken out about the car’s Balance of Performance in WEC trim, which sees a 10kg weight increase and notable reduction in boost compared to IMSA spec. “Obviously it doesn’t stack up that a racing car running in Europe would need a different BoP than a racing car running in America on fundamentally the same tires,” he told Sportscar365.

***Toyota’s Pascal Vasselon said they’ve managed to recover “a large amount” of the 7.5 percent reduction in fuel flow, as handed down to all LMP1 cars for 2016. It’s understood Audi’s new R18 is also on similar power levels despite the cutback.

***ACO Sporting Director Vincent Beaumesnil told Sportscar365 that the 2017 LMP2 regulations have essentially been finalized, with the final set of rules to be presented at the next World Motor Sport Council meeting in June.

***ByKolles Racing will start the season with an evolution of its 2015-spec CLM P1/01 AER, featuring a new bodykit. Director of operations Boris Bermnes told Sportscar365 they will likely debut a new chassis — which has been under construction — sometime later in the year.

***LMP2 teams spent the test coming to grips with a new Dunlop rear tire. The latest development is aimed to provide further longevity over multiple stints. All 11 LMP2 cars at Silverstone will be Dunlop-shod, although Michelin will have four LMP2 teams represented in the European Le Mans Series.

***The No. 30 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Nissan is a brand-new chassis (No. 16) that turned its first laps at the test this weekend, while ESM’s No. 31 car is the same car from last year, converted from Honda to Nissan power.

***Onroak Automotive President Philippe Dumas told Sportcar365 that a total of 17 Ligier JS P2s have been built, with two spare chassis at its Le Mans workshop. Remarkably, the French constructor has 40 Ligier JS P3s sold, with four more sales having been made earlier this week during the ELMS test.

***Ed Brown, Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Chris Cumming will get extra track time at Silverstone during race week, with the ESM drivers having a test scheduled in an Onroak-supplied Ligier JS P3. Both Van Overbeek and Cumming will be making their track debuts.

***With Kamui Kobayshi moving into a race seat, Toyota will not have an official test and reserve driver this year. The Japanese manufacturer will instead support 22-year-old Ryo Hirakawa, who will have test sessions in the LMP1 car throughout the year. Hirakawa will also take part in the European Le Mans Series season in Thirit by TDS Racing’s Oreca 05 Nissan.

***Bruno Senna, who makes his prototype return with the new RGR Sport by Morand outfit, is still a McLaren GT-contracted driver, with the Brazilian telling Sportscar365 that he could take part in next month’s Blancpain Sprint Cup season-opener at Misano in the second Garage 59 McLaren 650S GT3. An outing, however, at the 24 Hours of Spa, is more likely.

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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