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Paul Ricard Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday notebook from Paul Ricard…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 30 cars are expected to take to the track tomorrow, with the notable absences of the two Nissan GT-R LM NISMO and Rebellion R-One LMP1 entries. Nissan, which will make its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, continues its testing program this week at NCM Motorsports Park in Bowling Green, Ky., while Rebellion also on track to join at Le Mans.

***Patrick Dempsey is not here this week, as the actor/racer, making his full-season FIA WEC debut, has filming commitments for the TV show “Grey’s Anatomy.” Dempsey also missed last weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring but is still expected to take part in next month’s season-opener at Silverstone.

***Tequila Patron ESM is also running with a reduced driver lineup, with only Scott Sharp and Ed Brown set to test the pair of HPD ARX-03bs, which have arrived from last weekend’s race at Sebring. The cars, which had to be converted to FIA WEC spec, will be replaced by two brand-new Ligier JS P2 Hondas beginning at Spa in May.

***Sharp and Brown will get their first laps in a Ligier chassis this weekend, as they’ll take turns in the No. 35 OAK Racing Ligier-Nissan to acclimate themselves to the Onroak Automotive-built car prior to ESM’s Spa debut with two Honda-powered Ligiers. The pairing are also fresh off a brief test at Silverstone on Wednesday at the wheel of a Radical, to help familiarize themselves with the British circuit.

***JMW Motorsport has stayed over from the European Le Mans Series test this week to also take part in the Prologue. Per the updated entry list, the British team will test GB Autosport team principal Michael Avenatti and Kuba Giermaziak, who drove for GB at Daytona.

***Toshio Sato has been named the new TMG President, effective April 1. Sato, who had been involved with Toyota’s Formula One program as well as experience with Toyota and Lexus hybrid technology, replaces Yoshiaki Kinoshita, who returns to Japan on a new assignment. Kinoshita’s last race will be the Six Hours of Silverstone.

***FIA WEC CEO Gerard Neveu told Sportscar365 that 8,000 tickets have been pre-reserved for Saturday’s free admission to the circuit. He expects the total attendance number to break 10,000 fans, which will include a pit walk and autograph session as well as a performance by No. 1 selling French DJ ‘The Avener,’ who was recently announced as the WEC Music Ambassador.

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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