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Paul Ricard Thursday Notebook

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

Photo: MPS Agency

***Both the No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson and No. 5 CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta G60-LT-P1 Mecachrome arrived in the Paul Ricard paddock by Thursday morning, in preparation for the start of on-track activity tomorrow. It was an all-hands-on-deck affair at Ginetta and Manor in building up the team’s second chassis, which has yet to run.

***The Rebellion, which completed a brief “5-6 lap” shakedown earlier this week by Andre Lotterer, is also set for its first proper mileage this weekend.

***Lotterer, as well as co-driver Neel Jani, however, will miss the majority of the test, with the German driver off to the Nürburgring on Friday afternoon to prepare for the second VLN round of the season, where he will drive a Team75 Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 R. Jani, meanwhile, is headed to Spa for a test in a Porsche 919 Hybrid that’s due to take part in the #919Tribute promotion.

***Tom Dillmann and Rene Binder will test with ByKolles this weekend alongside Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer in the team’s ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO. So far, only Webb has been confirmed as a full-season driver, with other drivers expected to also turn laps in the LMP1 contender.

***Rebellion has undergone a revised management structure, with Calim Bouhadra taking on a larger role within the Swiss-backed team, along with an influx of ORECA personnel. Bart Hayden, however, remains as team manager, along with the majority of its previous engineering staff.

***It’s understood the team’s second ORECA-built chassis will be ready in time for a private test scheduled at Magny-Cours at the end of the month in the run-up to the season-opener on May 3-5.

***Rebellion will be looking to change the fortunes of running the No. 1 numberplate in the WEC, which hasn’t gone on to win the World Drivers’ Championship since 2012, when Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler took the title in the No. 1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro. “Since we didn’t earn [the number last year], hopefully we will be able to turn its luck around,” Jani told Sportscar365.

***Rebellion has opted for Nos. 1 and 3, which combines to 13, team owner Alexandre Pesci’s favorite number, which is no longer available for selection as a LMP1 entrant. The team ran Nos. 13 and 31 in the LMP2 class last year.

***Jani told Sportscar365 that he’s set to make his debut at the wheel of a Porsche GT3 car later this year, with the Porsche-contracted driver set to take part in both the Suzuka 10 Hours and California 8 Hours Intercontinental GT Challenge rounds for the German manufacturer.

***GTE cars are sporting transparent headlights for the first time, with a change in the sporting regulations no longer enforcing yellow-tinted covers for the production-based class.

***Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich is attending his first WEC event in his new role as a special advisor to the ACO. Ullrich retired from the helm as Head of Audi Sport last year prior to taking up his new job, which involves liaising with current and prospective manufacturers on future technical regulations.

***ACO President Pierre Fillon has reaffirmed its commitment to release details of the 2020 LMP1 regulations at Le Mans in June. The main “bullet points” will be presented to the FIA Endurance Committee next month, followed by the FIA World Motor Sport Council, which meets in June.

***Both Fillon and WEC CEO Gerard Neveu downplayed prospects of accepting current-generation DPi cars at Le Mans in the short term, should it reach an agreement with IMSA for a common set of global LMP1/DPi regulations. “We never refused the DPi, but there is no interest from them today,” Neveu said.

***The WEC could end up debuting the new regs a full 18 months prior to IMSA, with Scott Atherton reaffirming its commitment to the current DPi formula through the end of the 2021 season and having ruled out a transition period for new and old cars.

***Neveu revealed that the temporary pit lane for WEC competitors at Sebring will be constructed on driver’s right following Turn 16 on the Ulmann Straight. It will utilize the existing concrete surface, which is currently used for paddock space for support series.

***WEC’s paddock, meanwhile, is set to line up behind its pit lane, and will form a single line with the IMSA paddock, separated by Michelin tire trucks. An American-style pit wall will be used in the WEC pit lane. Neveu said they’ve yet to decide whether the WEC cars will grid in front of its pits or on the traditional front-straight, which will still be home to the start/finish line.

***Sebring International Raceway President and General Manager Wayne Estes and Rick Humphrey, Vice President of IMSA Properties, will be attending next month’s season-opener at Spa for continued meetings and to observe the operation of a WEC weekend in advance of the joint event in 2019.

***Neveu indicated that Sebring will be on the 2019-20 WEC calendar, as the series looks to create a long-term event at the famed Florida airfield circuit.

***The WEC has yet to confirm its U.S. TV package for the ‘Super Season’ although Neveu indicated that an announcement is imminent. Rumors have pointed towards a potential deal with Discovery Network, which owns and operates Eurosport, a longtime series TV partner.

***Porsche is expected to be confirmed as the new safety car supplier of the WEC. The German manufacturer would replace Audi, which fulfilled the final year of its contract in 2017, despite having pulled the plug on its LMP1 program at the end of the 2016 season.

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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