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Portimao Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from the FIA WEC paddock at Portimao…

Photo: MPS Agency

***Glickenhaus Racing gave itself “something to build on” during its first day of official WEC track action, according to Richard Westbrook who set the SCG 007 LMH’s fastest lap in Free Practice 1. “I’m not predicting that we’re going to go P1 in Practice 2, but we’ve given ourselves a nice little platform,” he told Sportscar365. “We’re playing a conservative game right now, but we want to have clean runs. We can start extracting performance out of it later.”

***The new Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH ran a second off the Hypercar class pace in FP1. The team has arrived at Portimao with a new sponsor in technology startup OSOM, which has its logo visible on both sides below the car’s central fin.

***There is also new branding in the WEC paddock courtesy of Total’s recent renaming to TotalEnergies, as part of a sustainability drive from the French company which serves as the championship’s official fuel partner.

***Senior figures from Toyota Gazoo Racing welcomed Glickenhaus founder and owner Jim Glickenhaus at the Japanese manufacturer’s hospitality unit on Friday. Toyota WEC team director Rob Leupen said: “These, for us, are the partners that we have to establish the series with. The more the merrier.”

***Alpine Endurance Team shook down a second ORECA-built LMP1 chassis “around three weeks ago” according to team principal Philippe Sinault. Reserve driver Gabriel Aubry was at the wheel for the outing on one of the shorter circuit configurations at Paul Ricard. The second chassis was ordered alongside the first chassis, which raced at Spa, back in November but was only recently delivered.

***Alpine is set to “rotate” between its two grandfathered LMP1 chassis over the remaining races this season. Depending on how the 8 Hours of Portimao goes, the French team anticipates using its second chassis at Monza and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but is not currently plotting a two-car entry anywhere.

***Sinault also confirmed that the Signatech-operated Richard Mille Racing Oreca 07 Gibson will test at Portimao on Tuesday, on the first day of Toyota’s endurance test with its full Hypercar squad plus 2017 Super GT champion Ryo Hirakawa.

***TF Sport’s No. 33 Aston Martin Vantage GTE is a new chassis, following the original’s heavy accident at Raidillon during the Prologue test in late April. Tom Ferrier’s team scrambled its European Le Mans Series chassis after that crash for Ben Keating but has now diverged its two GTE programs with separate cars.

***Racing Team Nederland is running the national flags of each country it visits this season on the inside of its LMP2 Oreca’s front wheel arches. The TDS Racing-operated team had Belgian flags at Spa and has switched to Portuguese flags for this weekend. 

***Dempsey-Proton Racing was fined €5,000 – with four-fifths of the total amount suspended until the end of the season – for declaring the wrong car information for its No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR-19 entered into this event. The German team, which was reminded of its right to appeal, did not correct the erroneous technical information of its car before the online submission deadline.

***Ferrari’s Daniel Serra reckons the second part of a double stint will be crucial for GTE-Pro teams at Portimao. “When you are in your second stint, we have to double stint our tires and the GTE-Ams don’t have to double stint, so they have the same pace,” said the Brazilian.

***The stratification between Hypercar and the next generation of LMP2 cars due to arrive in 2023 is currently a “work in progress”, according to the ACO’s Director of Competition, Thierry Bouvet. “We have to finalize that because on a new car we can play with lots of parameters like weight and power. It’s being worked on.”

***Bouvet indicated during a meeting with reporters that the ACO does not foresee an issue with needing to create a sufficient performance gap between LMDh, which will race in the Hypercar class, and next-gen LMP2 which is to form the base for LMDh top-level cars: “The spine is a mechanical element,” he said. “In the spine there is no engine power, aerodynamic figures. The spine doesn’t block us to play with all the parameters.’

***United Autosports co-owner Richard Dean told Sportscar365 that the LMP2 outfit has been talking to “six or eight” drivers for its remaining two seats at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The team needs a pair of Silver-rated drivers to complete its three-car entry.

***Asked if he had raced at Portimao as a driver, Dean explained that he competed in the circuit’s first sports car race back in November 2008, sharing a Ginetta G50 GT4 with Lawrence Tomlinson. According to the motorsport resource website Racing Sports Cars, Porsche GTE-Pro driver Richard Lietz was also in the field for the Spanish GT round. The race was held one month after Algarve International Circuit opened.

***Several competitors who drove at Portimao in the past are getting to grips with a resurfaced track that was laid down last summer. “We did one test here when we developed the RSR-19 but it was with the old tarmac,” explained Porsche’s head of WEC operations Alex Stehlig. “The old track was very bumpy. The layout we know, but the tarmac we don’t know.”

***Regional motorsport is also taking place this weekend, in the form of two 25-minute Porsche 911 GT3 Cup single-make support races involving a host of Portuguese drivers.

***MotorTrend is broadcasting the first and last hours of Sunday’s race live to North American audiences. View a full breakdown of the broadcast schedule here.

***Five-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Oliver Gavin has joined Eurosport’s WEC commentary team for Portimao. Gavin will work alongside Mark Cole and Jake Sanson. Eurosport is showing five and a half hours of the race, starting at 1 p.m. BST.

***Saturday’s track action begins with Free Practice 2 at 9:35 a.m. local time (4:35 a.m. EST), followed by Free Practice 3 at 2 p.m. (9 a.m. EST) and qualifying at 6 p.m. (1 p.m. EST).

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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