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Sebring WEC Thursday Notebook

Paddock news and notes from WEC qualifying day at Sebring…

Photo: Joao Filipe/WEC

***Paul Dalla Lana described his accident in Free Practice 3 as a “totally avoidable situation”. The Canadian, speaking on the FIA World Endurance Championship world feed, said he was forced off-line by the No. 67 Ford GT speeding up into the corner after it emerged from the Ullman Straight pit lane.

***Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon confirmed the team has further reinforced the skid block structures of its Toyota TS050 Hybrids for this event, in the wake of the Silverstone exclusion for the pair of LMP1 hybrids due to excessive skid block wear. “We are making sure we can ride some bumps and curbs without damaging too much of the floor,” he said.

***Vasselon explained that the cars are getting closer to their full performance window. “We’ve paid a lot of respect to the bumps so it seems to be working so far,” he said.

***The Japanese manufacturer’s 2019-20 WEC challenger will feature “a few upgrades” according to Vasselon, although it’s expected to remain on the same TS050 Hybrid base chassis it has used in recent seasons.

***Track limits will no longer be enforced this weekend. Race director Eduardo Freitas initially policed Turn 15 in last weekend’s test sessions, although it was communicated to teams during the drivers’ meeting that no track restrictions will be in place.

***Pascal Zurlinden, Porsche’s director of GT factory motorsports, said the team’s decision to remain with two-driver lineups on its pair of GTE-Pro entries was “quite straightforward” due to their leading position in the GT World Championship. “We trust our drivers and eight hours is not much longer than a six-hour race,” he said.

***Zurlinden said Porsche has made every effort to give their four WEC drivers maximum rest throughout the weekend, including having moved them from the trackside Seven Sebring Raceway Hotel (formerly Chateau Elan) to a quieter location in town.

***The ACO has paid tribute to Charlie Whiting, the long-time Formula 1 race director and safety delegate who passed away in Melbourne on Thursday morning at the age of 66.

***ACO president Pierre Fillon said: “The death of Charlie Whiting fills us with sorrow. He accomplished so much for Formula 1 and his passion for motorsport knew no bounds, his number one priority being safety – for drivers, marshals and spectators – in all disciplines. He made a crucial contribution to our sport. On behalf of the ACO, I present my most heartfelt condolences to Charlie’s family and friends.”

***FIA president Jean Todt, meanwhile, described Whiting as a “central and inimitable figure” in the sport. All FIA officials at Sebring are sporting a black band through the FIA logo on their shirts, in Whiting’s honor.

***A total of 11 drivers are pulling double duty between the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races this weekend: Harry Tincknell, Olivier Pla, Jonathan Bomarito, Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller, Brendon Hartley, Renger van der Zande, Matthieu Vaxiviere, Patrick Lindsey and Gabriel Aubry.

***In addition, Gunnar Jeannette is completing the unique double between the 1000-mile WEC race and the two-hour IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge round, which will both be held on Friday.

***Thomas Preining will be with Gulf Racing for the remainder of the 2018-19 season after replacing Alex Davison in the team’s Porsche 911 RSR since Fuji, team manager Owen Daley confirmed to Sportscar365.

***Jonathan Bomarito is open to taking up the vacant driver slot in the No. 67 Ford GT for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “Of course I’m eyeing it, I’d love to do it,” he told Sportscar365 ahead of his debut with the Multimatic-run team. “But one race at a time. Hopefully this race goes well and they invite me back to do more.”

***Team Project 1 has entered a multi-year partnership with cyber protection and cloud storage company Acronis, which will provide “backup, storage, and disaster recovery solutions to improve data resiliency and create a more efficient and secured workflow” to the German team. Acronis is also involved with the Williams F1 team and the NIO Formula E squad.

John Dagys contributed to this report.

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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