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Silverstone Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday FIA World Endurance Championship notebook from Silverstone…

Photo: Ford Chip Ganassi Racing

***The No. 1 Rebellion R13 Gibson is expected to be repaired in time for Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning, with the tub undamaged following Bruno Senna’s FP1 crash that ruled him out of the weekend. Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer will drive the car as a two-man team.

“Tomorrow should be no problem,” Jani told Sportscar365. “I think the tub was OK. As far as I know, no tub change. That’s why I think it’s OK to run tomorrow… I didn’t even look at the lap times in the second session, Andre and I were doing something else!”

***A change in the Balance of Performance for GTE-Pro has seen marked improvements for the Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which ended up third and fourth on the combined timesheets on Friday, behind the two pace-setting Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs.

***The turbo boost increase for the Aston is believed to have delivered in the range of 20 additional horsepower since the opening round of the season at Spa, with the Ferrari 488 GTE Evo’s slight power increase netting a 3-horsepower gain, according to industry sources.

***Several GTE manufacturers have questioned the BoP change, made outside of the automated system, in order to reset the baseline for the new-for-2018 Aston Martin and Evo-spec Ferrari. The Auto BoP takes into account data from the two previous regular-season races, with only one race, Spa, having been run.

***Matteo Cairoli topped his class in two different series on Friday, going quickest in both WEC Free Practices and in the second free practice session for the European Le Mans Series. The Italian driver is competing for Proton Competition in both series, in GTE-Am and GTE, respectively.

***Jackie Chan DC Racing served a ten-minute stop-and-hold penalty during FP2 after stewards found that Nabil Jeffri caused a collision during FP1. The Malaysian driver also had two penalty points withdrawn as a result.

***Silverstone’s new track surface is expected to make for more difficult conditions in the wet, according to technicians from both Dunlop and Michelin. The new asphalt, which is similar to the surface also laid at Paul Ricard and Barcelona, is smoother and so will create more pools of rain water.

***The new surface is also considerably darker in color, which is likely to lead to higher track temperatures. Dunlop technicians explained to Sportscar365 that track temperatures are expected to be 18-27 degrees Fahrenheit higher than ambient.

***FIA World Endurance Championship CEO Gerard Neveu said the decision to reduce the race lengths for Silverstone and Shanghai from six to four hours in the 2019-20 schedule was fan-minded, in order to allow for earlier ends to the Sunday races. “When we are racing on Sunday, to finish at 5 or 6 pm is problematic, as [fans] have to go back, especially when the race track is far away from the big city,” he said.

***Neveu said four-hour races will be “absolutely the least” they will go to in length, with ten or 12-hour races possible in the future, but not planned for the time being, due to the increased costs for teams.

***The Prologue, which has typically taken place in March prior to the start of the season, could turn into a pre-season collective test in the build up to September 2019 season-opener at Silverstone. “The idea to do a collective testing session, three or four days before the race, why not?” Neveu said. “Or to do it just after Silverstone. It could be an option.”

***Neveu indicated the traditional rookie test could return to Bahrain in December 2019, as the event would need to be scheduled at the end of a calendar year. No rookie test, however, is scheduled for this year due to the nature of the nature of the ‘Super Season’.

***The WEC boss said “external” events such as an organized test and/or rookie test for 2019-20 will only be finalized once the calendar is formalized by the World Motor Sport Council in October.

***Two potential further date clashes with the 2019-20 schedule have arisen, with the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup finale at the Nürburging confirmed on the same weekend as the Silverstone WEC season opener. While not yet confirmed, either the Italian Grand Prix or Belgian Grand Prix is also likely to fall on the same weekend as well.

***The 2019-20 schedule currently also sees clashes with the Motul Petit Le Mans (Fuji), the FIA GT World Cup in Macau (Shanghai) and potentially the Bathurst 12 Hour (Sao Paulo), although an effort is underway to potentially avoid the conflict with the manufacturer-backed GT3 street race.

***BMW Team MTEK drivers Martin Tomczyk and Nicky Catsburg will be taking part in a AMA (Ask Me Anything) on the WEC Reddit page tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. UK time. 

***Rene Binder is hopeful of getting a seat on the recently announced Juncos Racing DPi program. The Austrian, who is making his sports car debut this weekend with ByKolles Racing in LMP1, told Sportscar365 that he is keen to represent the Indianapolis-based team in endurance having made six starts with its Chevrolet IndyCar this year.

***Binder said Silverstone is a one-off for the moment, and that he has no current plans in place to drive for ByKolles later in the season.

Jake Kilshaw and Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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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