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Silverstone Saturday Notebook

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

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

***Toyota Gazoo Racing technical director Pascal Vasselon said it’s “still too early” to come to a conclusion on the revised Equivalence of Technology, indicating that its qualifying run could have exploited a larger gap than what might be seen in tomorrow’s Six Hours of Silverstone.

***Vasselon said the pre-event EoT changes came in an open dialogue with the governing bodies. “We discussed and came to something, which in our and the ACO and the FIA’s opinion, makes sense,” he said. “It respects some principles and brings the field together.

“What was much more difficult before was the lack of data. Our concern was that the data was not good enough at the time and there was a risk of error. We had to protect ourselves. Now we have much more accurate data so it’s an easier job of what we want to achieve.”

***Rebellion Racing team manager Bart Hayden told Sportscar365 on Thursday that he was expecting the gap to the Toyotas to be within 0.5-1 second, which at least so far, has yet to be achieved.

***The quickest non-hybrid, the No. 11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER, qualified more than two seconds slower than the pole-sitting Toyota TS050 Hybrid, although Jenson Button’s 1:38.305 lap saw a marginal improvement in single-lap comparisons.

***Mike Conway’s 1:36.769 for Toyota was 0.030 seconds under Kamui Kobayashi’s time from 2017, while Stefan Muecke and Matt Campbell both improved on last season’s GTE-Pro and Am efforts, respectively.

***LMP2 was the only class not to see an improvement in quickest qualifying time: Jazeman Jaafar’s session best was 1.1 seconds slower than Alex Lynn’s pole figure 18 months ago.

***Ford Chip Ganassi Racing completed a pole sweep across two series on Saturday, with Olivier Pla and Stefan Muecke taking their Ford GT to top GTE-Pro qualifying honors and Richard Westbrook grabbing the GT Le Mans class pole for Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway in a mixed-condition qualifying session for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

***Ben Barker, Matteo Cairoli, Matt Griffin and Ben Hanley all took part in both the European Le Mans Series and WEC qualifying sessions, which took place back to back and from different paddocks.

***Track limits are proving to be a problem this weekend, with over half the field losing lap times in qualifying, largely for abuse at Copse but also at Club Corner and Becketts.

***Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser has called for the ACO and IMSA to better coordinate its calendars in the wake of a conflict with the Motul Petit Le Mans that’s set for the second consecutive year in 2019. “Fuji and Petit Le Mans is something that should not happen from my perspective,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “I think IMSA and ACO should be partnering on the calendar side.”

***Walliser said the projected date clash between the WEC round at Interlagos and the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February 2020 is not as critical but admitted the logistics involved for drivers and potential teams coming from the Rolex 24 at Daytona the week prior will make it a challenge as well.

***All 12 mid-engined Porsche 911 RSRs that are active in competition are racing this weekend, across the WEC, ELMS and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, including the race debuts for the Ebimotors and second Gulf Racing entry in Saturday’s ELMS race.

***Porsche’s 24 Hours of Le Mans class-winning No. 92 entry has since been retired, with a new chassis now put into service for Kevin Estre and Michael Christensen, who currently lead the GTE drivers’ world championship.

***Matevos Isaakyan is expected to return to the No. 17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1 AER for Fuji and Shanghai. A team spokesperson told Sportscar365 they elected to focus the Russian driver fully on its European Le Mans Series program this weekend, instead of jumping between the team’s LMP1 and LMP2 cars.

***Toyota has not ruled out completing a private test at Sebring in the run-up to the 1,000-mile race in March, according to Vasselon. The Japanese manufacturer has no prior experience of the Florida airfield circuit with its LMP1 hybrid, as it did not take part in the WEC’s one-and-only previous trip to Sebring in 2012.

***Vasselon said simulation data from Sebring indicates similar “load cases” to Portimao, which may negate a need to conduct a costly private test. “All the validation test done in Portimao is relevant and valid. It’s not a must to go to Sebring [to test],” he said.

***A WEC-organized collective test is understood to be scheduled for the weekend prior to the event, which Toyota and the rest of the teams are all expected to take part in.

***Patrick Lindsey, whose Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR claimed GTE-Am pole on Saturday, confirmed that he and Joerg Bergmeister will take part in next month’s WeatherTech Championship round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Park Place Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R, as an additional race added to its GT Daytona schedule.

***The team’s lineup for Motul Petit Le Mans has yet to be announced. However, it won’t feature Lindsey or Bergmeister, who will be on WEC duty at Fuji Speedway that weekend. 

***Velocity will carry live coverage of the first and final hour of the Six Hours of Silverstone, with coverage beginning at 6:30 a.m. EDT and running through 7 a.m. Coverage resumes at 12 p.m. for the run to the checkered flag. Full live coverage for North American viewers will be available on Motor Trend on Demand.

***Eurosport will cover the final hour of the race with highlights, anchored by Mark Cole and Tom Gaymor, starting at 5 p.m. BST. A full highlights package will be shown on Eurosport 1 on Tuesday at 9:30 p.m. BST. Click Here for full international TV listings.

Daniel Lloyd and Jake Kilshaw 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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