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Silverstone Thursday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Thursday FIA World Endurance Championship notebook from Silverstone…

Photo: John Dagys

***A total of 34 cars are set for this weekend’s Six Hours of Silverstone, in the resumption of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship season following the traditional 24 Hours of Le Mans break. It includes an eight-car LMP1 field, following the withdrawals of both CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta G60-LT P1s due to a change of engine manufacturer. 

***Ginetta technical director Ewan Baldry told Sportscar365 that while the manufacturer met all FIA-imposed deadlines for re-homologation, TRSM did not inform the selection committee of the change in time. 

***Ginetta published a video of the car’s shakedown with its new AER powerplant on Wednesday at an airfield in the UK. No timeframe has been communicated on when the cars could return to WEC competition.

***Despite having recently tested Enzo Guibbert, ByKolles Racing has opted for a two-driver lineup this weekend in Oliver Webb and Rene Binder, who makes his series debut this weekend. The Juncos Racing IndyCar driver tested with the German squad at the Prologue earlier this year.

***Rebellion Racing is debuting a high downforce aero package on the Rebellion R13 Gibson, while SMP Racing is also utilizing different bodywork configuration than in the first two races. However, SMP’s aero package has already been run on DragonSpeed’s BR Engineering BR1 Gibson at Spa earlier this year.

***The aero kit freeze for LMP1 non-hybrids through the 24 Hours of Le Mans has since expired, which has allowed teams to homologate an unlimited number of aero evolutions for the remainder of the season. Toyota, as a LMP1 hybrid entrant, meanwhile, is still limited to two primary aero kits, with minor deviations permitted.

***Rebellion completed a two-day test at Paul Ricard earlier this month in the revised Equivalence of Technology configuration, which has seen an increased fuel flow (108 to 115 kg/h) for all non-hybrids, plus a 15 kg weight break for normally aspirated-engined non-hybrids.

***Team manager Bart Hayden said it was a “challenge” getting the ORECA-built prototype down to the revised minimum weight of 818 kg. “We’ve got the weight to take off, in terms of ballast,” he told Sportscar365. “When you do that, you change the weight distribution slightly because you’re using the ballast to help the performance.”

***DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian, who fields the only other car that’s applicable to the weight break, indicated they were able to carve out “a few kilos” on its BR1 Gibson, but will not be able to capitalize fully on the new minimum weight.

***While not having undertaken any track-based testing with its BR1, the Dallara-built LMP1 car completed a session on Multimatic’s shaker-rig in England since Le Mans, with significant gains expected this weekend. “It feels like it’s our first race weekend,” Julian said, in reference to the level of preparation and procedures now in place with the team.

***A change in the EoT rules, which eliminates a minimum stint length requirement, will thus allow the DragonSpeed’s Bronze-rated driver, Henrik Hedman, to complete the minimum 40-minute drive time on a single stint, which wouldn’t have been achievable in the season-opener at Spa.

***Aston Martin factory driver Darren Turner spent Thursday at Donington Park testing the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3. In a Twitter post, Turner said: “The new @AMR_Official Vantage GT3 is fast!! Good to get back behind the wheel again and try next generation.”

***This weekend marks the first time Turner has missed a WEC round, following Aston Martin’s decision to scale back its GTE-Pro lineup for the 2018 races. Both Turner and Jonny Adam, who is in the GTE-Am class No. 90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE at Silverstone, will return to their previous positions in the GTE-Pro lineup at Sebring next year.

***Andre Lotterer and Christian Ried will be the two remaining drivers that have driven in all 53 WEC races to date, should they take part in Sunday’s round.

***Anthony Davidson considered switching to GT racing before signing with DragonSpeed. The Brit, who is making his LMP2 debut this weekend in an Oreca 07 Gibson, told Sportscar365 that he looked at racing in the Blancpain GT Series but ultimately decided to remain in prototypes. The last time Davidson drove a GT car was in an FIA-sanctioned Balance of Performance test eight years ago.

***Davidson also said he and Pastor Maldonado face the unusual situation of being two Platinum-rated drivers with a more experienced silver-rated team-mate in Roberto Gonzalez. “With Roberto, it’s weird to think that he’s the most experienced one in that car,” he said. “In many ways, I’ll be learning from him. The good thing is that I know Silverstone like the back of my hand, so that’s not going to be something that takes up more capacity while I’m learning the car.”

***The 2019-20 WEC schedule is expected to be released this weekend. Sportscar365 understands it will again feature an eight-round season, likely to begin in Silverstone in September and conclude at Le Mans, with the return of Bahrain in a new December date and the already-confirmed round at Interlagos set for February 2020, prior to Sebring.

***Porsche and BMW have factory drivers racing in four separate locations this weekend. Both manufacturers have works representation in the WEC at Silverstone, IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at VIR, GT Masters at Zandvoort and VLN at the Nürburgring.

***The busy weekend has resulted in several driver substitutions, including Marc Lieb, who is filling in for full-season Porsche GTE-Pro pilot Kevin Estre in Team75 Bernhard’s Porsche 911 GT3 R at Zandvoort.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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