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Silverstone Thursday Notebook

Sportscar365’s first notebook at Silverstone, ahead of the 2019-20 WEC season opener…

Photo: James Moy/Toyota

***The 24 Hours of Le Mans will clash with the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix next year. An announcement detailing the provisional 22-round calendar sees F1 conflict with WEC for the first time since 2016, when the Azerbaijan GP blocked standing F1 drivers from competing in the French enduro.

***Former Nissan NISMO driver Ricardo Sanchez and Bronze-rated Italian Gianluca Giraudi are sharing the No. 88 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR with Thomas Preining, who until today was the only driver named in the crew.

***Sanchez, who won the Playstation GT Academy title in 2014, told Sportscar365 that he was originally supposed to be working as a minibus shuttle driver for media members at Silverstone, before getting the call from team owner Christian Ried to take part in both the WEC and European Le Mans Series races.

***It’s understood that Sanchez is currently only at Proton for this weekend, with no full-season lineup confirmed in the No. 88 Porsche at the moment. “It will be hard because I will be on Michelin tires [in WEC] and Dunlop tires [in ELMS] but I have never driven a GTE car or a Porsche before,” he said.

***That Proton crew and the drivers in the No. 42 Cool Racing Oreca 07 Gibson are both undertaking double-duty this weekend. The total of 15 drivers taking part in both four-hour races also includes Ben Hanley, Filipe Albuquerque, Nico Lapierre, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Matteo Cairoli.

***Jota has changed its colors for the 2019-20 season, with the British LMP2 squad painting its No. 38 Oreca 07 Gibson in a blue and yellow design to reflect its allegiance with new tire manufacturer Goodyear.

***Goodyear has nominated the A-spec (softest) and C-spec (medium) tire compounds for its WEC debut. The company is set to use this combination for the opening three rounds, before considering the introduction of its B-spec blend for the 8 Hours of Bahrain in December.

***The American tire company has undertaken 12,000 kms of testing at seven circuits ahead of its return to international sports car racing after a 13-year absence. Jota, Jackie Chan DC Racing and High Class Racing are operating on Goodyear tires.

***A total of nine drivers are making their WEC debuts this weekend, while a further nine are racing in an event outside the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time. Guy Smith, Kenta Yamashita, Anders Fjordbach, Antonin Borga, Alexandre Coigny, Nicklas Nielsen, Andrew Watson, Charlie Hollings and Bonamy Grimes are all first-time WEC competitors.

***The nine drivers to have contested Le Mans, but not any other WEC round, are Ben Keating, Felipe Fraga, Charlie Robertson, Mike Simpson, Kei Cozzolino, Ricardo Sanchez, Paul di Resta, Gianluca Giraudi, Giorgio Sernagiotto and Roberto Lacorte.

***TF Sport tested its new second-generation Aston Martin Vantage GTE at Algarve International Circuit last week. The two-day session marked the first proper outing for the car after the team was limited to 16 laps at the Prologue because of its split duties with the Total 24 Hours of Spa that week.

***The winner of this year’s BRDC award will receive a test in an Aston Martin Vantage GTE, along with £200,000 and a try-out in a Red Bull Racing F1 car, as part of a new prize package. Aston Martin came on board to sponsor the award for promising young British drivers this year, taking over from McLaren.

***It’s understood that Team LNT drivers Ben Hanley and Egor Orudzhev are contracted for this weekend’s event only, while Guy Smith and Chris Dyson’s entry is a full-season effort. Dyson has been replaced by ex-Audi LMP1 driver Oliver Jarvis for Silverstone, but the American driver could also be absent from round two at Fuji, which clashes with the penultimate round of the Trans-Am series.

***Orudzhev, who was sent by SMP to the Ginetta program after Team LNT asked the Russian squad for possible drivers, believes the Ginetta G60-LT-P1 and the BR Engineering BR1 AER are “quite opposite” to each other. “The engine is the same, but the way it feels is different to SMP,” he told Sportscar365. “Some things that were poorer on the SMP – like traction – are really strong here [in the Ginetta] and some things were stronger over there.”

***The two Rebellion R13 Gibsons are competing in contrasting black and white carbon liveries this weekend. These are provisional designs, with the team’s official season livery expected to be revealed ahead of the 6 Hours of Fuji.

***Team Project 1 has reverted to its usual yellow and grey scheme for its No. 57 Porsche 911 RSR, to be driven by Ben Keating, Felipe Fraga and Jeroen Bleekemolen. The German squad ran its Le Mans art car design at the Prologue.

***Red River Sport’s Ferrari 488 GTE Evo is the same model that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE-Pro class in June in the hands of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra.

***The first track action of the new WEC season – a 90-minute Free Practice session – is set to take place at 11:40 local time (6:40 a.m. ET).

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

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