***The No. 25 CEFC Manor TRS Racing Oreca 07 Gibson is ready for this afternoon’s WEC Six Hours of Spa, following Vitaly Petrov’s accident in qualifying. The British-based team was at the track until 11 p.m. undergoing repairs, which was primarily bodywork-related, and also changed a driveshaft, which was damaged in the incident.
***Tom Kristensen has been named Grand Marshal for the race. The nine-time Le Mans winner, who retired at the end of the 2014 season, will wave the green flag to start the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
***Toyota Gazoo Racing’s expansion to a three-car operation has been going to plan, although being “quite intensive” according to Pascal Vasselon. “I was expecting more dramas,” he told Sportscar365. “There’s been a few issues but nothing big. Things have gone reasonably well.”
***Vasselon has downplayed the No. 9 Toyota TS050 Hybrid’s chances in the race, as the technical director said the the car, running in the Le Mans-style low-downforce aero configuration, will struggle over double stints. As was the case at Silverstone, LMP1 teams are permitted to use only four sets of tires in the race.
***Toyota doesn’t have any additional pre-Le Mans endurance tests planned, with only a shakedown of its cars planned at Spa at the end of the month, where Jose Maria Lopez will return to the wheel following his vertebrae injury sustained last month at Silverstone that has ruled the Argentinean out of today’s race.
***Porsche, meanwhile, has an endurance test at Motorland Aragon scheduled next weekend. Team principal Andreas Seidl said it’s their goal to see the “checkered flag” in the same way as its recent 30-hour test at Paul Ricard. “The signs are looking good on the reliability side, but then again with these complex cars, you never feel safe,” Seidl admitted.
***The schedule for the release and distribution of the Le Mans-specific Balance of Performance for GTE-Pro has been defined, according to Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser. “I’m much more confident the outcome will be better. But I’ll tell you after the race if everything is right,” he told Sportscar365.
***Both Toyota’s Vasselon and Porsche’s Seidl declined to share their views on possible format changes to the championship next year, including a potential reduction in races and shorter and/or longer races at select events. “We have been asked to not disclose any element of the discussion to the press, so we’re committed to that,” Vasselon said.
***The FIA and ACO held meetings with manufacturers both at the Prologue and Silverstone, with the next meeting, to discuss 2020 and other elements, set in the next two weeks.
***While details on the 2020 LMP1 regulations are set to be released next month at Le Mans, WEC boss Gerard Neveu revealed that hybrid technology will remain part of the top prototype category. “We don’t have a choice,” he said. “It’s impossible to imagine that we will cancel the hybrid technology in LMP1 at this moment. This is in the DNA of endurance and the reason why this championship is so attractive.”
***Spa-Francorchamps underwent several changes during the winter months. The endurance pit lane received a much-needed repaving, together with an improved drainage system which makes exiting the pit boxes easier. A new concrete wall and additional fencing were erected at the exit of Bruxelles. Minor changes were also made at Les Combes and the Paul Frère turn.
***The circuit is also working on installing a wifi network that covers the entire track, giving fans free access to the internet at every turn in the near future.
***Frederic Vasseur and Sebastien Philippe of ART Grand Prix are in the Spa paddock this weekend. The French squad will be in the WEC next year, operating the SMP Racing BR1 LMP1 cars.
***Le Mans legend Jacky Ickx will make a return to modern racing later this year. Last week it was announced the Belgian will compete in the Spa Francorchamps 25 Hours VW Fun Cup race at the beginning of July. He will do so with his five children Larissa, Vanina, Romain, Clément and Joy Ickx.
***Watch today’s race across the FOX Sports family of networks, beginning at 8:30 a.m. ET on FS1 and switching to FS2 from 11:30 a.m. through the checkered flag. Bob Varsha and Calvin Fish will be on the call. Eurosport will cover the final three hours live, with Mark Cole and Tom Gaymor in the booth, beginning at 4:30 p.m. BST. Click Here for the full worldwide TV coverage
Vincent Wouters & Laurent Mercier contributed to this report