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Spa Thursday Notebook

John Dagys’ Thursday WEC notebook from Spa…

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

Photo: Drew Gibson/Ford

***Thursday’s Free Practice 2 had its share of incidents, with a heavy crash by Kevin Estre in the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR at Les Combes bringing out the first red and David Heinemeier Hansson’s spin into the gravel trap resulting in a second stoppage. While DHH’s No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion Oreca 07 Gibson is undamaged, the Manthey-run Porsche crew has a long night ahead, with extensive damage having been sustained to the Porsche.

***A number of FIA World Endurance Championship teams and drivers, including Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Jackie Chan DC Racing and Harry Tincknell, are sporting #BillyWhizz stickers this weekend (pictured above), in support of British F4 driver Billy Monger, who lost both lower legs in an accident at Donington Park last month. Monger has vowed to return to racing, with more than $1 million already raised to help support the 17-year-old Brit’s medical costs.

***ByKolles Racing was without James Rossiter, as the Englishman is in transit from today’s Super GT race at Fuji Speedway, where he finished fifth in the Tom’s Lexus LC500. Rossiter is expected to join Oliver Webb and Dominik Kraihamer in the ByKolles ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO on Friday.

***Leading German publication Auto Motor und Sport reports that there are questions into the legality of the Toyota TS050 Hybrid, following an inquiry to the FIA and ACO by Porsche. It’s understood the area of question is in the Toyota’s rear diffuser, although full details have yet to emerge.

***In addition to fuel capacity adjustments for GTE-Pro cars, BoP changes have been made to GTE-Am this weekend, with both the 2015-spec Porsche 911 RSR and 2016 Aston Martin Vantage GTE receiving a 10kg minimum weight reduction and a 10kg increase for the Ferrari 488 GTE car. Additionally, the Porsche now has a mandated minimum ride height of 45mm. 

***Nico Lapierre, who returns to Toyota this weekend and for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, stressed the importance of racing the TS050 Hybrid in low-downforce trim prior to the French endurance classic. “As a driver, we wanted to get some experience with this package,” he said. “Maybe it’s not the most efficient package here but I think we will be quite close to the other ones.”

***Andre Lotterer has admitted he still hasn’t fully wrapped his head around the Porsche 919 Hybrid, after making the switch from the now-defunct Audi LMP1 program. “It’s quite a different beast and car to drive and a really different driving style to adapt [to]. I’m still a little bit in that process for the moment,” he said.

***People are still talking about the final lap of the GTE-Am race at Silverstone, which saw a three-way fight for the win and contact between Pedro Lamy and Miguel Molina that opened the door for Matt Griffin, of Clearwater Racing, to take class honors. “After six hours of racing, with three cars all fighting for victory going into the last corners of the race. It was crazy,” said AMR’s Mathias Lauda, who finished second alongside Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana.

***Kevin Estre returns to the site of his WEC debut two years ago, as a stand-in alongside then-Porsche Junior Sven Mueller for Porsche factory drivers Patrick Pilet and Michael Christensen, who were on IMSA duty that weekend. Today, all four drivers are works pilots.

“I arrived there as a ‘joker’ driver,” Estre said. “I never drove the car before, jumped in, and the race didn’t go 100 percent right because we had one contact and two drive-through [penalties] but we managed to be on the podium, which was a really nice surprise.”

***Michelin is testing its new RFID chip tire identification system for the first time this weekend. The system, which enables tires to be monitored individually, will display each team’s tire choices during the race broadcast. The full system will be rolled out at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.

***As was the case at Silverstone, teams are limited to four sets of tires for qualifying and the race.

***The fourth annual Sean Edwards Memorial Bike Ride is set for May 23 on the streets of Monaco. A number of F1 and sports car racing drivers are expected to take part in the ride to raise awareness for safety education in motorsport and road safety. Click Here for more information and to register.

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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