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Spa Tuesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from day two of WEC pre-season testing at Spa…

Photo: Porsche

***The field for the Total 6 Hours of Spa has been reduced to 34 entries following the withdrawal of the No. 46 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR-19. The German squad expects its GTE-Am entry to return for the 8 Hours of Portimao in June.

***Both Racing Team Nederland and Iron Lynx have brought in new chassis for their cars that were damaged following a high-speed collision at Blanchimont. The teams have more than a day to prepare their new cars for the first practice session of the race event.

***Toyota’s No. 7 LMH car is a new chassis, while the No. 8 car took part in the team’s private pre-season testing. The team was “chasing gremlins” on the No. 7 during the Prologue, according to Pascal Vasselon. These included hydraulic and electrical issues that kept the car in its garage for most of Monday. “Statistically you always face more issues with the new car,” he said.

***Vasselon explained why the Toyota GR010 Hybrid is running at 520 kW (700 hp) at Spa compared to the 500 kW (670 hp) that was announced at the car’s launch. “[500 kW] is the power which will be used in Le Mans,” he said. “It appeared quite quickly in the simulation worked on by the ACO and FIA that the gap to LMP2 would be more critical on WEC tracks.”

***For all the talk of Hypercar and LMP2 stratification, GTE drivers are also needing to adapt to the new breed of top-level prototype machinery. Ferrari’s Alessandro Pier Guidi described how the experience of being lapped by the top class has changed:

“In the past LMP2 and LMP1 was much quicker than GTE, especially in the straights,” said the Italian. “It was not a problem for us in terms of traffic. Now the difference of speed is a bit slower, so we struggle a bit more in the traffic. We have to take care about that to avoid contact or problems.”

***Contact was experienced by the Cetilar Racing GTE-Am Ferrari, which crashed at the top of Raidillon after a touch through Eau Rouge from the No. 7 Toyota. Pier Guidi, who saw the accident from his Ferrari, said the Cetilar car driven by Roberto Lacorte spun up the hill before impacting the tire barriers while the Toyota carried on.

***The AF Corse mechanics responsible for the Cetilar Ferrari were working late into the evening to carry out extensive repairs.

***There was a clear Prologue leader in the GTE-Pro category as Kevin Estre dipped into 6 Hours of Spa qualifying territory with a sub-2m 13s lap time aboard the No. 92 Porsche 911 RSR-19. Estre ended up 1.3 seconds faster than second-placed Richard Lietz, almost double the margin that separated the remaining eight drivers.

***Toyota team director Rob Leupen believes the arrival of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus into the Hypercar category will be good for the Balance of Performance process. “The more the merrier in this respect,” Leupen said. “But especially the data for the organization, the FIA, to do the right BoP. I think this is important.”

***TF Sport is aiming to run a “bits and bobs” program with its sole Aston Martin Vantage GT3 this year, according to team principal Tom Ferrier. Select British GT rounds with Giacomo Petrobelli and International GT Open races involving Pirelli GT4 America series champion Michael Dinan are understood to be on the cards.

***Ferrier is also hoping to get experienced Aston GT3 driver Ahmad Al-Harthy on board for select Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS events, but ruled out a Total 24 Hours of Spa entry.

***Whilst several of the top LMP2 drivers have reported extra sliding with the new low-downforce aero kit, High Class Racing’s Jan Magnussen is far from concerned based on his limited test mileage in the Oreca 07 Gibson ahead of this season: “This is pretty much the only way I’ve ever driven it,” he said. “I’m the only guy not pissed about it! I think it has grip, but they don’t. They have a reference, but I don’t.”

***The WEC has outlined its TV coverage for the 6 Hours of Spa. MotorTrend will show live coverage of the pre-race build-up, the first hour of racing and the final hour to North American audiences. Highlights will also be available. Here is the full broadcast guide.

***Wednesday’s schedule at Spa consists of no track running, with scrutineering taking precedence during the afternoon. The first official Free Practice session of the 2021 season is due to start at 3:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. EST) on Thursday.

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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