***Audi will be debuting its Le Mans style aero package on both of its FIA WEC season-long R18 e-tron quattros this weekend. The Nos. 7 and 8 cars will be in low downforce configuration, while the No. 9 car of Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Rene Rast will utilize a similar package that took the German manufacturer to victory at Silverstone.
***All three of Porsche’s 919 Hybrids, meanwhile, will use the same higher downforce aero configuration it ran at Silverstone. This weekend marks the first time the second-year LMP1 manufacturer has run as a three-car operation, in preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
***Christian Klien returns to ByKolles Racing for the second consecutive race, teaming with Vitantonio Liuzzi and Simon Trummer in the No. 4 CLM P1/01 AER. The car, which is again the lone LMP1 privateer entry in the race, features further developments, including a new nose. It completed a successful shakedown last Friday.
***Tequila Patron ESM’s Ligier JS P2 Hondas, which make their debut this weekend, were built in less than six weeks by Onroak Automotive. Remarkably, the small French constructor has built a total of nine of the closed-top LMP2 cars to date, all within a 12-month period, with the prototype having only made its race debut in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
***ESM’s cars are chassis Nos. 8 (No. 30) and 6 (No. 31), which are ironically the same chassis numbers from its outgoing HPD ARX-03b cars, which had final outings at Sebring and Silverstone.
***Work continues on the finalization of the 2017 LMP2 regulations, which has taken another twist. Sportscar365 has learned the tender for the spec engine, to be used in the FIA WEC, ELMS and Asian LMS, may not include OEM activation from the selected manufacturer, but potentially being run as an unbranded engine. Further details are expected to be revealed by the FIA and ACO in June.
***Timo Bernhard is sporting a special helmet design this weekend that pays tribute to Stefan Bellof, who died in the 1000km of Spa-Francorchamps 30 years ago. Bellof most famously set the fastest ever lap on the Nurburgring Nordschleife in a Porsche 956, just two years before his fatal accident.
***Francois Michelin, who led his family’s tire company for nearly half a century, died today at the age of 89. “On behalf of the Group’s employees, I would like to pay special tribute to this exceptional man who was universally respected for his values, his convictions, and his vision,” said Michelin CEO Jean-Jean-Dominique Senard in a statement.
***While it stayed dry today, rain is in the forecast for both tomorrow and Friday, including lows at near freezing temperatures. It could make for treacherous track conditions for the 34 cars here this weekend.