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Tomlinson: COVID Shutdown Drove LNT Ginettas to Miss Spa

Backlog created by coronavirus shutdown contributed to Ginetta opting to skip 6H Spa…

Photo: Joao Filipe/Adrenal Media

Ginetta boss Lawrence Tomlinson says the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have hit the British constructor’s LMP1 program “hard financially” and led to its Team LNT squad withdrawing from the Total 6 Hours of Spa.

Both of the Ginetta G60-LT-P1 AERs are absent from the entry list for the first FIA World Endurance Championship round in almost six months, which is taking place on Aug. 15.

Tomlinson explained that the backlog created by the UK shudtown on the company’s other business operations was a key reason behind Team LNT forgoing Spa.

Ginetta has a large customer racing program based on its own sports cars that compete domestically in single-make championships and abroad.

“We’re going to miss Spa,” said Tomlinson. “Our primary focus has to be to get our core business and customer base back up to speed and stable, and with a shutdown-enforced backlog that means our workflow has been significantly impacted.

“Unfortunately the changes in the WEC calendar, followed by the COVID-19 shutdown, have hit the program hard financially too.

“Unlike many WEC teams, many of our core group have other regular duties at Ginetta beyond the race team and LMP1 development.

“That means we have to take some tough decisions to make sure that our customers are happy, that we can deliver our core products quickly and efficiently, and that we get back to normal operations as soon as possible.

“Keeping customers happy is not something that everyone in motorsport is very good at – we take pride that it is a real strength of what we do and I hope everyone at the ACO and WEC can respect that.

“That’s disappointing for all of us that would have liked to have been at Spa but these are extraordinary times.  We are not the only race team to have had to make some tough calls in the wake of the shutdown.”

Team LNT ran both Ginettas in the opening four rounds of the 2019-20 WEC season at Silverstone, Shanghai, Fuji and Bahrain before the end of last year.

But the team’s plans to contest races in 2020 have been severely impacted by calendar changes, both before and during the pandemic.

“This was our debut season with the car [as an in-house entry] and the original calendar saw us straight into back-to-back flyaway races after Silverstone which is tough for any team,” said Tomlinson.

“[It was] tougher still with a team and a car that would clearly need development, but with no time to achieve that whilst the cars were ‘containered’ around Asia.

“We had a pretty extensive job list of rebuild, repair and a number of upgrades too to sort after Bahrain so we flew the cars back in time to sort that for Interlagos, which was then canceled.

“That led to us missing the replacement race at COTA but we flew the cars out for Sebring, which was then canceled with the team into shutdown well before the cars came back.

“Put all of that together and we have spent a big chunk of money not racing.”

Tomlinson suggested that the single-car Ginetta entry shown on the entry list for the 24 Hours of Le Mans is on course to take part in the race, although this is expected to be LNT’s final appearance in the current WEC campaign.

“We are paid up for the season and we expect to be at Le Mans with one car,” he said.

“The car could be very strong there; we want to get back on track as strongly as we can.”

Extra Prep Time for Rebellion

Another withdrawal from the LMP1 field for Spa is the No. 3 Rebellion R13 Gibson that was due to raise the Swiss team’s entry to two cars for the first time since Silverstone.

Rebellion CEO Calim Bouhadra explained that two reasons prompted the decision to withdraw the entry, which was believed to be ready as recently as two weeks ago.

Despite missing Spa, the No. 3 car is still set to appear at Le Mans with Romain Dumas, Nathanael Berthon and Louis Deletraz listed to drive.

“With COVID we wanted to be much more careful about the budget than before,” Bouhadra told Sportscar365.

“Also, Romain Dumas and Louis Deletraz both haven’t driven the car enough, so we would prefer that they spend more time on training and testing than being at Spa, going in with the car and having concerns that they have not practiced enough.

“That is the main reason why we have unfortunately decided to [withdraw] the second car [from] Spa, just to prepare perfectly for the race at Le Mans in September with some additional tests and practicing.”

It’s understood that Rebellion plans to test between Spa and Le Mans, following on from a recent test at Paul Ricard that also involved LMP1 squads Toyota and ByKolles.

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

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