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Dunlop Aragon Test Notebook: LMP2 Teams

DSC speaks to TDS, High Class, Alpine, G-Drive, DC Racing, Team Nederlands and Rebellion in Spain

Rebellion finds pace

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It was a big week for Rebellion, which ran for two days with a single Oreca 07.

The Anglo-Swiss team had Mathias Beche, Julien Canal, Nelson Piquet Jr, Nicolas Prost, and David Henimeier Hansson on hand to drive the cars for two days.

For Piquet Jnr and Prost it was their first and only running in the car before the season starts due to a Formula E clash. It was the same for DHH and Canal, who hadn’t turned laps in an Oreca 07 before Aragon, they will be at the Prologue though.

During its running Rebellion got through six sets of tyres each day, and ran with a very low-aero configuration, one that was as close as possible to Le Mans-spec.

The team suffered no issues and, because of its low-drag set up, the car topped out at 220 mph on the (just over 1km) back straight!

First running on 2017 rubber for the P2 teams

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For all the teams testing in LMP2 with Dunlop at Motorland, it was their first chance to run with finalised 2017  rubber. At the last big Dunlop test at Sebring in December, the teams were using developmental tyres.

The 2017 season has been a long time coming for Dunlop, which has spent the last two years preparing for the new LMP2 regulations, completing 10,042km of running on developmental compounds during tests at Algarve, Paul Ricard, Sebring, Bahrain and at Aragon since the regulations were announced.

One car, one driver for Team Nederlands

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Racing Team Nederlands came to Aragon for three days of running with a pair of Dallara LMP2 chassis – the team having acquired a complete spare for its first full-season of ELMS LMP2.

At the test the ageless Jan Lammers – who we were reminded was racing prototypes on Dunlop rubber for his Le Mans win all the way back in 1988 – was on solo driving duty, turning laps in only the full-season car on this occasion.

First dry running for Tockwith’s P2 Ligier

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Nigel Moore and Phil Hanson managed to turn their first laps in Tockwith’s Ligier this week in the dry, it was the only Ligier JS P217 present in Spain.

The team had tested its new JS P217 prior to arriving at Aragon, though only in the wet when the team headed out to Algarve in Portugal last month.

After this week the British outfit’s next outing will be the ELMS Prologue at Monza.

TDS/G-Drive take on three days of running

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TDS fielded two cars for three days at the test, one of them the G-Drive-entered car for the FIA WEC season.

In the TDS Racing Oreca of Francois Perrodo, Manu Collard and Max Vaxiviere, it was a chance for the three of them to complete some extended running in before the season starts, as Perrodo in particular gets up to speed with his new chariot.

“This is our third test,” Perrodo told DSC. “We’ve done Paul Ricard twice, this is the third.

“It’s really hard, really difficult physically and technically. We’re still working on the data now and I’m still using a GT style of driving, not using the downforce. It’s new to me, I need to take a different approach and trust the car.”

Further impressions from the 2016 GTE Am WEC champion will be up on DSC in the coming days.

On the G-Drive side of the garage, Roman Rusinov and Pierre Thiriet were present, with British driver Alex Lynn who is still in the process of securing a drive with the team to add to his already busy schedule for 2016 and a second year of LMP2 running.

“The TDS Racing team are great, they have great form, second at Le Mans and ELMS winners,” he said to DSC. “With the driver squad we have, particularly with Pierre being one of the very best Silver ranked drivers out there just now, and in particular with David Leach as the race engineer, I think we have very good reason to be excited about the potential for the year.

“I think that Roman (Rusinov), myself and Pierre (Thiriet) (pictured below in the car with Alex) pose a quite serious threat to the rest and should get some really good results in LMP2 and the FIA WEC this year.”

Alpine tries out Rao

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As reported by DSC, Matt Rao has been testing for Alpine at Aragon this week and that’s the real headline here. Nothing is confirmed yet, but Rao, Menezes and Lapierre in the lead car would make for quite a lineup if a deal is done.

“Here at Aragon its also about me getting a run in a new LMP2 and proving what I can do,” Rao told DSC. “A lot of the people in the paddock have driven more powerful cars than the new LMP2s, so they can adapt quicker because they have experience in series like GP2 and World Series.

“To me, getting extra time in a car on a test like this is just a way of getting to that level, having only driven Formula 3 before LMP2.”

Menezes and Lapierre meanwhile were also in the car this week and got some running in ahead of the Prologue.

High Class shakes down its Dallara

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The second of the two Dallaras at the test was from new to LMP2 Danish outfit High Class Racing, which has used its time in Aragon to complete its first shakedown with its new Dallara ahead of a full season in the ELMS.

Both full-season drivers – Anders Fjordbach and Dennis Anderson, went out for runs, which on the first day were limited and exploratory.

“This is really our first test with the car, and the first time for both of us in LMP,” Fjordbach told DSC upon its arrival on Tuesday. “It’s not our first time here but pretty much everything else is new so we are trying to keep our expectations low.

“Of course the performance of the new LMP2s is a very nice surprise. What’s a surprise too is how quickly we can get comfortable with the car and its performance, and how well the Dunlops are performing. We are pretty happy.”

High downforce, but high speeds for Jackie Chan DC Racing

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Like many of the teams, this week was a chance for some of their newer signees to try out the car for the first time. The team brought two chassis, and ran both, though with only one engine between them.

Oliver Jarvis and Alex Brundle turned their first laps this week and were very complimentary of the speed and performance of the Oreca, Brundle in particular telling DSC that the feeling of downforce you get on the entry to corners has been particularly impressive. The top speed and downforce too has really surprised him.

“In a straight line, I believe the top speed is higher than an LMP1 car. We reached 203 mph on a high-downforce setup,” Brundle told DSC.

It wasn’t all plain sailing for the team however, as it suffered gearbox issues yesterday morning which limited its run time early on.