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Paul Ricard Prologue: Tuesday Paddock Notes

Troubles solved for Proton, Cool Racing, United and Inter Europol, but brewing for DKR?

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Weather

Weather continued to play a significant part in the ELMS Prologue with heavy rain, and indeed a hailstorm interrupting proceedings throughout the second and final day yesterday.  Tuesday’s sessions saw a damp start then  rain and hail before times improved in the late stages of the session on a rapidly drying track.

The afternoon session also saw a damp track, and then repeated rain taking the edge off the times and frustrating teams that were expecting much better conditions.

Sunday’s opening race of the season though looks set to see clear skies, sunshine, and rather higher tempertures.

Michelin Le Mans Cup

The Michelin Le Mans Cup paddock was forming up throughout the day before the 29 car grids timetabled pre-season test tomorrow (Wednesday).

Torrential rain though is forecast for much of the day with race organisers looking to see what additional track running for the feeder series might be provided should the test be weathered off. 

Porsche Pluses

Proton Competition were in recovery mode on Tuesday after disaster befell two of their brand new Porsche 911 RSRs in the very first test session on Monday.

Porsche’s Head of Customer Racing Marc Lieb told the DSC Editor that the damaged #77 Proton car would be replaced for the weekend’s race by the second Dempsey Proton WEC car (the #77 WEC car), the #88 WEC car is already repurposed as the #80 EbiMotors car in the ELMS.

The EbiMotors car was repaired in time for the days running, the replacement for the #77 though did not take to the track for the remainder of the test.

Marc Lieb himself took to the track in the sister #88 for a short stint, this the first track time he has had in the current GTE spec 911 RSR.  It may very well not be the last!

Cool Racing

An on-track clash on Monday between the spinning #34 Cool Racing Ligier JSP3 and the DragonSpeed ORECA 07, the LMP2 car left with nowhere to go when encountering the spinning LMP3 car, left Cool Racing with a huge amount of work on their hands.

The Ligier’s carbon tub was damaged in the accident and needed to be replaced, the team building up a car from a replacement tub in time to return to action for the final track session of the test.

Group Shots

The traditional pre season group shots for the ELMS and Michelin Le Mans Cup grids took place on Tuesday afternoon under somewhat dramatic skies, the ELMS shot delayed from earlier in the week when high winds prevented use of the cherry picker as a photo platform.

DKR Controversy

THE subject of the moment in the LMP3 part of the ELMS paddock is the continued presence on the entry of a driver squad for the #8 DKR Engineering Norma M30, the 2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup winning pairing of Jean Glorieux and Alex Toril joined by Miguel, brother of Alex, Toril.

The issue is that all three drivers are ranked as Silver, outside the usual Championship regulations,a matter that has been the major topic of conversation amongst their class rivals, not helped in any way whatsoever by the fact that both Toril brothers have set session topping times.

The current squad was given a conditional acceptance by Championship organisers based on the premise that “there was no competitive advantage gained” a premise very sharply disagreed with by just about every other team in the class.

DSC understands many of the LMP3 teams have expressed their concerns very clearly, and also that the issue is one of live discussion amongst those responsible for the initial decision.

G Drive Drivers

Jean Eric Vergne has attended both days of the ELMS Prologue as part of the G-Drive/ TDS Racing #26 crew.

He will though miss the race this weekend at Paul Ricard, his Formula E duties in Rome taking precedence, Alexandre Imperatori will complete the regular full season squad alongside Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola, the Frenchman filling the required silver driver slot for LMP2.

Vergne thoiugh will compete for the team at all other races this season.

United Effort

The Championship defending #2 United Autosports Ligier LMP3 suffered two driveshaft failures during the running sessions yesterday before finally returning to the track in the afternoon session for some sustained running.

The #2 is part of a seven-car effort from United Autosports across both the ELMS and Michelin Le Mans Cup in an LMP2 and LMP3 effort on unparalleled depth from a single team, details of that on DSC later.

TDS Racing

The only one of the four additional entries for the ELMS race from the WEC, the TDS Racing ORECA, ran on both days, numbered as #33 for the ELMS, #28 for FIA WEC as, rather unusually, the #28 is being used by the IDEC Sport ORECA.

Francois Perrodo and Matthieu Vaxiviere ran on both days, Loic Duval on DTM testing duties, the ex-WEC World Champion though will be present for qualifying and the race this weekend.

Inter Europol

There was a driver switch for Inter Europol before track action started.Commercial issues saw Danny Molinaro step back, replaced aboard the #14 Ligier JSP3 by VdeV race winner (for Duqueine Engineering) Henning Enqvist.

Top Pic courtesy and copyright of Jeff Carter