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Le Mans Test Day: Sunday Paddock Notes

News and notes from La Sarthe from the Test weekend

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DragonSpeed’s push to make Le Mans in P1

It’s been a long few weeks for American outfit DragonSpeed, Elton Julian’s crew putting in long hours to ensure that its brand-new BR1 LMP1 is fully ready for the Le Mans 24 Hours.

The team’s original chassis was damaged beyond repair at Spa in Pietro Fittipaldi’s head-on hit at Eau Rouge/Raidillon. Julian revealed to DSC that the team only received the tub eight days prior to the test from Dallara, and since then it’s been all hands on deck to get the new car built up. The original car, Julian said, was so badly damaged that nothing in front of the fuel cell was salvageable after the impact and subsequent work on the car by the extraction team.

The new tub produced by Dallara in under a week, required finishing as well as a full rebuild. The team managed little running in the morning session after a technical issue stopped the car on track. It recovered though to safely see Renger Van Der Zande complete his required laps and indeed put the #10 car ahead of the whole LMP2 field in the finishing order for the Test day.

Rookie laps

DSC believes that all drivers present at the test required to complete 10 ‘rookie laps’ did so, plus a number of additional prospective or nominated reserve drivers, including Anthony Davidson (Toyota), Matt McMurry (Algarve Pro), Anders Fjordbach (SMP Racing), Alexandre Imperatori (G-Drive/TDS) and Wayne Boyd (United).

AMR in need of replacement Pro chassis for Le Mans

Aston Martin Racing’s test weekend at Le Mans was a tough one, its Am-entered Vantage suffering engine damage from an off, and the #95 Pro car having its day ended early after Marco Sorensen’s shunt on the run to Indianapolis.

After the test, Paul Howarth confirmed that the team will indeed need to build a fresh car for the full race, following the incident.

“We came here with a very clear test plan and unfortunately through two track incidents, it’s cost us valuable time in our new car’s and our GTE Am entry’s test schedule. What we will do now is go away from here and prepare for the next stage of Le Mans.

“It’s clear from the size of the accident that we can’t use the #95 car. We now have to prepare a fresh chassis, which is not the ideal way to ready ourselves for Le Mans. We have every confidence in Aston Martin Racing that we will be back next week with a fresh focus, ready to race on.

“We have the full capability to prepare the #95 for the next race. Our approach and our planning allows us to react to an event such as this. We always plan for all eventualities. We will be ready to race at Le Mans.”

New start line gantry christensed

In a brief ceremony during today’s lunch break, ACO President Pierre Fillon dedicated the new starter stand, close by the now Rolex-branded gantry, to ACO President for life Pierre Leseur, who passed away earlier this year.

Latecomers

It’s been a busy weekend around the world in sportscar and GT racing. In addition to the Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day preparations, yesterday saw both the IMSA and Blancpain fields in action at Detroit and Paul Ricard respectively. This meant that an abundance of drivers have had to dash to Le Mans as their races ended to make it in time for today’s on-track action.

In the states, Filipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Felipe Nasr, David Heinemeier Hansson, Renger van der Zande, Pipo Derani, Harry Tincknell, Matt McMurry, Ben Keating , Patrick Long, Christina Nielsen, Juan Pablo Montoya Cooper MacNeil, Jeroen Bleekemolen, and Jeff Segal have all made the trip. Many of them were flown by private jet by Patrick Lindsay.

Meanwhile, 18 drivers made the trip from the South of France after the into-the-night Blancpain encounter: Salih Yoluc, Alex Brundle, Maxime Martin, Come Ledogar, Nicki Thiim, Andrea Bertolini, Mikhail Aleshin, Euan Hankey, Matt Griffin, Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon, Matthieu Vaxviere, Nick Yelloly, Luca Stolz, Fred Makowiecki, Romain Dumas, Vitaly Petrov, and Dirk Werner.

Di Resta wins in Hungary

United Autosports driver Paul Di Resta was unable to attend this weekend’s test, resulting in reserve driver Wayne Boyd filling in for the Scot (though named in both cars the Anglo-American team’s Ligiers). However, it was stil a successful weekend for Di Resta, racing at the Hungaroring in DTM for Mercedes, taking pole position and winning Saturday’s race.

Elsewhere, there were other drivers that competed elsewhere, winning races, but taking part in the test this weekend. Matt Griffin won his class in the Blancpain Endurance race at Paul Ricard before heading to Le Mans, and Felipe Nasr took the overall honours at Belle Isle in the IMSA race with Action Express.

Opinions on the Porsche Curves

There’s been plenty of discussions between the drivers about the changes made to the Porsche Curves for this year’s race, with a lot more run off added to the historic sweeping bends towards the end of the lap.

Some drivers are less than impressed with the alterations, Laurens Vanthoor in particular speaking out, writing on twitter that the new look has “destroyed” them.

Toyota’s Kazuki Nakajima also isn’t a fan, though he does understand the reason for the changes.

“It has radically changed. It’s bigger and wider. For safety reasons, I think it’s better for drivers and that is what is most important. But, I think it takes away some of the excitement and sense of speed at the Porsche Curves. That is what motorsport is all about! On one hand it’s a little sad, on the other I think it needed to be done.”