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4H Le Castellet: Friday Paddock Notes

Circuit changes, LMP3 names and Le Mans Cup testing

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Pit lane changes for 2019

Both the pit-in and pit-out layouts for the Paul Ricard circuit have changed substantially for this season.

Pit-in sees the entry now peel off on the outside of Virage du Lac, the penultimate turn, a sweeping left-hander, the pit entry continues across the old run-off to take a c.100 degree right turn into the pit lane.

That replaces the 2018 arrangement that saw a tight pit entry on the exit of the final turn, an arrangement that caused numerous difficulties in recent years. The old pit entry now blocked by Armco (which has almost caught out a number of returning drivers during the test!)

Pit out meanwhile sees a much longer exit run before the blend line which now transitions far closer to Turn One, the previous iteration had seen the cars emerging from pit lane and blending to the race track far earlier.

The 2019 layout has seen a more recent change with the ‘pif paf’ at the point at which the racing surface is joined, lengthened slightly to ease the transition for cars on cold tyres.

Gibson brings additional stock

With 18 LMP2 cars on the entry the Gibson boys are here in force, and so too are their engines. DSC spotted the delivery of the spares here on site, meaning something close to half of all the GK428s in existence are here this weekend it seems (50 engines are in the pool).

Lanan on top in Le Mans Cup testing

On Wednesday the Michelin Le Mans Cup teams and drivers hit the track for the official test day ahead of Saturday’s season-opening race.

The weather, however, disrupted the running, meaning all the quick times were set early in the day before the track conditions worsened. The rain got heavier as the day wore on. Eventually, the afternoon session was cut short by eight minutes due to a red flag to recover a car that had gone off in the slippery conditions.

The best lap of the day was set by Duncan Tappy in the Norma of returning British team Lanan Racing, the Briton the only driver to set a sub 1:50 lap during the day, his quickest a 1:49.870, 0.6 seconds ahead of Matt Bell in the #22 United Autosports Ligier-Nissan.

Bell set the fastest lap of the afternoon session with a 1:51.575 in the tricky conditions.

Third fastest was GRAFF driver Nicolas Schatz, with a 1:50.705s in his #39 Norma.

The GT3 grid, which this year has seen an uptick in entry numbers, was headed by the #54 SPS Automotive Performance Mercedes AMG GT3 of Yannick Mettler, with a 1:53.819 tour, a tenth faster than the #71 Luzich Racing Ferrari of Denmark’s Mikkel Mac.

Reigning GT3 champion Giacomo Piccini was third quickest in the #8 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 after reeling off a 1:54.081.

The brand new Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage was next up, finishing the day’s running just outside the top three.

MORNING TESTING TIMES >>

AFTERNOON TESTING TIMES >>>

2020 Ligier LMP3 gets named

Ligier’s 2020 LMP3 car is set to be named the Ligier JS P320, Ligier Automotive revealing the chassis title on twitter this week.

DSC is aware that the intention is that all four 2020 LMP3 chassis will be unveiled at the Le Mans 24 Hours this June.

Pitlane SuperSub

With the ELMS’s Charlie George on maternity leave the pitlane reporting duties this weekend will fall to another (very) familiar face as WEC TV pit reporter Louise Beckett steps up to the plate.

Jonny Palmer and the DSC Editor will be in the booth for the Michelin Le Mans Cup and ELMS qualifying and races, all live on the ELMS Facebook and YouTube pages and on Radio Le Mans.

The full timetable for this weekend’s 4 Hours of Le Castellet is available HERE >>>