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4H Le Castellet: Friday Paddock Notes 2

Dunlop v Michelin and Eurointernational update among the nibs

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Eurointernational Update

The earlier DSC story regardingthe Police seizure of both the ELMS and Michelin Le Mans Cup Eurointernational Ligiers needs an update.

The team is currently expecting the arrival at the circuit at some point this evening of two replacement cars, one is understood to be coming from Ligier, the other from GRAFF.

That will not though be the end of the issues for the team. The cars were seized as they stood, with a significant number of components installed including radios, data loggers and, particularly significantly, driver seat inserts.

There is still some work to do in sourcing, installing and prepping the cars after they arrive to enable them to be scrutineered in time to run in Free Practice 2 (ELMS) and Qualifying (MLMC) tomorrow.

As a late note, it seems the team has been given access to the #55 Spirit of Race Ligier in the Le Mans Cup paddock to undertake seat fittings in advance of the arrival of its replacement cars.

Ligier confident the JS P217 can win with Dunlop and Michelin

Ligier Automotive’s Pierre Nicolet spoke to DSC yesterday and explained that he feels both the Michelin and Dunlop compounds should work well on the JS P217 this year.

In 2018, the JS P217s appeared to struggle when running on Dunlop compounds, prompting United Autosports to make a mid-season switch to Michelin as an experiment. It yielded strong results, as the team won the final two races of the season with the French rubber, and have will continue to use it this season.

However, with Dunlop’s new compound now in play, and the new season upon us, there has been movement. Panis Barthez (one of its Ligiers featured above) made a late switch from Michelin to Dunlop. Though DSC understands that multiple teams were turned down from switching to Michelins due to the French manufacturer being unable to step up its effort enough to meet the demand.

This weekend will go a long way in providing teams a chance to evaluate the situation, with the Michelins again looking quick over a single lap and the Dunlops being at their best over longer runs with the potential for double-stinting.

“We will see that the Ligier performs well on Dunlops tyres and Michelins this weekend,” Nicolet said to DSC. “It will be down to teams to optimise the setups of their cars. I don’t think this year one tyre is better for the JS P217. It’s down to the drivers’ and the teams’ understanding of the package.

“The Ligier performance from last year with Michelin was positive, it’s winning car, but we’re confident we can win with Dunlop as well as Michelin.

“Knowing Panis Barthez has been with Michelin since 2016 and has made a switch is encouraging as it shows there is an appetite for both tyres from our teams.”

Champions galore

There are no fewer than 18 previous ELMS, LMES or LMS overall or class Champions on the grid for the Paul Ricard season opener. Add to that a further five Asian Le Mans Series champions, one FIA WEC World Champion, two FIA WEC class championship winners and six Le Mans 24 Hours class winners and it is quite a haul of drivers with significant success on their CVs in ACO rules racing!

The youngest driver and the oldest!

The youngest driver on the entry for the opening round of the 2019 European Le Mans Series is Oregon Team find Gustas Grinbergas, the Lithuanian ex-national. Polish and Italy North Karting Champ turned 16-years-old on the 24 March.

By (significant) contrast Algarve Pro Racing’s evergreen Mark Patterson turned 67-years-old in December 2018.