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6H Fuji: Thursday Paddock Notes

New colours, new drivers and Mount Fuji in clear view!

Mount Fuji was beautifully sunlit as the DSC team arrived at Fuji Speedway, only to be hidden by cloud as a sharp shower passed through soon afterwards! The second round of the 2019/20 FIA WEC season is upon us.

There was a rugby ball ‘kick-off’ to celebrate the ongoing Rugby World Cup, which is hosted by Japan this year. It was underway on the start grid as DSC arrived the media room.

There will be footage to show later from the FIA WEC on this, but for now, we can confirm that Bendon Hartley will not be getting a call-up from the All Blacks any time soon!! Ben Barker and Mike Simpson on the other hand, may well find themselves in demand from the England coaching staff after their impressive display…

As for the cars in the garages, the #86 Gulf Racing UK Porsche 911 RSR has had a couple of minor tweaks made to its new livery (which will remain on the car for the remainder of the season).

Early shots didn’t do justice to the new look, in the sunshine as DSC arrived today the car looked stunning with its mix of matte and gloss finish.

Another GTE Am car with livery tweaks is the #88 Dempsey Proton Porsche, once again sporting D-Station decals with Satoshi Hoshino on the driver squad alongside Adrian de Leener and Thomas Preining.

In LMP1, Rebellion’s new livery too looks just the ticket, though we’ll reserve final judgement until we see the #1 car on track tomorrow.

At Team LNT, F2 ace Luca Ghiotto was in the midst of a seat fitting at Team LNT this afternoon (pictured top), the F2 racer back in the seat of the Ginetta for the first time since setting the fastest time for the team at the WEC Prologue at Barcelona.

Ghiotto arrives as Oliver Jarvis takes up his pre-arranged seat at United Autosports alongside Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque, Paul di Resta busy on DTM duties this weekend.

Anthony Davidson is on-site at Fuji for Jota Sport, having recovered from the rib injury that kept him from racing at Silverstone. Alexandre Coigny meanwhile is present, having recovered sufficiently from the pelvic fracture he suffered at Silverstone in the ELMS race.
 Nicolas Lapierre and Antonin Borga will have a third pair of hands for the first time this season.

Elsewhere in LMP2, High Class Racing is carrying the national colours of their drivers Kenta Yamashita and Mark Patterson on the dive-planes of the #33 ORECA. This weekend is a big one for the Danish team, which hasn’t previously raced outside of Europe. Super GT points leader Yamashita will be looking to impress on home soil as part of the team’s effort here in Japan.

The latest World Motorsport Council meeting on Friday looks set to ratify the chosen method of reducing the current performance levels of the LMP2 field with the likely base being to reduce the rev limit for the 4.2 litre Gibson V8s.

The Season 9 (2020/21) FIA WEC Calendar meanwhile is likely to be released in Bahrain in December, again subject to ratification by the FIA World Motorsport Council.

One date is already known to be on the calendar. The European Le Mans Series doubleheader with the FIA WEC at Silverstone has been announced via the ELMS calendar reveal, that will run on the weekend of September 4-6.

And, of all things, the provisional Britcar calendar fills in a couple of gaps too with the Dunlop backed British endurance series for GT and Touring Car machinery announcing dates that provisionally support the season 8 round at Spa on 24-25 April, and Silverstone in Season 9 from 4-6 September.

Bahrain in December is set to see a revival of the ‘Rookie Test’ on the day following the Bahrain 8 Hours, the events did not take part in 2018 as the Kingdom was not featured on the Super Season calendar.

The drivers nominated by the WEC to take part will be announced at Fuji this weekend.

With a venue yet to be confirmed DSC understands that there will again be a pre-season ‘Prologue’ test prior to the start of 2020/ 21 FIA WEC, likely in July 2020.

Amongst other attractions, it is at this event that the new ‘Hypercar Prototype’ class cars are expected to run in public in a WEC-sanctioned event for the first time, prior to their aero packages being homologated in the gap between the test and the opening round of the season. Thereafter the aero on the cars will be ‘frozen’.