Le Mans Friday Notebook – Sportscar365

Le Mans Friday Notebook – Sportscar365

Photo: ACO

***The drivers’ parade returned for the first time since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, with fans packing the streets of the Le Mans city center to see the stars ahead of tomorrow’s start. Other festivities on Friday included a pit walk and new for this year, a track walk for fans that included running opportunities (pictured above).

***The name of the FIA and ACO’s new Pro-Am-enforced GT class for 2024 will likely be called ‘LM GT’ according to FIA Endurance Commission President Richard Mille, who ruled out the GT3 or GT monikers. The name would harken back to the late ’90s and early 2000’s when the production-based class was known as the same name prior to its renaming to GT2 in 2005.

***Porsche’s Head of Motorsport Thomas Laudenbach previewed how the manufacturer’s GTE-Am stable might look next year: “We will not do a factory entry like we do today,” he said. “If a customer does a package and races, we’ll support it as we do in customer sport.”

***Laudenbach also said that it was not considered for Porsche to do special liveries for its GTE-Pro cars at Le Mans this year. He previously suggested that the manufacturer would do something special to recognize the manufacturer’s last factory GTE-Pro race before switching to LMDh. “”t would have been nice, but no,” he said on Friday. “So far, we concentrate on winning the race.”
***Further key decisions on the 2025 LMP2 regulations are set to be made this year according to ACO competition director Thierry Bouvet. He noted that tenders on tire and engine supply for the next generation formula are among the items “still being finalized” with more clarity expected in the coming months.

***While announced at the ACO press conference of having a debut “by 2025” Richard Mille clarified to Sportscar365 that the planned hydrogen class at Le Mans will not run any earlier, having already been pushed back a year. “It’s an objective is 2025, but at the same time we must be sure that the car will not be, in terms of performance, ridiculous,” he said. “This is a huge work of development with all of the partners.”

***The Mission H24 car took part in Thursday’s Road to Le Mans race with Stephane Richelmi completing a total of eight laps, with a best lap time of 5:03.882 around Circuit de la Sarthe. It compared to Laurents Hoerr’s LMP3 class record of 3:44.352 set during last year’s event.

***Ford Performance global motorsport director Mark Rushbrook said the Ford Mustang GT3 project, announced in January, is still on schedule for a 2024 debut. “At this point, there’s no issues yet,” he told Sportscar365. “With everything it’s all around supply chain management.”

***When asked if Ford is still evaluating a potential LMDh program, Rushbrook said “no comment.”

***A five-round calendar has been published for the 2022-23 Le Mans Virtual Series, which concludes with the third 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual edition. The events on the schedule are: 8H Bahrain (Sep. 17), 4H Monza (Oct. 8), 6H Spa (Nov. 5), 500 Miles of Sebring (Dec. 3), 24H Le Mans Virtual (Jan. 14-15).

***The Le Mans Virtual Series will continue to be held on the rFactor2 platform and organized by Motorsport Games. The driver regulations have been loosened, with entries requiring their designated real-world professional driver to appear at only one event, rather than the full season.

***Virtual Le Mans Series CEO Gerard Neveu commented: “We are confident we will continue to attract champions from all different categories of motorsport and sim racing, and that we can produce another exciting and professional esports series for the massive worldwide gaming and spectator audiences to enjoy.”

***Roger Penske returns to Le Mans as a team owner for the first time in 51 years. ‘The Captain’ contested the race once as a driver in 1963, notably sharing a Ferrari 330 TRI/LM with Pedro Rodriguez who took the race’s first pole position by qualifying.

****Penske said: “Before 1963, the guy with the biggest engine was up front. So 1963 was the first time they had qualifying. Rodriguez did a [lap of] three minutes, 50 seconds.”

***A networking event for the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission was held in the paddock on Friday. More than 50 women involved in sports car racing, including five 24 Hours of Le Mans drivers, assembled for a roundtable to share their views and experiences. The event was led by new FIA Women in Motorsport Commission President, Deborah Mayer.

***Nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen has been named the ambassador for the centenary edition of the race next year, which has been confirmed for June 10-11, 2023.

***A new trophy for the 100th anniversary of the race will be unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August ahead of a “Olympic-like” world tour that will include stops at the Goodwood Revival, WEC season-ending 6 Hours of Bahrain and other events in the build up to next year’s race.

***Nick Tandy hit a new speed record with his custom-built radio-controlled car earlier in the week. As documented on Jordan Taylor’s YouTube channel, the Briton clocked 143 mph (230 kph) during a run on the Circuit de la Sarthe’s front straight.

***A total of 95 cars are using Xtrac gearboxes across the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Road to Le Mans fields this week. Fifty-one of those are competing in the 24-hour race.

***A 15-minute warmup session is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET) followed by the 4 p.m. start.

***The list of starting drivers for tomorrow’s race has been issued. Click Here for the list. Sebastian Buemi and Mike Conway will take the front row in the two Toyota GR010 Hybrids.

***Corvette Racing’s Hyperpole drivers Nick Tandy and Antonio Garcia will share the GTE-Pro front-row. LMP2 pole-sitter Team WRT has nominated Rene Rast for the start, with AF Corse putting Vincent Abril down for the GTE-Am pole. 

Daniel Lloyd and Davey Euwema contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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