WEC

24 Hours of Le Mans – Test Day Preview

Feature Image Credit: https://twitter.com/24hoursoflemans

With two weeks left before the start of the big race, the 60 competitors entered in the 86th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will hit the track tomorrow for Test Day.

Image Credit: @24hoursoflemans

This will include several hours on the track and nearly every competitor entered in the race must participate in these official testing sessions, with the sole exception of certain drivers whose names appear on a comprehensive list.  All rookie drivers taking part must complete at least 10 track laps on Test Day as well as submit to simulator training beforehand. Test Day is comprised of two four-hour testing sessions that are timed, but the results have zero impact on a competitor’s participation in the race. Michaël Bimont, head mechanic for Signatech Alpine Matmut’s say’s “Test Day allows drivers to get their bearings on the track. It’s also an opportunity to work on the car and for team members to get into the rhythm of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In general, during that day we work on the car’s settings and driver changes. It truly is a rehearsal.” 

DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian is confident of getting its BR Engineering BR1 Gibson on track in Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day, following the decision to continue its LMP1 program. The American squad is building up a new BR1 chassis in the Le Mans paddock ahead of the single-day test, following Pietro Fittipaldi’s accident in qualifying at Spa, which resulted in a destroyed chassis and broken legs for the Brazilian.

During a roundtable interview today at Le Mans, current McLaren F1 driver Fernando Alonso says he is ‘as prepared as he could be’ ahead of his 24 Hours of Le Mans debut with Toyota Gazoo Racing. Alonso will turn his first flying laps of the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe tomorrow at the official Test Day.  He says that his primary objective for the test is to understand the aspects of driving the Toyota TS050 Hybrid that he has so far been unable to gauge through simulator running. “The real track is always a little bit different to the simulator.

The judgment of the speed difference between cars in traffic is something that you develop only on the real car and only with a good number of laps. Tomorrow that’s the intention. “It’s nice to have this test, not in the race weekend when time is a little bit limited.” Alonso expects to have slightly more seat time than team-mates Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima, who are both gearing up for their seventh appearances at the event.

2014 GP3 series runner-up Dean Stoneman has been dropped from the Manor Ginetta LMP1 team’s line-up for this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours. He will be replaced in the #5 Ginetta-Mecachrome G60-LT-60 in the blue riband World Endurance Championship round by Ginetta test driver Mike Simpson. Ginetta was unable to give a reason for the revised line-up, while Stoneman told Autosport that he was “still trying to get to the bottom” of the move, Stoneman said,  “They informed me I wouldn’t be driving; it’s as simple as that.”

Porsche announced on Saturday that it will run retro liveries on two of its GTE Pro class factory entries in this month’s 86th edition at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in celebration of its sportscar racing heritage, as six customer and four factory 911 RSRs will line up on the starting grid. Two of these cars will sport classic racing liveries that all Porsche motorsport fans know and love: the iconic Pink Pig and Rothmans while almost all of these cars will wear the RSR’s signature white, black, and red livery.

The manufacturer will field one of its regular World Endurance Championship entries in the same colours as the Rothmans Porsche 956 and 962C Group C cars that competed in the 24 Hours in 1982-’87.  The #91 GTE Pro class Porsche shared by Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki will run as the Rothmans look-a-like car, which includes the red-and-gold stripes of the original livery.

 

The #92 entry driven by Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor will compete race in the ‘Pink Pig’ livery, which incorporates the names of the different cuts of pork on its flanks. The other two factory cars, fielded by the CORE Autosport IMSA SportsCar Championship squad, will run in the regular Porsche livery used so far in both the North American series and the WEC.

The two throwback liveries are part of Porsche’s 70th anniversary celebrations celebrating seven decades since the first Porsche 356 rolled off the assembly line.

On Friday Jenson Button and Juan Pablo Montoya both successfully completed their mandatory simulator session in Paris before heading to Le Mans, ready to compete for the Test Day on Sunday 3rd of June. Jenson Button practiced negotiating the 24-Hours circuit in the AOTech simulator, an exercise all first-timers are required to complete before taking the wheel in Le Mans for real. The SMP Racing crew member welcomed the opportunity to practice complying with the specific rules, which differ from other motorsport disciplines.

The first test session will kick off on Sunday the 3rd of June from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. local time.

 

 

 

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