Le Mans Test Day – Sunday Report 1

This is the most difficult day of the year to cover, but we’re pushing on here….where the weather is absolutely perfect. No sign of clouds, showers or downpours.

As the cars go out to start the day, we’ve still got some pre-Test Day news to report.

The Taurus Lola is running here with a new, unseen-before long tail. “This is the tail Lola would have developed for the car had they kept on with progressing with it,” said Team Owner Ian Dawson. He’s doing his best to hide his disappointment at not having a guaranteed entry (yet) but is ever hopeful – hence pressing on and developing the car. “We’ve got the longer sidepods and the more aerodynamic headlamps that Lola designed for Le Mans, and in testing at Snetterton on Wednesday, the balance was very good indeed.

The long tail is totally unrelated to the extensions that the Konrad / Lammers car ran here in ’99 (2000?). Dawson was sure that his car could have won the Estoril FIA SCC race, but for the mishap on the warming up lap.

At 08.50, Rob Barff confirmed that Richard Stanton and Richard Hay are the only two out of the six TVR drivers who don’t need to complete ten laps today: even Tim Sugden has to do ten, as his last race effort here was more than three years ago. That fourth place overall in ’98: not good / recent enough, presumably. Barff stated that the TVR drivers were going to take it very easy this morning, and let others sort out the issue of crossing or not crossing the white lines. Barff thought that the TVRs were running lighter than at Sebring, but we still haven’t pinned down their actual weights.

Guy Smith is about to join us to talk us through the opening period of the Test, so comments from him next…….

Before we hear from Guy Smith…a few general remarks about the white lines ‘thing’, which sadly is tending to dominate the day somewhat. By 10.00, an hour into the action, a typical two-thirds of the cars turning in to the First Mulsanne Chicane were ignoring the white line completely, and taking a normal line at the first apex. Pescarolo Courages seemed ro be the worst ‘offenders’, prototype drivers were largely ignoring the rule, while GT drivers were largely obeying it.

Intersport are in engine trouble (five hours to change it?), while times in 900 are peaking at 3:40 after an hour (Audis and Bentleys in the top five, RfH Dome next. The best time in GTS is one of the Veloqx / Prodrive cars at 4:02 (and running a new wing - with the likelihood that they'll try the old one this afternoon, for comparison purposes), Alex Job fastest in GT with a 4:18. All typically ten seconds off the ultimate pace, thanks to a dusty track (and any lines confusion)?

Guy Smith: “The plan with our car is very straightforward. We’ve got Joe Hausner as our race engineer, and he’s engineered the winning car for the last five years. We’re not focusing on lap times: if we come away from today third or fourth fastest, we’ll be quite happy. What we’re after is a comfortable car for the race. That’s Joe’s philosophy, and we’re more than happy with that.

“Tom’s out there now, Dindo takes the second stint, and I’ll take the third. I’ll be first out after lunch. This morning we’re aiming to do long runs on the tyres: the Audis will triple stint…..

“The chances are that the other Bentley will be quicker than us by the end of today, and we don’t mind that at all. This afternoon, when the track should be cleaner, we’ll be fine tuning a little more, and looking for more speed. Tom will probably be running softer tyres by the end of the afternoon, but more important than that will be to settle on the compound for the race.”

Thanks Guy. At which point we watched the prototypes, in particular, going well over the white line at the First Chicane, and we haven’t seen anyone black flagged. Maybe this issue is going to be dropped….

 

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