Le Mans Test Day – Sunday Report 2
Confusion

So has the white line rule been abandoned or not? It’s not at all clear. Tom Kristensen thought not, Prodrive thought it had – so how are we to know? There is certainly no paperwork to say the idea has been dropped.

Nearly three hours into the session and times are not plummeting yet, but we wouldn’t expect them to, until this afternoon.

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Prodrive has had an engine failure with the #88 car, the one with the more experienced drivers (who don’t need to cover ten laps). More an inconvenience than any thing else. The Courage C65 is in engine trouble at higher revs., while the 2003 WR hasn’t been out yet, reason currently unknown.

The TVRs are carrying an extra 30 kg compared to Sebring: the reason is that the company has built more cars (!), but more specifically that they’re running two cars here. Explain Cracknell. Well, as John Hindhaugh dug out from the Race Sport pit, 17 cars in total have been built (race and road) by TVR, but only 10% of the total can be raced here – so TVR would be OK if they were running 1.7 T400Rs. With production likely to top 20 by the race, they’ll lose the extra 30 kg they’re carrying here, and go back to the Sebring penalty, which is in place for not having produced 25 (small manfacturer).

The session is stopped at 2 hrs 50 minutes, something to do with oil on the track at Indianapolis (and perhaps a TVR). Yes, it was a TVR, Tim Sugden at the wheel. They’re taking some time to bring it back.

Ah, the white line rule has now become a ‘too much kerb’ rule. Kelvin Burt took too much kerb – “Well, you have to explore what you can get away with” – and was black-flagged for a bit of a wigging from the ACO. So by a process of apparent compromise and common sense, we have arrived at a reasonable solution: don’t take too much kerb (we think).

Stephane Ratel is here, accompanied by Bruno David (formerly of Eurosport, now of the ACO): is this the Le Mans Tournament / FIA SCC coming together for 2004? We hear that the Lausitzring sportscar race next week isn’t definite….but Racing for Holland has heard nothing, so that is strictly paddock gossip.

Radio Le Mans is go: you heard it here first.

Racing for Holland have had an almost perfect morning: just a puncture for Andy Wallace. The new bodywork includes “completely different side pods and cooling arrangements,” a new air box and a semi-R8 rear wing arrangement (much lower on the Dome).

Approaching three and a half hours and the times aren’t yet desperately quick: this afternoon should see them come down, particularly later when it is cooler. It’s hot for engine changes at Prodrive, Intersport and TVR (below).

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Half an hour left and one of the Bentleys is behind the barrier opposite the Chinese restaurant, with a puncture, while the #54 GNM Saleen is behind the barrier at Mulsanne Corner, reason unknown.

Tom Kristensen: When asked if he would be happy to be third or fourth, the answer was a very clear one. "I'll only be happy if we're first and second. We have to be faster than the opposition, although it doesn't matter so much within the team. We're running different programmes with the #7 and #8 cars, to gather as much data as possible.

"Why will I only be happy to be first and second? Well, we have higher fuel consumption than the other cars, we have higher tyre wear, and our driver changes will take longer. We have to keep focusing on being faster. I would quite like to be the fastest driver, but only as long as it doesn't compromise our #7 team."

We asked Tom about all this white line business next. "It's very confusing, and this rule will kill the racing, especially at night when you can't see the lines. I appreciate that the ACO are looking at safety, but going off and bringing gravel onto the track is the problem, and I believe this confusion will make it more likely that cars will go off. The ACO should be looking at the GT cars...."

Thank you Tom. More from the four time winner later this month.

And on the subject of cars crossing things they shouldn't, Keith Hunter spotted this chap at the Dunlop Chicane - writing down the number of every car (and the time of the incident) that crossed the white line.

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