Le Mans Test Day – Sunday (2)
Action-Filled Morning

There is so much happening here: for example, as of 12.15, with 45 mins of the first four hour session to go, we’ve had three red flag periods, for three totally different reasons, and as of this moment, the top group in LMP1 is a very competitive….
Goh Audi 3:35
Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx Audi 3:36
Audi Sport UK Team Veloqx Audi 3:37
Champion Audi 3:37
Pescarolo 3:38
Zytek 04S 3:41.

“The track was very dirty,” commented David Warnock, after shaking down the PK Sport Porsche at 09.00 this morning. “There were rooster tails of dust coming off the wings of the prototypes!” The PK 911 is running on Dunlops here.

We have since heard that Dindo Capello and Sebastein Bourdais were complaining about the dust getting in their eyes after just a couple of laps. Amazingly though, as above, we have cars down into the 3:36s three hours later: those are quick times, so soon. 17.00 this afternoon could be real fun…

The first red flag came early on, the Taurus Lola Caterpillar (probably) having had trouble with a seal, which saw oil and diesel fuel mix, and then appear from the oil catch tank (which overfilled). That left a trail from Mulsanne / Indianapolis to the pit lane, but doesn’t seem to have affected the track for the day.

As suggested, teams with drivers to qualify (ten laps) wanted to get their laps in early. For Rollcentre, that was Joao Barbosa. “Martin will then look at the set up,” commented Rob Barff. “We’re running stiffer than at Sebring, and we’ve got medium-low and really low downforce set-ups for the front louvres, plus small dive planes on the nose initially.

“If the day goes well, we’d like to go for a time late this afternoon on qualifiers, but it’s more important to get all three drivers up to speed.”

By 10.00 this morning, we had Olivier or Ollie setting a 3:58 in the no. 4 Corvette, Alain Menu a 4:00 in one Prodrive Ferrari. This one was having an engine change later this morning….

McRae: "I'm quite happy with the start but it's very difficult to find the braking points and the car is bouncing a lot at the front on the brakes so I haven't got full confidence in it. I'm quite happy with the times at the moment and we're looking at my laps against Alain's, who's quickest at the moment. I know roughly where I'm losing time at the moment, I can feel it when I'm in the car and the data backs it up. I need to find the right braking points. After ten laps though it's not bad."

Lehto was already into the 3:38s at this point (10.00).

Chris Dyson was due out third in the Lammers / Kaneishi / Dyson Dome, but had to be patient around midday, as the Japanese had had “a little overrev” according to Jan Lammers, and John Judd Jnr. had an endoscope into each of the cylinders to check for damage. We think none was found.

Dyson: “If status quo remains in the ALMS next year, we would like to continue with two cars.” Here’s hoping it does and they do.

John Wickham – Bentley TM last year – is with the Zytek Engineering team “for the Test Day and the 24 Hours” commented Trevor Foster. The new black car has had one or two new car at Le Mans issues (gearing and a touch of porpoising), plus a melted airline for the jacks, but it’s close to the pace already, first time here.

Brabs was still chuckling about Johnny Mowlem running out of fuel a few yards into France….

Kevin Buckler’s team is having a lovely time so far with the brand new, Lars [“Wheelspin”] Nielsen-owned RSR (a car that was entered for LM by John Nielsen, but didn’t get an entry, so namesake Lars took it on and asked Buckler to enter it). “We’ll have an all-new colour scheme for the race, all new suits, you’re gonna be amazed by it,” said the always active American. Lots of different shades of blue, we hear, designed by the same graphics people who created the ALMS colour scheme. Ian Donaldson was loving the car: “I can brake deeper and deeper, it’s like a very fast road car, it’s wonderful.”

TRG is thinking about doing Bathurst – if that race goes ahead this year: Donaldson loves it down under.

Keith Ahlers reported that Neil Cunningham was running in the fresh V8 in the Morgan this morning, “5,000 revs to start with,” but that was soon upped to 7,000. The team has a different diff. to try this afternoon, and will then work on set-up, having got all three drivers qualified, they hope, while also getting more miles on the engine.

Champion Audi has done a rear end change – perfectly possible at a test day, of course. JJ ran over something this morning and damaged the gearbox. The quickest way to fix it was to change one third of the car. Not allowed in June.

John Nielsen was first out in the Lister, all three Danes having enjoyed their airfield run last night: “It’s a lazy engine, compared to what I was used to last year in the DBA. It’s very relaxing and it’s got a lot of torque,” said Big John.

Intersport: the 32 Clint Field B2K / 40 has had a gear linkage problem, the 27 B160 has had a long brake pedal, which the team believe might be connected to a right front bearing failure. Larry Connor has done his ten laps, while Field and Daytona don’t need to set the ten tours of Le Mans.

The 62 Barron Connor Ferrari 575 has had a puncture, early in the lap, necessitating a long, slow trip back to avoid damage.

The 81 TRG Porsche has had an off, Lars [“Wheelspin”] Nielsen at the wheel: damage to the left front, and he’s reporting a slight water leak, so he’ll be towed in at lunchtime.

The second red flag (going back in time now) was caused by Hernandez having quite a big one at Mulsanne Corner on his first lap out in the del Bello Reynard. The whole front end is badly stoved in, but the team assure RLM’s Graham Tyler that it will be fixed for the race.

Kristensen has set a 3:35.68 in the Goh Audi, shortly before lunchtime.

Returning to earlier on this morning, Tim Sugden, with a timing log in the Ian Khan / Perspective Porsche, thought he’d done “about a 4:19 in a short three lapper to get us going. I was amazed it was a 4:12.” That was fastest in GT then, an amazing time on such a dusty track.”

Three and a half hours later, he was almost still fastest in GT, a 4:09.762. “This car is very good round here, although we’ve only got a standard engine.” Suggie is over two seconds quicker than Jorg Bergneister. The 85 Porsche has gone slightly quicker, but it is four years younger!

Marc Lieb had an off in the BAM! RSR, at Tertre Rouge – at 12.15. He was making room for a Corvette and was perplexed as to how he went off, except that he hit a bump. The car has broken its steering rack.

RML ran both rear wings (2m and 1.8 m) at Ricard earlier this month: they sought a baseline with the 2003 wing, before changing to the 2004 version. No problems with the B160, and none of the three drivers need to qualify today, as all ‘raced’ here last year (Saleen / Lister).

Tom Coronel was delighted to tell Laurence Pearce a couple of days ago that he would be a rival to the Lister at Le Mans – all in good humour. Will you go for a time later today Tom, if all goes well? “Yes, I will. I know the car and circuit much better than Ralph and Justin. We are very quick down the straight, but we need a little more downforce”.

This car had a battery change at 09.00 (a slow job on this car still), while the Clan Des Team Dallara had the extinguisher go off before the car had a chance to go out.

The 61 Barron Connor Ferrari has had binding brakes…. And the top three at 13.00 are within four tenths, in the order Goh, Champion, UK 88. UK 8 is fourth, seven tenths back, Pescarolo, Lammers and Zytek next.

GTS is Corvette (4), Ferrari (66), Corvette (3)… then the Larbre Ferrari.

All the times as the afternoon session starts: must eat something!

 

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