***The #93 Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR-19 has undergone a chassis change following Michael Fassbender’s crash during qualifying on Wednesday. The GTE-Am entry joined the action in Free Practice 3.
***TDS Racing also brought a new chassis to replace its Oreca 07 Gibson damaged in an accident for Philippe Cimadomo during EL3. Another LMP2 victim of this session, the Oreca Graff did not undergo a chassis change after Sébastien Page crashed just after Indianapolis. The angle of impact helped the team determine that its chassis was safe.
***Brendon Hartley became the first New Zealand driver to claim pole at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since Bruce McLaren in 1967, a 55-year gap. Appropriately enough, both drivers shot in the 3:24.4 range, albeit on different circuit formats.
***Toyota tied Audi for second place in the list of manufacturers with the most poles at Le Mans. Both have eight and only sit behind Porsche’s 19 poles.
*** There was virtually nothing to separate Corvette Racing teammates Nick Tandy and Antonio Garcia at the top of the GTE-Pro order, with a difference of less than two tenths of a second: “It’s such a lap long so you make mistakes that change the lap a bit,” Garcia told Sportscar365. “A 1-2 Corvette is something we haven’t seen in a long time, so we’re happy with where we’re at. are.”
*** Corvette Racing last locked the front row of a Le Mans grid 12 years ago in 2010, when the manufacturer recorded a 1-2 qualifying result in the GT2 class.
***The problem that locked the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid in its garage for the first part of qualifying on Wednesday was linked to work on the suspension, explained Thursday the technical director of the manufacturer Hypercar Pascal Vasselon. “Something went wrong during a suspension corner change and it took longer than expected,” he told Sportscar365. “We have a specific plan with the use of parts. We didn’t want to bring another suspension bend, so they had to put up with the issue.
*** Last year’s winning #7 Toyota GR010 hybrid, still dirty from previous use, and a Porsche Mission R concept are displayed on the Michelin stand in the fan village.
***Porsche brought a model of its LMDh car to Le Mans. The car, sporting its camouflage test livery, is on display in a hospitality unit in the Fan Village area.
***Le Mans marks the last race with Toyota for the manufacturer’s marketing, events and communications manager, Alastair Moffitt, who has been with the company for over 15 years to support its activities in Formula 1 and, more recently, the WEC .
***Nelson Piquet Jr. is at Le Mans as a guest with United Autosports. The former Brazilian Formula 1 driver will compete for the team in the European Le Mans Series next year.
***Ricky Taylor will make his sixth LMP2 start at Le Mans, replacing Alpine driver Nicolas Lapierre at Cool Racing. “I never came to Le Mans with a full lineup for the season,” Taylor said of his super-sub status. “I have always come to Le Mans as a substitute or with a team that only does Le Mans. It was never a totally comfortable situation.
*** Nielsen Racing team manager Stuart Moseley has described how the British team sees the future of its LMP2 programme, which currently races in the European Le Mans Series. “Our current focus is on what we’re doing right now, and doing it well,” he told Sportscar365. “If we expand to more than one P2 car, or if we have the opportunity to do so, we will. But not for the fun of it.
*** Sources in Paddock have indicated that Toyota Gazoo Racing’s No.8 motor racing engineer, Jakob Andreason, will join United Autosports as their new technical director later this year, as part of budding prospects for ‘British American Team Hypercar. TGR-E technical director Vasselon and United team co-owner Richard Dean declined to comment when asked by Sportscar365.
***CD Sport’s Ligier JS P217 Gibson previously contested Le Mans with Panis Barthez Competition before moving to Eurointernational, who raced it in the first half of the 2021 Asian Le Mans Series. CD Sport bought the car shortly after earning an automatic invite to Le Mans for winning the LMS LMP3 Asian title earlier this year.
***CD Sport technical director Jean-Noël Le Gall told Sportscar365 that the French team encountered a gearbox problem during testing and borrowed one from United Autosports. A new gearbox was installed between FP3 and FP4. The crew installed the United gearbox last Tuesday before heading to the Val de Vienne circuit for a shakedown two days before scrutineering.
***The team’s objective is simply to reach the checkered flag. He does not plan to run the Ligier in any other races after this weekend. “No one knows the Ligier on Goodyears,” noted Le Gall. “We’re really proud to be here and to compete with all the top teams.”
*** Graffiti appeared on a sign next to the WRT team reception on Thursday afternoon. It includes the tagline “Rebelation,” with associated social media channels pointing to a July 8 launch. WRT driver Ferdinand Habsburg is followed by the Rebelation Instagram account.
***The Mission H24 prototype hit a personal best 290.8 km/h (180.7 mph) in a straight-line record attempt on Wednesday, the program announced last night. The downpour before the attempt created some apprehension, as Stephane Richelmi had only a short distance to warm up his slick tires from the pit lane to the measuring area at the start of the Mulsanne straight.
***The Le Mans Virtual series is organizing a public esports competition in the fan village. The fastest 16 drivers in the hot lap standings will be invited back for the semi-final races, with the top four of those advancing to a Grand Final to decide the champion. See the best qualifying times here.
***Lilou Wadoux described her transition from the Alpine Europa Cup to LMP2 this year as a “big step” but that she “learns a lot” with each WEC race. “It’s hard to learn aero very quickly,” said the Richard Mille Racing Team driver. “This year, it’s to learn LMP2 in WEC.” Wadoux then hopes to stay in the category next year before pushing for a Hypercar seat.
***Kazuki Nakajima will return the Le Mans trophy to the grid during Saturday’s pre-race ceremonies. The three-time winner and vice-president of Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe will descend in a Toyota 85C, which was raced at Le Mans by his father Satoru in 1985.
***The first of the two Road to Le Mans races took place on Thursday evening. A number of teams and drivers on the Le Mans grid doubled up for the race with Mikkel O. Pedersen, Laurents Hoerr, Matt Bell and Mark Kvamme taking to the track for the 55-minute contest between FP3 and Hyperpole.
***Road to Le Mans LMP3 teams that overlap are Team WRT, Spirit of Race and Kessel Racing competing in the GT3 class. United Autosports, DKR Engineering, Nielsen Racing, IDEC Sport, Optimum Motorsport, Cool Racing, CD Sport, Graff and Inter Europol Competition. AF Corse had cars in the LMP3 and GT3 categories.
*** ACO and IMSA management figures gathered for a photo at the new Daytona chicane, which is the first chicane on the Mulsanne straight.
***The 24 Hours of Le Mans peloton will return to the track on Saturday for the warm-up and the start of the race. Friday gives time for final preparations on the track, while the drivers will take part in the parade back to the city center at 17:00 CEST.
***In addition, the annual ACO press conference is scheduled for 11:00 am when the Le Mans and WEC organizer is expected to announce key elements of its future plans.
John Dagys and Davey Euwema contributed to this report