|Le Mans Test Day|
| Marc Laffeas & David Legangneux|
Friday was full of news:
The three "works" Audis were testing on the airport straight (Champion and Joest). The Joest Audis didn't go through scrutineering due to this late test, and will enter the scrutineering area on Saturday morning.
Strong line-up for the Gulf Audi:
Johansson - Martini - Gounon.
Ferdinand Piech will give the starting flag for the race.
The missing teams from Thursday evening were finally in their pits this morning. The scrutinneering operations began under the rain. Ascari are in 'pole' at the entrance. The two cars had a trouble free journey among the technical marshals and officials' tents.
"We were proud to accomplish a second place at Monza, although we were thinking of victory.... the missing screw in the brake disc was against us. We have standard engines in the two cars, with the same specification. A Le Mans engine will be prepared by Judd - for us and the SMG courage (with a lower rev. limit). Our aim for the Test Day is to improve the reliability of the package. Werner (Lupberger) needs to learn the track, while Toivonen knows it well. Patrick Lemariť will be a great help to us, but Monza prepared us well with the long straights. Werner will start with the #20 while Patrick Lemariť will take the single roll hoop car, number 21. We want durability for Sunday."
The two "private" Audis were following the British Ascari team through, and some interesting details on the Champion car suggest that this chassis is a 2001 version. The other news was that Stefan Johansson has found a strong line-up, with the 1999 winner and 1996 pole man (Pier-Luigi Martini) and the GT 1997 winner (Jean-Marc Gounon).
Everybody was then waiting for the Audis, but no sign of Herr Joest or Dr Ulrich near the tents. We will have to wait until Saturday morning; the cars were being tested on the airport straight (about 15 runs). What is sure is that the two cars are new chassis.
Now you can post the story: there will be three different types of Audis, the new Joest (full 2001 new cars), the Champion with the chassis #502, the early 2001 factory car that won Texas, Sebring and Donington, and the Gulf with the chassis #403, last year's #7 (black highlights) at Le Mans and I think the 2K Sebring winning car (sorry, no, it came second at Sebring last year).
The Bentleys were very popular with the French fans. Andy Wallace knows it is very quick....
The SMG Courage has a new colour: dark blue, as on the #13 Courage Nissan in 1999. Speedy is still the big sponsor.
The Luc Alphand Adventures Porsche (mostly orange) will be driven by Alphand, Marques & Ligonnet.
An engine has been changed on one Panoz during the afternoon. Interesting technical details to see and to photograph in the front part of the car.
Thanks to Oreca for being very open and alllowing photos of their Mopar engine (details later). Not the case with DAMS.
One Seikel Porsche has the same look as last year, and the other is fully black.
The two Freisinger Porsches were today fully white, without any decals on them.
Henri Pescarolo presented his new Courage C60 chassis, a brand new one. Henri was slightly unhappy with the MG colours...the team is disappointed because they won't be able to use the 2001 engines this Sunday, owing to some late parts. But they are mostly happy with their early season, despite a lot of little problems for three of the four races, that concluded with retirement. They have learnt a lot with these four races; about the car of course, but also about the team itself.
It is unlikely now that this team will take part at Spa (FIA) and Jarama (ELMS). Henri Pescarolo would prefer to make a long distance test at Magny-Cours between April 14 & 17. But maybe it could only be a testing session to work on the engine, to improve its set-up.
The 'Lola' family followed the the two Domes, and Panoz Motor Sport missed the scrutineering session. Tomorrow, with the work Audis, is their unexpected shedule. Heavy work on the Panoz cars and some changes with the engine and the chassis and bodywork............see Saturday report.
So,the British LMP675s are wearing a Pescarolo green. Surprising! The Roock Racing Lola B2K/40 reminds us that the MG is a Lola chassis, with similar 'wind tunnel' arrangements at the rear.
Ray Rowan explains that the Pilbeam was through scrutineering OK, just a few details to modify on the bodywork and 'wind tunnel' but very few.
The two drivers need to learn the track on Sunday, but before that a lot of work awaits the team on Saturday as they will receive the new 3.4 liter engine from England (no, change that, they won't).
The ROC Auto cars are free of any VW stickers and the cars haven't hit the track since the Nurburgring event last year. But we know they are quick, the engine trouble of last year is fixed - from an informed source. They have the same colours (yellow, blue & grey) as last year... but without Telefonica too. There is a "Lehman Motoren" on the engine cover part of the bodywork.
Among the Vipers, it will be interesting to keep an eye on the FFSA car, this one receives official Oreca support.
Mike Pickup is delighted to be here with his PK Sport / Ricardo team, and is excited to enter this great race (seen with Mike Youles, below).
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