The Official season testing began this week for the 2020 European Le Mans series season. It feels odd saying that testing is beginning in July, but it’s nice to see some form of normality coming back with international motorsport coming at us thick and fast and the European Le Mans series is back this weekend.
8 hours of track running today for the season entrants at Paul Ricard ahead of a condensed season with the challenge of squeezing the Le Mans 24 hours in the middle of the season. A lot of new for this season with teams changing chassis to New chassis in LMP3 and the addition of another Hollywood name to Endurance racing.
First up, I’m sure we all followed and watched the Porsche YouTube series 9 months ago. Michael Fassbender: Road To Le Mans, if you didn’t then please go find all 6 episodes, grab some snacks and sit down and enjoy. It was well put together mini series watching the progression of the Fassbender as a driver from testing to racing a Porsche Carrera Cup car into testing the Proton Competition GTE car at Adria circuit and feeling quite comfortable in it.
Fast forward 9 months and this week we were given the news that Michael Fassbender will be joining the European Le Mans Series for the 2020 series. He is down to drive the #93 Proton Competition Porsche with Porsche star Richard Leitz and Felipé Fernandez Laser.
“Even before I started acting I had a big dream to go racing, It was clear to me at a young age. My father was an avid driver and he taught me a lot.” said Fassbender, whose first foray into motorsport came on the Porsche Driving Experience program.
Dempsey-Proton Racing team boss Christian Ried added: “It’s always wonderful to be able to tackle new projects, and this is a very special one. It’ll be interesting to see how Michael progresses. As a team, we’re delighted to be able to accompany him on his road to Le Mans.
A Welcome addition to the ELMS show for a couple rounds is the Factory entry from Aston Martin Racing with Paul Dalla Lana, Mathias Lauda and Ross Gunn. The team will compete in the first 2 rounds of the season before stepping back into the WEC world and focusing themselves on the main prize for the final three rounds of the World Endurance Championship.
The Team were present for the opening 8 hours of testing in Paul Ricard, important time for the team after they admit this has been the longest break from active motorsport for the Aston Martin Racing Brand since returning to the forefront of sportscar racing back in 2005 with the infamous DBR9.
LMP3 returns with another strong field, 12 entries on the list for the testing at Paul Ricard. Out of those 12 entries on the list it features 8 Ligier chassis all now the updated JS P320 new for 2020 with the now similar looking front end to their LMP2 chassis. United Autosports topped the times throughout the 8 hours worth of track time today.
Tom Gamble outshined the field in the #2 United Autosports Ligier by 4 tenths ahead of the Real Time Racing Ligier. These two lead the field in the morning session and proved their pace by following it up in the afternoons 4 hour session.
Neilsen Racing’s Duqueine Chassis was the quickest non Ligier, Colin Noble setting the 4th fastest time of the afternoon behind the 3rd quickest Ligier of the #34 Inter-Europol.
LMP2 still remain the majority in the field with a high of 15 entries listed for the season. Oreca still reigns supreme in number with 13 of the 15 entries as well as the solo Aurus Branded Oreca making it 14 out of the 15 LMP2 chassis entered.
In the morning Dragonspeed topped the times with the teams still finding their feet as they all come together to get their routines back to normal at a circuit. By the afternoon’s session the teams really started hammering in the times and we saw Nico Lapierre jump to the top onboard the #37 COOL Racing Oreca just a mere 0.4seconds faster than the #22 United Autosport Oreca with Phil Hanson onboard.
In GTE it was a real close affair by the end of the afternoons session. The #83 Iron Lynx Ferrari 488 GTE Evo was the way on pace but only 0.04 seconds behind was the Spirit of Race Ferrari. The #77 Dempsey Proton Porsche was just a tiny 0.003 seconds slower.
The GTE field of 2020 is 9 cars strong and by the end of the afternoons running we saw 8 of those 9 GTE cars within 0.6 seconds of the lead time. The only car outside those 0.6 seconds was the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.