Saturday 5 May 2018

FIA WEC: Spa-Francorchamps pre-race updates

#7 Toyota lost pole position 

The #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing lost its pole position yesterday afternoon due to an incorrect identification number for the car's fuel flow meter.  The decision saw the cancellation of all lap times in the qualifying session, ensuring that the car will start from the pit lane only after the last car in the field has covered the first lap and following directions from the Race Director.  Toyota declared "they accept full responsibility for the error, which had no impact whatsoever on car performance. The fuel flow meter which was used in the #7 was fully homologated and calibrated."

This means that the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid of Fernando Alonso, Kazyuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi will start from pole position. The #1 Rebellion R13 of Neel Jani, Andre Lotterer and Bruno Senna now joins the Toyota on the front row of the grid. 

#86 Gulf Racing Porsche to the back of the grid

The #86 Gulf Racing Porsche has been set back to the grid due to a pitlane infringement during qualifying. Michael Wainwright exceeded the pitlane speed limit and saw all his qualifying times cancelled.

Both Ginetta's withdrawn from the race

Yesterday evening, Ginetta released the following statement confirming that both G60-LT-P1 cars will not start for the opening round of the FIA WEC Super season at Spa-Francorchamps:

It is with great disappointment that we have to announce that Ginetta will no be releasing the two LMP1 cars that successfully ran at the FIA WEC Prologue at Paul Ricard earlier this month.

Unfortunately, funds promised have not arrived from TRS (China) to CEFC TRSM Racing (UK).

The required funds for Ginetta were due some time ago and whilst we understand that TRS (China) has been working with its sponsors to sort the issues, without payment, Ginetta cannot allow the cars to race.  Ginetta remains committed to working with CEFC TRSM Racing (UK) on this programme.

We are aware that CEFC TRSM Racing has visited TRS many times in China and can also confirm that TRS have visited Ginetta three times recently, the last time to attend a Royal visit. We have been informed by TRS that the current situation is a short-term cash flow problem and that the main funds are in place for payment before Le Mans.

Chairman of Ginetta, Lawrence Tomlinson said:“We’ve got to a situation where a UK-based team with excellent ability, kit and personnel, plus a pair of the latest LMP1 cars with confirmed and fully paid up entries for the 2018/19 FIA WEC (including two entries at Le Mans in both 2018 & 2019) are unable to race simply due to funds not flowing."

Rumours about financial woes have been going round the paddock all weekend, both Ginetta's only completing an installation lap at the practice sessions and staying in the garages during qualifying.  Apparently Manor's main sponsor CEFC China has been under investigation by the Chinese government concerning financial fraude.  How this will affect Ginetta's further involvement in the World Endurance Championship and the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans is still uncertain.  

Dragonspeed's tub damaged after Fittipaldi's shunt

The Dragonspeed BR1/Gibson in which Pietro Fittipaldi had a big shunt on the Raidillon has - as expected - been withdrawn from the race.  The car suffered from substantial damage on its tub.  

The FIA has published a new bulletin this morning stating Fittipaldi is well and his condition is stable.  He was operated on last nights for fractures to both his legs, and the operation went well. He remains under observation at the hospital.  The left leg, which suffered a complex fracture, has been satisfactorily operated upon. Pietro was completely conscious on exiting the Operating Suite and was able to describe what happened to him.  At 10.30h today he left intensive care.  His father was with him throughout the night.  

Busy pit walk and autograph session

Glorious sunshine this morning at Spa-Francorchamps and a good coming into the track for the opening race of the FIA WEC Super season.  The traditional pitwalk and autograph session was really packed, especially at the Toyota Gazoo Racing pitboxes where Fernando Alonso had his first taste of the fan-friendly and open atmosphere of the WEC paddock. 

The green flag for the 6 hours of Spa-Francorchamps will be waived at 13.30h local time here Belgium. 

Text: Kristof Vermeulen
Pictures: JellyBaby.Media