Catalunya: Series Friday practice notes

Who will lead the Spanish Armada? For the second time, the five-race Le Mans Series season kicks off at Barcelona. With 43 sportscars on the grid, the fight should be tough throughout the four classes. The first race of the season is always a...

Who will lead the Spanish Armada?

For the second time, the five-race Le Mans Series season kicks off at Barcelona. With 43 sportscars on the grid, the fight should be tough throughout the four classes.

The first race of the season is always a voyage into the unknown for everybody, because testing time-sheets are difficult to read -- you never know for sure what set-up and spec the teams are running. The official Test Days at the Paul Ricard track gave indications about the strengths of the field but some teams could not make the tests and some are newcomers in the series.

On a track that Gaudi himself, the architect who loved curves so much, could have designed, the suspense reaches its heights. The new equivalence between diesel and petrol engines confuse the issue on one hand and last year's Montmelo easy winners are not on the entry list on the other hand.

After the free practice session, today, during which the red flag was unrolled two times (among them one time after the exit of the car no.26, fortunately without any consequence), the spirits become heated int the same time that the sun comes back in Catalunya!

What's up?

Novelty is everywhere. You can find new teams and/or new cars, current teams moving to another class, even new car- or tire-manufacturers, such as Hankook or Avon.

In LMP1, Aston Martin Racing is back to challenge the overall title as a works team with a new prototype bearing the iconic blue and orange livery of Gulf Oil. The British team will face highly competitive opponents with brand new Pescarolos and Courages-ORECA-Matmut, but also Strakka Racing and its Ginetta-Zytek.

Far from being retired, the defending Audi R10 TDI, this year run by Team Kolles will try to keep its title in LMP1 whereas Speedy Racing Team Sebah gears up to LMP1 with last year's fast and reliable Lola-Aston Martin. The series is also proud to welcome Team Signature Plus, willing to show that its experience in open-wheel series can be applied to endurance, and Team ARC Bratislava in GT1, which blows a wind from the East.

In the other classes, mythical names will surely struggle strongly to honor their fame and names. Mazda or WR in LMP2, Aston Martin and Ferrari in GT2 sound familiar to race-fans, but these are new cars being entered by the marques this year.

Green, green, green!

The Le Mans Series cares about ecology and is demonstrating it by introducing new rules regarding tires. The use of less equipment and less technicians should increase the amount of time needed to change tires, hence encourage the manufacturers to produce tires able to last several stints.

One tire manufacturer, Michelin, is much involved in green-caring through the Green X Challenge. It rewards the best performer able to use the least amount of fuel at each race and at the end of the season. This challenge becomes a race within the race and also encourages car-manufacturers to introduce fuel-saving initiatives.

Don't miss this unique show this weekend in Catalunya! Even the old-timers will enjoy it, and will be delighted to watch the Classic Endurance Racing with endurance stars of yesterday, or even the Radical European Masters, which will complete the entertainment.

Be part of something big

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Series European Le Mans
Teams Aston Martin Racing , Strakka Racing