With just a week to go until the big race, this will understandably be a bumper blog, as there is just so much to report. Marking their return to Le Mans, the ACO will honour the manufacturer Toyota by inviting Mr. Takeshi Uchiyamada, Vice President and Director of the Toyota Motor Corporation, to start the 80th 24-Hour race at 15h00 on Saturday 16 June.
On 14th June at 11h00, Gérard Larrousse will be awarded the Spirit of Le Mans by the new ACO President Pierre Fillon for his past association with the Le Mans 24 Hours. This prestigious trophy has been awarded since 2001 by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest to people who have best served the Spirit of Le Mans. In eight starts at Le Mans, Larrousse’s record includes back-to-back wins in 1973 and 1974 after which he became team manager and was head of Renault Sport when Didier Pironi and Jean-Pierre Jaussaud won in 1978 in the Renault-Alpine A442B. Today, Larrousse continues to spread the renown of the Le Mans 24 Hours as he works with the International Club of Le Mans 24-Hours Drivers where he is the secretary.
Driving the No.15 Oak Racing Pescarolo Judd, Guillaume Moreau suffered a serious but partial injury to his spinal cord following a severe accident at the exit of the Karting Track corner towards the end of Sunday morning’s session (3 June). Guillaume has since undergone an emergency operation and although the operation went well, it will be several months before his level of recovery can be fully assessed. At the time of going to press, initial reports from the team are that the operation was successful, but it would appear that Guillaume’s recovery will be measured and rehabilitation will require patience. We would like to wish Guillaume a steady and full recovery.
Following on from the Le Mans Test Day on June 3, it seems that Audi hold the trump cards right now with the top three times to their name, but the two Toyotas took fourth and fifth places, relegating the fourth Audi to sixth place in the LMP1 class. The No.2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro of Capello/Kristensen/McNish was quickest on the day with a time of 3:25.927s which compares with the fastest Audi lap time in 2011 of 3:25.289s. Considering that power is down around seven percent (in accordance with the ACO regulations) compared with last year, this is a good time and will no doubt be improved on in qualifying and in the race proper, by some margin.
The Aston Martin team surprised most folk at the Test Day, including perhaps themselves, when the No.99 Vantage GTE AM dropped below the four minute barrier by recording the fourth fastest GTE time. What made this achievement even more spectacular, was that the No.99 car was competing in the GTE Am class, and its time of 3:59.38 placed it ahead of six other GTE Pro cars and almost two seconds ahead of the next Am car. This will be one to watch in the race!Source: ACO
Between 18th July and 5th August 2011 the famous Mulsanne Straight was resurfaced over its 5.4 km length between the Tertre Rouge and Mulsanne corners with the exception of a small section near the Mulsanne hump. The special bitumen laid down was tested by the drivers for the first time on Sunday during the test day, and Audi driver Allan McNish, who set the fastest time on 3 June, said that it gave more grip and that the little bumps had been ironed out and as a result, lap times should be even quicker. Another major project, in the interests of ongoing safety improvements, was the creation of a run-off area at Arnage with gravel trap as requested by the FIA.
In the same way that the Nissan DeltaWing has captured the attention of the ACO as showing the technology of the future, not to mention the imagination of the public, so too has the Green GT H2 been singled out as the experimental car for the 81st Le Mans 24-Hour race in 2013. Shown at the Test Day on June 3rd, the Green GT H2 will similarly occupy the No.56 pit garage and can boast to be the first racing prototype to use electric/hydrogen power. Powered by two synchronous three-phase permanent magnet motors developing 460bhp at 12,500rpm, the GreenGT H2 is expected to reach a speed close to 300km/h but just like the DeltaWing, Green GT H2 can compete but it cannot be classified.
STOP PRESS – IMPORTANT!
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest has found a quality problem on the thermal paper used for all the access tickets to the Le Mans 24-Hours test day. The tickets apparently become black when exposed to the heat or sun for extended periods, so they cannot be checked (visual or scan) when accessing the circuit. This problem relates to all tickets – pedestrians, car parks camp sites and traffic. To be able to continue to use your tickets, the ACO have requested that you respect the following instructions:
– Do not expose your tickets to the light or heat.
– Do not use the plastic pouch that enables you to show the car park, welcome area or traffic circulation pass behind your windscreen.
– Only take out the ticket for checks.
– Do not leave them in your vehicle.
For further information or where to get your tickets reprinted at the circuit, please visit: http://www.lemans.org
Greg Oaten says
Hey Glen – great article, and I’m very jealous!! I’ll be watching on TV and hoping for a good performance from Aston Martin.