There are just two weeks to go until the 2013 Le Mans 24H race on 22/23 June, with the Test Day taking place on Sunday, 9 June. The action off the track is no less frenetic than it will be on track during these dates as cars drop out at the last minute only to be replaced by others on the reserve list.
This weekend the teams entered for the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24H race, will be assembled in France in preparation for the official test day on Sunday, 9th June. Testing runs will take place from 09h00–18h00 (with a break between 13h00-14h00) and the track is open to the 56 entrants plus some special invitational cars. For example, there will be the fourth Audi R18 e-tron quattro on the track carrying out specific Michelin tyre tests for the 2014 race, plus two Formula Le Mans ORECAS from Team Endurance Challenge, although these LM PC cars are not eligible for the 2013 race.
Following some strong words between certain teams after the Spa 6-Hour race, the ACO/FIA has issued an advisory regarding a Balance of Performance (BoP) adjustment in both the LM P1 and LM GTE classes. For the Le Mans 24H race all petrol-engined cars – hybrid or non-hybrid – will receive increased fuel capacity of 3 litres bringing the cars’ allowable capacity to 76 litres. This change will be relevant to Toyota Racing’s two TS030 Hybrid entries, as well as the two Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60 Coupé-Toyotas and the single Strakka Racing HPD ARX03C-Honda. The Endurance Committee has also revealed a BoP adjustment to the Aston Martin Pro cars in that they will carry an extra 10kg of ballast, while the Porsches in both the Pro and Am classes will have their air restrictor size increased from 28.3mm to 28.6mm.
An opportunity has arisen for the Prospeed Team whereby the #75 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Collard/Perodo/Crubilé) in the LM GTE Am class has been elevated from the reserve list. This follows the withdrawal of the GreenGT H2, this year’s Garage 56 entrant and the first racing hydrogen/electric prototype, due to insufficient preparation by the team. Confirmation has also come through that the Italian driver, Matteo Malucelli, will be the third driver in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia for the Le Mans 24H race.
The GTE class offers perhaps the strongest chance of close racing within a class, as the Pro category will be contested by five factory teams (or factory supported teams) and include Aston Martin, Corvette, Ferrari, Porsche and Viper. The LM GTE Am category will see four manufacturers filling 14 places on the grid and these include two Aston Martins, two Corvettes, five Ferraris and five Porsches.
Dempsey Del Piero Racing announced this week that factory Porsche driver Patrick Long would join team drivers Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster at the wheel of the #77 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. Long, an ALMS GT2 class champion and Porsche works driver since 2004, has also spent time behind the wheel of the Flying Lizard Porsche on a number of occasions, and boasts a list of achievements that ranks him as one of the best drivers in the world in endurance racing today.
On the LM P2 front, Archie Hamilton will join the G Drive Racing by Delta-ADR team in the #25 Oreca 03 Nissan. Grandson of the legendary Le Mans driver Duncan Hamilton, young Archie (22 years) is no novice behind the wheel and will be competing 60 years after his grandfather won the event in 1953 with Tony Rolt in a C-type Jaguar. Archie has competed in a number of classes around the world since he began racing in 2007 including Formula Renault, Carrera Cup, International GT Open, Dubai 24 Hours and won the City Challenge in the Porsche Supercup.
There will also be a bit of colour in the P2 class as OAK Racing reveals its Costa Art Car, one of the French team’s three LMP2 entries in this year’s Le Mans 24H race. Planned for a big reveal on Friday last week in Paris, the unveiling was suddenly forbidden without explanation, and so the race car had to remain under wraps for the night and the final presentation will now take place at Le Mans on Sunday 9 June at 13h00.
I am certainly looking forward to getting there the week leading up to the race and getting my piece of the action on camera…