March 1st 2016 – As announced on 13th November 2015, a support race for Le Mans 24 Hours will take place with LM P3s and GT3s in the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, at the 84th Le Mans 24 Hours on 18-19 June 2016.
The first running of this new support race is called ‘Road to Le Mans’ and organised by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest with the collaboration of Le Mans Endurance Management (the promoter of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup Series), it will be held in the late morning of Saturday 18th June on the legendary 13,629-km Sarthe circuit.
The ‘Road to Le Mans’ race is the second round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup reserved for GT3 cars, it will form part of the six rounds of the 2016 European Le Mans Series, and a curtain-raiser to the Le Mans 24 Hours.
For the LM P3 prototypes that enable teams and drivers to access the first step of the endurance pyramid it is a single event and won’t count for any championship. Only prototypes racing in the ACO Series (ELMS and Asian Le Mans) will be allowed to start.
The ACO will reserve itself the right to invite other GT3s and LM P3s to compete in this new supporting race to the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Entries for the Road to Le Mans will open on Monday 18th March and close on Friday 15th April. A selection committee will meet after entries have closed to draw up the list of cars allowed to start Road to Le Mans.
Full season entrants competing in the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup will be given automatic entries. For the others (LM P3s and invitations) the entry fee will be 12 000 euros (+ tax if applicable). The number of cars allowed to start will be confirmed on 25th March.
The start of this race (50 to 60 minutes maximum, confirmation on 25th March) will be given on Saturday 18th June at 11h10. Beforehand, scrutineering and administrative checks will take place on Tuesday 14th June from 4 p.m to 6 p.m and Wednesday 15th June from 9 a.m to midday. Two 1-hour free practice sessions will be held on Wednesday 15th June from 8.30 p.m to 9.30 p.m, and Thursday 16th June from 2.30 p.m to 3.30 p.m followed by a 30-minute qualifying session on Thursday from 6 p.m to 6.30 p.m.
The format of the race foreseen for one or two drivers* will impose a minimum driving time of 20mn per driver, and a pit stop (minimum time fixed by the regulations) within a given time window.
For safety reasons slow zones will be used, but the system will be different to that of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Eight to ten zones will be in place with signalisation and control of the average speeds.
For this new event Shell will be the official fuel supplier, and in compliance with the regulations refuelling will be forbidden during the practice sessions and the race.
There will be no limit on tyres. A single slick specification will be available for each category and Michelin will be the sole supplier.
The whole field will have a paddock and a dedicated hospitality unit on the Maison Blanche circuit.
Road to Le Mans reinforces the determination of the ACO to consolidate the development of the endurance nursery and to highlight the promotional categories in this branch of the sport.
Reminder: the support race programme for the Le Mans 24 Hours will be completed by the Ferrari Challenge.
*Rules concerning the driver line-ups
2 drivers: Bronze/Bronze or Bronze/Silver or Bronze/Gold
1 driver: (not allowed for Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup competitors): Bronze
2 drivers: Bronze/Silver or Bronze/Bronze
1 driver: Bronze
About the GT3 Le Mans Cup
The Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup fills a gap in the endurance racing landscape which, until now, didn’t provide a chance for GT3 drivers and cars to compete around the legendary home of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
On Saturday, June 18, the teams and drivers registered for the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup will be given the opportunity to share the famous 13.629km circuit with LM P3 prototype competitors in a special curtain-raiser ahead of the 84th Le Mans 24 Hours.
The event stands out as the highlight of the new series which features five other rounds that will serve as support races of European Le Mans Series and Formula Renault meetings at such well-known venues as Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), Le Castellet (France), Estoril (Portugal) and Imola (Italy).
Rounds of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup will be based on a format of two 60-minute free practice sessions and a 30-minute qualifying session (including a 10-minute ‘Superpole’ shootout) on the Friday, followed by a two-hour race on the Saturday.
The Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup is open to FIA GT3 cars, with performance subject to a ‘Balance of Performance’ specified by the ACO. The two-driver crews must have at least one ‘bronze’-rated member who will be tasked with qualifying the car. The other may be ‘bronze’, ‘silver’ or ‘gold’, but ‘platinum’-listed drivers are not allowed.
Michelin, which has won such famous GT3-based long-distance classics as the Nürburgring 24 Hours and the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, is the new championship’s exclusive tyre supplier.
Competitors have a choice of competitive, durable customer racing tyres which have the mission of equipping a wide variety of cars (Ferrari, Audi, Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Aston Martin, Bentley and Lamborghini, etc.).
The Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup’s top finishers will share a total prize fund of €300,000, with €100,000 going to the outright champion – who will also be invited to contest the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours – and €10,000 set aside for the winner of each round.
An agreement between the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup and the GT Tour (which also features Michelin tyres) makes it possible to contest the two championships with reduced entry fees and to keep the same racing number for both.
Entries for the 2016 Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup close on March 14.
2016 GT3 Le Mans Cup calendar
March 19-20: pre-season test, Le Castellet (France)
May 13-14: Imola (Italy)
June 18: Le Mans (France)
July 15-16: Red Bull Ring (Austria)
August 26-27: Le Castellet (France)
September 23-24: Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium)
October 21-/22: Estoril (Portugal)