Le Mans: Le Mans begins the countdown as 62 cars complete testing for the legendary 24 Hours
After the static photo call, the 62 cars sprang into action, each crew sizing up the opponents. The 43 teams fielding the 62 cars on the grid are split into four classes: 8 in LMP1, 20 in LMP2, 17 in LMGTE PRO and 17 in LMGTE Am. The 33 rookies all completed their mandatory ten laps, five of which had to be officially timed.
Test Day is a vital part of the groundwork before the classic endurance race. Two sessions, morning and afternoon, offer competitors the opportunity to assess their cars in race conditions and to encounter the extraordinary circuit, which, being part public roads, is only open for official race sessions. Test Day performance demonstrates current form and is the first chance to size up the field. Drivers with no recent experience of the race must complete ten laps (five of them timed), having already undergone simulator training to familiarise themselves with the idiosyncrasies of the race and circuit.
Testing was the operative word, from tyre compounds, to pit stop operations and fuel consumption. Then there were checks on reliability and resistance and revision of the rulebook. It may only be a test run, but it is by no means easy going! Drivers were introduced to a few slight alterations to the circuit: a resurfaced area, rumble strips in new angles, narrower passages and areas with more rubber deposits than before.
The new Full Course Yellow procedure was also tested. Race Control had the ideal opportunity to check that the rules were fully understood by all and the army of track marshals ensured the procedure ran smoothly.
In 10 days, drivers and cars head for Place de la République to undergo scrutineering and administrative checks in Le Mans city centre. On Tuesday 4 June, the Bugatti, the closed-off portion of the main 24 Hours circuit, hosts another preliminary track session for the last tweaks to settings before the practice and qualifying sessions on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 13 June.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is not only one of the world’s best-known sporting events, its power of attraction also lies in its historic, cultural and musical aspects.
Top of the time sheets were:
LMP1, the Toyota Gazoo Racing #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid on 3:19.440
in LMP2, Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 Oreca 07 on 3:28.504
in LMGTE Pro, the Corvette Racing #63 Corvette C7R on 3:54.001
in LMGTE Am, the WeatherTech Racing #62 Ferrari 488 on 3:56.862
MissionH24 : The next stage
The LMPH2G at the iconic Le Mans circuit
On Sunday 2 June, at the Test Day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the hydrogen-powered prototype MissionH24 had the iconic 13.626-km circuit to itself for a few minutes.
In the break between the two pre-race test sessions, the LMPH2G was able to complete two laps of the Circuit des 24 Heures in race conditions. The H24Racing engineers took the opportunity to gather precious data which will be put to good use as the project progresses.
The MissionH24 project initiated by the ACO and GreenGT is laying the foundations for a hydrogen-electric class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans to be introduced in 2024.