2013 brings us the 90th running of the Le Mans 24hr race. The 24hr of Le Mans is most historic endurance race in the world and the highlight of many fan’s year. The story lines are always rich and never stop even after the checker flag flies.
This year is no different as the Lotus LMP2 team started today with their cars being stripped by a bailiff acting a court order to seize parts off the cars. This was later resolved during a late day court order and the Lotus LMP2 cars will race this weekend.
The big news is that Viper is back at Le Mans running in GTE PRO. This is huge as Viper dominated during the first few years at Le Mans. There hasn’t been this much American fire power in France since D day when you factor in the Corvette Racing team.
The British bring Aston Martin Racing with its 5 cars. It boils down to a World War 2 battle between the Allies and Axis. Porsche and Ferrari bring a strong stable, but lack BMW this year for extra support for the Axis. This battle with be waged throughout the GTE Pro and GTE AM classes over the course of the weekend.
So far no one make getting an edge. During practice the times were very similar and hard to see who offloaded the fastest car for the weekend ahead. Although the Aston’s have been staying near the top in GTE Pro. The Porsche’s are barely holding onto P1 in GTE AM. One worrisome thing is that the Corvettes are well off the pace and well down the GTE Pro time sheets. The Corvettes were issued performance balancing adjustments last week and it seems they have yet to figure out a setup.
The LMP1 class has been an Audi owned class and doesn’t appear to be chased by the Toyota. Not much seemed changed from last year’s LMP1 battles as we go into this 2013 race. Through second practice the Toyota’s were 3 seconds slower so the sign this year for Toyota to fight the Audi’s doesn’t appear to be good. The other teams running LMP1 cars are way down the timesheets which means the only way they will factor in is if everyone crashes or there is an act of god. The interesting news is for next year’s race with Porsche showing pictures of their LMP1 hybrid which possibly can take a fight to the Audi squad.
LMP2 battles are going to be the entire race long as not one team so far, could get a straggle hold on P1 in practice. There is a strong showing for the LMP2 this year and given their practice times it’s going to be a show worth watching. During most of the second practice every team was within 1.5 second of each other. Level 5 motorsports and Oak racing were the two teams who were swapping p1 for the most part. Level 5 motorsports with who I spoke with earlier today says they are well prepare for the rain and have many different strategies. Hopefully I’ll be updating tomorrow after I speak to them more about the race and preparation for the weather and how their driver’s prep themselves for a nighttime rain stint.
Practice so far has been a task in not wrecking the cars. The Krohn Racing Ferrari had a massive impact with the wall during Practice2 which resulted in the session being ended due to extensive wall damage. Tracy Krohn said was ok and was pushing very hard when the rear snapped lose in the downhill Dunlop curves. Although the Krohn Ferrari was the worst impact, many teams battled off and on’s during the practice as the rain stopped just long to attempt to push. Many prototype teams suffered off’s and body work damage as a result of gravel traps. The GTE classes were awash in off and on’s. Even Patrick Dempsy had an off that resulted in a length pit stop to remove the gravel and for bumper repair. The weather has been following the races with off and on rain all day.
The weather which is always a factor at Le Mans is at its finest this race week. Rain is in the forecast for the entire race even with some thunderstorms expected. From talking with the teams, everyone is prepared for an entire race in the ever changing weather conditions. This weather may determine the how and what kind of race we can expect on Saturday. Allen Mcnish says rain will “only spice it up” and the taller trees around the Musaline straight will cause spray to hang in the air limiting visibility more than ever before. Stay Tuned as we get closer to race day and start to get a cleaner picture of who has a fast car under them, who doesn’t, and what Mother Nature will deal the driver’s during the race.
Also follow at Twitter at @KevinGlaus for updates throughout the entire race weekend.