On the road to the Le Mans 24 Hours

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Eric Thompson, the first driver to be honoured as he will be the first to be inducted into the Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame

On Sunday 14th April the endurance season will kick off with the Silverstone 6 Hours. The opening round of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship will give an idea of the relative strengths of the teams with just over two months to go to the blue riband event of the year, the Le Mans 24 Hours on 22-23 June.

The entrants have been champing at the bit for the past several weeks. This year the road to Le Mans begins in Great Britain after months of intensive preparation. In LM P1, the eagerly-awaited, fabulous duel will ratchet up several notches in intensity between Audi, the reigning world championship team and winner of the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours, and its rival, Toyota. This weekend both protagonists have entered two hybrids, although the German manufacturer will have a third car in the Sarthe. Waiting in ambush to take advantage of the fallout from this battle are two privateer teams, Rebellion Racing with two Lola-Toyotas and Strakka Racing with its HPD (Honda Performance Development). Their chances have been given a boost by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s decision to reduce the performance gaps between them and the works LM P1 cars.

The ten LM P2s make this category the one with the highest number of cars in the field at Silverstone. In the absence of Starworks Racing, the 2012 champion, the 2012 runners-up ADR-Delta and Pecom Racing will be out to win, while fighting off the attacks of the three very quick Morgan-Nissans entered by OAK Racing and the Greaves Motorsport’s finely-tuned Zytek Z11SN –Nissan. Among the newcomers, a close eye should be kept on the two new Lotus T128s and the Morgan-Nissan entered by Chinese squad KCMG, which is there to prepare for the coming Le Mans 24 Hours and the Asian Le Mans Series.

A no-holds-barred battle looks on the cards in LM GTE. The six cars in the Pro category are all works entries starting with the two Ferrari F458 Italias the reigning champions driven by Fisichella-Bruni and Kobayashi-Vilander. They are up against two Aston Martin Vantages and two Porsche 911 RSRs run by Manthey Racing. All the cars are driven either by former Le Mans winners or guys who’ve come from Formula 1, which gives an idea of the overall level of quality of the competition.

The LM GTE Am category has attracted eight entries starting with the Larbre Competition Corvette (Bornhauser-Canal-Rees) who are back to defend their 2012 title; they will have a tough job on their hands fighting off teams like Krohn Racing, Imsa Performance Matmut, Aston Martin, AF Corse, etc...

On Sunday there will be a fabulous scrap on the Silverstone circuit in this race, which will start at 12h00. The winners will be awarded the prestigious Tourist Trophy, one of the oldest in the history of motor racing.

The day before (Saturday 13th April) the first round of the European Le Mans Series will take place. It lasts three hours and has attracted 25 cars. Quite a few of the 2013 Le Mans 24-Hours entries will run in this race like the Thiriet by TDS Racing, the reigning European Champion in LM P2, Murphy Prototypes and Signatech Alpine with the much anticipated Alpine A450, etc...

An exceptional service: fans can follow the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship on the ACO’s Web TV on www.lemans-tv.com as well as on the new site devoted to the Le Mans 24 Hours: www.24h-lemans.com.

Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame

Eric Thompson, the first driver to be honoured

In 2013, the Le Mans 24 Hours will celebrate their 90th anniversary. In this context the Automobile Club de l’Ouest has decided to honour drivers from the different countries in which a round of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship is taking place through their doyen.

On Saturday at 19h00 in collaboration with the British Racing Drivers Club the ACO will pay homage to Eric Thompson.

He is a member of the BRDC and he raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours seven times between 1949 and 1955, including four outings as a works Aston Martin driver. In 1951, at the wheel of a DB2 shared with Lance Macklin the doyen of the British drivers having taken part in the greatest endurance race in the world scored his best result with third place plus victory in the 2-3-litre category.

Surrounded by other British drivers, Eric Thompson will be the first to be inducted into the Le Mans Drivers Hall of Fame by Pierre Fillon, the ACO President, as well as by the youngest of the British drivers entered in this year’s race, Alex Brundle. He will race in the Silverstone 6 Hours and the Le Mans 24 Hours in a Morgan-Nissan entered by OAK Racing.

ACO Le Mans

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Series LEMANS , WEC
Article type Breaking news
Tags aco, aston martin, audi, corvette, ferrari, fillon, honda, hpd, lemans, lola, morgan, nissan, oreca, porsche, renault, thompson, toyota, wec