Past, present and future of Le Mans

Past, present and future of Le Mans

Automobile Club de l'Ouest president Jean-Claude Passart announced the recent changes and future intentions of the ACO for the next few years at a press conference at the Musee Automobile de la Sarthe at Le Mans circuit. The circuit has seen...

Automobile Club de l'Ouest president Jean-Claude Passart announced the recent changes and future intentions of the ACO for the next few years at a press conference at the Musee Automobile de la Sarthe at Le Mans circuit.

The circuit has seen many modifications in preparation for this year's race, most notably the revamping of a few corners and gravel traps, the doubling in size of the paddock, and the expansion of the garages from 50 to 55.

#15 Charouz Racing System Lola B07-17 Judd: Jan Charouz, Stefan M?cke, Alex Yoong.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

The spectators now have a revamped village with improved traffic flow and better visibility in the corners, which the spectators have already been able to take advantage of. Some 235,000 are expected for the 24-hour race at the weekend.

Then the president concentrated on the regulations. "Major manufacturers and special constructors invest a lot of money in cars," he said. "Most invest in the medium term and need to know where they are going. We have consulted with external companies and listened to manufactures and put a plan into action."

Firstly there is stability in the regulations with visibility in the medium term, namely no changes for next three years. He cited how this tied in with Peugeot's plan for testing in the first year, winning the second year and retaining the trophy in the third year.

The four categories (LMP1, LMP2, LMGT1 and LMGT2) will remain, as they are "part of history" and a "balance that has allowed us to reach where we are today." Passart went on to say that there is a great balance of drivers, such as Jacques Villeneuve and Sebastien Bourdais, as well as some gentleman drivers too.

Reduction of costs will be achieved by focussing on the LMP2 and LMGT2 categories. "LMP1 are dream cars and chasing dreams is part of Le Mans. There needs to be a window for new technology and the possibility to test in real conditions.

Audi Sport Team Joest team member at work.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.

"In GT2 the cost is too high and we have to react. LMP2 should lower prices with equivalent performance levels to today." He said that cars are beginning to look alike and that there is a need to make cars that are easily identifiable, not all similar after being "designed by computers".

There therefore would a closed cockpit, a less standardised front, an aim for the fastest lap times to be around 3 minutes 30 seconds, biofuels would be allowed in order to help research development, and kinetic energy recovery my be considered too. Also GT2 cars should be equivalent to road cars, especially in relation to the complex electronics currently required in order to go racing.

The full regulations would be announced in November and aim to give both a medium-term vision while offering stability in the regulations and a reduction in costs in the LMP2 and LMGT2 categories.

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About this article
Series Le Mans
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Alex Yoong , Sébastien Bourdais , Eric Gilbert , Jan Charouz
Teams Audi Sport Team Joest