The 56 cars and 168 drivers sailed through the administrative process of scrutineering and driver sign-on on Sunday and Monday in Le Mans town centre. Now it's time to go racing!
On Tuesday, the teams were able to enjoy a day of respite to resume their normal place in the paddock and make their final adjustments. Tomorrow Wednesday the 19th of June, a new phase of the great Le Mans week will begin with cars on the track in qualifying and free practice.
Le Mans is a circuit unlike any other ; it is long (13,629 km), and mostly on roads that are open to traffic the rest of the year... Hence the importance of free practice (Wednesday 16:00 to 20:00) to find the right settings.
This phase of the week looks even more important this year because on the 9th of June The Test Day was severely disrupted by rain, which did not allow engineers to gain the data they needed.
The time to calibrate the fuel consumption of engines and test the performance on "slick" tyres was less than expected. At the 24 Hours of Le Mans these two criteria are more crucial than outright performance.
The first qualifying session (Wednesday from 10pm to midnight) will allow rookie drivers to do their five mandatory night laps. For others, it will be the first opportunity to set a time, useful if the rain disrupts the final qualifying session the day after.
It is usually during the second day of qualifying (Thursday 19:00 to 21:00, then 22:00 to midnight) that it all happens. For manufacturers like Audi and Toyota taking pole position at Le Mans is of paramount importance because it ensures media attention.
In the last session, night covers the circuit and you might think that the chase was over. Wrong! Each year, in the final minutes, things take a dramatic turn when the sprinters of the teams put in a last ditch effort to set a time ... guaranteed thrills!
Two questions now arise: Who will be the fastest? And what will be the fastest time? Loïc Duval (Audi No. 2) has already set the time to beat in the final minutes of the test day. At 3:22.583, the French driver was more than a second clear of the time set by Andre Lotterer in June 2012. It promises well...