TONY BURGESS IS LONE CANADIAN RUNNING IN THE 24 HOURS OF LE MANS
(BOWMANVILLE, ON -- June 9, 2010) Toronto's Tony Burgess will be running in his sixth 24 Hours of Le Mans race this weekend in France. He is the only Canadian that will participate in the prestigious event.
In Burgess' five previous trips overseas for the world famous race, his best finish was third in class back in 2000.
"It's the most famous of the sports car endurance races, having run since the early 1920's," explained Burgess. "It is the grand daddy of them all."
The 55-year-old will be running in the premier LMP1 category against some of the best drivers and sports cars that the world has to offer. His main goal for the Le Mans is to finish the race.
"We will be up against very good cars such as Audi and Peugeot," he says. "We can't hope to match pace with them but it is an endurance race, so if we finish without any delays then chances are we will be in the top 10."
Burgess' sponsors are Autocon Motorsports, Cyclo Oils and TDM Technical Services. His car is an open-top Lola B06-10. It has a four litre, twin turbocharged AER motor which runs at 850 horse power when participating in North America. For the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the engine will be scaled back to just below 700 horsepower.
"The engine is scaled back to enhance its reliability as it won't run as hard," Burgess noted. "The car will still push over 300 km/h on the straightaway at Le Mans which is a very long straight. There will be plenty of performance out of the car; it's just scaled back from what we use at a track like Mosport International Raceway."
For the race, Burgess explains that the three-driver team, consisting of himself and Americans Michael Lewis and Bryan Willman, will run in "stints" which consists of one tank of fuel. During the pit stops they may have tire and driver changes but not necessarily every time. Each stint usually lasts approximately 50-55 minutes. At the start of the race, they will each run one stint before switching to get everyone comfortable with the car and the track. After that, they will usually do double or triple stints. The team also consists of a 20 man pit crew, so that they can switch and can run all night.
For the average person, staying awake for 24-hours can be a tough task on its own, let alone driving at top speed against world class competition. Having run endurance races at Le Mans, Daytona, Spa, Bathurst and Mosport, Burgess knows what he is in for and how to prepare.
"You do a few more runs and a few more reps at the gym," the Toronto native says. "You know that you are in for a fairly gruelling physical experience in a 24-hour race, but I have done it so many times before. I don't have to do any extraordinary preparation. My head is already in the right place."
Burgess will be at Mosport for the Mobil 1 Presents the Grand Prix of Mosport on August 26-29. The race will be two hours and 45 minutes, a relative sprint compared the one in France.
"Mosport is a track that is similar to Le Mans in that it is very fast and very good for these types of cars," he said of his home track. "I always look forward to Mosport; I think it's one of the best tracks in the world. You need to be going flat-out all of the time."
Burgess is no stranger to Mosport. He raced motorcycles in 1971 before running several years in series like F2000. His first trip to Mosport was as a spectator for a Can-Am race in 1968 and he has been around the facility ever since.