Le Mans LMP2 protagonists expect rain to mix up order
More rain showers that are forecast to hit the Le Mans 24 Hours are likely to make the LMP2 battle even more open than it already is, claim some of the category's leading protagonists.
The six Oreca 05 cars - run by Signatech Alpine, Manor, KCMG, Thiriet by TDS and class polesitter G-Drive Racing - have so far enjoyed a pace advantage in the dry, but a wet track should help the Ligier and Gibson cars stay in contention for victory in the baby prototype class.
“It is still an open race, this is the Le Mans 24 Hours so you cannot say anything else,” said Rene Rast, who set the pole time in the #26 G-Drive car.
“We were satisfied with the way qualifying went, but some of the Ligiers are not so far away. With the weather very unpredictable, it opens up many more variables for the race and there will be many more challengers as a result.”
Reigning LMP2 Le Mans champion Richard Bradley, who drives for KCMG, was confident on race morning, predicting a close battle ahead: “We didn’t use new tyres on our qualifying run as we got stopped by the Ferrari and Strakka accidents.
"So, we are confident pace wise and also in the wet we have a good set-up. The forecast looks settled for Sunday so to get through the evening when it seems the showers are coming will be paramount.”
The Ligier contingent that includes ESM, RGR Sport by Morand, Michael Shank Racing, Greaves and the new Panis-Barthez squad are likely to welcome some rain showers during the race to negate the Oreca's advantage, particularly on the straights.
“If we have showers, then it should open the race up a bit more for us as we don’t have the ultimate one lap pace,” said ESM’s Pipo Derani.
“But, we have a car for long stints and the rain will further equalise things. I think it is obvious that Oreca has an advantage in the dry conditions, so a damp or wet track can be a nice leveller for us.”
Tyres can run for five stints
Dunlop, which supplies all bar three of the 23 LMP2 cars, is confident that its intermediate and wet tyres have shown increased performance this year.
“Both [intermediate and wet] are part of the new 2016 range and have shown to perform well and reliably so far here," said Dunlop's Mike McGregor.
"It is difficult to say if it suits any car in particular because the big targets for us are consistency and parity.
“We have confidentiality agreements with all the chassis constructors and we get their data to use on our models and we use our own vehicle dynamic engineers.
"So we are stronger across the board rather than being with one specific manufacturer. That is vitally important for the LMP2 class.”
In dry conditions, Dunlop is confident that its goal of five stints can be accomplished in dry conditions.
The wear-rate has improved on the new range of slicks from Dunlop, with a medium and a medium-soft compound range being chosen this year.
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