Circuit de la Sarthe
AUDI ON POLE; TOMORROW'S START TO SHOW SUPPORT FOR JAPAN
Audi Qualifies on Pole
The #2 Audi R18, driven by Marcel Fässler (CHE), Benoit Tréluyer (FRA) and André Lotterer (DEU) took pole and will lead the pack at the start of the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans. This marks the first time Audi will start from pole since 2006. In the 2nd grid position is Audi #1, driven by Romain Dumas (FRA), and Germans Timo Bernhard and Mike Rockenfeller. Third on the grid are Frenchmen Sébastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud with Pedro Lamy (POR) in the #9 Peugeot.
Support for Japan at 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans
Following the recent tragedies that have struck Japan, the ACO is showing its support for the country of rising sun at the 79th edition of this great race.
It was twenty years ago that a Mazda won on the Le Mans circuit; an historic achievement that remains unrepeated to this day, despite the best efforts of Japanese automakers. To commemorate this first success and show support for the people of Japan, a number of special activities have been organized during the 2011 race here in Le Mans.
On Thursday the 1991 victor Mazda 787 B took to the circuit in the hands of American actor Patrick Dempsey. The special demonstration drive will be repeated Saturday, 11 June at 12:30 with British Formula 1 driver Johnny Herbert at the wheel. Nissan has also sent a Leaf RC NISMO, the competition version of the Leaf Electric Vehicle (2011 European Car of the Year), to participate in the "Le Mans to the Future" exhibition. The Nissan has participated in driving sessions on the track and will complete another few rounds tomorrow, just before the Mazda 787 B takes to the circuit.
In addition, the French flag to be used for the start of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans has been signed by all drivers participating in the race. The flag will be part of the traditional drivers photo taken before the start at 13:45, which will also welcome representatives from Mazda, Toyota and Nissan. The Japanese anthem will be played just before the Marseillaise at the race start and following the race, the start flag will be donated to the Japanese Automobile Federation and auctioned, with profits from the sale being donated to the Japanese Red Cross.
The start of the 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place Saturday, 11 June at 15:00 and will be given by Jean Todt, President of the FIA.
Spirit of Le Mans 2011 Winner: Professor Hayashi of Tokai University, Japan
Every year a 'Spirit of Le Mans' trophy is presented to personalities who have helped spread the renown of the 24 Hours of Le Mans through their actions. This prestigious trophy is a Rolex timepiece that has the words “Spirit of Le Mans” and the name of the recipient engraved on the underside of the watch case. The Automobile Club de l'Ouest and Rolex are proud to have presented this trophy to this year’s winner, Professor Yoshimasa Hayashi from Tokai University, Japan.
Professor Hayashi has a doctorate degree in Engineering and is a Professor in the “Prime Mover Engineering” department at Tokai University. He worked for Nissan Motor Company Ltd for 32 years, from 1962 – 1994. During his time at Nissan as the Director of the Centre of Competition Planning and Development, Professor Hayashi helped Nissan achieve brilliant results in motorsports. These include pole position at the 1990 24 Hours of Le Mans (result: 5th), victory at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in 1992, three-time Japan Sports Prototype Car champions, four-time Groupe A champions and four-time IMSA GTP champions in the USA.
When he began to teach at Tokai University in 1994, Professor Hayashi created a new programme that taught engineering in relation to motorsports and race cars, with specific links to the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001. Some 200 students have received their diplomas through his programme and now work with major automobile manufacturers or their suppliers. Professor Hayashi has received many awards for his work and has published multiple articles and scientific reference studies.
“It is indeed a great honour for me to be awarded the Spirit of Le Mans trophy,” said Professor Hayashi. “I surely think I am receiving the award on behalf of all students engaged in the Le Mans Project at Tokai University. I consider Le Mans to have brought great additional value to engineering education. I am continuously receiving requests to give lectures on the subject of education adopting the theme of Le Mans. Lately, I have also been introducing the wonderfulness of Le Mans to people in China and I strongly hope that the Le Mans race will be recognized more by the entire world. Thank you very much.”
The 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship Announced
Presented during the ACO Press Conference held on Thursday, the future FIA World Endurance Championship will be based on the current Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) series. The 2012 season will consist of six events plus the 24 Hours of Le Mans for a total of seven races. Each race will last a minimum of six hours, with two events taking place on the American continent, two in Europe (plus the 24 Hours of Le Mans) and two in Asia. The final calendar, drawn up with the validation of the FIA, will be published in autumn 2011.
The World Endurance Championship will be open to the same categories eligible for the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans and the current ILMC. Two titles, three trophies and a World Cup will be awarded following the completion of the Championship.