New September date could make Le Mans "very fast"
This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours could be one of the fastest in recent history due to cooler conditions prevailing in France during September, according to Goodyear’s Motorsport Director Ben Crawley.
The 88th running of the French classic has been moved from its original June slot to September 19-20 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and ACO President Pierre Fillon is willing to push back the event further until October or November if the situation so demands.
In either case, ambient and track temperatures would be significantly lower than in June, while a larger chunk of the race would take place under limited visibility at night.
Moreover, 2020 marks the final year of the LMP1 class in its current guise, before slower LM Hypercars make up the new top category of the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2021.
Goodyear, which supplies tyres to JOTA and Jackie Chan DC Racing outfit in the LMP2 class of WEC as well as some of the ELMS teams that will take part at Le Mans, expects lap times to come down significantly because of the rescheduled date.
“There could be temperature differences September vs June, whether that is sort of single-digit temperature [difference] or up to 30 degree plus in terms of ambient temperature,” Crawley told the official WEC podcast. “And that’s before you convert that into a track temperature.
“You might, say, expect in September that we would see some general cooler temperatures and probably for longer in terms of those periods; perhaps some more night time hours.
“I think what we could see [is] one of the faster or quicker Le Mans in recent history because typically with cooler temperatures comes an expectation of drivers and teams being able to opt for a greater balance, or focus on some of the softer specification tyres that we would have.
“[With] the cooler conditions, the potential for tyres to perform to the absolute maximum, you could be looking at potentially fewer pitstops or shorter pitstops, not requiring tyres being changed as often as they would ordinarily and obviously using softer tyres, the expectations [are] of a faster speed."
“So from that point of view it could be a very fast September Le Mans.”
Factory Aston Martin driver Nicki Thiim expects Le Mans to be a “completely different race” this year, and warned that rainfall during extended night hours could make things tricky for the drivers.
“I was talking with my father [DTM champion Kurt] about it yesterday if it gets pushed that far back it’s gonna be a completely different race to what we are used to seeing in summer,” Thiim told the same WEC podcast.
“I must say that the darkness for us, the issue is more like temperatures gonna be different and some change of weather could maybe come into play.
“It’s going to rain at a certain point. Obviously rain in the dark is not the easiest condition to drive in but it’s the same for everyone.
“If we get those really really cold conditions on top of that, that’s where the whole team has to come together and figure out a plan how to get the best balance and performance out of it.”
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