|June 2, 2012
2012 Le Mans 24 Hours Let the festivities begin!
In two weeks the Le Mans 24 Hours will take place. The teams will take part in the test day on Sunday 3rd June in what is the first round of the 80th running of the greatest endurance race in the world.
The test day is a general rehearsal consisting of eight hours free practice in which 61 cars will take part: those entered for the race itself and others who have come to tackle the legendary Le Mans 24-Hours track. It is a non-permanent circuit and tomorrow will provide them with an exceptional opportunity to race on it.
The new cars launched in 2012 will be the focal point of interest beginning with the two Toyota TS030 hybrids, which will be having their first run against their future rival, Audi. The German make will give its hybrid, the e-tron quattro its Sarthe debut, as well as the R18 Ultra that won the second round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at Spa on 5th May.
Another car eagerly-awaited by the fans is the Pescarolo 03, which has never been seen on the track before. The Pescarolo team's financial woes are a thing of the past so it is running its two cars, the Pescarolo 03-Judd and the Dome-Judd entrusted to it by the Japanese constructor, Dome, in a relaxed frame of mind.
Also in LM P1, the two Honda Performance Development ARX-03as entered by Strakka Racing and JRM have never done battle in the Sarthe before.
In the well-subscribed LM P2 category (23 entries!) the Sébastien Loeb Racing Oreca 03-Nissan will be another centre of attraction. It will be present at the test day only with Loeb himself at the wheel. Former Le Mans 24-Hours winner Martin Brundle (1990, Jaguar) is back in P2 with his son, Alex. They will take on all the world championship contenders in a category that will be the theatre of a no-holds-barred battle.
In LM GTE, the works Corvettes, victorious in 2011, will measure themselves against the field entered in the World Endurance Championship (the AF Corse and Luxury Racing Ferrari F458 Italias, the Felbermayr-Proton Porsche, the works Aston Martin Vantage, etc).
During the test day the crowd will be able to see other cars including the extraordinary Nissan-DeltaWing that has benefitted from the 56th pit, and will race in the Le Mans 24 Hours outside the overall classification. Ex-French goal keeper Fabien Barthez will be at the wheel of one of the two Formula Le Mans expected to take part in the test day. These promotional formula cars are not allowed to dispute the Le Mans 24 Hours, but have been given the opportunity to run on this legendary circuit. As Barthez wants to take part in the race at a future date, it's a dream occasion for him to find his marks.
The final scrutineering and admin checks took place today, Saturday, as well as a kart race on the Alain Prost circuit. There were twenty-three karts at the start driven by two-men teams made up of a driver and a journalist. Victor went to Anthony Davidson associated with the English journalist Andrew Cotton.
Finally, there was a family photo with all the different types of cars that will take part in the 80th Le Mans 24 hours on 16-17 June. Twenty-six dream machines transformed the pits straight into the most beautiful avenue in the world!