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The 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans is going to be a historic race no matter what for two reasons. It will be the first 24 hour performance test in competition for hybrid race cars, and the DeltawingNissan DeltaWingJapan, 2012 > present is a test if lighter, more efficient race cars have a future. The LMP2 class is finally coming into its own with a large field of competitive teams. The GT class is a little smaller this year and maybe a little less impressive. Aston MartinAston MartinUnited Kingdom, 1914 > present and CorvetteDaihatsu Naked G AutomaticJapan, 1999 > present have factory teams, but PorscheAlfa Romeo 156 2.0 JTS Ex...Italy, 2003 > present is holding back to prepare for their factory effort in 2014.
If there are any cars or teams that you are specifically interested in, you can see the entire practice list here.
In practice over the weekend, three of Audi'sAudiGermany, 1909 > present four cars held the top three positions. The fastest car was the #2 Audi R18 E-tron QuattroAudi R18 e-tron quattroGermany, 2012 > present driven by Allan McNish. The #1 E-tron Quattro was second, and the R18 UltraAudi R18 ultraGermany, 2012 > present driven by Marc Gené was third fastest. The final Audi R18 Ultra was in sixth place. ToyotaToyotaJapan, 1937 > present was able to grab the fourth and fifth spots in its TS030Toyota TS030 HYBRIDJapan, 2012 > present hybrids. The fastst conventional, petrol prototype was the #13 Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60 with a Toyota engine.
Toyota was really able to take advantage of the accident that destroyed their first chassis in testing. When it completed the second chassis, the car had a completely new nose that you see today. It also debuted the new blue and white livery on the car as opposed to the old red and white one. The theory at the moment is that the #8 Toyota driven by Anthony Davidson and Sébastien Buemi will run a sprint pace because of their open wheel past. The #7 car will run an edurance pace and hope for attrition from the Audis.
“To see the Toyota Hybrid System – Racing on track at Le Mans is a day we have been anticipating for a long time. We are continuously adjusting and improving the system, so each test day brings a step forward and that was true again today. The combination of downshifting, braking and charging is really working in harmony; it’s like an elaborate dance. I would like to express my thanks to all the guys at Cologne and Higashifuji who have worked so hard to prepare for this," said Hybrid Project Leader Hisatake Murata,.
Audi used the test day as an extensive challenge of their machines. The four R18s ran a total of 4,497km and tested a variety of suspension setups and fuel loads. They were even able to take advantage of some moments of rain for brief wet weather testing.
“Throughout the day, we gathered a lot of information which forms an important element in our preparation for the race two weeks from now. We can basically draw the conclusion that after today, the race at Spa and the winter test program we feel well prepared," said Dieter Gass, Head of Racing Commitments at Audi.
The LMP2 field has suddenly began challenging the LMP1 field if not in terms of speed, then in terms of fantastic racing. The fastest car during practice was the #35 Oak Racing Morgan-Nissan. Less than a second behind it was the HPD-ARX03b from Level 5 Motorsports, and two tenths behind that was the Zytek Z11SN-Nissan from Jota.
The Deltawing was also out practicing, and this was the first time that fans have been able to fairly compare the car's speed against LMP2 cars that we have been told it is meant to replace. The Deltawing had a fastest lap time of 3:48.271. That makes it 17th fastest among the LMP2 cars and 32nd fastest overall. While that might not sound impressive, given the PR about the performance of the Deltawing, According to the team, the mandate to the team when designing the car was to make it do 3:45 lap times. If the team continues to improve the car, then shaving three seconds off the current time seems realistic.
The Deltawing had no mechanical problems in practice and also took advantage of the brief rain to do one lap of wet weather testing.
"We've shown the ACO that we've met their desired criteria to run a lap time of around 3 minutes, 45 seconds in around the same cadence as everyone else on pit stops.We're very close to that time so you'd have to say today has been a great success.The physics didn't lie and we've produced a car that does what it says on the box," said technical team principal Ben Bowlby.
NissanNissanJapan, 1932 > present GT Academy driver Lucas Ordonez also performed well. He put the car in fifth position in class in practice and was about two seconds off the pace of the fastest car in the class.
"I think we are in a good position with the car for next week. I felt a little rusty this morning but today has blown away the cobwebs and I’m ready for Le Mans," said Ordonez.
The LMGTE-Pro and LMGTE-AM classes are stuggling a little this year compared to the prototype classes. It is not that they are boring, but so much is happening with the prototypes, it is overshadowing the GT cars. The only factory teams this year are Corvette and Aston Martin, but the Porsche factory drivers are in the Felbermayr-Proton Porsches.
In practice the #74 Corvette driven by Tommy Milner was the fastest GT car with a 3:58.971 lap time. It was followed by the #59 FerrariFerrariItaly, 1947 > present from Luxury Racing and the number #51 Ferrari from AF Corse. The #73 Corvette was fourth fastest in class. Surprisingly the Felbermayr-Proton Porsche was not the fastest Porsche on track. The #80 Flying LIzard Motorsport Porsche was slightly faster in fifth place, while the Felbermayr was in sixth. The factory Aston Martin was down the order a tad in eighth place, which was the slowest car practicing in the class.
Corvette also led the GTE-AM class with the #50 Larbre Competition car, and the Flying Lizard Motorsport Porsche was second fastest in class.
EncyclopediaAudiR18R18 e-tron quattro
V 6 (120º vee)
226 cu in
6, sequential manual
Diesel / Electric
Fuel consumption (combined)
annual ownership cost