|24 HOURS OF LE MANS: IN THE HEADLIGHTS|
|The 90th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is fast approaching. Less than four weeks separates the 56 invited teams from the moment of truth. The competitive dress rehearsals have been held and, while a test weekend still beckons, the top teams know the die has all but been cast. Polishing perfection is the all-consuming challenge for the remaining days leading to the race start at 15:00 CET on Saturday 22 June.
Le Mans Prototypes, particularly the eight competitors in LMP1, take the front row in speculation about the destination of overall honours. The three Audi ‘works’ or manufacturer teams head into the race with huge confidence following dominant displays at the 6 Hours of Silverstone and Spa Francorchamps earlier this season. The hybrid R18 e-tron quattro appears unstoppable, but 24 hours of flat out driving on the demanding Circuit de la Sarthe is the consummate test. Human and mechanical precision, reliability and performance will be comprehensively examined. The two entries from Toyota will have built on last year’s disappointing experience, aiming to improve and turn promise into threat. The privateer entries will hold out hope of profiting should their accomplished rivals fail to meet the standards required to succeed.
The LMP2 class is the largest with 22 entries representing 11 nations. GTE Pro(fessional) features 12 cars and GTE Am(ateur) 13. The GTE cars may be less powerful than the prototypes, but the Ferraris, Porsches, Aston Martins and Corvettes that make up the majority are no less resolute in the pursuit of victory within class. Every team entered at the 24 Hours of Le Mans invests considerable time, energy and resource to find that special blend of design and technology that will withstand the rigours of the race.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is an event that endures effortlessly. Able to captivate, to impassion and to enthuse, its legacy is ever growing and its ability to inspire teams to measure physical ability and mental capacity in a trial of man and machine is undiminished. The next chapter in its illustrious 90-year history is about to open; on the 23 June at 15:00 its twists and turns will be part of the legend.