Preview; Le Mans 24 Hours

Photo Courtesy ACO Pascal Saivet

And so it begins this Saturday. The 79th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, without question the  world’s greatest sports car race and arguably the world greatest racing event, 56 cars, in four classes, lapping the famed Circuit de la Sarthe at nearly 75% full throttle per lap.

28 LMP cars (Le Mans Prototype) will start.  New LMP1 cars from Audi, Peugeot and Aston Martin will battle for the overall win. Even with new regulations to bridge the gap between diesel and petrol powered cars, the factory teams hold the edge over slower petrol powered cars. For the first time in 12 years Toyota returns with a customer engine program and Pescarolo returns a single entry after missing their first race in 40 years in 2010.  In LMP2 there will be no less than six chassis manufacturers and three engine suppliers in a variety of combinations.

The remaining field will be made of GTE, split in to ‘Pro’ and ‘Am’ subsets. The ‘Pro” class are allowed new (2011) cars and all pro drivers while the ‘AM’ class group car must be at least one year old (2010 spec) and only one professional driver per entry. The GTE class will not disappoint and provide some of the best wheel to wheel racing with the new Ferrari 458 making its Le Mans debut, going up against rival Porsche, including American Porsche team Flying Lizard with the Porsche works driver pairing of Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA) at the wheel of a 911, and teams from Aston Martin, BMW, Ford, Corvette and an entry from Lotus. The ‘AM’ class is well represented by American teams, led by Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche piloted by Seth Neiman, Darren Law and Spencer Pumpelly and the Khron Racing Ferrari 430 led by Tracy Khron (USA), Nic Jönsson (Sweden) and Ferrari regular, Michele Rugolo (Italy).

Andy Blackmore Designs  has provided the 2011 Le Mans Spotters Guide, the same used by broadcasters and media around the world.   Speed will be broadcasting hours of live coverage with the start Saturday, June 11, 8:30 a.m. EST. Breaking only for a couple of hours of NASCAR and F-1 qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Le Mans 24 Hours is third round and double points race for the ILMC and the halfway mark of the 2011 season. In 2012 it will be the highlight of the new FIA World Endurance Championship series recently announced.

Le Mans Links Andy Blackmore Designs Spotters Guide Official Le Mans Site 2011 Entry List

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