Porsche 919 Hybrid
We are about two weeks away from the most notable endurance race in the world. The 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans will start on June 18th. The famed race is a key one for manufactures who put their latest performance technologies to the grueling test.
Over the years no manufacture is more tied to the event than Porsche. The German performance car maker has achieved overall victories a record 17 times at the Circuit de la Sarthe. That includes their win this past season, which also saw the manufacture take home the World Endurance Championship (WEC) title.
Porsche is looking to repeat last year’s success. To do so they will once again have a tough task with Audi trying to take back the top prize. Toyota has also been tough in recent years which will help keep things difficult. If Porsche or Audi make a mistake Toyota very well could take the overall victory.
To win you need a good machine and there is no question that the Porsche 919 LMP1 car is just that. But it is the rubber that meets the road and getting the most out of your tires without going too long can go a long way towards a win.
Team Principal Andreas Seidl quotes figures: “In Le Mans in 2015, our longest distance with one set of tires for a car was 54 laps. This means we refuelled three times without changing the tires. From their best to their worst performance – adjusted for the effects of fuel – the tires lost roughly 1.6 seconds per lap. The difference in weight of 96.8 pounds between full and empty tank accounts for about two seconds per lap.”
If you use a winning pitting strategy, have a quick machine and manage to have no incidents (either mechanical or accidents) then you stand a good chance. Even if you have all of this, you need a team of good drivers that can stay sharp in the 24 hour race.
“All our drivers are totally-fit, full professionals and are capable of a quadruple stint of 54 laps in the night,” Seidl points out. “However, we also have to keep an eye on the driving times.” The regulations stipulate a minimum and maximum driving time for each driver. In Le Mans, every driver has to spend at least six hours at the wheel, but must not drive more than four hours within any six and a maximum of 14 hours over the entire distance. Normally this is not a problem. But what happens if a driver has stomach problems? These are “what-if” scenarios that can decide the race. Seidl: “We try to give the drivers optimum rest periods and allow ourselves as much flexibility as possible right through to the end.”
Come June 19th we will know who will be standing in first place on the podium. Until then let us know who you think will win the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans by scrolling down to the comments.