The latest announcements from Le Mans!

There was quite some news coming from Le Mans the last couple of days. The ACO held a press conference with all the latest news about the action at Le Mans in 2009. Some of the announcements were already mentioned at Silverstone last month, others were new. And there was more news regarding Formula Le Mans.

The calendar

First of all the calendar. During the press conference Rémy Brouard, the Managing Director of the ACO, confirmed that the Le Mans 24 Hours will take place on June 13/14 of 2009. The Le Mans 24-Hours test day will take place on May 31. Up until now this test day saw several hours of testing around the 13.629km long circuit, but for 2009 there will also be some real racing at the circuit!

In addition to the already announced Le Mans Series calendar the ACO also announced an extra Le Mans Series test day to be held at the Le Mans Bugatti track. On April 22 and 23 all the participating teams are invited to the French circuit. According to the ACO the test should bring all teams together at one circuit, rather than teams wasting money on test circuits spread all over Europe. Like the Le Mans 24-Hours test day this test should also be open to the public.

After confirming the ALMS and LMS dates Mr. Brouard also confirmed the dates for the two Asian Le Mans Series races at the end of 2009. On November 1, 2009 the series will race at Fuji, while on November 8, 2009 the Shanghai event is scheduled to take place.

Formula Le Mans

More details regarding the new series were also confirmed. The series will have 12 races in 2009, five of them will be alongside the Le Mans Series. On those five rounds the Formula Le Mans will have two races. There will also be a race during the Le Mans 24 Hours weekend and a final race at the end of the season, which will be run over four hours. An exact location is to be confirmed by the organisers.

The (provisional) 2009 Formula Le Mans calendar:

  • April 3-4-5 – Barcelona, Spain
  • May 8-9-10 – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium
  • June 13-14 – Le Mans, France
  • July 31 – August 1-2 – Portimão, Portugal
  • August 28-29-30 – Nürburgring, Germany
  • September 11-12-13 – Silverstone, Great Britain
  • October 5-6-7 – To be announced

The price of the car will be € 249.000 ex. VAT and the prize money will be more than € 220.000. At the end of the season the top three in the championship will also be testing for existing LMS teams. The winner of the championship will be testing an LMP1 car, the runner-up will be testing an LMP2 car while the third placed driver in the series will be invited for a test in a GT2 car.

Twenty chassis will be built by Oreca for the upcoming season, with the first chassis to be tested within a matter of weeks.

The new regulations: sustainable development

As was announced at Silverstone during the last weekend of the Le Mans Series (see article here) there will be a number of changes in the regulations as set by the ACO. Patrick Chaillou, the communications director of the ACO, went through them again.

– Saving of fuel: The Michelin Energy Endurance Challenge will be continued to try and make the sport as fuel efficient as possible. As the ACO: “If you want to win at Le Mans you have to make as many miles as possible, while you have to stop as less as possible, therefore consuming the least amount of fuel.”

– Biofuel: In 2008 all the participating teams in the 24 Hours will be using one sort of fuel, provided by Shell: V Power LM 24, containing 10% ethanol or V Power Diesel LM 24, the second generation BTL (Biomass-to-Liquids).

– Hybrid power: As confirmed at Silverstone the ACO will allow hybrid cars, like the Peugeot 908 HY, to race at Le Mans in 2009 outside the classification in 2009, before officially allowing them in 2010.

– Reduction of engine capacity: Like the Hybrid announcement this was also confirmed at Silverstone. From 2011 the engine capacity of the race cars will have to be reduced in order to bring down CO2 emissions and to decrease fuel consumption. LMP1 will in fact use today’s LMP2 engines, which will also mean a decrease in power and performance of the LMP1 cars.

– Pit stops: Another one we already heard at Silverstone. The number of mechanics allowed to change wheels on a car during a pit stopm will be reduced to two, this will add some time to the pit stop. The teams will also have to use a harder tyre compound in order to save tyres and therefore changes less tyres during the race.

– Noise reduction: At the moment the noise made by the cars at the Le Mans is measured at 113dB at 15 meters from the track. In the coming years the new limits will reduce noise to 112dB in 2009, 110dB in 2010 and possibly even futher in the years to come.

17 Comments on The latest announcements from Le Mans!

  1. I for one hate to see the reduction in engine size and increasingly stricter dB controls, but it does seem the responsible thing to do. If endurance racing can show an awareness for our environment, and perhaps lead in the development of alternative fuel/ energy sources, there should be greater acceptance of racing. ALMS is following similar initiatives w/ US Govt. (EPA) participation. At the end of the day, it’s all good.

  2. Seems like all the racing organizations are trying to please people who don’t like racing in the first place, rather than race fans. Sure, moving towards more environmentally friendly racing is fine, but you’ll never be able to completely justify it to a true environmentalist. If you’ll just keep changing the regulations to suit environmental demands, there will eventually be nothing left. You won’t be able to tell the difference between the ´Tour de France´ and the ´24h of Le Mans´. In my opinion, racing doesn’t need to be justified any more than festivals or rock-concerts – in the end it’s just a form of entertainment and culture.

    I personally lost a lot of interest in the series after the diesel-craze, and I guess I’ll be focusing on Historic Racing in the future – until somebody bans it. Still, the next few years could be interesting, but after 2015 – who knows, and will anybody even care anymore?

  3. One starts to wish these politically correct ACO bobo’s a very quick end when reading all this…:-(
    What’s this all about? Making All Gore friendly racecars? Are there plans for building a village for the elderly infield the track?

    Where are the times that the ACO was an obsternate bunch that hosted the biggest spectacle…at the way they’re going now,they’re bound to make it the most boring and patronizing demonstration of vehicles made for the members of the CO2 religion!
    Smaller engines,even less power and lovely engine noise…what do they want next? Flowersented exhaust fumes?

  4. Clean fuels and technologies o.k. Ever lower speed and horsepower numbers not o.k. Ever less sound also NOT o.k.
    When I wanna see all this super ecofriendly stuff,I’ll go and attend a solarcar challenge…

  5. The less poweful the car, the cheaper the cost of entry. it fosters more competitors, meaning better competition.

    The ecofriendliness has to be looked at. After all racing is a guilty pleasure. To make sure it stands the test of time it has to embrace the current trends and concerns.

    It will still be fine and fun with al the new restrictions. The current cars can be mach faster than they actually are. But we’re not complaining so when all this new stuff comes in you won’t notice much either.

  6. Smaller engine means not always less fuel consumption. Bigger and slower turning engines can be very economical to and are much more enduring than smaller engines – just look at the small numbers of LMP2 cars still working at the end of the race each year.
    Concerning the noise, also impose a minimum level to, so we can here the Audi’s and Peugeots passing by. The pace-car makes a better sound!
    And something alse – if the ACO is really interested in the spectator comfort – please impose the fluo-electrical numbers on all the cars – it even works on TV.

  7. what is le man doing to racing!?!?!? whats next? are they going to have to have so much downforce you won’t be able to pass cuz theres to much air resistance? thats whats happened to F1, so the only real racing there is in qualfying, which is boring. The point of racing to an eco-freak is outragious because they don’t understand it. The point of racing is going fast from an engine adn car that do ok on fuel but their running at the limit, what do you expect? plus they already took teh noise out of rally, which ruined it, and now they want to do the same to le man? Thats a really really bad call on behalf of the rule makers, for back to like it was in the past with raw power adn true noise and bring the essance of racing back into motorsports

  8. Sounds like the ACO want Diesels. Less Noise, fewer pit stops, and I am sure they can reduce the engine capacity and still keep the speed. Afterall the cars are running as quick down the Mulsanne as they were in the 80’s before the chicanes!

  9. The addition of the so called clean fuel makes no sense to me at all. To produce this kind of fuel, they chop vast amounts of rainforrest and grow soy plants in large amounts. The so called biofueles are worse for the environment then the fossil fuel.

  10. To Roy – IMSA uses cellulosic ethanol made from scrap wood, not foodstock ethanol. I think they’re trying to do the right thing. After all, we saw direct injection become more widespread, and production diesels are going to be more accepted in the US.

    Motorsports as we know it will soon be a relic. Petrol-engine spec racing will not survive the century. While the crystal ball is murky as best, the ACO/IMSA’s baby steps in the name of progress should help save our beloved sport from extinction.

    Every major auto manufacturer has major investments in cleaner and more sustainable technologies, even if many of today’s examples are merely stop-gap measures. I think it’s nice to see a prestigious sport lead (or at least keep pace with) the direction that is inevitable. The other will be forced to follow suit or be left behind. I could care less for circle-spec bathtub racers, but I want to see my grandkids marvel at LeMans racers just as I have.

  11. I can’t wait until the 24 hours of LeMans next year, even the 2009 LMS series,ALMS,Grand-am. Plus can’t wait to see Formula-Lemans Series.2009 USA gets a new president, the racing in 2009 seems it will be better than 2008.

  12. Like Christopher, I can’t wait until the 24 hours next year.

    The cars and technologies have changed and advanced since 1923 – and the ACO have played an important role in this development. Engineers love working to produce the fastest cars within the rules – and many love the challenge of building greener cars too.

    I love motorsport but I am also fully-committed to make sure we face the challenge of climate change so future generations can live comfortable lives and enjoy motorsport too – why not? It’ll be different, but today’s Le Mans (or F1) is very different from 40 years ago.

    I also love historic racing – and it is part of our heritage – why ban it? I think sometimes those with anti-environment views are equally fanatical and blinkered as some eco-warriors can be too…

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