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.
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:
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.