24 Hours of Le Mans 2010 – LMP2 Preview

ALMS - Patron Highcroft Racing - Sebring - Marcel ten Caat

© Planetlemans – Marcel ten Caat

The LMP2 category at the 78th 24 Hours of Le Mans will see twelve cars battling for the class victory, three more than the nine cars that were initially invited. Seven manufacturers will be entering the LMP2 category at Le Mans, with a total of eight different types of chassis running in the race.

(#26 Highcroft Racing and #42 Strakka Racing)

The HPD ARX-01c will make its debut at Le Mans this year and there is no doubt about it that this car is the top favorite for the LMP2 class victory on June 13. Current American Le Mans Series champion Highcroft Racing is one of the two teams entering the ARX-01c this year. Their number 1 driver will be 2009 Le Mans overall winner David Brabham. Scotsman Marino Franchitti and three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner from Germany will join the Australian. The trio will be the team to beat in LMP2.

The second HPD ARX-01c will be run by Strakka Racing, the British team already showing the capabilities of the car in the first two races of the Le Mans Series. At Spa the #42 car blasted away the opposition by lapping a few seconds per lap quicker than any of its rivals. Danny Watts and Jonny Kane are top drivers who should be able to to challenge the Highcroft drivers. Nick Leventis, the third man on the car, will have to do his best to keep up with his two teammates.

LMS - Quifel-ASM Team - Spa-Francorchamps - Gerlach Delissen

© Planetlemans – Gerlach Delissen

(#40 Quifel-ASM Team, #41 Team Bruichladdich)

Two Ginetta-Zyteks will be competing at Le Mans. 2009 Le Mans Series champion Quifel-ASM Team is hoping to repeat its 1000 KM of Spa win in France, but being one of the top favorites last year the team already retired after completing just 46 laps into the 77th 24 Hours of Le Mans. This season did not start the way the Portuguese had planned, due to new bodywork not working the way it should have worked. At Le Mans however Olivier Pla will do his best to be the top French driver in LMP2 and has already shown he is very quick in the Zytek. The very experienced Warren Hughes and ‘gentleman driver’ Miguel Amaral will join Pla again at Le Mans. Amaral and Pla won the 2009 LMS title together, so there is no question about their pace. The only question remaining is can they beat the ARX-01c.

Team Bruichladdich is entering the second Ginetta-Zytek. Tim Greaves and Karim Ojjeh will drive the white and red liveried #41 Zytek. Greaves and Ojjeh were set to join by young Norwegian driver Thor-Christian Ebbesvik, but a big shunt during the Spa 1000 KM means Ebbesvik will miss Le Mans. At Le Mans Gary Chalandon will take his seat. Chalandon races in the Formula Le Mans class of the Le Mans Series and already sampled the car in pre-season testing at the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit.

LMS - OAK Racing - Spa - Gerlach Delissen

© Planetlemans – Gerlach Delissen

Pescarolo 01
(#24 and #35 OAK Racing)

After a season with the troubled Mazda engine OAK Racing has switched to Judd. The results were fine so far this season and as a result the French team, which will be the only team running Pescarolo cars at Le Mans, is currently second and fourth in the Le Mans Series. In both 2008 and 2009 OAK Racing finished third in LMP2 at Le Mans and the team aimed for an improvement of that position this year. In order to achieve their aims OAK Racing has signed Czech driver Jan Charouz to race in the #35 OAK Racing Pescarolo 01 Judd, which he will co-drive with French drivers Matthieu Lahaye and Guillaume Moreau. Should LMP2 again see a high attrition rate this year this car should be reliable enough to take a decent finish. The second car, the #24, will have Jacques Nicolet, Richard Hein and Jean-Francois Yvon, who already raced at Le Mans in the ‘80s.

LMS - RML - Spa-Francorchamps - Gerlach Delissen

© Planetlemans – Gerlach Delissen

Lola Coupe
(#25 RML, #29 Racing Box)

Lola is the manufacturer with most cars racing at Le Mans this year and two of those cars will be Lola LMP2 coupes. RML is the most experienced Lola team in LMP2, with Mike Newton, Tommy Erdos and Andy Wallace. After a disastrous year in 2009 with a Mazda engine breaking down on almost every race the team has switched to a new power plant, the HPD LM-V8. So far this change has been very positive, considering the fact that RML is currently leading the LMP2 category in the Le Mans Series.

Racing Box will enter the second Lola coupe in LMP2. Even though the Lola is great Racing Box always seems to miss out on a perfect result. Last year started well but ended in disappointment and this year the team decided to run both cars on different tyres and had different driver line-ups in the races as well. For Le Mans though they seem to race on Dunlops, even though the official entry list still says Pirelli. Luca Pirri, Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini will be driving the #29 car.

Lola B07/46
(#39 KSM)

Kai Kruse’s team was disappointed not to be selected immediately for Le Mans, but the withdrawal of several teams meant the Automobile Club de l’Ouest was able to invite the KSM Lola to Le Mans during the 1000 KM of Spa weekend last month. The #39 Lola B07/46 Judd, an old car compared to the Lola coupes, will run a Judd engine this year instead of the Mazda engine they ran in 2009. Both in 2008 and 2009 KSM suffered an enormous accident at the Dunlop Chicane (leaving the mechanics with a lot of work) and in 2009 their race came to an end when the Mazda engine expired, setting the car on fire. With the Judd engine one problem is probably solved, now if only the car can stay on the track during qualifying.

Radical SR9
(#28 Race Performance)

A last minute invitation will see the Radical SR9 return to Le Mans. Initially not invited the team was only called up last week when the Automobile Club de l’Ouest announced it would use a 56th pit box. Pierre Bruneau and Marc Rostan know each other, Le Mans and the car well, while Ralph Meichtry is a newcomer. For this team running at Le Mans can probably be seen as a victory, a finish would be something special.

WR Zytek
(#37 Gerard Welter)

After years of not being accepted the WR Zytek is on the list for 2010. At Paul Ricard the car was quite quick but did not finish the race and at Spa it did not race. Hopefully for Philipe and Stéphane Salini and Tristan Gommendy the car will be more reliable at Le Mans, in that case it might still be racing when the chequered flag comes out on Sunday afternoon.

Norma M200
(#38 Pegasus Racing)

A brand new car making its race debut at Le Mans, the Norma M200. Moving up from VdeV in 2009 the team raced its old Courage LC75 up until the 1000 KM of Spa last month. Their new challenger was completed only a few weeks ago and Le Mans can therefore be seen as one big test session for the French squad, a rather tough test session.

18 Comments on 24 Hours of Le Mans 2010 – LMP2 Preview

  1. @Dan:Yeah, it would be nice if the Norma will finish, but I don’t expect fireworks from this car.
    @Brett: the color scheme of the Pescarolos looks gay, I think.

    Well I think it’ll ‘just’ be a battle between Highcroft and Strakka, while the RML Lola HPD coupe (most likely), #35 Pescarolo (through consistency) or maybe the Quifel ASM team GZ09SB will take third.

  2. All three HPD powered cars will finish ahead of the entire LMP2 field and challenge for the petrol LMP1 cars for Top 5 finish.

    Not saying nobody has a chance but as Watt’s showed at first LMS race, they have pace in hand as they say in Britain. RML is only slowed down by Mike Newton but not that much, go to the track and ask him how much he likes his new Honda powerplant.

  3. @Chriz & @ Anthony: those two HDP cars will take some beating, it’s a shame there isn’t a Porsche Spyder to spice things up

  4. Yea I wishing that there would be a Porsche RS Spyder this year at Le Mans.

    Maybe LMP1 in the near future for Porsche….

  5. P2 has been slowed down very much compared to when the first Spyder ran in 2008, and when there was a porsche and acura battle royal in the ALMS.

    I think Highcroft might get extra weight for having 3 professional drivers. In Europe, P2 and especially a spyder or ARX machines are required to have a gentleman driver.

    But then again the ACO shouldn’t want to piss off Honda either.

  6. Its got to be Highcroft for the win. Their car has only shown one small reliability fault at Sebring, the car has been very fast in America and mightily fast in Europe with Strakka. It is Highcroft’s first time and the first 24 hours for an Acura, but they do look to be in a good place. I think the Oak Racing #35 car is certainly a dark horse, and my tip for second or the win if Highcroft slips up. I wondered why they didn’t perform all of last year with what seemed a good car and team, but 2010 has brought a change of fortune, and it would be nice to see a Pescarolo with a class win given Henri’s woes for the year.
    I also have a feeling that Bruchladdich could surprise, but I’m hoping for Highcroft, my home team, and I have a hunch that Brabham may be winning his fourth straight class title.

  7. I remember when I first stared watching Le Mans. When it came to the Le Mans 24 in the LMP2 class. It was always the last car standing, because they would never go the entire 24hr.

    I remember GT1 class cars finishing ahead of LMP2 cars. But the Porsche P2 held it own for those 2 years. Yea I know some factory support.

  8. Highcroft and Strakka will go toe to toe. the weak link is Nick in the Strakka car and he understand that. We’ll see how that impacts the race overall.

    In testing the Highcroft car was nipping at the heels of the diesel cars believe it or not and that’s because of its abiliy in high speed turns.

    They will be able to carry more speed in the Porsche Curves than any of the other LMP cars. Nick Wirth’s F1 cars might be rubbish at the moment but his 3 years of development cycle with the Acuras means no corners were cut and when they reduced drag in the car for this race and tracks like it, they didn’t reduce downforce enough for concern.

    This car will be a rocket on the backside of the track…

    Too bad HPD wasn’t pushed into developing direct injection for the engine otherwise more LMP1’s would be in trouble…

    I would be willing to bet they can keep pace with the lower petrol LMP1 cars and not only double stint the tires at the start but maybe triple stint in the night.

    Just like the Porsche Spyders, too bad Acura decided to show up 2 years too late and too bad Penske wanted to win overall, because to have the epic battle between Penske, Highcroft, Deferran and Andretti carry over to Le Mans would made the LMP2 race better and make the other teams setup up their game.

    Oh well.

  9. For 2011, a combo of Porsche DFI with HPD chassis might make for a serious P1 assault.

  10. If the whole ALMS P2 of gang of 2008 had shown up at LeMans it would kill the whole field like what happened in GT1.

    Those teams had Audi and Peugeot sized budgets.

    Nck wirth did a wonder with the Acura because of the factory budget. Richard Branson threw only just enough cash in the Virgin F1 project

    Highcroft has pressure to win and Acura has pressure to have one of its powerplants win.

  11. I would like 2 see at least an Audi getpole for qualifying this year, especially last year, I felt like they didn’t try hard enough! They need to bust their butts to stay ahead of them in every way possible with no penalties, no accidents of flats, and they need luch on their side as well! Go Audi! I hope they take the 1-2-3 win! :-)
    As for the GT2 category, BMW better dominate and have superb speed on straights, and freakin’ fly and have good reliability! But somehow I don:t think they will do well! They won Nurburgring 14 hours so this should b a walk in the park! lol
    All n all, I hope the weather is at the perfect temp for perfect grip of tires and peak engine performance! and c how fast these cars really are, Or at least, I hope it doesn’t rain for qualifying! We shal see how both Audi and BMW do in qualifying and race results, hopefully top step!
    Go Audi and BMW! ;-)

  12. @Bamba it would not have killed anything. You need to step up your game not cry about not having factory support. This isn’t charity racing, people know what they are getting into and if they bring a knife to a gun fight, you know what the results will be.

    Also it would have brought true professionalism to LMP2 much quicker than it has.

    I have a distinct problem with allowing mediocrity in this form of racing which I feel has hurt it to some degree. People love the idea that wealth people propped up their sport in times manufactures take their toys home. That comes with a cost, I don’t think you fully understand. Because some fans demand they appease these wealth drivers/owners, they dumb down the series as a whole.

    So from my point of view, should Lord Drayon race? Sure, but we shouldn’t then make the diesels slower just so he can have a chance, he knew where he stood when he started this process.

    Transmission issues from Laguna is not a good sign and I honestly think when all is said and done, the top LMP2 cars will finish ahead of him, he’ll be happy I guess.

    I don’t care.

  13. OAK, Highcroft, Strakka, teams like those are not fully factory supported like the Penske effort was, but they are not just sold a tub and told to ‘get lost’ either.

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