A tradition on the Thursday before the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the annual Automobile Club de l’Ouest press conference held in the museum next to the circuit. This year the ACO had lots of news to unveil.
Le Mans and the Le Mans Test Day
Even though we are just a few days away from the 78th 24 Hours of Le Mans, the date of the 79th edition was already confirmed today. On June 11-12 all invited teams will be racing around the Circuit de la Sarthe again.
It was also announced that after a 2-year break the test day will be revived. Even though no date has been confirmed it will take place in April or May, at least one month before the actual race.
The main reason to bring back the test day is the implementation of new regulations in 2011. As several manufacturers will bring new cars they and the teams running those cars will need testing at Le Mans. As a result the ACO decided to bring it back.
Le Mans Intercontinental Cup
After announcing the dates of the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans it was also announced that the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the blue riband event of the 2011 Le Mans Intercontinental Cup.
For this year the Chinese round will be held at Zhuhai, as expected. The calendar will therefore be:
10-11-12 September: Silverstone 1000KM
29 September-2 October: Petit Le Mans
5-6-7 November : Zhuhai 1000KM
In 2011 the Intercontinental Cup is set to increase to a seven round season. Two races are planned in the US, 2 in Asia, 2 in Europe as well as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where double points will be awarded.
March – Sebring 12 Hours (TBC)
May – Spa 1000 KM (TBC)
June 11-12 – 24 Hours of Le Mans
September – Silverstone 1000 KM (TBC)
September-October – Petit Le Mans
End of October – Fuji 1000 KM
Mid November – 6 Hours (China)
2011 Le Mans 24 Hours Regulations
The new for 2011 Le Mans regulations were also confirmed at the press conference and are all in the context of sustainable development and respect of the environment.
As it was stated the ACO has concentrated on two aspects that are important:
- An endurance race like the Le Mans 24 Hours must enable entrants to test new technologies
- The contribution of the Le Mans 24 Hours must be oriented even more strongly towards both the reduction of C)2 emissions and fuel consumption.
The ACO has therefore allowed the use of hybrid systems. KERS will be allowed, if they respect the following rules:
- Recovery and release of the energy on two wheels only.
- Maximum quantity of energy released between two braking phases: 500 kJ.
- Energy stocking: electrical or mechanical systems
- System accelerator pedal only (no push-to-pass button)
- Hybrid safety specification drawn up by the ACO
- Driver aids banned
- Fuel tank capacity reduction: 2 liters less for petrol and diesel-engined cars
- Pit lane test obligatory for the cars in the hybrid category
LMP1 and LMP2 prototypes
The new technical regulations will be presented to the teams before the start of the race on Saturday afternoon. But what has become clear this morning is:
- 2010 LMP1s are eligible in 2011, but there will be performance balancing to keep them at the same level as the 2011-spec cars.
- LMP2 will be for production engines exclusively. The engine costs can not exceed 75.000 euro’s. 400.000 for a complete car + engine.
- There will be a minimum life for an engine between two revisions. 30 hours in 2011, 40 hours in 2012 and 50 hours in 2013.
- Current LMP2 cars can race on in 2011 if a new production spec engine is placed and their performance is adjusted to the same level as 2011-spec cars.
With eight GT1 cars here and only a couple on average in each Le Mans Series race the ACO has decided to no longer allow GT1 cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Three reasons were given:
- Numerous date clashes on the calendars
- Very small fields outside the 24 Hours of Le Mans
- Current category is entirely sprint based
As a result the ACO has created a GT Endurance category with a single set of regulations valid between 2011 and 2013. The regulations are based on the 2009 regulations with some modifications:
- Steering wheel-mounted paddleshifts
- 1 evolution per year allowed
- 2 evolutions per year allowed for new cars
- Measures to reduce top speed without reducing power (it is believed to a maximum of 290kph)
The GT Endurance category will have two classes:
- GT Endurance PRO – professional category, cars and drivers free
- GT Endurance AM – cars over one year old and a minimum of two drivers classified in the bronze or silver categories
It was also confirmed that the ACO is already working on the rules for 2014-2015 in cooperation with all the manufacturers.