The dress rehearsal for the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans

The dress rehearsal for the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans which took place this Sunday, 3rd June was an out-and-out success as far as both spectators and teams were concerned. The majority of competitors present were here to prepare for the race which will take place on the 16/17th June.

Set two weeks before the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Test Day was a fantastic appetiser for the main course, and 23,000 spectators were present this Sunday to enjoy it. They were able to feast on the quality of the sights and sounds produced by the 61 cars on track. In the LMP1 category, the Audis showed themselves to be quickest, the two R18 e-tron Quattro hybrids Nos. 2 and 1 heading the No. 3 R18 Ultra. Allan McNish, the quickest man of the day (3m25.927) ended his test following a small error which saw him hitting the barriers at the Tertre Rouge corner and being unable to continue.

Much anticipated, the Toyota TS030 Hybrid didn’t disappoint on their first outing against their adversaries, occupying 4th and 5th places. The best, driven by Alexander Wurz (3m 27.204) being only 1.3 seconds off the best time of the Audi. They made their presence known. And McNish noted, “The Toyotas amazed me. At top speed they were really much quicker than us!”

It should be noted that the No. 21 Honda HPD was the speediest of the LMP1 cars with ‘classic’ petrol engines, thanks to Danny Watts. With its two cars, the No. 17 Dome-Judd and the Pescarolo 03, the Pescarolo team struggled a little more as the team was coming to terms with little preparation time and was working towards its race, but its performance was encouraging.

Another incident of note was a big off-track excursion this morning for the No. 15 Oak Racing, hitting the guard rails at the Karting corner. Guillaume Moreau, the driver, was extracted from the car and then driven to the CHU d’Angers hospital. The young Frenchman is being operated on for injuries to his 12th vertebra.

Oak Racing showed its hand in LMP2. The No. 35 Morgan-Judd entered by the French team was the quickest in both the morning and afternoon sessions, Olivier Pla being the driver achieving the best time (3m41.291) ahead of the HPD Honda of the American Level 5 Motorsports team and the Jota Zytek Z11SN Nissan. Sebastien Loeb Racing, which isn’t entered for the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, notched up the 5th best time in this class and it was Loeb himself who set the mark at 3m 42.248.
As usual, it was a great battle in LM GTE. In the class reserved for Professional drivers, it was the No. 59 Ferrari 458 of Frederic Makowiecki which was quickest but less than a tenth of a second ahead of the No. 74 Corvette. As for GTE-Am, Aston Martin Racing put itself in the spotlight with its Vantage V8, Allan Simonsen at the wheel and launched himself right into the middle of the GTE Pro pack.

Today’s Test Day was also the chance to at last see on track the Nissan Delta Wing, albeit non-classified. Remember that this futuristic car will run in the 24 Hours of Le Mans under the banner of the 56th Pit Box, but will not be classified. The Scotsman Marino Franchitti, who set a time of 3m47.980, was thrilled. “It was a perfect demonstration,” he explained. « No mechanical problems, easy to drive. It was very encouraging for the race and we know in which direction to go in order to gain performance.”
As for the Formula Le Mans, it was a great promotion to encourage people into endurance racing, even if they can’t be entered for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two were on track and the young Frenchman Steven Palette was the quickest at 3m 56.496. At the wheel of the second was a certain Fabien Barthez. The former French goalkeeper achieved a quick lap of 4m06.906.

So all is in place for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In one week the technical scrutineering will begin, and the 80th running of this mythical race is scheduled for 16th/17th June.

For the full combined result of the Test Day: click here

(Image: ACO)

17 Comments on The dress rehearsal for the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans

  1. Encouraging to see the toyotas looking quick an competitive, perhaps they can give the audis a run for their money?

  2. Wow! Allan McNish stated the Toyota Hybrid racecar were much faster in top speed, but looking at the charts, overall Audi achieved higher top speed overall! Confused! ???

  3. @ K.Hayes

    The listed speed (on the very right of the result sheet) denotes the average speed. McNish was referring to top speed which is the highest speed the racecar is able to achieve at one point of the lap. Usually that happens on the Hunaudières (I’m not sure before of after the first chicanes). Last year, for example, in Qualification Marc Gene was fastest with the Peugeot 908 as 339.6kmh (211mph) although the Audi R18 had the fastest lap times/average speed.

  4. Anyone else notice the name of the timekeeper? It must be awful having comedians for parents.

    Great showing by AMR in both GTE classes and I’m pleased to see the Toyota’s on the pace, roll on the 16th!

  5. @matt e
    Let’s pack our bags and go home now then shall we?!
    Enjoy the moment, I know I will! 11 days to go!!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Why does toyota feel the need to use 4 drivers, not much of an endurance race with 3 people.

  7. @K.Hayes and Mike M:
    Top speeds on the Mulsanne straight during the test days:
    Toyota 331 km/h
    Audi e-tron 327 km/h
    Audi ultra 326 km/h
    Dome 322 km/h
    best top speed LMP2: Morgan-Judd 308 km/h
    best top speed GT: Ferrari 292 km/h
    @Connor Helms:
    Many teams have additional drivers during the test days to give them Le Mans practice, but every team will have 3 drivers during qualifying and race.

  8. @Everybody:
    If you want to read an excellent book in the breaks during watching Le Mans in 2 weeks, you might enjoy this:
    “Bob Wollek – outside the glory” Author: Jean-Marc Teissedre (the same who writes the yearbook of the 24h of LeMans every year)

  9. thenks ‘Mike M’ amd ‘kw’ for explaining the top speed and average speed to me. Although qualificfation is not here yet, that is usually when you see the sest times appear and the highest average and top speed, so we shall see what Audi has to offer. Toyota is only 4 kph faster than the Audi E-Tron Quattro, again, we shal see on qualifying and race day! and if it rains, well, we will know who has the upper hand!

  10. Don’t hand the trophy over to Audi just yet!
    Anything can happen, look at last year, 2/3 DNF’s in accidents before half way!

    If the Toyota’s can be reliable (which it looks like they can be), and have the raw speed (Which out of the box they do), then they might be able to pressure them quite a bit. I wouldn’t be surprised to have a Toyota on one of the Podium steps.

    Whatever – even if the Toyota’s fall by the way side, it will still be great to see which Audi gets on top! and the classic petrol battle will be fantastic

    Plus the other classes should be great!

  11. The biggest boost Toyota (and Porsche in 2014) can give to the sport is to show they are competitive with a petrol engine, that will hopefully encourage other manufacturers like Nissan, Honda, Jaguar, maybe even GM, to take a serious look at P1.

  12. what was the fastest race lap at last years 24 hours of lemans, I think the race winner beat the pole time during the race… anyway, I read that one of the Toyota drivers said they can beat last years pole time.. I hope it rains for a a few hours during the race to see how the Audi’s and Toyota’s will do…. But I do hope all of qualifying will b perfect weather to get the fastest lap possible hoping its an Audi 1,2,3,4 with Audi #2 on top! (e-tron Quattro’s on top of the time sheets!)
    I hope Audi #2 wins, with the second e-tron quattro in second, the other two Aud’s in 3rd and 4th and the Toyot’s in 5th and 6th or retirement for at least one or both of the Toyota’s! I guess thats bad of me to say, I ust want Audi #2 to get pole and with the race and be all Audi’s from start to finish!

  13. Wow, thats not very sporting of you . . .

    I am hoping to see a good race between multiple marques. I would like Toyota to at least mount a meaningful challenge if not push for the win.

  14. WOW, what a race, two constructors to fight for a win…. or is it just one???? Sorry, something is wrong. Also in GTE, only Porsche and Ferrari ( Corvette isn’t a real GTE ). Others, behind Viper, will come, they say… I don’t believe any word of it… There is a big crisis in Le Mans, only ACO doesn’t realise the threat… Oh yes, the Nissan Delta Wing will save everything. On contrary, this proves they don’t know anymore how to proove their quality of product anymore to the constructors, beside silly ideas…

  15. I don’t understand this attitude towards the corvettes. (same applies to the M3s). Why not call them real GTEs? The FIA abandoned GT2 ages ago, and GTE is not GT2 anyway. The ACO is in charge of GTE, and they say the Corvette and BMW are GTEs, what else is there to it?

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