Le Mans 24 Hour
- on June 18, 2015
- Categories: News
The Le Mans 24 Hour Race
The Lemans 24 hour race is the world’s oldest operating sports car race in the endurance racing. It is annually held since the year 1923 near the town of Le Mans in France. One of the most renowned and distinguished automobile races in the world, it is usually called as the “Grand Prix of Endurance and efficiency.”
The race is coordinated by the ACO i.e. Automobile Club de I’Ouest and runs on the circuit de la Sarthe, which accommodates a blend of closed public roads and a authorized racing circuit which tests both endurance and speed. The teams in the competition race in groups that are called “classes” or cars of identical or consonant specifications. They also simultaneously compete for outright placing between all the classes.
The race is held in the month of June which is summer, giving a tough time to the drivers in such hot conditions. The vehicles are closed. There is little ventilation and there are very rare chances of any rain. The race starts in the middle of the afternoon and ends the next day, at the same hour. Most of the competitors cover about 5000 km (3110 miles) over the 24 hour time period.
Racing teams are required to balance the speed with the ability of the car to race for entire 24 hours without assisting or bearing any mechanical damage. They have to manage the cars’ primarily fuel, consumables, braking materials and tires. It also analysis endurance, along with the frequent change of the drivers. Present regulations command that 3 drivers share each challenging vehicle.
Why was it started?
Le Mans was arranged and laid out to present a contrasting and disparate test. Rather than centralizing on the car company’s ability to build the machines that are fastest, the 24 hours of Le Mans would alternately hammer on the manufacturers’ ability to make fast but still reliable cars. This roused modernization in making the reliable and efficient vehicles, the longer you can spend doing consistant laps and the less you can spend in the pits is the key to winning at Le Mans.
Also, at the same time, the track layout favours cars with better stability and better aerodynamics at high speeds. In addition, as the track is actually a public road it is not maintained like the circuits of the permanent racing, surface defects put more tension on the car parts, increasing the reliability importance.
Cars in the race
There are about 50 competitors in the race. Even though all the cars begin the competition at the same time, there are different classes. A prize is allocated to each class winner and to the overall winner. The number of classes have changed over the history of Le Mans, but, presently there are 4 classes.
Drivers in the race
In the beginning, there was no such rule for the number of drivers in a car, or for how long they could drive. All the teams used 2 drivers in the beginning decades of the race. Some Le Mans driver though, namely, Eddie Hall and Pierre Levagh solicited solo driving in the race so they could save time by not having to change the drivers. But this was banned later. Till the 1980s, the teams had only 2 drivers to take part in the competition, but later in the end of the decade, there were changes in the rules and it was stipulated that the minimum of 3 drivers must drive each car.
There were some additional rules put up later on due to the car speed and the strain that put on the drivers. No driver could then drive more than 4 consecutive hours, and no single driver could drive for more than total of 14 hours.
Unique rules and traditions of the race
Even though it is a part of the World Sports car Championship, there have been many changing rules and regulations in the race for the completion and safety reasons, mostly because of the length of the race. For many years, cars were needed to run for the minimum time of an hour in the race before they were granted to refill the fluids for the car, like coolant and oil, with the fuel exception. This was an ACO attempt to help increase the reliability and efficiency. The car which could not last for the first hour without any replacing of the lost fluids was straight away disqualified.
Another unique rule to Le Mans is that the cars should be off when they are getting refueled in the pits. It is not safe only on the fire hazard point of view, but also is a test of reliability. How? Cars which have the ability to restart as many times under the conditions of the race are hardier. While the refueling is going on, drivers are allowed to be replaced. They are allowed to come out of the cars.
There are many long-standing Le Mans traditions, including the French tricolor waving to begin the race. This is generally chased by a fly-over displaying jets trailing white, red and blue smoke.
Schedule of the Le Mans Race
The very first Le Mans Race was held on 26th and 27th May 1923 and since then it is held every year in June with the 1956 exception. That year race was held in the month of July and 1968, (because of the nationwide political turmoil). It’s generally the 2nd week June when the race is held every year.