Le Mans Series

Le Mans Series

Posted on by Brad Anderson 2

Despite the various high-speed crashes which took place at the recent 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans , Audi managed to come out on top for the 11th time in 13 years. With both Toyota LMP1 cars crashing out in the early stages of the race, one could argue that Audi was destined all along to take victory.

However, one could never have imagined that Audi managed to wrap up all three podium places with its incredible R18 race cars, two of which are e-tron Quattro-diesel-hybrids while the other two who finished in 3rd and 5th were the more conventional R18 Ultra diesel-powered racers.

Driving the victorious Audi R18 e-tron was Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer, and Benoît Tréluyer. This victory marks a historic day in Le Mans history as the victorious car is the first diesel-hybrid to ever sit upon the top step of the podium and could help pave the way for more fuel-efficient LMP1 racers.

Audi board member Rupert Stadler stated, "By achieving this further success at the world’s most important endurance race our engineers demonstrated their high technological expertise in a particularly impressive way. With the e-tron Quattro in combination with ultra-lightweight design, we put a completely new technology on the grid and immediately won with it – this cannot be taken for granted by any means, particularly here at Le Mans."

It’s inevitable that Audi has already turned its attention to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, where we expect to see even more hybrid-diesels contesting.

With the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans series getting closer, Chevrolet is releasing a five-part video to show just how much hard work goes into preparing for such a competition. The series is called "The Prep" and the first episode has already been released.

For this weekend’s race in France, Chevrolet has prepared two Corvette C6.R models. This video presents the team getting the two race cars ready for the competition. We are just hoping this hard work is enough for the two cars to beat out the rest.

As a reminder, the latest C6.R race car is based on the Corvette ZR1 sports car and will be distinguished by a pretty cool aerodynamic package. This package includes a new front splitter, an open grille which forces air into the engine, headlamps in aero design, carbon fiber front fenders, front and rear brake ducts, a carbon fiber roof, and carbon ceramic brakes.

Carroll Shelby touched the lives of many people in the automotive world. During his racing career, he greatly changed the fortunes of Aston Martin by helping the British automaker take home a 1st place overall finish in the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans. Shelby was not alone in this victory, as his co-driver, Roy Salvatori, and the car’s chief engineer, Ted Cutting both had heavy influence on this notorious victory.

Sadly, the automotive world has lost all three of these men this year, all within a handful of weeks of each other. First came Cutting’s death on March 22nd, then Shelby’s passing on May 10th, and finally capping off with Salvatori’s passing on June 3rd. Aston Martin feels that all three men deserve the proper send off and what’s better than bringing the car that all three of these men had a hand in to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Unfortunately, it appears as if this 1959 Aston Martin DBR1 will not be making a tribute run around the course, but it will be present for the pre-race festivities. While this is not quite on the scale of the thousands of cars that gave Mr. Shelby a moment of noise in tribute, it is still a gesture that proves Aston Martin truly feels that Carroll Shelby, Ted Cutting, and Roy Salvatori are extremely important to its storied racing history.

Our hats have to go off to Aston Martin for rolling out the old DBR1, we are very curious to see what kind of condition it is in. We are willing to bet it is exactly as it was the day it pull out of Le Mans boasting the checkered flag on June 21, 1959.

The Le Mans 24 Hours races may not be the pinnacle of the racing world, but they certainly separate the men from the boys and women from the little girls. For the most part, over half of the field ends up retiring before the race ever finishes and the ones that do finish are completely exhausted – both car and drivers – by the time the race ends.

Audi has seemingly always been a part of the Le Mans 24 Hours and has earned tons of success in the race. In the 2011 running, Audi was set up to fail, as two of its three cars were forced to retire early due to freak accidents on the track. Truth in 24 II, narrated by none other than British bad-ass action star Jason Statham, documents the running of the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours race and how the last remaining Audi managed to overcome all of the competition, including three Peugeot 908s, to take home the overall No. 1 position.

What’s even more awesome is that Audi is providing both Truth in 24 and Truth in 24 II completely free of charge. You can download the debut Truth in 24 here, if you haven’t seen it yet, and then snag up Truth in 24 II here. It’s not too often that an automaker gives you something this cool for free, so take advantage of these free movies while you can. They are simply awesome.

Audi doesn’t mind pushing the envelope a little further than most people would and has proven that with the release of a new Le Mans race car. The racer is called the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro, a four-wheel driven diesel hybrid race car that’s set to compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans in France on June 16 and 17, 2012.

Working under the same principles as that of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid , the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro uses kinetic energy that’s recovered whenever the car brakes, storing that energy in the flywheel accumulator as electricity before being sent back to the electric motors on the front wheels. The motors take car of the front of the vehicle, while the rear wheels get their power from the car’s 510-horsepower V6 TDI engine. The only difference between the aforementioned Porsche and the R18 e-Tron hybrid quattro is that the latter is considered a mild hybrid, using a petrol engine along with electricity.

Since the car uses a heavy hybrid system, Audi went and designed the race car’s gearbox using carbon fiber composite housing, alleviating some of the weight brought about by the complicated drivetrain.

Before it struts its wares in Le Mans, the car will be put through the paces on May 5th at the 6-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium where it will be raced by Allan McNish, Dindo Capello Tom Kristensen and Benoît Tréluyer, André Lotterer and Marcel Fässler.

UPDATE 06/07/2012: Audi has unveiled a cool promo video for their brand new R18 e-Tron that will compete at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race on Saturday, June 16th-17th 2012. The video presents Audi Audi ’s racing evolution, going from turbocharged direct injection (TFSI) up to turbo diesel (TDI) engines and the new e-tron.

For roughly two years now, the DeltaWing has been in the works and just recently it received its most major corporate sponsors in the form of Nissan and Michelin. The DeltaWing is all set to make its debut race at the 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the “Garage 56” class, but before it can make that run, the car needs to be tested and said testing has just been completed.

In the DeltaWing’s inaugural run on Circuit de la Sarthe, it completed a total of 54 laps. Through those laps, the Delta Wing really showed off one of its main benefits; its ability to use tires for longer periods of time, as it almost completed all 54 laps on the same set of tires. The only time the tires were changed was when it started to rain, so the pit crew changed it into a set of rain tires.

The second benefit of the DeltaWing’s technology, its fuel efficiency, was not mentioned, but we are certain that it was far better than the other classes of cars that run in Le Mans. The fastest lap that the DeltaWing pulled off in testing was 3:47.980, which would put it right on pace with the LMP2 class – the second highest class in the race – as the fastest lap in 2011 LMP2 class ranged from 3:42.625 to 3:55.254, putting it square in the middle of the LMP2 pack. Given the fact that it requires less pit stops for fuel and tires, this experimental car just might place highly in the race, if it finishes. We know that it will definitely win its class, as it’s the only entrant in the “Garage 56” class.

This definitely makes this year’s Le Mans, which starts on June 16th, even more worth watching just to see how this experiment pans out.

One feature that automakers have teased us with and even installed on concept cars is an LED screen and camera in the place of the old-style rearview mirror. With all of the cameras placed all around cars these days, like Subaru Subaru ’s EyeSight system and the various backup cameras, we are surprised this hasn’t become a reality. The assumed reasons for rearview screens not taking the place of rearview mirrors are NHTSA and DOT regulations.

Honestly, we don’t see why the NHTSA and DOT would think a hunk of glass glued to the windshield is safer than a crisp LED image from an HD camera. Then again those two government offices – as with all government offices – make strange regulations. Apparently an LED screen and camera are plenty for Audi’s future Le Mans cars, as the automaker has just announced, via a press release, that its closed LMP prototype will run with an AMOLED screen in place of the mirror and a rear-mounted camera feeding the images to the screen.

The main reasoning behind this is that the LMP prototype’s cabin is fully closed, with exception of the front windshield, so a rearview mirror would display nothing but the rear wall of the cabin. So, if this technology is good enough for racecars, why are we not seeing it installed in street cars yet? Well, we just very well might, as you likely do not remember, but the rearview mirror was not used on motor cars until Ray Harroun’s Marmon “Wasp” used one in the first Indianapolis 500, in 1911. It later became standard per NHTSA regulations for all cars to come with this item, thanks to its overwhelming success in racing.

Odds are that if this system is successful in racing that the NHTSA will adopt it, especially given the fact that rearview cameras are soon to become mandatory on all vehicle.

Click past the jump to read the full press release.

Patrick Dempsey will be dropping his doctor’s smock from Grey’s Anatomy and replacing it with a sleek pilot suit in the near future. The 46 year old actor will be making his American Le Mans Series (ALMS) debut this weekend at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca behind the wheel of an LMP2 prototype from Dempsey Racing.

Patrick Dempsey and Joe Foster will be the lead drivers and will be joined by Jonny Cocker in the No. 27 Trina Solar/GNC Beverages/Motegi Racing/Dempsey Racing Judd-powered Lola B12-80 Coupe. This year, Dempsey plans to race for a part of the ALMS season, but next year he hopes for a full championship run.

"It is nothing short of an awe-inspiring experience in every respect,” said Dempsey, who will be racing a prototype sports car for the first time. "It feels familiar but so much more intense, the braking, the acceleration, cornering and power, it is all on a much more dynamic level than the GT cars I have driven.

"It’s an amazing machine and it is incredible to even have the opportunity to race in a car like this at this level, and what better track to start with than Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. This race will really be a continuation of our learning and testing process only this time in front of a bigger crowd. We should be able to accomplish much more development and familiarization during an endurance race."

The race will begin at 1:30PM PDT on Saturday, May 12, 2012.

The Rondeau-built M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car is a true piece of Le Mans history, as it currently holds the title for most starts at Le Mans (10). With the amount of stress put on Le Mans cars today, this record is likely to stand for quite some time.

The M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car made its debut in 1978 in the GTP class of the Le Mans 24 Hours race with two drivers, Bernard Darniche and Jack Haran. In its debut race, the Rondeau M378, or “Old Number 1” as it was nicknamed, took a somewhat disappointing 9th place. The following year, Old Number 1 was tweaked to M379 specifications and wound up pulling in 3rd overall and 1st in the GTP class.

The Rondeau M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car saw plenty of success through the 1970s, but the 1980s were far less kind to it. As technology continued advancing, the Rondeau M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car just couldn’t keep up. It all bottomed out in this record holder’s final race, as it ran in and finished the 1988 Le Mans 24 Hours race, but was not classified.

Shortly after its last race, the Rondeau M378 Le Mans GTP Racing Car went on to be sold off to an American collector, who raced it in the 1998 Monterey Historics race.

If you are looking to own a piece of Le Mans history, few stack up to this car’s legacy, but is this a good item to look into purchasing when it goes to auction on May 11th through 12th?

Click past the jump to read the full review.

Back in 2010, Audi unveiled a very cool Truth in 24 documentary to honor its triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And now, the company has unveiled a trailer video for the new Truth in 24 II: Every Second Counts documentary featuring their three race cars that have entered the race.

Unfortunately, two of the cars have already crashed, so there is just one R18 LMP1 fighting for the title of the world’s most famous endurance race. The car is powered by a 3.7-liter V6 TDI engine mated to a six-speed transmission unit.

Watch the follow-up film to the original Truth in 24, where the Audi Sport Racing team attempts to cross the finish line first at the historic 24 Hours of Le Mans. After watching it, we can assure you that you won’t want to wait for the full documentary.


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