Look up the winners of the Le Mans endurance race for the past 10 or so years and you’ll notice that just about every year, Audi has stood on the top podium of the world’s most historic endurance race. It’s had some down years – like in 2009, when Peugeot dethroned the folks over at Ingolstadt for the championship – but for the most part, Audi has been the class of Le Mans. In fact, they have won the championship nine times while using a three of its noted LMP1 racers: the R8, the R10 TDI, and the R15 TDI.
But now that new regulations are being implemented in the endurance race, combined with the competitive field drawing closer to each other, Audi decided it was time to field a completely new LMP1 racer for Le Mans in 2011. And so, after a year of research and development, the four rings brand has finally introduced its latest Le Mans Monster, the R18.
UPDATE 02/01/11: The Audi R18 LMP1 race car was finally put through the testing paces after the closed-cockpit Audi racer spent a few hours at the Sebring race track in preparation for its debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans later this year. All nine of Audi’s factory drivers were given a chance to test out the R18 to get a feel for the car as the company makes its final preparations leading up to Le Mans this June. According to Audi motorsport chief Wolfgang Ullrich, the decision to test their new Le Mans bad boy in Sebring was made because of Florida’s warm and dry weather, which he says is more conducive to race testing compared to the colder European sites. It really doesn’t matter to us where Audi does their testing; what’s important is that the R18 is finally out of its cage and ready to pounce on the competition. Check out a few photos of Audi’s test run in Sebring in the gallery!
UPDATE 06/07/11: The 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans is set for the green light this weekend with powerhouse Audi getting ready to introduce their latest racing racer, the R18 TDI. In previewing their new race car, the German automaker has released a promo video to get us acclimated with the car, including the new features and changes made on the car from the its successor, the R15 TDI, as well as the company’s continued efforts in becoming one of the best automotive motorsports teams in the world.
The Peugeot 908 HDi won first place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but as is the case in the racing industry these days, last year’s championship car could just as easily be the following year’s also-ran, which proved to be true for the 908 HDi when all four cars who participated at this year’s installment of Le Mans failed to even make the finish line.
So with a need for a new racer to compete in 2011, Peugeot Sport has finally introduced the successor to the 908: the 90-X.
Technical details of the 90-X are still unknown as of this time as the car is still in the testing phase. According to Bruno Famin, Peugeot Sport’s technical director, the team is still exploring several options with regard to the engine and technology that’s going to be used in the 90-X. "Work on the engine’s development is ongoing,” he said. “Endurance racing is an ideal proving ground to provide us with the opportunity to showcase all the brand’s technologies."
Having said that, the closed cockpit 90-X supposedly passes all of ACO’s 2011 regulations, including the 900 kg weight limit. Peugeot also installed a new safety feature in the 90X – a “shark fin” – which was designed to prevent the race car from going airborne in the event of any unforeseen accidents.
Peugeot Sport Director Olivier Quenel said that preparations made for the 90-X are on schedule with track testing already taking place before the year ends. "I am pleased to report that we have now done that [test runs],” he said. “Even so, there is still a long way to go and a considerable amount of work to be done as we prepare for 2011."
After Autocar voted the road-going 911 GT3 RS as Britain’s Best Drivers’ Car earlier this week, it comes as no surprise that it’s racing brother, the GT3 RSR clinched the title of the world’s most successful GT Racer.
From its debut in 2004 (996), the RSR has found winning ways, taking no less than six class victories in that season. Since then the precision machine has undergone numerous improvements on its way to 19 class and overall victories between 2007 and 2010.
“It’s impressive how the 911 GT3 RSR has developed from year to year. The lap times alone are astounding, because despite the restrictions imposed on us again and again by the regulations, the car just got faster every year,” says Porsche works driver Joerg Bergmeister, who celebrated the majority of his successes at the wheel of the RSR. For this reason, the five-time winner of the American Le Mans Series is not at all anxious about tackling the 2011 season: “When you finish a season you always think: now we’ve reached our limit, now the car’s gone as far as it can go. And then Porsche comes up with something new again. And I reckon it won’t be any different in 2011.”
Back in the 60’s, the Ford GT enjoyed unprecedented success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winning the overall title four times between 1966-1969. Oddly enough, after dominating Le Mans for four successive years, the Ford GT fell off the racing grid, inconspicuously absent from the famous endurance race for 41 years.
That is, of course, until now. Matech went to this year’s Le Mans race fielding two Ford GTs, the first time since 1969 that a Ford GT participated in the endurance race. Despite both cars failing to see the checkered flag, their return to Le Mans still proved to be relatively successful after the two GTs, neophytes that they are, fared better and far more impressively than most of the competition
And the best part of the whole experience is that Matech was there for the entire weekend to document the return of the Ford GT to Le Mans for a movie that’s being called “Reborn”. Check out the trailer of the video and tell us that you’re not getting all pumped up to see the feature-length.
Aston Martin has had some relative success in the Le Mans series, having won two titles in 2007 and 2008 for the GT category. But in terms of the big one – the 24 Hours of Le Mans – Aston Martin’s title drought has lasted for over 40 years since its last win at Le Mans back in 1959.
Well, Aston Martin is thinking that the wait has been long enough and now they’re beginning the process of building the ultimate LMP1 racer to bring the Le Mans title back to the Land of Big Ben. In this teaser sketch, Aston has begun the groundwork of designing their new racer, dressing this sketch up with Gulf Oil livery, with the real work to build the car already in its infancy stages.
According to David Richards, Aston Martin’s big boss, winning GT titles isn’t enough to satiate the appetite of Aston Martin to reclaim the Le Mans title it won back in 1959. "Having won the GT category twice at Le Mans in 2007 and 2008 and the Le Mans Series outright in 2009, we still want to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the 24 Hour race overall to bring the title back to Britain,” he said.
From what we’ve heard, the racing prototype is currently being worked on, including the introduction of a new powertrain and chassis, at the company’s racing headquarters in Banbury, UK. The first models of these cars are expected to start testing early next year in preparation for the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Porsche announced today that the 911 GT3 R Hybrid will be at the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta on October 2. The car will have to travel a distance of 1,000 miles or a maximum of ten hours to complete the race. The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid will not be eligible for points, as hybrid technology is not yet included in the GT regulations.
"After the 911 GT3 R Hybrid’s fantastic performance at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we are now eager to gain more experience with the hybrid technology on a variety of race tracks," says Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport. "At the same time, we would like to show fans and customers in our most important markets how our ‘race lab’ performs under racing conditions," adds Kristen.
Porsche also plans to race the 911 GT3 R Hybrid on November 7th at the season final of the new Le Mans International Cup, the six hour race in Zhuhai, China.
The GT3 R is powered by a hybrid drive that combines a 480 HP 4.0 Liter flat six engine with two electric motors developing 60 kW each as well as an electrical flywheel power generator fitted in the cockpit next to the driver. This unit is used to deliver energy to the electric motors and is charged whenever the driver applies the brakes, with the two electric motors reversing their function on the front axle and acting themselves as generators when not providing four wheel drive traction.
Porsche Design has unveiled the new P´6612 Dashboard Le Mans 1970 Limited Edition chronograph that has been launched to pay tribute to Porsche’s LeMans victory 40 years ago. This was the day when a red-white-red Porsche 917 K bearing start number 23 driven by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood won the Le Mans race. The watch will be limited to only 917 pieces and will be available starting this September at Porsche retail outlet stores.
The P´6612 Dashboard Le Mans 1970 Limited Edition wears the same clean lines as the Porsche 917 and its strap is designed after the 917’s steering wheel. It features black calf leather with dual perforations like those of the 917’s steering wheel spokes, red stitching, and a titanium pin buckle. The P’6612’s dial is fashioned after the 917’s dashboard and features a black background with black hour and minute hands that feature white luminous material that allows them to stand out.
The P´6612 Dashboard Le Mans 1970 Limited Edition chronograph has self-winding ETA 2894-A2 movement that offers a power reserve of 42 hours. The case is made from brushed and polished titanium and has the number of the edition as well as inscriptions stating "Winner Le Mans 1970" together with "917-023" – the chassis number of the winning car.
Pricing for this timepiece has yet to be announced.
The 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans was a successful one on a lot of fronts. It had action-packed racing, it had a record-breaking performance from Audi, and it didn’t have any fatalities. The last one may be a bit harsh, but given the history of Le Mans, something like that should never go unsaid.
Developments in safety and technology give race car drivers the opportunity to ply their crafts without worrying about whether they’d live to see the checquered flag, but any true fan of the Le Mans racing series knows that that wasn’t always the case. In their new documentary called "Deadliest Crash", BBC takes a look back at the one racing accident from 1955 that spurned the advent of safety changes in motorsports. That incident still stands as the single deadliest racing accident in motorsports history, taking over 85 lives with it, as well as injuring another 120 people.
Knowing how dangerous the sport of motor racing is, measures were made to ensure that something like that never happens again and proof of that attempt lives on in Le Mans today. Apart from a few minor car mishaps, the 2010 staging of the 24-hour endurance race had all of its drivers in good and stable condition after the race. Of course, it also is worth noting that the 1955 incident served as the wake-up call for racing leagues to prioritize driver - and spectator - safety above everything else.
Check out the teaser vid of "Deadliest Crash" and be sure to catch the DVD when it hits stores.
All that talk about putting an end to Audi’s recent dominance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans is now all for naught as the boys from Ingolstadt scored a 1-2-3 finish at the most prestigious endurance race in the world, the fourth time they’ve done so since 2000.
Audi’s win at the 2010 24 Hour of Le Mans is also the ninth time in 11 years the manufacturer has bagged the championship. Since 2000, to say that Audi has dominated Le Mans is as gross an understatement as saying that Michael Schumacher’s record seven F1 driver’s championships are ’impressive’. In the past 11 years, Audi has been unseated at the top step of Le Mans only twice - once in 2003 when Bentley won it and last year when the Peugeot Sport Total pulled it off - proving once again that the road to Le Mans glory passes through Ingolstadt, Germany.
While everyone is waiting for the big Le Mans weekend, Audi has decided to tease us with a few images that give us an idea of the show that is in store for all of us. Audi will enter the race with a R15 TDI powered by a V10 TDI engine. To keep it in line and make it a little bit more competitive, Audi tweaked the R15 TDI’s body shape in addition to giving it a modified cooling and fuel tank system. The V10 TDI engine gets smaller air restrictors yet still delivers a staggering 590 horsepower. The car features a new radical design that features more red. In addition, large areas of the Le Mans race sports car that is internally designated as "R15 plus" will be kept in a purist black carbon-fiber look.