On Saturday 3PM (9PM Malaysian time) at Circuit de La Sarthe in France, Audi, Porsche and Toyota will once again fight it out at the 83rd Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race.
Defending Le Mans winner Audi Sport Team Joest is aiming for its 14th Le Mans victory but Porsche, still the most successful manufacturer in Le Mans, with 16 wins between 1981 to 1998, is starting to become a major annoyance to the four rings team this year by locking out Audi from the top three positions on the starting grid.
The fastest No.18 Porsche 919 Hybrid is 3 seconds faster than the fastest No.8 Audi R18 e-tron quattro, and nearly seven seconds faster than defending WEC champion Team Toyota Racing’s TS040 Hybrid.
The historic Le Mans 24 Hours race is the third of the eight FIA World Endurance Championship’s (WEC) racing events. However because of its history, and its 24 hours race duration which really pushes the limits of the drivers, crews and cars, it is the most glamourous of all FIA WEC races.
Last year, Toyota won the WEC 2014 Championship with its supercapacitor-based petrol-electric TS040 Hybrid but everyone remembered the diesel-electric hybrid Audi R18 e-tron Quattro for winning last year’s Le Mans.
All points scored in Le Mans are double that of a regular 6 hours FIA WEC race.
Ingolstadt’s team Audi is going into this year’s Le Mans with a promising start, leading the WEC Manufacturer’s Championship with 70 points after winning both the 6 Hours of Silverstone and the 6 Hours of Spa. Porsche is second with 53 points while defending WEC champion Toyota is third with 47 points.
But team from Stuttgart could derail Audi’s ambition to secure its 14th Le Mans title. Still, endurance racing is nothing like Formula One. Starting in pole is one thing, winning the race 24 hours later is quite another.
Last year, Porsche lead for most of the race but by the final quarter, things started to go horribly wrong for Porsche, suffering accidents and breakdowns before handing over the lead to Audi.
For Le Mans, all the top LMP1 class teams are fielding mildly revised cars with a dedicated aerodynamic packaged developed specifically for Le Mans.
The new aerodynamics package seems to be working wonders for Porsche, whose 919 Hybrid is showing amazing pace, leading the fastest Audi R18 e-tron Quattro by 1.7 seconds in qualifying practice sessions.
Some quick facts about Le Mans
To understand what’s so special about Le Mans, watch this video by Audi below, chronicling Le Mans 2012.