Le Mans 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours


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This weekend sees the 2009 running of the great event, and there is much anticipation of another superb race to match last year's for tension and excitement. Qualifying takes place later tonight.

Most attention will be focused on the premier LMP1 class, where Audi's new turbodiesel prototype, the R15, will be seeking to score a third successive win over the similarly powered Peugeot 908 HDi. Peugeot had the legs on Audi's R10 last year, but early morning rain caused visibility and cooling problems for the closed-cockpit coupes that dropped them down behind Audi's superstar lineup of Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Rinaldo Capello.

Amongst the petrol-powered P1 contenders will be the much-publicised Gulf Lola-Aston Martins, who are theoretically up against the French Pescarolo and ORECA cars, but will be hoping to mix it with the diesels, even if only the privateer Kolles Audis and Pescarolo Peugeots.

LMP2 (for lightweight prototypes) is likely to be a Porsche RS Spyder battle for the second year running. Last year's victors, van Merksteijn, have not returned to defend their crown, so their challengers from 2008, Team Essex (from Denmark, oddly) will take on an Oriental contender in the form of the Japanese Team Goh - overall winners of the 24 hours in 2004.

The GT1 category has suffered from the withdrawal of the works Aston Martin DBR9s, and the race will almost certainly be an internal battle between the two thundering Pratt & Miller-run works Chevrolet Corvette C6.Rs. This promises to be one of the closest-fought battles, however, with the experienced Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta joined by Marcel Fassler in the #64 car, while last year's winning Aston driver, Antonio Garcia, joins regulars Johnny O'Connell and former McLaren F1 driver Jan Magnussen in the #63 entry. A General Motors international motorsport programme? Enjoy it while you can, it may be the last...

GT2 is the usual mixture of Porsche 911s and Ferrari F430s. Last year the Italian marque gave Porsche something of a stuffing, and an intensive development programme over the winter has brought the 911 GT3-RSR back into the range of their rivals. The two Risi Competizione Ferraris can probably be considered slight favourites, but there are a wealth of potential Porsche challengers, including the works-backed IMSA Performance cars, Felbermayr-Proton and the American Flying Lizards entry. As usual the ACO have indulged us with a couple of wildcard entries, so an Aston Martin Vantage will appear in the GT2 class for the first time, run and driven by the UK Minister for Science, Paul (Lord) Drayson, while the Spyker name returns to international motorsport with a C8 driven by WTCC independent Tom Coronel and sportscar stalwart Jeroen Bleekemolen.

UK coverage is provided by British Eurosport (1 and 2), while ITV4 will be showing the conclusion of the event in their BTCC coverage on the Sunday (despite an apparent scheduling clash? Oh well...)

See http://www.planetlemans.com/ for latest updates, and Radio Le Mans will be providing their usual excellent commentary throughout the weekend: http://rlm08.0157.org/
So, who's on Pole?

Stephane Sarrazin/Franck Montagny/Sebastien Bourdais - Peugeot 908 HDi #8 - 3:22.888

Casper Elgaard/Emmanuel Collard/Kristian Poulsen - Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder #31 - 3:37.720

Johnny O'Connell/Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia - Corvette Racing C6.R #63 - 3:54.230

Seth Neiman/Darren Law/Jorg Bergmeister - Flying Lizard Porsche 997 GT3-RSR #80 - 4:03.202

For the full grid, click here: http://www.lemans.org/24heuresdumans/ch ... ce_1h4.pdf
Hello chums

If like me you are too poor (*ahem cough cheap*) to have Eurosport there is an HD feed by here


I have an HD projector and have it in glorious 8ft x 6ft on my wall - it's going to look great when it gets dark!
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