Two laps, which is much more than a mile around Spa. The ACO did say if the hybrids were too fast compared to the other LMP1 cars they would make changes for Le Mans. That said, the competition in the other categories was pretty intense.
Finally caught up. A bit like the #7...no doubt team orders were in force at Toyota after the final stops. Good to see the two fellas who had the accidents at Eau Rouge emerge unscathed - that final safety car period provided a much needed injection of excitement. GT is going to be the highlight of the year once they get the BoP sorted out.
Realistically the hope for the non-hybrid LMP1s was for the Toyotas to hit reliability gremlins. A 2-lap deficit after 6 hours would be 8 laps at Le Mans - around 28 minutes. We've seen Toyotas in the pits for far longer than that in the past (well, last year in fact). I was more concerned given the newness of the cars that they'd be in with the LMP2s - Rebellion and SMP in particular have done a lot better than I expected.
Encouraging results from the Le Mans test day. Toyota #8 was fastest on 3:19.0, but Rebellion's #3 car was second (3:19.6) followed by the orher Toyota (3:20.0) and the second Rebellion (3:21.3). The two SMP cars also lapped in the 3:21s. There could be some sandbagging going on, and the Toyota will have a stint length advantage, but it all looks much closer than at Spa.
Part of the reason is that the non-hybrids are bloody quick in a straight line. The SMPs were hitting 337kph approaching the first chicane, the Rebellions 332, and the leading Toyota only 328. So if a non-hybrid gets in front, it has a decent chance of staying there - for a while at least.
Looking forward to Le mans 24 hours this weekend. Should be good 2016 & 2017 have been crackers who could forget the potential LMP2 winner as all the hybrids dropping like flies & the Porsche that came back from the dead a few ours in to take the most unlikeliest of wins
2016 reminded me of possibly the most heart breaking thing I've seen in sport. I still well up looking a faces in toyota garage
So...Toyota are going to dominate, right?
Wrong. Well, it depends. With the withdrawal of Porsche after their hat-trick of wins in 2017, Toyota are now in a hybrid class of their own, racing against non-hybrid independent teams. The Toyota looks to have an advantage of 1-3 seconds/lap over the best of the competition - so their cars will creep, rather than disappear, into the distance. More crucially, the TS050 can run 11 laps between pitstops, compared to 10 for their rivals. So for Toyota not to win, they are going to have to hit problems.
But Toyota always hit problems...?
Indeed they do. They had the fastest car in the late 1980s and late 1990s and failed to win, while in recent years the 2016 failure was the most heartbreaking of all. Since the hybrid car was introduced, they have entered 13 cars at Le Mans - only 2 ran to the flag without dramas. Now, it's true that, without the strong opposition of Audi or Porsche, they can run the car more conservatively this time - but they were doing that in 2016 as well. It could even be something out of the their control - a wayward backmarker, or an ill-timed puncture, could easily cost them 3-5 laps or more; enough to make it a proper race with the Rebellions and/or SMP cars.
That suggests there won't be much wheel-to-wheel racing
Probably not in the LMP1 class, no. Fortunately we have a bumper entry of GTE cars, who should be battling doorhandle-to-doorhandle throughout. The Porsche 911 RSR, Ford GT and Chevrolet Corvette C7.R are proven cars, while there are new entries from Ferrari, Aston Martin and BMW: 17 entries across the six manufacturers (and almost the entire Formula E roster of drivers, apparently).
What else is new?
Pit stops will be faster, as teams are now allowed to change tyres at the same time as refuelling - although the engine must still be turned off. Limits on the number of mechanics remain, however, so don't expect F1-style stops. The number of sets of tyres available is also restricted, so they won't be putting on new tyres for every stint. In LMP1, the limiting factor now seems to be the time for a driver change - so stand by for penalties for seatbelts not being buckled properly. Toyota have another small advantage in the pits as they require considerably less fuel per stint than their non-hybrid competition.
Any drivers I've heard of?
Unless you've been living under a rock you'll probably know a certain Fernando Alonso is on the crew of the #8 Toyota. Former team mate Jenson Button is driving SMP's #11 entry - a potential beneficiary should Alonso hit trouble. Recent F1 "stars" Nasr, Maldonado, di Resta, Vergne and van der Garde are all competing in LMP2 alongside Juan Pablo Montoya (whose hopes of the triple crown are slim to none, this year). All of whom will be outshone by the brilliant Nicolas Lapierre as per usual. My attention will be on 62-year-old Jan Lammers, who raced in F1 in 1979 and will be competing in his 24th 24 hours.
Well i assume it's because button racing for fun. If in a few yrs he wins le mans. It might get serious
Ive heard that porsche curves have been changed & shortened by 3 meters, which is a km less over the 24hrs the teams have to do now. To give some run off. startline 145 metres further up the track with the start of the 24 Hours race in mind, ACO said the change would "enable all the cars to line up on the pit straight" before the start and avoid a "situation of having cars in the Ford chicanes when the pack is finally unleashed".Although the startline has moved, The positioning of the finishing and timing lines will not be altere