Of all the cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the LMGTE Pro and Am cars most resemble a vehicle you might see on the road. Outwardly, the Corvette C7.R, Ferrari 488 and Porsche 911 RSR look very much like their road-legal counterparts. There are similarities inside too. Let’s have a closer look at a 2018 GT.
Sit at the wheel of an LMGTE, whether it’s racing in the Pro or Am class, and you find yourself in a proper sports car. No doubt about that. The rules require removal of production car elements such as the back and passenger seats. Manufacturers may also remove parts that are superfluous to racing, such as insulation, sound-proofing and decorative elements. Heating and air-conditioning may also be left out. You don’t usually see the cables and wires above your head in an everyday car, but in a racing car, they are left exposed. It may look like a tangled mess to an untrained eye, but each cable is very carefully positioned and cable management a real part of a team’s set-up.
Why take so much out? The idea is to reduce weight and pare down the car to the strict necessities. The ideal weight for these cars is 1245kg and teams try to keep as close to that as possible although actual weight may be adjusted through the Balance of Performance.
Still, however bare the car may seem compared to a road-legal model, driver safety remains the overriding priority and there are no compromises in that respect. On board, the car must be fitted with a FIA/ACO data collection system with various devices to check pressure, temperature etc. Cars are closely monitored by the mandatory onboard satellite navigation system. Not that racing drivers need satnav on the track!
These cars are highly technical and programmed for speed. Endurance is all about strategy, anticipation and attention to detail. Drivers are in permanent radio contact with their engineers and can adjust engine settings to save fuel, especially if a slow zone is in place. They can also adapt braking and traction control to track and tyre conditions.
LMGTE Pro and Am cars have been fitted with cameras and screens for a few years now, so drivers can clearly see when a faster prototype is coming up behind and anticipate being overtaken.
With such a large and varied field, the race organisers do all they can to ensure that traffic is managed intelligently for the safety of all concerned.
Photo: the inside of the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE.