A triumph for Sébastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso in the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, the 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans was the culmination of the FIA WEC 2018-19 Super Season. Of the 61 cars (183 drivers) on the starting grid, 47 were classified. One car withdrew due to an accident in the practice session. Results remain provisional until engines have been checked satisfactorily. The final classification will be announced three weeks from now.
“The pre-race checks performed during the scrutineering sessions focus on safety. After the event, cars are selected at random for performance checks. Random checks are deemed adequate as teams are responsible for the compliance of vehicles throughout the race,” says Thierry Bouvet. Cars #68 and #85 were disqualified after the post-race scrutineering for violation of fuel tank regulations. No appeal has been made.
Mike Conway set a new race lap record: 3:17.297, on the #7 Toyota TS050 Hybrid’s fourth lap.
Matteo Cairoli set a new race lap record for the LMGTE Am class: 3:52.567 on the Dempsey-Proton Racing #88 Porsche 911 RSR’s second lap.
- In all, 10,486 laps were completed; a total of 142,900.34 kilometres.
- 916 pit stops were made.
- There were 18,309 passes, 853 to move up a place.
- The lead changed six times in LMGTE Am.
- The lead changed seven times in LMP2.
- The lead changed eleven times in LMP1
The Equivalence of Technology (EoT) system proved effective in enabling fair competition between hybrids and non-hybrids and between different engine capacities. It is important to note that:
The privately-run #17 SMP Racing car was only three-tenths of a second behind the winning Toyota, the #8 (although admittedly the #7 was faster). 3:16.159 / 3:15.908 (fastest lap recorded in all track sessions). The non-hybrid #17 recorded the highest top speed during race week: 350.1 kph.
“Looking at the best ten laps, which reflect pure performance, the fastest cars were the #7 Toyota (Conway), #3 Rebellion (Menezes), #3 Rebellion (Laurent) and the #8 Toyota (Alonso),” says Bouvet.
This year’s race proves once again that the fastest car in the race is not necessarily the winner.
Beaumesnil and Bouvet agree that the LMP2 class produced “a magnificent battle between Signatech Alpine Matmut and G-Drive Racing. The spat was not just on track, it was in the pit lane too.” Until G-Drive ran into trouble and the game was over.
Beaumesnil also emphasises the “third place in class for TDS Racing, a fitting reward for François Perrodo who is returning to LMGTE next season”.
In the professional class, the best 100 laps put Corvette on top, then Porsche, two-hundredths behind, then Ferrari, five-hundredths behind Corvette. So not much to choose between the top three. Ford was three-tenths behind Corvette.
“LMGTE Pro was superb, although it was affected by a safety car period”, admits Beaumesnil. There are three ways to neutralise a race – safety car, slow zone and full course yellow (FCY) – applied according to circumstances.
- Number of slow zones : 7
- Time spent under slow zone : 49 :18
- Number of safety cars : 8
- Time spent under safety car : 2 :0 :18
- Number of FCY : 8
- Time spent under FCY : 22 :22
“I would like to point out that in a 24-hour race on a circuit of over 13 kilometres, there were no serious accidents. There were some spectacular crashes, but no lasting consequences, which shows we were right to make adjustments to the circuit”, says Beaumesnil.
“The introduction of Full Course Yellow for short neutralisation periods proved satisfactory. Slow zones were used for longer procedures, when the situation was stable and located in a precise area. Safety cars remain essential. They can intervene quickly to ensure safety. However, this is the most complex intervention to manage and can affect the outcome of the race. Teams have to gamble, but that’s part of race tactics. We can’t skimp on safety. However, there is still room for improvement and changes will be discussed with competitors.”
Two temporary garages were built to house extra teams, bringing the field to 62 competitors.“Thanks to excellent teamwork, the ACO had the garages built in a matter of weeks. All was well in terms of safety and comfort, in the pit lane and on track. That’s something to be proud of.”