Thursday, June 10, 2010

LE MANS: Wall to Wall Coverage ‘N More...

Vanina Ickx

In case Y’all weren’t aware... Can it really already be that time again? As this weekend SPEED will be hosting its annual Round-the-Clock coverage of the 24 Heurs du Mans, which LIVE TV Coverage begins at 5:30AM PACIFIC Saturday morning.

SPEED & Offer 25 Hours Of Live Coverage From Le Mans

And this year shapes up to potentially be another classic duel between the reigning French Lions, nee Peugeot’s 908 HDi FAP’s vs. Audi’s potent R15’s, as these blindingly quick Turbo Diesel’s look set once again to rule the roost!

2010 Lemans Provisional Spotter Guide
There’s three “Works” Peugeots vs. Audi’s apiece, with one Privateer Peugeot 908 HDi FAP vs. two Audi R10’s, the latter being campaigned by Dr. Colin Colles, the Team Principal of the Hispania Racing F1 Team...

Other racing cars of interest include the “RED” No. 5 LMP1 Ginetta Zytek driven by Nigel Mansell and his two sons Greg and Leo. No. 12 LMP1 Rebellion Racing with Neil Jani, Nicolas Prost and Marco Andretti at the controls; The No. 81 LMGT2 Jaguar XKR has Marc Goossens, Ryan Dalziel and Team Owner Paul Gentilozzi piloting the ‘Cat, whilst Jaguar celebrates its 75th Anniversary. And there are six Ferrari F430GT’s entered this year, with the No. 95 (Risi Competizione) AFS Corse featuring Giancarlo Fisichella, Jean Alesi and Toni Vilander.

Also ex-Indy Lights female Cyndie Allemann is behind the wheel of one of the “Big LMGT1 Heavyweights,” Matech Competition’s No. 61 Ford GT; while six time Le Mans winner Jacky Ickx’s daughter Vanina Ickx will contest the event at the keyboard of the No. 008 LMP1 Signature Lola-Aston Martin, while Adrian Fernandez will be racing aboard the No. 007 Lola Aston Martin V-12 LMP1 sister car...

’BIMMER Art CarWhile Meesh’s favourite ALMS Team Owner Booby Ray-X’s (Bobby Rahal) Factory-backed BMW GT2 entity isn’t involved with racing round Circuit de la Sarthe, nevertheless BMW makes its return to the French classic for the first time since winning overall in 1999... Where the Bavarian make will contest the crowded GT2 field with two of its latest M3 racecar’s, with one being the latest of the famous Art Cars, the No. 79 created by Artist Jeff Koons.

BMW Art Car Revealed

Highcroft Challenge
Interestingly during the Turkish GP, SPEED’s Bob Varsha noted that Highcroft Racing, who’ll be attacking the Circuit de la Sarthe this weekend, has undertaken a massive effort in order to compete in France, as the ACO Rules required a completely new Aero-package design, involving a total of 133 brand new bodywork pieces! And the Team is shipping 4-tons of equipment along with 32 Personnel which you can read about in detail in: LM24: The Trek.

This year’s Driving trio sees Dario’s Brother Marino Franchitti partnering David Brabham, with the Highcroft duo being joined by three-time Le Mans winner Marco Werner; as Simon Pagenaud.will be behind the wheel of a “Works” Peugeot 908 HDi FAP instead, hoping to claim Overall Honours with “The Hamburgular,” nee Sebastian Bourdais and Pedro Lamy.

Also of interest is the fact that France apparently has severely strict advertising laws disallowing the promoting of “Spirits,” as Highcroft’s traditional sponsor Tequila Patron will be replaced by the Team’s charity cause Malaria No More.

And this past Sunday night on Wind Tunnel, Duncan Dayton, the owner of Highcroft Racing was the show’s “Last Call,’ providing an interesting look into the Team’s inaugural attack of the legendary French circuit. Duncan noted that the 133-piece Low Downforce “Aero” body-kit package had been designed by Nick Wirth’s UK Wirth Research company and has been tested by their sister HPD Team in the LMS series, the Strakka Racing Team.

Ferrari EVO
Interestingly, during this year’s season opening American Le Mans Series round at Sebring, I learned that the Ferrari F430 GT2 runners have an expensive proposition facing them, with the chassis having been upgraded to GTE-spec this season, before needing to be replaced next year with the advent of the brand new Ferrari 458 Italia coming online.

This year’s F430GTE has seen the revision of four key elements: Aero, weight, Air restrictors and tyres, as the latter was the key driver in the cars bodywork revisions, as the new larger rubber required bigger fenders in order to fit their increased girth.

And although the new chassis has gained 100kg of weight, now tipping the scales at 1245kg, the change of bodywork, tyres and new larger engine Air restrictor, gives the 430’s an approximate power increase of 9% which sees an increase in top speed and should enable the Prancing Horses to “Hang” with its competition on the longer straightaway courses, i.e.; Le Mans...

Yet with the 458’s impending arrival for 2011, Teams will be forced to purchase brand new racecar’s, along with all of the necessary spares needed. So it’s a good thing that Scotty Sharp has gone racing with Tequila Patron’s CEO as partner of his Extreme Speed Motorsports operation, eh?