Thursday, June 14, 2012

LE MANS: The Original Hybrid Racing car overshadowed by this year’s Toyota v Audi battle...

Although this AIN’T an original thought - I’d like to wholeheartedly concur with duh Speed Freaks Skattmann - who noted in a recent Skatmann Skat how the original Hybrid Sports Car Prototype is being completely forgotten... As I seem to get a wee bit torqued off every time SPEED runs its cheesy 24 Heurs du Mans tease for this year’s race by claiming the Toyota TS030 is ground breaking revolutionary technology... Uh, NO SPEED Dork Heads! It was a privateer who beat the Japanese giant to the punch three years ago when Corsa Motorsports debuted its Ginetta/Zytech hybrid powered American Le Mans Series LMP1 Prototype!

As I even seemed to vaguely recall that ‘Juan ‘O my favourite Swedes “Stevie Johnson,” aka Stefan Johansson was one of the cars pilots...


And although Corsa’s ultimate intentions were to run at Circuit de la Sarthe - I’m guessing the teething issues of this new racecar technology put the squeeze upon the team’s budget and hence they never made it to France - as far as I can tell...

So why all the hoopla over Toyota’s Hybrid Synergy not being the first of its kind? Well as my favourite Sports Car race is just around the bend, albeit I tend to think of it as signaling Summer Solstice - which means the days will become shorter... Toyota is making its Sports Car return in this year’s 80th running of the 24 Heurs French classic with a pair of its (somewhat) revolutionary TS030 hybrid LMP1 prototype... As this brace of ultra upscale Priuses were  P4-5 in the just concluded June 3rd Test Day outing with three of Audi’s four Panzerwagons ahead of them; which interestingly Audi too will campaign a pair of its own turbo diesel hybrid R18 E-tron Quattro’s this year...


The Toyota driver line-ups consist of Alexander Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre and Kazuki Nakajima in the No. 7 and St├ęphane Sarrazin, ‘ANT, (Anthony Davidson) and Sebastien Buemi in the No. 8.

Audi’s four car armada consists of the two hybrid entries No. 1 and No.2 - the No. 1 plate affixed to last year’s winning trio with the Supergroup of Thee Scottish Terrier, (Alan McNish) “Mr. Lemans,” (Tom Kristensen) and Rinaldo Capello behind the wheel of the No. 2 - with the other half of the German quartet being last year’s winning R18’s with Marc Gene and Mike “Rocky” Rockenfeller spearheading the No. 3 and No. 4 respectively...

Another interesting LMP1 chassis is the Rebellion Racing No. 12 Lola B12/60-Toyota with Nicolas Prost, Neal Jani and ‘Quick Nick Heidfeld at the controls...

Having already been slated to miss the Milwaukee round of this year’s Indy Car Series before being bumped by Thy Leggy ‘Juan, nee  Katherine Legge for all remaining Ovals; le ‘Hamburgular, aka Sebastain Bourdais will partner Seiji Ara and Nicolas Minassian in the legendary Homeboy Henri Pescarolo’s No. 17 LMP1 Dome S102.5/Judd... Hmm? Ironically the makers of SeaBasses ex-Lotus-by-Judd IndyCar lump...   

In the ‘Seester car, the No. 15 Oak/ Pescarolo Judd is ex-IndyCar driver Bertrand Baguette - while the meat in the Pescarolo sandwiches No. 16 is apparently the rebodied and re-engined ex-Aston Martin LMP1 prototype...

And other ex-Formula 1 piloto’s abound with names such as Jean-Christophe Boullion, Karun “Cowboy” Chandhok, Stefan Johansson, Jean-Denis Deletraz, Martin “BillyBob” Brundle, (and son Alex) Shinji Nakano, “Fishy fellah,” (Giancarlo Fisichella) Gianmaria Bruni, Olivier Beretta, Jan Magnussen and Pedro Lamy.

And just a few other drivers of note include past winner David Brabham, Ryan “Razzle Dazzle” Dalziel and Elton Julian, who was a promising ‘Yank Formula 1 test driver who almost made it into F1 with the Larrousse team - which would have preceded “Mikey” Andretti’s adventurous stint at  McLaren as Ayrton Senna’s teammate...

Two other chassis/driver combo’s of note are the No. 61 AF Corse Waltrip Ferrari 458 Italia GTE “Pro Am” category contender with Brian Vickers making his Le Mans debut; whilst there will be great curiosity over the No. 0 - the controversial Delta Wing Project 56 Sports Car being campaigned by Highcroft racing with lead driver Marino Franchitti behind the keyboard.

OOPS! Almost forgot that  very pleasant Senor who said Hola to me at this year’s Legends Day at Indianapolis who told me he’d be piloting the Aston Martin at Le Mans in ‘bout three weeks time... His name is Adrian Fernandez and he’s part of the No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage driver trio...



You can catch SPEED’s 24 Heurs du Mans round-the-clock TV coverage beginning tomorrow (6/15) with the airing of The Road to Le Mans at 7PM PACIFIC; reportedly focusing upon Toyota’s return, which I think is being replayed at 4:30AM PACIFIC Saturday morning - prior to the race beginning on June 16th at 5:30AM PACIFIC - and wrapping up at6:30AM PACIFIC the following morning...

But as always: CHECK YOUR LOCAL LISTINGS!

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