First run in 1923, the Le Mans 24 Hours (where many teams involved are equipped by BMC) has always stood out as an exceptional challenge not only for drivers, but also for their cars and tyres. Today, it has evolved into a complex and merciless 24-hour sprint that attracts around a quarter of a million spectators every year.
The 24h Le Mans, in too the 3rd race of the WEC (World Endurance Championship), the challenge has a big players. In the Prototype category, there in Toyota (69,5 points) followed by Porsche (61 points); in the GT category, Ferrari (72 points) is before Ford (65 points), Porsche (34 points), Aston Martin (24 points).
To stand a chance of winning at Le Mans, tyres need to be able to perform at top speeds in excess of 340kph. They must also be capable of covering more than 700km at average speeds of 220kph, while at the same time delivering safe, flawless consistency.
“Le Mans is actually a race that lasts 365 days, not just 24 hours.” – stresses Jérôme Mondain, the manager of Michelin Motorsport’s endurance racing programmes – “Even before the chequered flag has come down, our engineers are already analysing the data they have collected to improve our tyres for the following year. The prototypes they produce are tested in the autumn and signed off during the winter before being provided to our partner teams for the season’s opening rounds”.
In addition to being flat and extremely fast, the 13.629km Circuit de La Sarthe is practically unique in that 80 percent of it is made up of roads that are open to everyday traffic the rest of the year. Its surface is consequently inconsistent and offers differing levels of grip, especially following the recent resurfacing of the track’s permanent portion, aka Le Mans-Bugatti. Indeed, the complete track is only open for the official pre-race Test Day and the 24-hour showdown itself.
In the course of such a long race, and given the mixed bag of weather that is to be expected in this part of France in June, the teams need to be on their toes throughout. Experience is therefore a valuable ally when it comes to predicting temperature shifts and possible storms, for example.