2018 24 Hours of Le Mans

26th May 1923, 33 cars are lined up to race on a makeshift racetrack through the small city of Le Mans in Northern France. Now almost a century later, 60 cars will cross the start line before diving into the Dunlop Curve, opening the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans. The cars look extremely different, the speeds have rocketed and the number of entrants and spectators has grown immensely. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is now regarded as a pinnacle of motor racing, making up a segment of the Triple Crown, alongside the Indy 500 and Monaco Grand Prix.

Toyota go into the race as hot favourites. Double F1 world champion Fernando Alonso has joined the team and the car has been through a range of improvements to ensure the heartbreak of the previous years is not repeated. This post goes through the history and Toyota’s involvement in the famous endurance event.

Classes

The 60 cars are separated into 4 categories with each category having their own winner. The overall winner is almost certain to come from the quickest LMP1 class.

Class Category Overview Minimum Weight Engines
LMP1 Closed-cockpit Prototype

 

833KG or 878KG (hybrid) 4 stroke engine with reciprocating pistons
LMP2 Closed-cockpit Prototype

 

930KG 4.2-litre V8 Gibson 600hp
LMGTE PRO

(Professional Drivers)

Two-door road legal sports cars 1245KG ·         Naturally aspirated Petrol: 5500CC Max

·         Turbocharged petrol: 4300CC Max

LMGTE AM

(Amateur Drivers)

Two-door road legal sports cars 1245KG ·         Naturally aspirated Petrol: 5500CC Max

·         Turbocharged petrol: 4300CC Max

History of Le Mans

The first Le Mans race was won by a Chenard et Walcker Type U 15CV Sport driven by Andre Lagache and Rene Leonard. They covered 2,209.536km or 128 laps of the street course, 4 laps more than their closest competitors. As the late 30s arrived and the popularity built for Le Mans, teams like Alfa Romeo and Bugatti began to experiment with the design of their vehicles. There main aim was to be as aerodynamic as possible, so they could reach top speeds down the 3.7 mile Mulsanne Straight. Due to general strikes in France, the race was cancelled in 1936 and then again in 1939 when the Second World War broke out. It took 10 years for race cars to return to Le Mans.

The racing resumed in 1949 to renewed interest from some the world’s biggest manufacturers. Ferrari, Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Ford entered during the following years and decades, all achieving their own years of domination. Rolling into the 1970s, car designs became more extreme and speeds rocketed, a stance that remains today. Although production cars still race in their own categories, they don’t have the pace to compete for the overall victory.

Toyota TS050 Le Mans

Toyota brings the TS050 Hybrid to the circuit as clear favourites for overall victory. It features a 2.4L biturbo V6 petrol engine

and 300KW electric motor combining to produce over 1,000hp. After a heart breaking 2016 and 2017 which saw the cars retire whilst leading, Toyota took the car back to the factory and thoroughly reviewed every part to improve reliability. The battery and cooling system have also been through a weight reduction.

Drivers

Who will be driving the two TS050’s at Le Mans this year?

Car Number Driver 1 Driver 2 Driver 3
7 Mike Conway Kamui Kobayashi Jose Maria Lopez
8 Sebastian Buemi Kazuki Nakajima Fernando Alonso

The race starts at 3pm on Saturday afternoon with the two Toyota TS050 Hybrid’s looking to put the disappointment of the previous years behind. Will this be their year?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *