The ‘Big Three’ at Le Mans in 2014

June 10, 2014

The ‘Big Three’ at Le Mans in 2014

June 10, 2014

 

audi_6_10_14Fresh rules and regulations in the LMP1 category are set to make this year’s Le Mans 24 hours one of the most intriguing of recent years. Based on energy consumption, with a limit on what you can use on a single lap of the legendary 8.47mile La Sarthe circuit, the Audi v Porsche v Toyota threeway battle is all the more fascinating as they each use different methods and technology to harness their power.

The new regulations have seen some fascinating technology unleashed on Le Mans for 2014. Promoting efficiency and mandating hybrid technology the ultimate performance is checked by not the usual air-restrictors but by capping the energy via a fuel flow meter. Go over it and it will be an immediate time-consuming penalty.

At present and after two closely fought rounds of the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship, the Le Mans organisers appear to have created a reasonably level playing field in terms of the ever contentious petrol v diesel equivalency. Here is a quick fact check guide as to who is running what at La Sarthe this year.

TECH CHECK

Porsche

Engine: 2-litre single-turbo direct-injection V4

Fuel: Petrol

Hybrid Class: 6MJ (megajoule – a unit of electrical energy)

Energy-retrieval System: Front-axle kinetic, exhaust gas-driven turbine

Storage: Water-cooled lithium-ion batteries

 

Toyota

Engine: 3.7-litre normally-aspirated V8

Fuel: Petrol

Hybrid Class: 6MJ

Energy-retrieval System: Front and rear-axle kinetic

Storage: Super-capacitor

 

Audi

Engine: 4-litre single-turbo direct-injection V6

Fuel: Diesel

Hybrid Class: 2MJ

Energy-retrieval System: front-axle kinetic

Storage: Flywheel

Dindo Capello is in a perfect position to make a judgement call on who is in the strongest position this year. The Audi veteran who has three Le Mans wins to his name (2003, 2004, 2008) is retained by Audi as a special ambassador. Along with his former teammate and the also recently retired Allan McNish, Capello believes that the classic 2008 scrap between Audi and Peugeot could again be played out but this time between the triumvirate of Audi/Porsche and Toyota.

“For me Le Mans has the feel of 2008. On paper we had no chance but in the end we won, and I am still very confident that reliability is still the main point to win Le Mans again,” said Capello. “From that side, in terms of reliability, I am quite sure that we have it, but Toyota seems to have very good reliability as well at the moment, so we will see.

“At Audi we know it is not a secret, that the choice we have done in terms of technology is not paying us back just at the moment,” he continued. “The 2MJ is not enough at present, which is clear; the difference in acceleration and in performance is there to see. But in terms of balance, the R18 is by far the best chassis. Audi has made some brilliant developments in the last few years and all my former colleagues are enthusiastic about the performance in the corners, the speed, the aero, everything is just unbelievable, they have done a superb job. Unfortunately we cannot get back completely what we lose in the acceleration in to and out of the corners.”

Stint length and mileage of fuel will also be critical as to who will triumph at Le Mans this year. One thing is for certain and that is that a battle royal at the front of the field is all set to play out in France this weekend.

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