2013 Le Mans 24 Hours Preview 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours Preview 2013 Le Mans 24 Hours Preview

The stage is set for the running of the 81st edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the most iconic events on the global motorsport calendar.

The world’s most advanced prototypes will once again share the Circuit de la Sarthe with a selection of the most beautiful GT cars one could ever imagine. As harmonious as it may sound, there is nothing pretty about what the 56 entries must endure.

The Circuit

Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans

Date: 9-23 June 2013
Lap Length: 13.929km / 8.469mph
Race Lap Record: 3:19.074, Loïc Duval (Team ORECA Peugeot 908 HDi FAP LMP1) – 2010
Event Schedule: Free Practice Session Sat 9 June 09:00-13:00
Free Practice Session Sat 9 June 14:00-18:00
Free Practice Session Wed 19 June 16:00-20:00
Qualifying Session 1 Wed 19 June 22:00-24:00
  Qualifying Session 2 Thu 20 June 19:00-21:00
  Qualifying Session 3 Thu 20 June 22:00-24:00
Race Warm-up Sat 22 June 09:00-09:45
  Race Start Sat 22 June 15:00
  Race Finish Sat 23 June 15:00
#1 Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron Quattro TDI 3.7L Turbo V6
André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler, Benoît Tréluyer)
LMP1 Class, 378 laps
#44 Starworks Motorsport HPD ARX-03B Honda 2.8L Turbo V6
(Enzo Potolicchio, Ryan Dalziel, Tom Kimber-Smith)
LMP2 Class, 354 laps
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 4.5L V8
(Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander)
LMGTE Pro, 336 laps
#50 Larbre Compétition Chevrolet Corvette C6.R 5.5L V8
(Patrick Bornhauser, Julien Canal, Pedro Lamy)
LMGTE Am, 329 laps

* All event times are quoted in Central Europe Summer Time (GMT +2)

Lapping the Circuit de la Sarthe for 24 Hours is as close to automotive hell as any driver or engineer would dare to travel. Each gruelling 13.6-kilometre lap takes an enormous toll on the car. Drivers spend approximately 85% of the lap at absolutely full throttle, and the components of each machine must stand up to hundreds of laps of tremendous punishment.

The bizarre-looking DeltaWing made its Le Mans debut last yearAs a result of this, Le Mans has become a testing ground for the latest and greatest automotive technology, as engineers continue their endless search for unassailable reliability. The exciting thing about the race is that it’s often a showcase of technology that will filter through to production vehicles in the coming years, so you might well purchase a car in five years’ time which is equipped with machinery tested in the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hour!

In terms of this year’s event, scrutineering and practise were held earlier this week. The weather at the Circuit de le Sarthe has been average at best; however it appears that only intermittent showers will occur throughout the weekend.

Below is a brief roundup of qualifying, which took place over three sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. Furthermore, we will shed some light on the key players in each class and make some predictions in regards to how the race may play out, as trivial as Le Mans 24 Hour estimations may be:

LMP1 Class

The LMP1 (an acronym for Le Mans Prototype 1) class will feature eight entries from four different teams. In almost all editions of the race, the outright winner comes from the LMP1 class. The headline battle in this class will be between the factory Audi and Toyota teams. The privateer entries of Rebellion Racing and Strakka Racing cannot be ruled out in such a long and unpredictable race; however they were a long way off the pace in qualifying.

Audi locked out the top three qualifying spots and is favourite for outright race honoursAudi Sport Team Joest locked out the top three places on the grid in qualifying, with Loïc Duval piloting the #2 entry to pole position. Duval will share the car with two-time winner Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen, the most successful Le Mans pilot of all time. Andre Lotterer put the #1 Audi into second, ahead of former Virgin Racing pilot Lucas Di Grassi in the #3 entry representing the German marque.

Toyota has only entered two TS030’s in the 2013 edition of the race, and #8 and #7 entries will start from fourth and fifth places, respectively. The #8 entry will feature two former F1 pilots in Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi, while Alexander Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima will spend time behind the wheel of the #7 TS030.

There is no question that Audi has the faster car, however the key point of difference between the factory outfits is fuel consumption. Toyota believes that their entry can lap the Circuit de la Sarthe two more times on their larger fuel tank as compared to Audi, which could potentially make amends for their lack of outright pace. It’s hard to look past one of the factory Audi’s taking the outright and LMP1 class win, however it would be brave man to completely count out their Japanese rivals.

2013 Le Mans 24 Hours – LMP1 Class Final Qualifying Results:

Grid # Entry Drivers Result
1. 2. Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron Quattro Tom Kristensen
Allan McNish
Loïc Duval

2. 1. Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron Quattro André Lotterer
Benoît Tréluyer
Marcel Fässler
+ 1.347
3. 3. Audi Sport Team Joest R18 e-tron Quattro Marc Gené
Oliver Jarvis
Lucas di Grassi

+ 1.992
4. 8. Toyota Racing TS030 Hybrid Anthony Davidson
Stéphane Sarrazin
Sébastien Buemi
+ 4.305
5. 7. Toyota Racing TS030 Hybrid Alexander Qurz
Nicolas Lapierre
Kazuki Nakajima

+ 4.327
6. 12. Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60 Toyota Nicolas Prost
Neel Jani
Nick Heidfeld

+ 6.586
7. 13. Rebellion Racing Lola B12/60 Toyota Mathias Beche
Andrea Belicchi
Congfu Cheng

+ 9.818
8. 21. Strakka Racing HPD ARX-03C Honda Nick Leventis
Jonny Kane
Danny Watts
+ 14.198

Could Toyota take the challenge to Audi?

LMP2 Class

The battle for LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2) class honours is wide open, with 22 prototypes competing for three podium positions.

Pole position for the class was taken by Olivier Pla at the helm of the #24 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan in the dying stages of the final qualifying session. Australian John Martin qualified his G-Drive Racing ORECA prototype in second, having occupied the top spot on the timesheets throughout most of the three sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. Starting from third in the class will be the Jota Sport Zytek, with Brit Oliver Turvey behind the wheel in qualifying.

LMP2 honours are simply too close to call, with seven entries separated by less than three seconds in qualifying. Furthermore, qualifying is often not entirely reflective of all-important race-pace, thus while OAK Racing would have to be the favourite, there are so many unknowns in relation to fuel consumption and overall reliability over the 24 hour race.

2013 Le Mans 24 Hours – LMP2 Class Final Qualifying Results:

Grid # Entry Drivers Result
9. 24. OAK Racing Morgan LMP2 Nissan Olivier Pla 
Alex Brundle
David Heinemeier Hansson
10. 26. G-Drive Racing ORECA 03 Nissan Roman Rusinov 
John Martin
Mike Conway

+ 0.914
11. 38. Jota Sport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan Simon Dolan
Oliver Turvey
Lucas Luhr
+ 1.838
12. 43. Morand Racing Morgan LMP2 Judd Natacha Gachnang
Franck Mailleux
Olivier Lombard

+ 2.120
13. 25. Delta-ADR ORECA 03 Nissan Tor Graves 
Archie Hamilton
Shinji Nakano
+ 2.304
14. 47. KCMG Morgan LMP2 Nissan Alexandre Imperatori
Matt Howson
Ho-Pin Tung

+ 2.421
15. 48. Murphy Prototypes ORECA 03 Nissan Brendon Hartley
Karun Chandhok
Mark Patterson

+ 2.948
16. 36. Signatech Alpine A450 Nissan Pirerre Ragues
Nelson Panciatici
Tristan Gommendy
+ 3.033
17. 35. OAK Racing Morgan LMP2 Nissan Bertrand Baguette 
Martin Plowman
Ricardo González

+ 3.233
18. 49. Pecom Racing ORECA 03 Nissan Luís Pérez Companc
Pierre Kaffer
Nicolas Minassian

+ 4.799
19. 46. Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA 03 Nissan Pierre Thiriet
Ludovic Badey
Maxime Martin
+ 4.873
20. 42. Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan Michael Krumm
Jann Mardenborough
Lucas Ordóñez
+ 5.800
21. 41. Greaves Motorsport Zytek Z11SN-Nissan Alexander Rossi
Tom Kimber-Smith
Eric Lux

+ 6.000
22. 34. Race Performance ORECA 03 Judd Michel Frey 
Patric Niederhauser
Jeroen Bleekemolen

+ 6.623
23. 32. Charouz Lotus T128 Praga Thomas Holzer 
Dominik Kraihamer
Jan Charouz

+ 6.653
24. 31. Charouz Lotus T128 Praga Kevin Weeda 
James Rossiter
Christophe Bouchut

+ 9.299
25. 45. OAK Racing Morgan LMP2 Nissan Jacques Nicolet
Jean-Marc Merlin
Philippe Mondolot
26. 33. Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03B Honda Scott Tucker 
Marino Franchitti
Ryan Briscoe
+ 9.976
27. 28. Gulf Racing Middle East Lola B12/80 Nissan Fabian Giroix 
Philippe Haezebrouck
Keiko Ihara
+ 10.475
28. 30. HVM Status GP Lola B12/80 Judd Johnny Mowlem 
Tony Burgess 
Jonathan Hirschi

+ 11.184
36. 39. DKR Engineering Lola B11/40 Judd Olivier Porta
Romain Brandela
Stéphane Raffin
+ 18.284
37 40. Boutsen Gnion Racing ORECA 03 Nissan Thomas Dagoneau
Matt Downs
Rodin Younessi

+ 18.518

Olivier Pla has proven quickest of the LMP2 runners

LMGTE Pro Class

The LMGTE Pro (Le Mans GT Endurance Professional) class will feature an exciting range of beautifully prepared GT Cars. Chrysler, Chevrolet, Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari will all be represented in the LMGTE Pro class, which will consist of 12 entries.

In an extremely competitive qualifying session, Aston Martin Racing locked out the top two positions in the pro GT class. Frederic Makowiecki qualified the #99 Vantage in the highest position for a GT Pro entry, denying stable-mate Stefan Mucke in the dying stages of the final qualifying session by eight tenths of a second. The top 7 GTE Pro entries were separated by less than 2 seconds over the 13.7 kilometre lap, which reflects the competitiveness of the class.

Aston Martin Racing appear to have the outright pace over their rivals, however the Porsche AG Team Manthey and AF Corse entries are sure to be hot on their heels throughout the race. American muscle does not appear to be the key to a successful race in the 2013 edition of the Le Mans 24 hour, with the Chevrolet Corvettes and Dodge Vipers left in the dust of the European marques. While Corvette Racing has been extremely successful at Le Mans in the past, neither Corvette Racing C6R’s could lap within 4 seconds of the class pole.

2013 Le Mans 24 Hours – LMGTE Pro Class Final Qualifying Results:

Grid # Entry Drivers Result
29. 99. Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE Frederic Makowiecki
Bruno Senna 
Rob Bell
30. 97. Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE Stefan Mücke
Darren Turner
Peter Dumbreck
+ 0.820
31. 92. Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR Marc Lieb
Richard Lietz
Romain Dumas

+ 0.856
32. 51. AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Gianmaria Bruni
Giancarlo Fisichella
Matteo Malucelli

+ 1.274
33. 98. Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE Paul Dalla Lana
Pedro Lamy
Bill Auberlen

+ 1.701
34. 71. AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Olivier Beretta
Kamui Kobayashi
Toni Vilander

+ 1.836
35. 91. Porsche AG Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR Jörg Bergmeister
Patrick Pilet
Timo Bernhard
39. 74. Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R Oliver Gavin
Tommy Milner
Richard Westbrook
GBRGBR + 4.009
41. 73. Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R Antonio García
Jan Magnussen
Jordan Taylor

+ 4.891
46. 53. SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R Dominik Farnbacher
Marc Goosens
Ryan Dalziel

+ 6.167
50. 93. SRT Motorsports Viper GTS-R Kuno Wittmer
Tommy Kendall
Jonathan Bomarito

+ 8.826
54. 66. JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Andrea Bertolini
Abdulaziz al Faisal
Khaled al Qubaisi

+ 10.782

LMGTE Pro Class

LMGTE Am Class

Aston Martin has also tied up the LMGTE (Le Mans GT Endurance Amateur) class in qualifying, with Allan Simonsen almost a second clear of the chasing pack. Second will be the #88 Proton Competition Porsche 997, while the #96 Aston Martin Racing Vantage was third fastest, setting a 3.59.8 in the final qualifying session.

The difference between the GTE Pro and Amateur classes is the presence of professional racing drivers and the age of the car. If a driver line-up consists of all professional drivers, the entry will be entered in the GT Pro class, whereas if the line-up consists of a mix and professional and amateur pilots, it will be classified in the GTE Amateur class. The amateur cars are also at least a year older than the machines in the professional class.

2013 Le Mans 24 Hours – LMGTE Am Class Final Qualifying Results:

Grid # Entry Drivers Result
38. 95. Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE Allan Simonsen
Christoffer Nygaard
Kristian Poulsen
40. 88. Proton Competition Porsche 997 GT3-RSR Christian Reid
Gianluca Roda
Paolo Ruberti
DEU + 1.113
42. 96. Aston Martin Racing Vantage GTE Roald Goethe
Jamie Campbell-Walter

Stuart Hall
43. 61. AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Jack Gerber
Matt Griffin
Marco Cioci

+ 2.221
44. 67. IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 997 GT3-RSR Pascal Gibon
Patrice Milesi
Wolf Henzler
+ 2.727
45. 75. Prospeed Competition Porsche 997 GT3-RSR Emmanuel Collard
François Perrodo
Sebastien Crubilé
47. 77. Dempsey Del Piero-Proton Porsche 997 GT3-RSR Patrick Dempsey
Joe Foster
Patrick Long
+ 3.140
48. 76. IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 997 GT3-RSR Raymond Narac
Jean-Karl Vernay
Christophe Bourret
49. 81. 8Star Motorsports Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Enzo Potolicchio
Rui Águas
Jason Bright
+ 4.158
51. 55. AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Piergiuseppe Perazzini
Darryl O’Young
Lorenzo Casè

+ 6.220
52. 70. Larbre Compétition Chevrolet Corvette C6.R Cooper MacNeil
Manuel Rodrigues
Philippe Dumas
FRAFRA + 6.736
53. 50. Larbre Compétition Chevrolet Corvette C6.R Patrick Bornhauser
Julien Canal
Ricky Taylor
FRAFRA + 7.097
55. 54. AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Yannick Mallégol
Jean-Marc Bachelier
Howard Blank
FRAFRA + 11.288
56. 57. Krohn Racing Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 Tracy Krohn
Niclas Jönsson
Maurizio Mediani

+ 18.447

Ferrari is well represented in both GT classes

The action kicks off at 3pm local time, which will be 11pm Australian Eastern Standard Time and 2pm for those in the United Kingdom. It promises to be another truly epic edition of one of the world’s great races, and we highly recommend you to tune into the action. Sleep is optional!

Tristan Clark
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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.