The start of the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans is just hours away and I can’t wait! Le Mans is my favorite race of the year and I always try to stay up for the entire race, which means I’ll be up until sometime after 0900 local time tomorrow morning. With Peugeot absent this year, the race for overall victory may not be as exciting as years past (particularly last year’s epic race) but the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a tapestry woven from many stories throughout the multiple classes. Here’s some of what interests me.
- The hybrid battle. This is Toyota‘s first year back in prototype sports car racing so while I think they may put up a good fight, it’s hard to expect them to defeat Audi for overall victory. Despite that, I’m excited to see how the differing hybrid technologies work throughout a 24 hour race. Toyota’s system uses a super capacitor and electric motors that drive the rear wheels in conjunction with a gasoline engine. Audi’s system uses a flywheel and electric motors that drive the front wheels while a diesel engine drives the rear wheels (giving them part-time all wheel drive, hence the quattro moniker). On both cars, the energy for the hybrid systems is recovered from the cars’ brakes.
- Who wins GTE-Pro? Honestly, the front of the GTE-Pro grid looks like the GT-1 fields from a few years back! Ferrari, Aston Martin, Corvette – there were some pretty epic battles between those marques just before the demise of GT1. This truly could be the most exciting part of the race.
- Just what is the DeltaWing capable of and how long will/can it last in the race? The DeltaWing is a innovative new car with a very different design; it almost appears to be a 3 wheeled race car. It combines a light weight and a smaller engine to get speeds between that of an LMP1 and LMP2 car out of a more efficient design. This will be the DeltaWing’s first race so no one really knows what to expect.
This is just a bit of what to look for in this year’s race, there will be plenty more to watch for. Catch SpeedTV‘s live coverage beginning at 0830 eastern (they will be offering streaming online when the network shows other racing later in the day) and RadioLeMans‘ excellent streaming radio coverage.