Le Mans 2012 Same Old?

June 29, 2012

So the dust has settled on Le Mans 2012. The public will be driving up and down the Mulsanne straight as if nothing has happened. You could argue not much did…Audi won…again. However this year was one of the best, Even if the result was the same.

First notable excitement was the Nissan Delta Wing. It has (had) half the power, but half the weight. It is also a much cheaper ‘vehicle’ to produce compared to a standard LMP1 Prototype. Is it a glimpse into the future of motorsport? (There were some musings that this would be the new Indy Car Chassis) Or an intriguing technical exercise turned into a PR stunt from Nissan?

Well what it actually turned out to be was, a victim. It was running well whilst its pace was keeping it with the mid LMP2 pack. Then after a safety car restart, an all too keen Toyota Hybrid LMP1, was overtaking round a corner, didn’t quite see the Delta, and bang. An emotional moment felt even by myself. It is such a shame to have to end a race through no fault of your own.

What wasn’t reported live was that the driver Satoshi Motoyama spent around an hour (Reports vary) trying to restart the ‘Bat mobile’. You would think you would give up after a few tries. Maybe 15 minutes at most, but this length of time just goes to show what this car meant to the driver, the team, and the fans. To add to the frustration, lead test driver Marino Franchitti (Younger brother to Dario – Scottish Indy 500 triple winner) hadn’t yet driven the car under race settings…To stop this becoming a heartache sob story then, what caused the safety car..?.

A crash horribly similar to Alan McNish’s last year – the same combination of a LMP1, and a GTE-PRO/AM car. However Anthony Davidson didn’t walk away as easily as the flying Scotsman did. After colliding at 180mph at the entry of the corner, both cars, rolled flipped and smashed into the barrier, with the Ferrari landing on its roof.

 This could have been a lot more serious if the barrier hadn’t stopped either car. I don’t want to point blame with this post, I’ll leave that up to yourselves and YouTube. However it is still a serious crash with Davidson suffering from a broken back. A 10-15% compression of the t11/12 vertebrae means a 3 month recovery time, not a lot of movement, and staring at the ceiling…a lot. However he is alive and that is the main thing.

So back to the main point, a safety car was called out for about an hour, which then came in, which is when the other Toyota hybrid took out the Delta wing (and itself – although some say not directly related…) This sealed the fate of Le Mans. Up till this point, the Petrol Hybrid Toyotas were actually keeping up with the Diesel E-Tron Audis, and having some fun dicing racing manoeuvres. With them gone though, it was an in-house battle between the Audis’.

Still chaos happened though. Both the #2 and #3 Audis/audie? (There is a weird plurality for you) had ‘moments’ where it could have been all over. The real action was happening in the GT class right now however. Corvette v Ferrari V Aston V Porsche – sounds like a euro millions shopping list. Ultimately the Italians would prevail, in a car that was built in 9 hours! After Fisichella (former F1 Driver) parked the original chassis in the wall.

So as to my starting point, yes Audi won, but for the first part of the race, they were neck and neck with a debut factory entry, with a Petrol Flywheel Hybrid engine. The polar opposite in thinking of propulsion given the previous Le mans winners – Diesel. The Toyota piloted by Davidson almost grabbed pole in qualifying too.

So much to think about, and yet those members of the public will be driving up and down the road as per usual thinking of what to have for dinner.

Callum

*There may be the odd Inaccuracy with some of the finer details above, and I’ve skirted over a few issues. 24 hours is a long time to condense into something I hope people may find somewhat interesting.

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