Tuesday 1 March 2016

"Road to Le Mans" race ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours

When the ACO launched the new Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, it was already announced that the series would run a support race ahead of the Le Mans 24 Hours.  Today the ACO gave more details about this race.

The first running of the race, called "Road te Le Mans", organised by the ACO and LMEM (promotor of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup), will be held on Saturday June 18th at 11h10, ahead of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the legendary 13,629 km circuit.

"Road to Le Mans" will be the second round of the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup, which is reserved for GT3 cars, and is part of five of the six rounds of the 2016 European le Mans Series, and a curtain raiser to the Le Mans 24 Hours. It reinforces the determination of the ACO to consolidate the development of the endurance nursery and to highlight the promotional categories in this branch of the sport.

All full season entrants in the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup will be given an automatic entry.  For the LMP3 cars, it will be a single event that won't count for any championship.  In the LMP3 category, only the prototypes racing in the ACO series - ELMS and Asian Le Mans Series - will be allowed at the start in Le Mans.  The ACO however reserves itself the right to invite other GT3 and LMP3's to compete in the race.  The number of cars allowed to start will be confirmed on the 25th of March.

Entries for the Road to Le Mans race will open on Monday 18th March and close on Friday 15th April. A selection committee will meet after entries have closed to draw up the list of cars allowed to start Road to Le Mans.

The start of this race (50 to 60 minutes maximum, confirmation on 25th March) will be given on Saturday 18th June at 11h10. Beforehand, scrutineering and administrative checks will take place on Tuesday 14th June from 4 p.m to 6 p.m and Wednesday 15th June from 9 a.m to midday. Two 1-hour free practice sessions will be held on Wednesday 15th June from 8.30 p.m to 9.30 p.m, and Thursday 16th June from 2.30 p.m to 3.30 p.m followed by a 30-minute qualifying session on Thursday from 6 p.m to 6.30 p.m.

The format of the race, for one or two drivers, will impose a minimum driving time of 20 minutes per driver and an obligatory pitstop within a given time window.  The driver line-up in GT3 may consist of 2 drivers of which has to be bronze, the second driver bronze, silver or gold. In case of 1 driver, it has to be a bronze qualified driver.  In LMP3, 2 drivers are allowed of which one is bronze and the second silver or bronze.  When 1 drives races, he has to be bronze qualified.

Slow zones will be used for safety, though slightly different than the system used at the 24 Hours.  There will be no limit on tyres, with Michelin supplying a single slick specification for each category.  Shell will be the official fuel supplier, refuelling will be forbidden during both practice sessions and the race.

The Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup will have its own paddock on the Maison Blance circuit.

In the support program for the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Ferrari Challenge will also contest a race.

Kristof Vermeulen.