Saturday 16 June 2018

When the Talking Stops, What can we expect in the GTE classes?

GTE is in rude health and the competition is strong for victory. Of course Balance of Performance(BoP) reigns and it is a manual process for Le Mans rather than the algorithm that is applied in the World Endurance Championship (WEC). Late on Friday the final(?) adjustment came through hence the below report has been amended to take that into account.  Of course as John Gaw at Aston Martin Racing told us the Organisers want this to be a close race, so hopefully the presents that have been delivered in the form of Boost adjustments and weight changes will be received by all.. Expect 3:49s as the appropriate desired lap time from the authorities. We look forward to an exciting inspiring race! 

GTE-Pro – Porsche, Ford, Ferrari or is a surprise on the cards?

Porsche +10kg Gianmaria Bruni may be regretting that extraordinary qualifying lap, indeed dropping a 3:47.504 on Wednesday evening although not then breaking 3:50 in the subsequent qualifying sessions perhaps lifted the lid on the potential of the RSR when everything hooks up. It was evident by the number of excursions by the Porsche fleet that it was a knife edge, and for the race the positioning of an extra 10kg may be undoubtly detrimental the opportunity to adjust balance could support a better, more reliable race trim… 

Ford +8kg Expressed that they now have little opportunity to hide their performance as 3- years of pre-existing data cannot be taken back/hidden. The pursuit of Porsche in qualifying may have led to a weight penalty but similarly there are pluses & minuses to that situation. Certainly George Howard-Chappell looked like a man far from defeated when briefly discussing the revised BoP in the paddock end of day on Friday 15th June.

Ferrari – Effectively no change, although can carry an extra litre of fuel, which of course has a weight penalty to it, but may prove vital in terms of stint length and being able to return to the pits. As ever we have to expect the Prancing Horse to go the distance and be there on Sunday after the 488 Evo being both quick and well-proven now.

Corvette Racing -5kg The #63 of Magnussen/Garcia/Rockenfeller throw down some mighty laps and its sister car were loaded up with an extra 10kg earlier in the week. Half of that has now been removed, and the C7.R could be considered something of a dark horse, and a few on the roster have not forgotten how the win last year was stolen away at the end of the race.  Expect a strong show and a solid run to the chequered flag.

BMW -10kg – Well some weight off, but where to start?!  When you consider the frontal area and aspect of the BMW M8 GTE it does look formidable, but so does a strong barn door! At the speeds attained around Le Mans that bluff, bold front end has no wear to go and whilst we have little doubt about the reliability of the BMW it is clear that the bow wave is likely holding this beast back from achieving its potential..

Aston Martin Racing -10kg +Boost increase worth circa 20bhp! John Gaw was keen to get the boost increase when we spoke with him on Friday morning and the organisers have clearly listened and having inspected the data and the enormity of the gap have come back with both weight off and the extra power which another team principal estimated to be worth an extra 20bhp.  John was very clear that  the car has proved safe and reliable they just need to find its speed buttons!  In terms of reliability it was fascinating to hear that the new #95 was built in an elapsed 3x 24hour days and run down a runway before coming to Le Mans. AMR then ran it in practice on Wednesday throughout the session with no, nil nada sign of a problem!  

GTE-Am – Porsche customers looking strong in its 70th year

In terms of the -Am category of GTE the big news is the arrival of the ‘mid-engined’ RSR Porsche. The timing from both practice and qualifying shows it to be a step forward for those customer teams in the 70th anniversary year with Porsche clearly keen to score a multi-category victory…  Of course much in -Am comes down to the pace of the combined driver line-up both of the Dempsey-Proton Racing RSRs #77 & #88 and Gulf Racing #86 look strong pursued by the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE.  We should not forget that the “Old Girl” #98 Aston Martin Vantage of Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda has conquered WEC rounds everywhere except at Le Mans could this be that cars swansong?  We would never bet against it! 

Enjoy the show follow along and get involved, We fully expect Awe & then Some! 

GTE – Normalised Times – 

Again below a derived table of averages potentially more reflective of true race pace rather than a single lap. GTE-Pro pole-sitter #91 with its single flyer from Bruni drops off to seventh, but is replaced by its sister cars #93 & #92.  Note how the Corvette #63 steps up and the phalanx of massed Ford GTs..  We are still expecting a BoP adjustment as we write…

Analysis with Thanks to @theBpillar

Nick Holland - via Sportscarglobal