Wednesday 12 June 2019

Le Mans: Tuesday at the track

Tuesday is always a bit of a quiet day in the Le Mans race week.  All cars and drivers have passed scrutineering on Sunday and Monday, unless a few minor things have to be fixed or adjusted, after which a second scrutineering will take place on the track itself.  So everyone starts working towards the first practice sessions on Wednesday.  Cars are being (re)built, photoshoots done, driver changes and pitstops practice all around the pitlane and at the end of the day there's the 90 minute autograph session.  

The day starts off with the drivers meeting, in which all 186 drivers who will be at the start of the 24 Hours get their first briefing of the week.  They get the usual instructions but are also pointed out to the specific procedures at Le Mans and the 24 Hours circuit, including slow zones and safety cars.  Immediately after the drivers meeting, the driver gather on the track for the annual group shot on the front straight.

© Goodyear

Probably the biggest news of the day was the return of Goodyear to endurance racing and Le Mans.  The American manufacturer has chosen sportscar racing for the first step of its World Championship racing comeback as it provides a strong platform for demonstrating tyre technologies on a wide range of different prototypes. Despite Goodyear and Dunlop being under the same company and sharing their factory in Germany, Goodyear has been developing a new range of tires for Le Mans Prototypes for over a year at their innovation centers in Hanau (Germany) and Colmar-Berg (Luxembourg). The tires will debut at the start of the 2019/2020 WEC season at Silverstone in August.

This comeback marks the return of the famous brand to global sportscar racing at one of racing’s most iconic venues. “Motorsport continues to be one of the most popular global sports,” said ben Crawley, director of motorsports. “It is an ideal platform for us to engage with consumers around the heritage, passion, innovation and technology that make up Goodyear’s story in racing. We will focus on sportscar racing at first, before applying learnings to other categories of racing, which could be within the endurance arena or in other racing series.”

For the upcoming ELMS season, it's widely understood that Dunlop remains active in the European  championship and Goodyear will focus on the FIA WEC and Le Mans ... whether this will also mean the Dunlop Bridge is to be renamed is still an open question.

Final (re)touches and inspections are also being done on the racetrack, cleaning up graveltraps, repainting the curbstones and run-off areas ...  We think we might even have spotted a glimpse of the new hypercar, powered with green energy. 

© FIA WEC/Adrenal Media

The day closed off with the 90 minute driver autograph session, giving the fans the opportunity to walk down pitlane, watch the final preparations of the cars ahead of today's first practice and qualifying session and get their favourite drivers autograph.  

Track action starts today at 16h00 with the first 4 hour practice session for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, followed by the Road to Le Mans support race who will also have a 60 minute practice.  The first qualifying session is set for 10 pm tonight. 

Text: Kristof Vermeulen