Archive for 2012 年 6 月 11 日

80th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans hit the ground running

With the official Test Day on Sunday, the 80th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans hit the ground running. Most sections of the ‘Circuit de la Sarthe’ are public roads, so the traditional Test is the only opportunity the entrants have to run on the track before the race week. For cars, teams and/or drivers that have not raced at Le Mans in the last three years, participating in the test is required to qualify for the race scheduled on June 16/17 this year. The 2012 Test Day was particularly highly anticipated as it finally offered an opportunity to see how the Audis and Toyotas stacked up. Other cars making their public testing debut included the highly unusual DeltaWing Nissan and the new Aston Martin AMR-One based Pescarolo 03 Judd. Not on the race’s entry list but still allowed to participate in the test was Sebastien Loeb Racing with their Oreca 03 Nissan. The legendary rally racer picked up part of the driving duties provided a reminder that he is as quick on the road a s off.
For the first of three scheduled visits to the track this year, our reporters spent the weekend in Le Mans to capture the test in its entirety. This has resulted in a class-by-class report, which also serves as a preview for next week’s race. It is illustrated by a 120-shot gallery.
In the coming days you can expect a closer look at some of the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans protagonists and further reports from the track once the cars go back out on track again on Wednesday June 13th.

two hybrid cars are in with a fighting chance for outright victory

Toyota TS030 Hybrid Scheduled for the weekend of June 16 and 17, the 80th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans promises to be a historic one; not one but two hybrid cars are in with a fighting chance for outright victory. Thanks to the relatively open regulations two distinctly different paths have been taken by new rivals Toyota and Audi. The only major restrictions are the number of charge cycles (7 per lap) and the amount of energy that can be stored during one of those cycles (500 kJ). During this weekend’s Le Mans Test, the two new cars went head to head for the first time and it was also the public debut for the all-new Toyota, so it was about time we took a closer look at the cars that are expected to star at the sharp end of the grid next week.
Some years in the making, the Toyota TS030 Hybrid uses a supercapacitor based hybrid system with a single electric motor mounted in unit with the purpose-built, 3.4 litre petrol V8. Developed in Japan, the drivetrain was then fitted into a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis that was designed and built in Toyota Motorsport’s Cologne, Germany facility where until 2009 the Formula 1 machines originated from. Following a heavy accident in testing, Toyota was forced to postpone their public debut until the Le Mans Test. Fortunately two cars will be ready to race but the lack of experience and development time may drop the two Toyotas from contention at any time. The objective is to run the TS030 Hybrid as hard as possible for as long as possible.
Audi already debuted their R18 e-tron quattro last month during the FIA WEC race at Spa. Also being a hybrid is about where the similarities stop as the R18 boasts a diesel engine, two front-mounted electric motors and a Williams Hybrid Power sourced flywheel to store the harvested kinetic energy. Hedging their bets, Audi will also field two more conventional R18 Ultras, which are not fitted with the hybrid drive. Showing good reliability, with a second and third at Spa, behind one of those R18 Ultras, and setting the two fastest times during the Test, it seems that the R18 e-tron quattro has the best shot of becoming the first hybrid car to win Le Mans outright.

At the recent Monaco Historic Grand Prix, we were treated to no fewer than four examples of the March 701 Cosworth.

Among them were the first two chassis constructed, which were raced in period by Chris Amon and Jackie Stewart to several wins. Among them was Stewart’s Spanish Grand Prix victory, the very last for a customer Formula 1 car. Both of these chassis had subsequently been displayed in museums for many years; the ex-Amon car famously spent nearly four decades stuck on the wall in the Donnington Grand Prix Collection. Both have recently been carefully restored to full running order to star at Monaco. In addition to the four cars shot at Monaco this year, our article is illustrated by shots of another two chassis, which made appearances at previous editions of the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. Also grabbing headlines at Monaco were RM Auctions with their highly successful sale. Among the stars were this Ferrari 166 Spyder Corsa and Rondeau M378 Cosworth, both of which can boast a contemporary racing career spawning almost a decade.
Following their Nurburgring record-breaking run, Toyota Motorsport GmbH have now set their sights on the Pikes Peak hill-climb with the Radical-based EV P002. Among the changes compared to its predecessor are a slightly more powerful drivetrain and the addition of a full roll-cage. Multiple Japanese rally champion Fumio Nutahara will have the task of wrestling the 470 bhp machine up the daunting Pikes Peak climb.
Yesterday, McLaren have released full details of the 2013 model year MP4-12C. It boasts a myriad of detail changes with a 25 hp power hike making the most waves. The upgraded version of the V8-engined sports car will be available with immediate effect and existing owners can also have their cars updated to the latest specification. In a similar effort Mercedes-Benz have revealed a ‘GT’ version of the SLS AMG sports car. Equipped with sharper suspension and a more powerful engine, the GT will be available in both Coupe and Roadster body-styles.