24 Hours of Le Mans
Prerace pit lane and track action
17 – 18 June 2017
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the greatest motor races of all time. A testing endurance for cars, drivers, team members and spectators.
Pit walk, Friday
The pit walk affords an opportunity to get close to the vehicles and the activity in the garages. The level of attentiveness in the preparation of the vehicles is impressive and continues from first thing in the morning right through into the evening.
The drivers being interviewed here in the following 2 photos give some indication of the breadth of age and experience of those taking part in the race.
The first is Philip Hanson (UK), in his first appearance at Le Mans, who had only recently turned 17 years of age and was the youngest participant this year. He was driving for #34 Tockwith Motorsport in a Ligier JS P217 LMP2 car along with fellow drivers Karun Chandhok and Nigel Moore. Their final position in the race was 11th overall.
The second is Frits Van Eerd (NLD), 50 years of age and also his first appearance at Le Mans. He was driving for #29 Racing Team Nederland in a Dallara P217 LMP2 car along with fellow drivers Rubens Barichello and Jan Lammers. Their final position in the race was 13th overall.
The race start is proceeded by much ceremony including a delivery of the French Tricolore by military escort, who descend with the flag from a helicopter hovering over the track.
The race begins with a formation lap with the race cars in two rows in qualifying order behind a vehicle called the “leading car” driven this year by Mark Webber. The excitement is palpable amongst the spectators as the cars make their way slowly around the circuit, the vision of them is mightily impressive as they appear through the heat haze, as if they were a legion advancing into battle.
As they approach the start line, the order for the race to begin is signified by the waving of the Tricolore, the honour this year given to Chase Carey, CEO of the Formula 1 Group. The sound becomes deafening as the cars accelerate over the start line and the race is on, and will continue for the next 24 hours. Incredible.
LMP1 and LMP2 cars
There are 4 categories of race car at Le Mans. The first two are LMP (Le Mans Prototype) versions that are cars designed specifically for endurance racing. The LMP1 cars use normally aspirated (fuel and air) engines or normally aspirated combined with hybrid (energy recovery) engine components. LMP2 cars use normally aspirated engines only.
GTE PRO and GTE AM cars
The second two categories are GTE (Grand Touring Endurance) cars split into professional and amateur teams. GTE cars are based on factory production models with manufacturer teams in the professional category and non-manufacturer teams in the amateur category. The models this year:
- Ford GT,
- Ferrari 488 GTE,
- Aston Martin Vantage,
- Chevrolet Corvette CR.7
- Porsche 911 RSR.