- History of 24 Hours of Le Mans
- Race Week Summary
- TOYOTA's Le Mans Challenge
- Tech Info., TS030 HYBRID
The Pinnacle of Sports Car Races with Long History and Numerous Dramas
The 24 Hours of Le Mans (24 Heures du Mans' in French) is the world's toughest automotive competition in endurance racing, extending full 24 hours runs on the Circuit de la Salthe - a 13.629km-long circuit consisting of closed public road and motor racing circuit - near the town of Le Mans. The prefectural capital of Sarthe is located about 200km west of Paris.
The race, known as the Grand Prix of Endurance, has been organized annually since 1923. Despite the suspension by WWII, it marks the 80th anniversary this year. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is, without doubt, the most prestigious and traditional race in the Sports Car calibre. The hardest test for reliability and efficiency has been a platform of the competition among the world's leading automobile manufacturers, making a number of legendary dramas.
Downstream of the permanent course there is a beautiful section lined with greenery bouquet of the trees called "Tertre Rouge", which is followed by the 6km-long "Hunaudieres" straight (divided into three 'shorter' straights by the two chicanes in 1990 to reduce the top speed for safety). In addition, the racetrack also has several famous corners including tight "Mulsanne" at the end of the long straight. The public road section featuring a number of bumps with abrasive surface gives special burdens both on the driver and the vehicle, making the day-long fight extremely tough and difficult to survive.
The race is traditionally held in June toward the summer solstice. The most critical moment often comes at the dawn. There have been many surprising accidents and mechanical problems occurred immediately before and after sunrise, which is notoriously known as 'witching hours' contrary to the eastern sky glowing beautifully. The performance superiority and survival tactic through this period have traditionally been the key for the overall success.
The cars eligible for the event has basically been Sports Car with two seats though the technical regulations has been revised during the course of the racing history. Le Mans race cars have the close technical relation to the road cars. The fact encourages the major manufacturers to participate in the race, which calls for the best possible balance between speed and durability, in order to test the new technologies and components that will be applied for their products in the near future. To be successful at the Le Mans is undoubtedly one of the best promotions for the new technology and the company's technical excellence.
New for 2012, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), the race organizer, has come into harmony with the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) to co-organize the Wold Endurance Championship (WEC) consisting of eight races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which coincides the 3rd round of the series.
With the return to the FIA-sanctioned Championship for the first time in ten years, the 24 Hours of Le Mans will surely be entering the new era.