Mans Test Day – Preview
”Still As Special As When I Raced There For The First Time”
How you prepare
for the preparations largely depends on what you are. If you’re
a Bentley, you’re still so relatively new you have to spend
nearly 30 hours pounding around Paul Ricard, proving you can
last for at least 24 hours. If you’re a Porsche, you know
you can last for 24 hours, so you don’t have to use up
resources in such activities. Similarly if you’re an Audi
you’re one of Henri’s Courages, you need to complete
an endurance test because you’ve been modified so extensively.
If you’re a Lister, you’ve still got a lot to prove.
You’ve done some straight line work, but need plenty of
track time. If you’re a Durango or a Norma, you’re
probably think ‘Eight hours track time, that seems an awful
lot.’ If you’re a TVR you’re possibly thinking ‘I’ve
completed Sebring, Le Mans is going to be smooth and easy.’ If
you’re a Morgan you’re possibly thinking ‘Why
am I stuck in Malvern?’
they’ll almost all be seeking to complete plenty of laps:
the Porsche and Audi crews in particular should be able to go
straight to their known settings, but with the proviso that power
levels are down, so that optimum balance between top speed, downforce
and lap times might well be subtly different.
like a Racing for Holland Dome? They’ve done the wind tunnel
work, they’ve made the subtle changes. We’ll see
soon enough, but of last year’s Audi challengers for pole,
only the Dutch remain. But now there’s Bentley of course.
So why do they
all want to complete as many laps as possible on Sunday? Emanuele
Pirro: “There is never enough time during the race week
itself so it’s essential we get a lot of work completed
on the test day - to lay the foundations for a successful 24
hour race." It’s as simple as that – plus the
fact that the drivers like to complete a lot of laps, so that
when they arrive in June, they’re already ‘at home.’ Imagine
a team that has a nightmare Test Day: seven laps completed, engine
fails, thrash to get a replacement fitted, go out late in the
afternoon, settings all wrong, drivers not settled in, no one
happy at the end of the day – all will arrive in June with
basic work still to be done, and the first track action will
be Qualifying at 19.00 on Wednesday. Bad way to start, bad omen
for the 24 hour race.
so well prepared, they’ve been able to spend nearly a month
getting to the track. No Mexico ALMS race caused an adjustment
in their plans (and several others), the timescale allowing a
trip by sea rather than air. Their new trucks are now (Tuesday)
in place at the track, and with the technical guys arriving today,
they can spend three days completing preparations – to
include a systems check on the airfield runway on Friday. That’s
TVR are doing
it rather differently: they’re spending today, Tuesday,
launching their project in Wales – a jaunt that involves
the Llandow Circuit, helicopters and an aircraft carrier, apparently.
David Lord is there to record the event.
how quickly are they going to go on Sunday? You can bet your
partner’s honour on the fact that a 10% cut in power won’t
be any such thing, and that development, even with largely seen-before
equipment, will see lap times approach those of last year. Dindo
Capello was quickest on the Sunday in 2002 and 2001, last year
a 3:30.296, 2001 a 3:32.742. But this year he’s in a Bentley.
How quick will the green rocket ships be down the Mulsanne…and
how quick over a lap?
How quick will
the bio-ethanol-powered Nasamax Reynard be? Who will have the
advantage in GTS, Prodrive or Corvette? Can anyone challenge
the likes of Lieb and Maassen for the honour of Sunday best in
GT? Surely Porsche’s FIA GT-type form won’t be reflected
in France this weekend?
going to be fascinating to watch it unfold. “It is still
as special as it was when I raced there for the first time (in
1990),” says JJ. “Le Mans is now the best track in
the world,” says partner Stefan Johansson.
And by Sunday
evening, we’ll probably be no nearer picking an overall
winner than we are now.
Where are Eric Bernard, Julian Bailey, Thed Bjork, Max Angelelli,
Werner Lupberger, Ben Collins, Didier Cottaz, Eric van de Poele
and a number of others?
This is the sister car to JJ's Porsche 962 in 1990 - we can't
find a shot of #43, alas.
Thank you Kevin
McCornick: there's a shot of the JJ 962 here.