It’s Monday afternoon, and I find myself still recovering from one of the three pinnacles of motor racing. The 24 hours of Le Mans. Truth be told, I’m not over it. Yes, you read that correctly, I’m quite literally still in race withdrawal, but hard. Alas, personal woes aside, it will be another year before the mayhem, the sounds and smells, the mechanical failures, the collisions, and the triumphs descend up the Circuit de la Sarthe in the French countryside.
Despite only one manufacturer participating in the LM P1 class and the fact that B.O.P. continues to meddle with cars prior to the race, the race was simply wonderful from start to finish. I think partly because the weather was great, but equally attributable to those many teams that raced hard. They dealt with retirements, delays, failures, and forfeiture of track positions with teammates. The field included 62 cars that were slated to race, although 61 actually started the race, and yet only 49 managed to finish.
Highlights from this year’s installment included Ferrari besting Ford in Ford’s final endurance completion with the GT as Ford prepares to sunset the GT program, the first Ford GT privateer win in LM GTE AM with Ben Keating’s Keating Motorsports’ team (unfortunate penalty for spinning tires in pit lane put their class victory in doubt early Saturday), Toyota managing to have both cars finish even though the curse remains on the #7 car, Signatech Alpine Matmut’s dominant entry in LM P2, promising start only to lead to frustration with Aston Martin’s #95 entries being retired, and SMP Racing’s solid performance with the BR1 designed LM P1 entries. The list could have also included a number of the cars that were retired some due to no apparent cause on the track while some were at the hands of rookie drivers that caused some contact or had difficulty staying on track.
One notable highlight that was tied to neither a team or car was the television coverage. In the US coverage for European racing has been a mixed bag. NBC had the formula right with F1, but both ESPN and Fox have struggled with other series causing US viewers to miss blocks of time during a race or requiring us to jump channels to continue watching. A big thank you to Eurosport for their track coverage/analysis, and Motor Trend in the US for broadcasting the race in its entirety.
24 Hours of Le Mans – By the Numbers
Circuit: Circuit de la Sarthe
Circuit Length: 8.47 miles
First Race: 1923
Overall Winner: #8 Toyota Team Gazoo Racing / Toyota TS050 Hybrid
Total Laps Completed: 385
Total Distance Traveled: 3,260 miles
Average number of pit stops: 24.5
Sets of tires issued to each car: 15
Average amount of fuel consumed: 550 gallons