The waiting is almost over, the scene is set, the grid final, ahead lies the 87th edition of the 24-hours of Le Mans. We have collated and considered some insights below both analytics from our partners @TheBPillar and some audio interviews of noteworthy participants and their associates. So feel free to have a read, listen or look and if you find it enjoyable pass it on to your friends and family, they will thank you anyone who turns up or tunes in this weekend should be in for quite the show.
A Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 front row will lead the field away (subject to warm-up running smoothly), and it will take incident or gremlins to interrupt their progress to overall victory again this year. Which car, the 7 or the 8 well it is rare for a driver squad to repeat a victory in consecutive years, but that is an honour that Fernando Alonso will be keen to fulfill on of course, though a no-risks approach is like for the #8 to guarantee their Drivers World Championship. The #7 of starting driver Mike Conway took pole, set by Kamui Kobayashi, Nick Holland caught up with Toyota pole-sitter #7’s Mike Conway Listen Here
One thing that Toyota may target is the distance record. With perfect weather conditions, race regulations clarified to give priority to Full Course Yellows over Safety Car procedures we could get close. You are looking for 400 laps and hopefully we don’t need to do the multiplier maths for you to keep an eagle eye on progress to this objective.
Behind the front row it is the SMP Racing #17 paired with the Rebellion Racing #3. The SMP has been showing improving pace throughout the season as well as better six-hour durability. Can it string 4 times the time together to deliver a 24-hour podium? Rebellion Racing the Gibson Technology (GL-458) Power Unit were thought to be bullet-proof for reliability, but that perception has changed over the last few days. Both the #1 and #3 have required replacement engines out of necessity rather than choice.. Can they rid themselves of that evolutionary Achilles heel? Have they backed off to the season one GL-458 which has less horses but ran reliably last year…
The data analysis hints at a very close battle for the final step on the podium and of course slip up aheads can be punished and further steps may come available!
The DragonSpeed and ByKolles teams complete the LMP1 field, neither is likely to challenge the front six on pace, but its a long way and by sunday afternoon lets see how it turns out.
Below is a look from our partners at TheBPillar on the Practice and Qualifying performances of each driver and how that blends into a car average. It may give you some guidance should you and your friends be running a not for profit Sweepstake or similar!
With 20 cars to choose from, the LMP2 category is strong beyond just numbers the level these teams are performing at means that we could quite easily have one of these car’s driver line-ups taking a step onto the podium! The LMP1 runners are all more highly strung and stressed, they chase the Toyota pace at their own risk and that does open the door to an LMP2 getting well into the single figures in terms of overall positioning. The Jackie Chan DC Racing team obviously come with that experience having led the race just a few years ago, and they have their championship fight with the Signatech-Alpine to consider so both #37 & #38 will be going all out to dominate the #36 for starters.
2019 FIA WEC 24h Le Mans 2019, Le Mans, France. Photo © John D Stevens.
Neither JCDC or the Alping acheived the extra point for pole, that initially went to the Graff Racing #39, but a missed check at the weighbridge saw them penalised and the #28 TDS Racing Oreca 07 powered by Gibson Technology (as all cars in LMP2 are) took the single extra WEC pole point. Others to keep an eye out for in the Oreca dominated field are #26 Aurus01 G-Drive (we spoke with their drivers earlier in the week), #31 Dragonspeed with the rapid Pastor Maldonado and LMP2 first timer Anthony Davidson. Also keep an eye on the Ligiers of United Autosport #22 and #32 qualify 6th and 9th respectively. Completing the variety of chassis providers are Dallara with the P217 in the hands of new for the next WEC season Cetilar Villorba Corse #47 and having a final outing with #29 Racing Team Nederland who will be swapping to the ubiquitous Oreca 07 chassis in the 2019-20 season.
Nick Holland spoke briefly with Martin Brundle about the prospects for his son Alex Brundle in the #32 United Autosports Ligier, amongst other things! Listen Here
The data analysis for LMP2 is always fascinating and @TheBPillar have provided details for each driver and then the combined car average. Note how the dark horse of JC-DCs #Mighty38 leaps up the rankings and is in close competition with the #26 GDrive and #36 Signatech-Alpine.
The race will be fraught and frenetic and run flat-out for all. Those lucky enough to get a clear run may well come out on top, though chased by those that cope with their issues best limiting the time lost.
If you are at the track, tune in to @RadioLeMans digitally or via 91.2FM. If you could not be here, other than making better plans for next year check your local listings across Europe Eurosport is your likely best bet, whilst in the US we understand MotorTrend has flag-to-flag coverage too. Their are also Apps to download and subscribe to and our very own @SportscarGlobal Twitter feed.
Tune in, sit down and enjoy The Greatest Endurance Race in the World #LeMans24