The Test Day for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours will be held on Sunday 5th June. It is a general rehearsal two weeks before the pinnacle of the FIA World Endurance Championship on 18-19 June. The 60 cars entered for the Le Mans 24 Hours will take part in this exceptional practice session. So how does it work?
What is the reason for the Test Day?
The aim of this day of free practice is to give the entrants the opportunity to come and test their cars on the 13.629-km Le Mans 24-Hours circuit. This allows the teams to set up inside the circuit without having to move their equipment/motor homes/transporters etc. as the next rendezvous follow one another in quick succession with scrutineering on 12-13 June, official practice on 15-16 and the race itself on 18-19 June.
Who must take part in the Test Day?
In 2016, the Test Day is reserved exclusively, and is obligatory, for the 60 cars entered for the Le Mans 24 Hours, and for those drivers who have never raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours or have not been on the list of confirmed drivers since 2011.
In addition, in compliance with the regulations, drivers who have not raced in the event for at least five years (all races since 2011) or drivers in the bronze category who did not take part in the 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours must undertake training on a simulator approved by the ACO. They must also cover a minimum of 10 laps at the Test Day. The ACO reserves the right not to accept a driver if his/her performance or skills do not meet the required standards.
Teams can also enter other drivers for the Test Day (maximum 5 drivers per car), you may have noticed that Alex Wurtz has come out of retirement as Toyota’s 4th driver?
Which cars are eligible to take part?
The two prototype categories that race in the Le Mans 24 Hours (LM P1 and LM P2), and the two LM GTE categories that race in the Le Mans 24 Hours (LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am), invited to the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours according to the terms of the Le Mans 24-Hours supplementary regulations.
Cars not invited to the Le Mans 24 Hours but which fulfil the conditions of experimentation linked to the event or to the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Innovative cars (limited to two). This year Frédéric Sausset’s SRT41 by OAK Racing Morgan LM P2-Nissan will occupy the 56th garage. The technologies devoted to disabled people will be highlighted and the car will race outside the overall classification.
Which regulations are in force?
The safety and sporting regulations of the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours and the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship are applicable (except specific cases) to all cars taking part in the 2016 Test Day.
Which circuit is used?
The Test Day takes place on the 13.629 kilometre circuit used for the Le Mans 24 Hours. Approx. two thirds of the circuit consists of public roads which will be closed to traffic in the early morning of 5th June and reopened around 18h00 after the end of practice.
When does it all kick off?
Scrutineering and administrative checks will take place at the circuit starting on Thursday 2nd June.
The first two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship showed that anything can happen this year at Le Mans in all the categories. So the Test Day is a crucial dress rehearsal for all the entrants to find their marks on the full Le Mans 24-Hours circuit and to fine-tune their setups.
The Le Mans paddock will be an exceptional spot in which former F1 greats like Mark Webber and Kamui Kobayashi will rub shoulders with top-level gentlemen drivers. Other highly-skilled aces behind the wheel include Nelson Pique Jr, Nicolas Prost, Bruno Senna, Sébastien, Buemi Romain Dumas, Benoît Tréluyer, Lucas di Grassi, former French wold cup winning golakeeper Fabien Barthez, Sir Chris Hoy, 6-time Olympic gold medal winner, Fred Sausset, Ines Taitinger and Christina Nielsen and many more.
An overview of the entries
LMP1: in the blue-riband category at the Test Day spectators can watch the 9 most sophisticated, most complicated and most advanced prototype race cars in the world of motor sport. The rivalry between Audi, Porsche and Toyota, the three titans in world endurance racing, has moved up several notches and the races are increasingly hotly contested right down to the chequered flag.
As we saw at Silverstone and Spa the technology and performance race can impact reliability. As a result, the non-hybrid prototypes entered by private teams Rebellion Racing and ByKolles have every chance of pulling off a major upset when the flag falls on 19th June.
LMP2: This category has attracted the highest number of entries with 23 cars. The best from the FIA World Endurance Championship, the European Le Mans Series, the Asian Le Mans Series and the American WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be on the grid. The overall level of preparation, competence and requirements is constantly progressing, which makes picking a winner like looking for a needle in a haystack!
LM GTE Pro: In this category dominated by Porsche, Ferrari, Aston Martin and Chevrolet, the return of Ford, 50 years after its fabulous triple in 1966, will delight nostalgic fans. The Test Day will be the first real challenge for the Blue Oval, which has entered four Ford GTs under the Chip Ganassi banner; two of which regularly compete in the WEC and two from the North American IMSA endurance series.
LM GTE Am: Sees 13 cars take to the start including five Ferraris, which will be locked in a ding-dong duel with the three Porsches until the chequered flag. But they will also have to cope with the threat posed by two Aston Martin Vantages and two Corvettes.
Garage 56 – Innovation
Frédéric Sausset, who is racing in his first Le Mans 24 Hours, is entered in LMP2 but outside of the overall classification. He occupies the 56th garage reserved for innovative technologies which, this year, has been devoted to the disabled. He is a quad-amputee and he aims to achieve his dream and set an example.
Some people thought he was crazy, while other decided to help him in his exceptional adventure, which puts the Le Mans 24 Hours into a whole other dimension. Fred must cover at least 10 laps of the circuit on Sunday at the Test Day to be able to start the Le Mans 24 Hours on 18th June.
Can I come watch?
The Test Day is open to the public. Spectators who wish to attend this practice session, but who haven’t bought entrance tickets for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours, can purchase their Test Day tickets at the price of 20 euros per ticket for the general enclosures or 100 euros for the Test Day paddock card (free for young people born after 5th June 2000), at the ticket booths around the circuit. The Le Houx car park/welcome zone will be open: price 15 euros per space.
People can access the circuit from Friday 3rd June onwards. All the spectators can walk up the pit lane, discover the pits and see the teams making their final adjustments.