Created in 1923, the 24 Heures du Mans (24 Hours of Le Mans) is the most famous endurance race in the world. The historic race has even spurned movies by the likes of Steve McQueen and Paul Newman. Several of the top automotive manufacturers use the race as a showcase to display their technological prowess. The race conveys values of sportsmanship, of challenge and technologies which men, car manufacturers and the major makes seek to make their own, whether by taking part in the race, standing out through their achievements, or by becoming partners.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans technical regulations distinguish two major car families: The “Prototypes” and “Grand Touring”, each of which is split into two parts. The “Prototype” category refers to cars exclusively developed for competition on track and which meet the technical regulations of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest. The performance levels and technological development make this category overeign in endurance. The “Grand Touring” category features cars derived from models homologated for road use and which can be purchased. A minimum of 100 road cars must be built by the major car manufacturers and a minimum of 25 for the smaller makes.
Qualification for the 2012 race has been completed and the stage has been set. The race is scheduled for June 16th and 17th at the historic Circuit de la Sarthe. With top speeds exceeding 200mph, the day and night race is expected to have quite an awesome turn out… not to mention the fantastic racing action. This year’s race is also special since Audi claimed the historic first pole for a hybrid car. With dry and warm conditions all evening, there was much to play for and it was the No.1 Audi R18 e-tron quattro driven by André Lotterer who claimed the second consecutive pole position for the No.1 crew, leading an historic 1-2-4-6 result for the hugely successful German marque. The German driver’s fastest time was 3:23.787, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro yielding a time almost two seconds quicker than last year’s pole and staking claim to being the first hybrid car to take a pole position. Here are the complete results from qualifying.
Indian driver Karun Chandhok completed his first qualifying session at Le Mans as his team JRM Racing set a time of 3:37.088, 11th quickest in the overall classification. He is set to become the first Indian driver to start the historic race. The trio of David Brabham, Peter Dumbreck and Karun Chandhok will use the Honda HPD ARX-03a to contest the LMP1 category.
The 80th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will start at 3pm Le Mans time on Saturday, 16th June. The race can be seen live at www.fiawec.com.