The “24 Heures du Mans” have been organised by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) since 1923. The 86th edition of the legendary event will be held from 16th to 17th June, 2018.
RAVENOL’s partner team ByKOLLES Racing also focuses on the season highlight. Following the day of testing held 10 days ago, the first qualifying session represented the next chance of familiarising themselves with the modifications of the circuit for the driver line-up Rene Binder (Austria), Tom Dillmann (France), Dominik Kraihamer (Austria) and Oliver Webb (Great Britain). The most distinctive improvements can be found in the well-known fast Porsche corners. The ACO gave bigger run-off areas, thus making them safer. Furthermore, it rained in the past days and so, the session offered the drivers the first opportunity to check the grip level in the different sections of the circuit.
The session demonstrated that teams and drivers weren’t ready to put their cards on the table prior to the two qualifying sessions and Thursday evening respectively. From experience it is known that the fastest lap times are set late in the evening, inter alia due to the higher content of oxygen in the air.
Therefore, the drivers of all the teams didn't take themselves and their cars to the very limit. Instead, the drivers rather will do – depending on their teams’ strategy – safety laps to effectively adapt to the challenge of the circuit and get a feel for the respective car to late be able to set the fastest possible lap time at the legendary French circuit. But as all the competitors are determined to do so, the teams develop strategies to determine who is supposed to go out at which point of time.
While doing so, countless parameters have to be considered, first of all the weather conditions. And due to the weather forecast for the west of France for the coming days, the competitors will have to cope with extremely changeable conditions.
Or, to put it this way: Fortune favours the brave – who therefore could make it to the very front of the grid. To not only have the proper tyres available but also have shod the car with it at the right point in time often proves to be a gamble. More often than not only parts of the circuit are hit by rain showers why others are completely dry. Therefore, the choice of the best possible tyre is a question of experience that helps to decide if you’d better opt for slicks or intermediates. While the heavy wets only will be used when major parts of the circuit are really wet, with the water making the corners extremely slippery. A lot of additional factors that have to be observed and make the individual approach, the setup of the cars to meet the preferences of the drivers even more difficult.
The first qualifying session ran how the experts assumed it would. In the overall rankings and the LMP1 category, the two Toyotas proved to be the clearly quickest while the Oreca-Gibsons entered by Idec and TDS set the fastest lap times in the LMP2.
Meanwhile, the two works Porsches outpaced the LMGTE-Pro field, followed by Ford and Ferrari. In the amateur category, the Porsches 911 RSR were the quickest, with Ferrari and Aston Martin securing the following positions.
The good news for all those who had to stay at home: in 2018, the Le Mans 24h Race will be covered live throughout the race FTA by Eurosport.