2013 24 Hours of le mans
54 2014 sr T sPeCIal
Everything’s relative at the 24 Hours of
Le Mans, including the challenge of racing
in the darkness, as Bill Riley explains...
“Compared to some endurance races,
Le Mans has a fairly short period of
nightfall; the sun goes down late and rises
pretty early, so it’s not as big a nightmare as
you might expect” he says of the sunset/
sunrise period that bisects the race.
Darkness blankets nearly half of some
24-hour races, but Le Mans’ late-June
spot on the calendar, just a few days after
the summer solstice, means that twilight’s
last gleaming – often bathed in deep reds
and purples – can light up the sky well
past 10 p.m. And it isn’t long before those
same colors appear again – around eight
hours later – as fans begin to wake and
really gets a lot of attention,” he says.
“We learned our lesson a little bit from
Sebring when we didn’t have enough
lights, so we worked on that for Le Mans.
We have good drivers so I didn’t really
have to go over racing at night too much;
they know what to do when it goes dark...
“Some teams might have big changes
in strategy or their approach at night, but I
really haven’t gotten into that with the
drivers, or asking them to have a different
mentality. We have physios to keep them
in good shape and relaxed as possible and
tuned up between stints, but that’s also no
different at night. To me, I always thought
driving at night was better, because you
could really just concentrate on the road in
front of you and all the distractions coming
from both sides of the car are tuned out.”
conditions in the
early stages made
tire choice an art,
not a science.
(ABOVE) With the
dusk falls on
Le Mans. (RIGHT)
Pit stop rules specify
refueling must be
other work on the
car is allowed.
ready themselves for the run to the finish.
The shift from day to night and back
has all of the ingredients to cause major
problems for teams, but according to Riley,
racing through the night at Le Mans is
treated like any other phase of the event.
“We improved our headlights quite a
bit, but that’s probably the only area that