If you think endurance racing is all
about surviving, you haven’t been
paying attention. In both World
Endurance Championship and IMSA
guises, 24-hour duels have evolved into
day-and-night sprints. This year, the
game has moved on further still.
Toyota, which swept to the WEC
crown last year with its TS040 Hybrid,
proclaimed itself the underdog for this
year’s 24 Hours after being eclipsed by
both Audi and Porsche in the 6-hour
races at Spa and Silverstone.
“We have made an improvement in
lap time since last year, but it is not
enough,” conceded Toyota Motorsport’s
race director, Rob Leupen.
But pure pace is only part of the
increasingly complex technical game
among the P1 prototypes. Porsche’s
8-megajoule hybrid system coupled to a
2-liter, turbocharged V4 gasoline engine
demonstrated a clear advantage in
straightline speeds, while Audi’s 4MJ
hybrid-diesel compensated for its reduced
acceleration profile by recovering ground
under braking. Toyota’s hybrid system
splits the difference at 6MJ, but
understeer has limited its drivers’ ability
to make the most of it so far in 2015.
Porsche’s approach was fastest in
qualifying (see sidebar), but Audi took
the wins in both races. And at Spa, its
winning car utilized the low-downforce
bodywork it will have at La Sarthe...
With Nissan set to join the P1 scrum
at Le Mans with an all-new prototype
employing a whole different technical
direction, the stage is set for a high-tech
tour de force as well as a great race.
WRC has meant all VW, all the time lately.
But that all changed in Argentina, where
Britain’s Kris Meeke led home a Citroen 1-2
in a flashback to the French marque’s World
Rally glory days with Sebastien Loeb.
Epic WEC preliminaries suggest a Le Mans for the ages
its data banks
After its radical front-engined
prototype dropped jaws around the
world with its introduction via a
2015 Super Bowl ad, the hard part
began for Nissan’s Le Mans program.
Teething problems for Ben Bowlby’s
GT-R LM NISMO in early testing
prompted Nissan to skip the first two
races in favor of a stepped-up test
program. Nissan believes it made
significant advances with the
front-engined, front-wheel-drive hybrid
car, particularly regarding tire wear.
“We were very surprised about
how the car looks after its tires,” said
Nissan driver Oliver Pla. “Over two
stints the car was very consistent,
which is quite promising, and there is
more to do with Michelin, too.”
The Nissan puts all its power
through its front wheels after it
abandoned the system of rear
deployment for the power
regenerated by its braking-energy
retrieval system. The GT-R LM
NISMO is expected to run in the
hybrid sub-class that allows for two
megajoules of retrieved power to be
deployed over the Le Mans lap.
miles to go before we sleep
Max Chilton (ABOVE) and his Nissan
GTR LM teammates logged more than
1,200 miles in testing at Bowling Green,
Ky. And most of it was in the wet...
With 1,000hp on tap
from their 8MJ
Porsche’s 919 P1
cars are putting up
nearing F1 territory.
At Spa, Brendon
and Timo Bernhard
led a 1- 2-3 Porsche
over a race
distance so far...
but only just.
“we have made an improvement
in lap time... but we’re going to
le mans now as the underdog”
toyota’s rob leupen