The 2011 Le Mans 24 hours race could be a close-fought fight after the most recent test resulted in half a second covering the top five times. The attendance figure for the test was high as 24,987 spectators went to the circuit to see the new 2011 Le Mans cars in full flight.
There are new rules for the 2011 Le Mans race, the governing body have decided to enforce rules so that designers use more efficient engines. As a result Audi has downsized from a V10 diesel to a V6 diesel, and Aston Martin has made an even bigger step from a naturally aspirated 6.0-litre V12 to a direct injection and turbocharged 2.0-litre straight six.
The works Aston Martin AMR-One struggled with engine problems. This car features an open-cockpit chassis design and a 2.0-litre straight six engine.
“We have chosen to run with a six cylinder turbocharged engine because we believe this offers the best potential within the petrol engine regulations” explained Aston Martin Racing’s team principal George Howard-Chappell.
“With the ACO’s commitment to effectively balance the performance of petrol and diesel Le Mans entrants, our hopes are high that we’ll see the closest racing yet in the premiere LMP1 category.”
After the test Audi looks to have a slight edge over the rest, Tom Kristensen in the number three Audi R18 set the quickest time, the 8-time Le Mans 24-Hours winner lapped the circuit at an average speed of 236km/h, just under 8 seconds slower than last year’s pole (3m 19.711s). The third-placed Peugeot in the hands of Stephane Sarrazin was a mere 0.2secs off the Audi of Tom Kristensen's time of 3m27.7s.
“We had a cylinder plasma lining failure on 009," reports our source at Aston. "We then ran 007 cautiously, however all our engines are at the same point of development so we retired 007 to protect it. Christian and Darren who got some time in the 007 AMR-One reported good balance, and good progress with the balance and handling of the car.”
The fastest petrol-powered runner was the Pescarolo LMP1. The British flag was waved by the Zytek of the Greaves team, who put in the fastest LMP2 time, while the fastest of the GTE entries (formerly GT2) was he Ferrari 458 of Allan Simonsen.