On Sunday 3rd June 2012 the cars, drivers and teams taking part in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours will be at the famous circuit in the Sarthe for a day’s testing two weeks before the race on 16th-17th June. Here follows a brief explanation of everything you need to know about this very special day. What is the test day for?
The aim of this day’s free practice is to allow entrants to come and test their cars on the Le Mans 24-Hours circuit, and also to give some teams that won’t be taking part in the race itself the opportunity to discover this exceptional and unique layout. In 2011, the test day - not organised in 2009 and 2010 – was held on 24th April. The reason was to enable entrants to test their cars early enough to make adjustments as it was the first year of the introduction of a new set of technical regulations. This is not necessary in 2012 so the organisers decided that a date nearer the Le Mans 24 Hours would be more convenient. Thus, the teams can set up inside the paddock without having to move all their equipment again. Scrutineering on 10th-11th June followed by practice on 13th-14th June and the race on 16th-17th June will follow in quick succession.
Who must take part in the test day?
New cars (one minimum per model). Teams that have never raced at Le Mans. Drivers who have never raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours and those who are not on the list of confirmed drivers automatically allowed to take part in official practice since the 2007 Le Mans 24 Hours. Each must cover at least ten laps during the day. The ACO reserves itself the right to eliminate a driver if his/her performance or his/her capacities are judged insufficient. Who can take part in the test day?
The entrants in the Le Mans 24 hours, Manufacturer’s cars that are in the process of development after the dossier has been accepted, Entries in the various Le Mans Series. What kind of cars can take part in the test day?
The two types of prototypes that race in the Le Mans 24 Hours (LM P1 and LM P2), the two GTE categories (LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am) invited to the 2012 Le Mans 24 Hours in accordance with the Le Mans 24-Hours supplementary regulations, The LM P1, LM P2, LM GTE Pro and LM GTE Am cars not invited to take part in the 2012 Le Mans 24 hours, which comply with the technical specification of the FIA World Endurance Championship, Formula Le Mans prototypes (not allowed to race in the Le Mans 24 Hours), Innovative cars (limited to two). If either of the two entrants does not meet the criteria required by the Selection Committee, the invitation given to an innovative car will not be confirmed and may be awarded to a ‘conventional’ reserve. On which circuit
The 13, 629-km layout specially installed for the occasion. The roads of the normal network will be closed to traffic from 03h30 in the morning of 3rd June, and will be opened immediately after the end of the test session. This circuit is not only unique in the world, but above all it is difficult for the teams to simulate its very special characteristics anywhere else or on computer simulations. This is why it’s so important for them to see where they stand before mid-June.
Scrutineering and admin. checks will take place on Friday 1st June (09h00 – 18h00) and Saturday 2nd June (09h00 – 15h00) inside the Le Mans circuit near the paddock. The free practice sessions will be held on Sunday 3rd June between 09h00 – 13h00 and 14h00 – 18h00.
Who will be the stars?
The new cars launched at the start of 2012 are the most eagerly-awaited starting with the two Toyota TS030 hybrids that will make their racing debut and will be up against their no.1 rival, Audi. The latter will also give its R18 e-tron quattro its debut in the Sarthe as well as the R18 ultra victorious in the Spa-Francorchamps 6 Hours on 5th May. Another car that everybody wants to catch a glimpse of is Henri Pescarolo’s latest brainchild, the 03, that has never yet been seen on the track. In LM P1, the two Honda Performance Development ARX-O3as entered by Strakka Racing and JRM have never done battle on the Le Mans circuit before. In the very popular LM P2 category (23 cars), the Oreca 03-Nissan entered by Sébastien Loeb Racing will be the centre of attention; it will be present at the test day only with the boss himself at the wheel! In LM GTE the day will see the start of the confrontation between the works Corvettes victorious in 2011 and the hotly-contested field racing in the FIA World Endurance Championship (the AF Corse and Luxury Racing Ferrari F458 Italias, the Felbermayr-Proton Porsches, the works Aston Martin Vantage etc). Another star of the test day will be the futuristic-looking DeltaWing that will be having its first outing as the beneficiary of the 56th pit. It will take part in the Le Mans 24 Hours (outside the overall classification). Former French goalkeeper, Fabien Barthez, World Football Cup winning goal keeper, will be at the wheel of one of the two Formula Le Mans running on Sunday.
This day is open to the public.
Exceptional price: 15 euros for the test day, free for youngsters born after 3rd June 1996.
Free access for all the 2012 Le Mans 24-Hours general enclosure ticket holders.
Purchase: only at the sales outlets around the circuit.
NB: The spectator enclosures at Arnage and Mulsanne will also be open to the public. Circuit access open from Friday 1st June.