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Robbed of half the pleasure at Le Mans

by Valisk (U9630183) 15 June 2008
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Watching the 24 hours of Le Mans, I can't help feeling that half of my pleasure is missing as I listen to the monotonous low rev drone of the diesel engined cars. The diesel cars, Audi & Peugeot, look fantastic but do not exactly stir the soul as they race by. Every time the "in car" camera view is on I'm reminded of an old cement mixer at work. Where is the sound & the fury? If all the cars were diesel I would have no more interest. I just couldn't stand the boring sound track.

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comment by Galahad (U1645165)

posted Jun 16, 2008

Interesting article - I was at Le Mans this year and hadn't previously seen the diesels in action. Having read all the arguments for and against I was prepared for them to be quiet, but it really is astonishing how quiet they are - the Audi in particular simply ghosts past you. Honestly, by the time you could hear them they were already past you.

Having said all that, I tend to agree with halina38 - for me, the fact that they are so quiet makes them all the more extraordinary, like cars from another planet. We're all conditioned as motorsport fans to expect power to be accompanied by sound and fury, but to my eyes there was something very graceful and more efficient-seeming about their progress around the circuit.

As for the diesel question, the ACO have framed the rules in such a way as to encourage manufacturers who want to sell diesel cars - this much is clear. It's thanks to them that the Peugeots and Audis were at Le Mans at all this year, and perhaps that should be borne in mind - after 2005 it looked highly likely there would be no manufacturers in the top class whatsoever.

Nonetheless the gap between the diesels and the petrol-engined cars was too great this year. Nobody should be foolish enough to think that a privateer team, however well run, could be expected to beat a manufacturer effort on pace alone. But they should be quick enough to be in with a shout when the manufacturers run into trouble. The number 8 Peugeot was in the pits for 21 minutes early in the race, yet still finished comfortably in the top 6, along with two other substantially delayed Audis. So a slight adjustment is required, if only to give a petrol manufacturer hope that they would have a shot at victory if they did it properly.

Equivalency formulae are famously difficult to achieve however, so I can fully appreciate the difficulties the ACO face in shaping the next round of prototype regs.

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posted Jun 17, 2008

Just back at work after getting back from Le Mans Late last night.. I have to agree.. spent the whole 24 hours around the track and although in a drunken state most of the conversation between us was the fact that the Saleen and the corvettes.. plus the tussling of the porshce GT1/2 cars was far more intresting that the Audi and Pugs that.. swanned round the track at an albeit.. rapid pace. WOuld be good to see the corvette up the anti and compete a petrol car in the LM series. Amazing place all accept for the traffic around the circuit.

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posted Jun 17, 2008

As a regular attendee, taking photos for various clients, I agree that the diesels are quiet, but when seen from 9 feet at close to 200 mph coming through the kink after Mulsanne on their way to Indy, you get a new perspective on power, technology and sheer speed. Those Pug's and Audi's have a deep vibrant growl to them. A bass baritone-esque note. Rather that than an unsilenced raw truck sound. Anyone old enough to remember the Commer's from the late 50's and early 60's?? They were soooo noisy and obnoxious, as a kid, I had to put my fingers in my ears every time one went past. No, give me an Audi or a Pug every time. The team work is amazing, and although Allan is a Brit, he is very Scottish and proud of it !! But I agree, the entire team, as Allan pointed out in the post race press conference, contributed to the win. Those pit stops are works of art. Faultless and so efficient. They blew the Pug teams away. Tom K is no doubt the fastest man in the wet at Le Mans. He has a sixth sense in the rain, like Ickx had. Capello is just consistently fast and smooth. All 3 drivers blend in perfect harmony. Allan is the most visibly intense. Such a great ambassador for Scotland and the sport. Lucky old Britain. Brilliant Audi, spectacular Peugot.

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posted Jun 17, 2008

Did Aston and Corvette turn up this year ?
The coverage in the UK news of the GT1 class was abysmal given an Iconic Marque like Aston won the thing again, go read the BBC sport website and try and figure if The LMPs were the only ones running, please buck up BBC !

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comment by marsh7 (U12369768)

posted Jun 17, 2008

Returned late last night from a very long journey from 4 days at Le Mans but worth every minute. This is a must for every racing fan. The sights and sounds both on and off the track are something you will never forget

Anyone just going to watch just the cars going round the rtack should really take a proper interest as this was the most exciting racing I have seen, and Ron Dennis should really broaden his outlook away from the precession that is F1, the fact that LM has different classes virtually guarantees high speed over taking every minute anywhere on the circiut.

Only cticism is please Le mans include direction signs that are on the infield aswell as outside the track, and a few more returning buses from Arnage/Mulsanne (thought we were going to miss the remaining 14 Hrs of the race. Otherwise a great weekend, I look forward to my return.

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posted Jun 17, 2008

I'm with Motoberg. The general coverage of Le Mans is effectively zero. This is surprising, given that there were so many ex formula 1 drivers - 28 in total this year. Some of them were very high profile, Marc Gene had a horrific crash in testing a few weeks ago and was lucky to survive it all never mind walk away, Jacques Villeneuve was in one of the Peugeots bidding to become the only driver apart from Graham Hill to win the so called "triple crown" of F1 world champion, Indy 500 champion and Le Mans champion.

In case anyone's interested, here's how they all did...

LMP1 drivers:

Alan McNish: 1st in LMP1 in No 2 Audi.

Marc Gene and Jaccques Villeneuve: 2nd in LMP1 in No 7 Peugeot (4 min 31 min behind).

Christian Klien, Frank Montagny and Ricardo Zonta: 3rd in LMP1 in No 9 Peugeot (2 laps behind)

Pedro Lamy, Alexander Wurz and Stephane Sarrazin: 5th in LMP1 in No 8 Peugeot (13 laps behind).

Emanuele Piro: 6th in LMP1 in No 1 Audi (14 laps behind).

Thomas Enge: 9th in LMP1 in the Lola Aston Martin (27 laps behind)

Olivier Panis: Retired just after 9hrs in in the Courage-Oreca Judd in LMP1 class.

Jan Lammers: Retired 9hr 48 min in in the Lola Judd in LMP1 class.

Jean-Christophe Boullion: Retired 15hr 20 min in one of the Pescarolo Judds in LMP1.

Toshio Suzuki: Retired in Courage Oreca in LMP1 after 17hr 39 min.


Jos Verstappen: The Porsche RS Spyder destroyed the LMP2 class, ending up 7 laps clear of second place.

Hideki Noda: Retired in the Lola Mazda 11hr 28 min in.


David Brabham: Won the GT1 class in the 009 Aston Martin, only 4 min 23 sec ahead of the 1st placed Corvette.

Jan Magnussen: Second - was driving in that chasing Corvette. Fantastic effort.

Olivier Beretta and Massimiliano Papis: Third in the second of the Corvettes - they ended up very close behind their sister car.

H.H. Frenzen and Karl Wendlinger: Solid 4th place in Aston Martin in the 007 car, 5 laps behind their winning sister car 009. Eventful race - had a warning for cutting a chicane and also had trouble restarting the car at one point.

Christian Fittipaldi: 8th in a hard fought GT1 class 42 laps behind the winner in the Modena Aston Martin. Encountered serious gear box problems through the night.


Mika Salo and GianMaria Bruni: Won the GT2 class in a Ferrari F430 GT.

GT2 Retired:

Andrea Chiesa: His Spyker C8 died a death 5hr 36 min in.

Eric van de Poele never drove anything decent in F1 and didn't have much luck here either; his Ferrari F430 GT (sister of the winner) retired after just 50 minutes.

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comment by Galahad (U1645165)

posted Jun 17, 2008

Thanks for that post Tadpole.

The only thing I would add, which of course you know only too well, is that several of the drivers at Le Mans this year who put in the best performances are those who were overlooked by F1 earlier in their careers; in particular I'm thinking of Tom Kristensen, Nicolas Minassian (Peugeot's fastest driver?) and Britain's own Oliver Gavin amongst many others.

Lest anyone should think that sportscar teams rely on ex-F1 drivers for their best talent. Far from the case.

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posted Jun 17, 2008

I far prefer it to F1. Reasons why:

1) You get the Friday pitwalk. Yes, you get the Hawaiian Tropics girls (which F1 easily matches), but you can walk down the pit past the cars with very very little hidden from view. This year I picked up a free Aston Martin flag (sadly accidentally sent on fire), a free Porsche poster and a naff Dunlop baseball cap. One of the GT2 crews had their drivers out signing autographs. Can you picture the F1 teams doing this?

2) It's affordable. Total bill including driving a very thirsty pocket rocket down, going via the tunnel and staying in Karting Nord, a meal out and industrial quantities of beer and I spent less than 300 over 5 days - not bad for the amount of fun I had.

3) Le Mans radio, which dramatically improves the event as it's almost impossible to keep track otherwise.

4) As someone said earlier, 4 classes of cars = constant overtaking.

5) The race is long enough for weather conditions to change and boy did they ever this year.

6) Fans might have even more bling cars than at F1 but they're friendlier, happy to show you their motor without being a chav about it.

6) It's easier to get in, out and about than Silverstone is.

I'm sure I can come up with 4 more reasons later...

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posted Jun 18, 2008

Totally agree - the diesels are too quiet!
Great coverage this year by Eurosport - especially the increase in the cockpit views (Especially at night)
Great stuff.
oh and while we are at it - Restore the Mulsanne staright to it's former glory!

Trip down memory lane..

Turn your sound up to full!! Awesome!

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posted Jun 18, 2008

Surely the inovation of quiterer diesels will lead to better road cars. I was most impressed with how quiet they were. I do not remember anyone missing the mazda's when they had rotary engines.
Many thanks to every one who helped me Sunday night after the Bonfire incident at the camp site. I am now well and making a good recovery

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