Monday, 20 June 2011

Senna - the movie.

Did anyone else notice that in the scene where Ayrton is shown talking to Roland Bruynseraede through the window of an official car, when they are discussing which side of the track pole position should be, and whether the racing line is on the right or the left hand side of the track... that they are at Hockenheim, not at Suzuka?

In general, I think that Manish Pandey and Asif Kapadia have done a superb job with the film, but with this scene I fear that they may be guilty of misleading their audience somewhat.

It's not really a complaint in any real sense of the word, as I would like to encourage as many people as possible to go and see the film. And if anyone has an explanation, I'd love to hear it.

I'm off to the Nurburgring this weekend... much more relaxing than Le Mans, in many ways. A lot less intensity, and in many ways, more fun. More thoughts next week.

Friday, 17 June 2011

A few miscellaneous facts

Total Time spent in pits this year:
Audi no 2 - Treluyer/Fassler/Lotterer - 31 stops, 7 driver changes - 33m 56s
Peugeot no 9 - Bourdais/Pagenaud/Lamy - 28 stops, 8 driver changes - 34m 19s
Peugeot no 8 - Montagny/Sarrazin/Minassian - 29 stops, 9 driver changes - 37m 16s
Peugeot no 7 - Wurz/Davidson/Gene - 28 stops, 8 driver changes - 43m 55s

Corvette no 73 - Garcia/Milner/Beretta - 23 stops, 10 driver changes - 32m 05s

Note that I have omitted the stop and go penalty for the no 8 Peugeot, so if you see official statistics showing that it had 30 stops, this is why.

For comparison, here are the shortest times spent in the pits from previous years races:
Audi no 9 - 35m 25s
Audi no 8 - 35m 31s
Strakka HPD no 42 - 35m 10s

Audi no 2 - 31m 56s

Driving Times:
Audi No 2.
Treluyer - 9h 21m 29s - 147 laps in 3 shifts (48 laps, 45 laps and 54 laps)
Fassler - 5h 39m 23s - 89 laps in 2 shifts (44 laps and 45 laps)
Lotterer - 8h 07m 34s - 119 laps in 3 shifts (38 laps, 20 laps and 61 laps)

Peugeot No 9.
Bourdais - 11h 11m 56s - 155 laps in 4 shifts (39 laps, 46 laps, 35 laps and 35 laps)
Pagenaud - 10h 13m 04s - 166 laps in 4 shifts (36 laps, 48 laps, 37 laps and 45 laps)
Lamy - 2h 02m 18s - 34 laps in a single shift.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Winning at Le Mans

I have spent a good deal of time since the chequered flag fell at the end of the Le Mans 24 hours discussing with various folk about the race. A common thread was beginning to appear. Did Peugeot lose the race, or did Audi win it? Well, I am not really ready to present all my evidence to the court, but it seems to me that although Peugeot may not have capitalised on their position after Audi had lost two cars, the remaining Audi was sufficiently quick that Peugeot couldn't have caught it. It may have been close, but the result, provided that the #2 Audi did not suffer mechanical failure or accident damage had to go the way of the German manufacturer.

Put simply, the Audi was just too fast for Peugeot.

At least, that's the way I see it.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Looking forward to Le Mans

I used this heading for an article that I wrote in March last year, and for a number of reasons, I find myself writing such a piece again. I guess that, one way or another, I am always looking forward to Le Mans. But with my schedule for the journey now set, my anticipation is heightened, and I am truly looking forward to next week.

First of all though, I want to thank those who commented on my previous post about the ACO’s performance adjustments. Although it is not clear to me (at this stage) who the bookie’s favourite for this year’s race would be, it is absolutely apparent that anything but a diesel-engined car winning this year’s twenty-four hours will be a massive surprise and even a major upset. With or without performance adjustments, the petrol-engined cars simply don’t have sufficient pace. To what extent this is due to the regulations, and to what extent it is due to the fact that Audi and Peugeot are spending an awful lot of money (even compared to the eye-watering sums that Pescarolo, Rebellion and even Aston Martin are spending), it is not possible to discern.

However, the issue I have is with the basic philosophy. I wrote a little while ago (here) about the “new era” in which we now live, in which the underlying approach to long-distance racing has undergone a change in recent years. The only strategy required these days is to work out how much fuel and tyres you are going to use and then simply go as fast as your car and drivers will allow you to and hope for the best. (It’s not as simple as that, I know, but bear with me, for the sake of the debate.)

I remember an interview that Stirling Moss gave years ago, in which he expressed his dislike for Le Mans. I forget his exact words, but his feeling was that it wasn’t really a race - it was more a case of going at a sufficiently slow speed that would enable the car to last the distance. The problem, in the fifties, sixties and seventies was to decide how fast you could afford to go, given the likelihood of failures of various components, and then run as close as possible to that pace.

Yes we want a close race, but Le Mans is, in a sense, above such things. It’s a bit like the thousands of people who flock to watch the London Marathon - the interest is not simply in watching the race to see who wins, but in understanding the efforts of every single competitor and joining them in their triumphs and tragedies.

I am part way through Quentin Spurring’s Le Mans book covering the years from 1970 - 1979 (having already finished the one from 1960 - 1969) and jolly good it is too. Q reminds us that in those days, cars were given a “target distance” that they were to complete, based on their performance characteristics. Like today, many were not in with a chance of winning the race overall, but the primary challenge for each team was to finish and to be classified, by achieving the target distance. Position in the overall classification was of secondary importance.

I worry a bit that the ACO is losing sight of this in its bid to ensure parity and equality. The whole point about the Le Mans experience (for those who are there) is that the Event is bigger than the Show. Things were never equal at Le Mans, and in my view, they don't need to be. Le Mans is more than simply a race.

Anyway, I am looking forward to it. I look forward to the journey there, I look forward to meeting up with the various friends that I will see there, and of course I look forward to the race itself. Afterwards, I shall spend some time reflecting, and then suddenly I will start looking forward to next year’s race.