After a 2-year break, the Le Mans 24-Hours test day is back on the calendar and will take place on Sunday 24th April 2011. Fifty-five entries have been sent in to the ACO for this free practice session.
For economic reasons, the free practice session was not held in 2009 and 2010. Between 2005 and 2008, it usually took place shortly before the Le Mans 24 Hours. One has to go back to 2004 to find a date in April similar to that of 2011, and its return to the calendar has been motivated by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s on-going quest to improve safety. The introduction of a new set of regulations has led to the construction of many new cars, so it is vitally important to allow them and their drivers to get to grips with the constraints imposed by a circuit unlike any other in the world. In addition, thanks to the fact of bringing the test forward (almost two months before the race on 11th-12th June 2011), teams will have enough time to carry out in-depth modifications to their cars if necessary.
Participation in the test day isn’t obligatory except for teams and drivers who have never raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours, or in the case of the latter if they have not started the race in the last three years.
The test day is open to 76 cars maximum and the club has received fifty-five requests. Nonetheless, the organizers reserve themselves the right to accept further entries should the case arise. Opening up the test day to all cars complying with the regulations will enable the reserves (in case of withdrawal of those selected for the Le Mans 24 Hours), and other teams that have not entered to discover this exceptional circuit that is generally used only once a year. The Italian team, Mik Corse – which is not competing in the 24 Hours – is coming specially to test a hybrid-engined Zytek. American squad, Level 5 Motorsports, will bring along two cars although only one has been accepted for the race, and TDS racing will also use this exceptional opportunity to shakedown its LM P2 Oreca-Nissan, etc.
Peugeot will take advantage of the test day to give its eagerly-awaited 908 Hybrid 4 its debut, although it will not race in the 24 Hours (on the list of entries attached, it replaces one of the three works 908s). It will be very interesting to compare its performance with those of the other 908s (including the Oreca-entered 2010 908 HDi FAP), and with the brand-new Audi R18s, which will make their official debut as will the innovative Aston Martin AMR-ONEs.
Finally, three Formula Le Mans, the prototypes that enable teams and drivers to get a foothold in long-distance racing during specific meetings, will also take to this mythic circuit on 24th April, proof of the ACO’s attachment to this promotional formula for endurance that is unique in the world.
Vincent Beaumesnil, ACO Sports Manager: “We’re delighted that fifty-five cars will be taking part in the test day that’s back on the calendar in a new format. It’s a very encouraging number, which shows the undeniable need to organize this extraordinary free practice session before the Le Mans 24 Hours”
Le Mans 24-Hours test day
Scrutineering will take place on Saturday 23rd April: 09h00-13h00 and 14h00-18h00 at the Le Mans 24-Hours circuit.
Two test sessions are scheduled on Sunday 24th April: 09h00-13h00 and 14h00-18h00 on the big Le Mans circuit.
The test day is open to the public.
Ticket price: 10 euros for the test day itself
(Only for sale on the circuit)
Official Info: Aco.