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Audi R18 TDI dominates Le Mans 2011 test day

Tue, 26 Apr 2011 00:00:00 -0700

Le Mans echoed to the sound of racing cars on Easter Sunday as teams took part in the sole scheduled test day, and Audi's new R18 coupe dominated the LMP1 class.

Le Mans 2011: classes and rules changes

The Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), the organisers of the annual 24-hour race, made several changes to the competition classes and technical specifications for Le Mans 2011, aimed at reducing costs, raising lap times and ending the dominance of turbodiesel endurance racers. Out went V10 and V12 engines in the LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype) class, and in came new capacity limits for all engines, intake restrictors and lower turbo boost limits on existing turbodiesels. Naturally aspirated petrols units are now limited to 3.4-litres, turbo'd petrols can be no bigger than 2.0, and turbodiesels are restricted to 3.7-litres.

The 'junior prototype' LMP2 class was revised with a new cost-controlled formula similar to the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) 'LMP Challenge', and the GT1 and GT2 class were replaced with a GTE (Endurance) class. 

It doesn't sound like it slowed the Audis down...

Not on the evidence of Sunday's lap times, no. Audi's new R18 coupe, running a 3.7-litre V6 turbodiesel engine, looked like it had a lock on the top three lap times in testing for most of the day. Arch-rivals Peugeot were competitive however, with the leading 908 being less than two tenths of a second behind the top Audi. The proposed rule changes had been hoping to reduce lap times to around 3 minutes 30 seconds, but the top five LMP1 cars all posted best laps in the high 3m20s range.

What about Aston Martin?

Brittania failed to rule at Le Mans on Sunday. Aston Martin's petrol-powered, 2.0-litre straight-six AMR-One was over 20 seconds off the LMP1 pace in morning testing, completing a total of 13 laps, less than half of the average LMP1 team's test laps per session. Aston Martin Racing did not participate in the afternoon session. Not a good sign for success in June.

It didn't get any better in the GTE classes, with Ferrari 458, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Chevrolet Corvette ZO6 and BMW M3 GT teams posting better times than the Aston Martin Vantage pilots. At least Aston Martin can console itself with posting better GTE test times than the new Lotus Evora GTE team managed.

When is Le Mans 2011?

Motorsport's most famous all-nighter begins on Saturday, 11 June 2011. Anything can happen, but at this stage it would be hard to bet against another Audi (and diesel) victory this year. 

Le Mans test day 2011 rankings

Rank Number Team Car Driver Best Lap time 1 3 Audi Sport North America Audi R18 TDI Allan McNish 3.27.687 2 1 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 TDI Romain Dumas 3.27.815 3 8 Peugeot Sport Total Peugeot 908 HDI-FAP Stephane Sarrazin 3.27.876 4 2 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 TDI Andre Lotterrer 3.27.878 5 9 Peugeot Sport Total Peugeot 908 HDI-FAP Sebastien Bourdais 3.28.304 N/A 007 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin AMR One Christian Klien 3.51.568


By Mark Hamilton