S pötter have a clear opinion about how the 24h race in Le Mans 2012 could run at the top: The two very fresh and little tested Toyota will not come over the distance without technical problems, so they will fall far behind or even fail. This would clear the way for the second factory involved manufacturer in the LMP1 class, namely Audi. Bets on a triple win for Ingolstadt are already rewarded by the online betting offices with extremely poor odds ...
And behind that? Seven other privately used cars are named in the LMP1 class for the 24h race in Le Mans: two Honda ARX 03a from the Strakka Racing and JRM teams, plus two Lola with Toyota customer engines from the Swiss Rebellion team. Finally, the OAK Racing team with a Pescarolo chassis and Judd engine and the Henri Pescarolo team himself, who has a new chassis (Pescarolo 03) with a Judd engine and a Dome-Judd im Order from the Japanese sports car manufacturer .
Own privateer race in the race
The pre-test has made it clear again that the private teams are well behind chase after the works teams. The Strakka-HPD lost a good eight seconds to Audi's fastest time. The private teams drive their own race in the race - even if they are named together with the works teams in the LMP1 class. However, that does not mean that there is no good sport on offer: Rebellion, Strakka, JRM and Pescarolo are decent teams with a small budget and sometimes very good drivers. At Rebellion, for example, Nick Heidfeld, Nicolas Prost and Neel Jani are at the start, at Strakka the veterans Danny Watts and Johnny Kane and at JRM ex Le Mans winners David Brabham, Peter Dumbreck and Karun Chandhok. There can be no question of a second set here.
Nevertheless, the conditions in the unofficial privateer classification of the LMP1 class are fundamentally different: the two Honda teams Strakka and JRM as well as the Swiss Rebellion team have good ones Budgets and a lot of experience in the races for the World Sports Car Championship and are therefore considered favorites in the class. It was not for nothing that their cars ended up closed behind the Audi and factory delegations during the pre-testToyota ranked 7th to 11th and were only separated by three seconds. This is followed by a three-second breakdown of Pescarolo and OAK, whereby the OAK team was affected during the pre-test by a serious accident by Guillaume Moreau, in which the Frenchman sustained serious vertebral injuries.
Dramas behind the scenes at the 24h race
Of course the test day at Le Mans was full of drama, at least when you looked behind the curtains. The Pescarolo team, for example, is involved in two legal disputes, one of which resulted in both cars being kept in the custody of the police authorities until the Friday before the pre-test - not optimal preparation. In addition, development work was suspended for almost two and a half months due to budget problems. The pre-test with the new Pescarolo 03 was a complete failure: The pilots complained behind closed doors about the wrong choice of the aero specification, many technical problems and thus few laps in the pre-test. Twelfth place, six seconds behind the Strakka Honda, was like a smack. The vibrations of the Judd V8 engine during the pre-test led to mechanical damage in the drive train, which cost a total of four hours of testing time.
The Dome S102.5 also used by Henri Pescarolo suffered from exactly the same problem, since it is also powered by a Judd engine. The dome chassis was originally developed for Toyota, who tested it for years before deciding in October 2011 to return to the factory at Le Mans. But the Japanese came with their own chassis, which, however, seems to be identical to the Toyota TS030 in many respects. Out of bitterness at the fact that the factory failed to comply, the wealthy dome boss Minoru Hayashi decided to finance the use of the test vehicle himself - and to compete directly against his old partner Toyota in Le Mans.
Because the Dome S102.5 is trimmed for extremely little downforce, its top speed values are good and the lap times are impressive: In the pre-test, pilot Nicolas Minassian managed a lap time of 3.37.149 minutes. That was enough for tenth place and made him the direct opponent of the private top dogs Rebellion, Strakka and JRM. 'If the car stops, we might be able to cause a real surprise at the 24h race in the unofficial privateer classification of the LMP1 class and annoy top teams like Rebellion,' believes Nicolas Minassian.