T he old Le Mans record stood at 3:18,513 minutes . He was seven years old, owned by Peugeot. The basis is the route length of 13.629 kilometers. All-time comparisons at Le Mans are always difficult. Because the route has changed so often. It used to be all about full throttle from Arnage to the start and finish. Only interrupted by Maison Blanche, those notorious super-fast S-curves in a town. Today this area has eleven corners, including a slow double chicane at the end.
The new fastest man at Le Mans is Neel Jani. And the car he drives is a Porsche 919 Hybrid. The 31-year-old Swiss beat the old best time by 1,626 seconds. His time of 3.16.887 minutes means an average speed of 150 mph. It was faster than the simulation had predicted: 'It was about 3.18 minutes.'
Two slow cars in Weg
Jani didn't even find optimal conditions for his best time. 'I ran into an LMP2 car in one of the chicanes on the Hunaudieres Straight. And a Corvette got in the way on the second Indianapolis corner. I had to brake right inside and lost a lot of speed at the corner exit cost a few tenths. '
The fastest Porsche driver also has some restrictions: 'I can't say whether I'll get sector 1 as perfect as on this lap.' In addition, the route was not ideal. Too green, as the racing drivers say. So little grip. Estimates of how much time this cost vary widely. Depending on who you ask, between two and four seconds. The eyes of the six-time Le Mans participant were still shining a day later: 'We are already really fast on the road. You can tell how physically it is getting more and more strenuous.'
Porsche fast at the beginning, Audi at the end
After Porsche put three cars on the front row on the first day, the focus on the second day was entirely on the race. 'At the beginning we waited to see if anyone would try, but then called off the speeding. First, because we wanted to work for the race. Second, so as not to damage the car in an accident. For a lap at this speed you have to take risks and at Le Mans that always means a real risk, hereyou can hurt yourself quickly, 'says Jani.
For the race, the fastest driver expects a close duel against Audi.' We'll be faster in the first two stints. In the third and fourth stint, Audi will fight back because they take the tires less hard than we do. The two cars have different qualities. It depends on who makes better use of it. '
Audi may have won the first two WEC races at Silverstone and Spa, but that doesn't mean anything, according to Jani.' In Silverstone, Audi has benefited from his Plus downforce benefits. We were actually faster in Spa. I am convinced that we could have won if we hadn't lost 30 seconds by topping up hydraulic oil. '
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