The 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans Entry List

This morning, the ACO held a press conference announcing the competitors and reserves for this year’s race.  56 competitors will journey to La Sarthe to battle for the 80th Grand Prix d’Endurance.

Here’s the breakdown: 15 LMP1, 18 LMP2, 9 GTE Pro, 13 GTE Am, and the 56th garage spot.

I don’t know if this is the result of Peugeot pulling out or not, but Audi is fielding FOUR cars this year!  Two are listed as hybrid – is this the car testing at Sebring a few weeks ago?  And are the other two last year’s car?  It’s being argued Audi just bought the podium.  Four cars or not, they still have run the race and avoid the slower cars.  New to the list is Toyota’s TS030 Hybrid and the American based Dyson Racing.

LMP2 has a strong 18 car field with plenty of new and experienced competitors.  The usual suspects: Signatech, Level 5, Greaves, and Oak Racing.  This year, we’ll have two former Gran Turismo GT Academy graduates competing: Lucas Ordonez who was with Signatech last year, but has partnered up with Alex Brundle and Greaves Motorspots and last year’s GT Academy winner Jordan Tresson who is replacing Ordonez at Signatech.  Racing with the Sixaxis one day, competing at Le Mans the next.  Very impressive to think a video game can produce professional drivers on one of the biggest stages in motorsports.

Disappointingly, there are only 9 GTE Pro cars.  Two Corvettes, two Porsche 997’s, four Ferrari 458’s and one Aston Martin.  No Rahal/Letterman BMWs this year.  UPDATE – I misread the entry list, there are 3 reserves for the GTE Pro division.

Where GTE Pro is lacking, GTE Am more than makes up the difference: 13 cars.  And it’s not just 13 cars, it’s 13 cars with amateur drivers.  And this is too many in my opinion.  The rules of the GTE Am division is a cost cutting idea – teams are only allowed to run last year’s car.  In addition to last years car, they can only have one “professional” driver.  This doesn’t mean the amateurs in the field have my driving experience, these pilots just don’t have all the necessary experience to qualify for a professional license.  The 24 Hours doesn’t need 13 amateur/inexperienced drivers running the track.  The Mike Rockenfeller incident on the run in between Mulsanne and Indianapolis was the direct result of an amateur racer taking the wrong line through one of the kinks.

The 56th garage spot was announced at last year’s race as a spot for experimental vehicles.  The spot was awarded this year to the radical DeltaWing concept.  Originally proposed in 2009 as the Indy Car of the future, it’s design was deemed to radical and scrapped for something a little more similar to the current Indy Car.  The project was picked up by Duncan Dayton of Highcroft Racing and the legendary Dan Gurney.

This thing is out there.  The front tires are specially made by Michelin and only have 4 inches of tread.  For comparison sake, the Audi R18 tires are 28 inches wide with 14 inches of tread.  I don’t know how this thing is going to turn at competitive speed.

Here’s the official list: 2012 24 Heures du Mans entry list.

5+ months and counting.

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