At last year's running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Audi took the top three spots in the LMP1 class. As fans of alternative fuels, we were excited to see their hybrid-powered R18 e-tron and diesel driven R18 ultra dominate the annual endurance race. That said, we wouldn't be against a little competition either.
24 Heures Du Mans
We were on hand last year when the 2013 SRT Viper made its racing debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the American Le Mans Series, but now Chrysler has accepted the invitation to run two Vipers at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. The Viper has a brief but successful history at Le Mans, finishing in the top two spots of its class for three consecutive years (1998-2000), and it will look for more of the same success when it returns to action in the LM GTE Pro class.
Porsche still hasn't showed the LMP1 contender it is building for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014 – in fact, there won't be any public eyeballs on it until the middle of 2013. But the Stuttgart manufacturer sure wants to make sure everyone knows it is coming, giving us another update – after the initial announcement and a retrospective video – on the car's progress even if there is no actual car yet.
In real estate, the three most important things are location, location, location. In motorsports, it's preparation, preparation, preparation. Le Mans is only a few days away and the Pratt & Miller team has put together a five-part series examining what they do to get the Corvette C6.R ready to win its class.
SpeedTV has piped Le Mans racing action to American television sets since 1995, and with the signing of a new multi-year television deal, the annual Frankish displays of 24-hour madness will continue to have a home on the cable network. The length of the deal wasn't disclosed, but it does include expanded digital rights, which we'll hope is network code for "live streaming." Now you know where to turn on June 16.
Audi took the NFL Films crew to the 2008 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and with the footage gathered created the rather excellent documentary Truth in 24 (it's still free to view on iTunes and YouTube). It turns out Audi took a crew to last year's race as well, and soon we'll be treated to the sequel, Truth in 24 II.
The DeltaWing project now has two major corporate backers and, more importantly, an engine. Nissan and Michelin have signed on with the innovative project of designer Ben Bowlby, Dan Gurney's All-American Racers and Don Panoz. Now called the Nissan DeltaWing, the Japanese firm will provide a turbocharged, direct-injected 1.6-liter, four-cylinder with an output of around 300 horsepower. Known as DIG-T, the powerplant shares the same roots as the engine in the Nissan Juke.
Morgan and OAK Racing have put together a video to showcase the car that Morgan will be running at Le Mans this year in a jubilee celebration its GT2 class win in 1962. It's got just about everything you'd want from an LMP2 teaser: engine guts, carbon fiber, track time and roaring.
Even though Aston Martin's gone home and Audi won't have Peugeot to kick around at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, there's a heap to look forward to: a large field of entries that includes two Audi diesel R18s plus two more hybrid R18s, Toyota's TS030 LMP1 hybrid and LMP2 racers from Lotus and Morgan.
The announced roster includes Ferrari test driver Marc Gene, BMW Sauber tester Christian Klien, former Lotus pilot Pedro Lamy, former Super Aguri driver Franck Montagny, former Minardi driver Stephane Sarrazin, Honda F1 test driver and former Le Mans winner Alex Wurz, F1 veteran Ricardo Zonta, and former world champion Jacques Villeneuve. Nicolas Minassian joins the team as the only member never to have earned his F1 Superlicense. Notable is the absence of Sebastien Bourdais, the four-time Champ