Preview: Local teams geared up for world famous Le Mans 24-hour Race
The 2015 Le Mans 24-Hour Race takes place this weekend and once again it looks destined to be another classic if action earlier this week during Free Practice and Qualifying is anything to go by.
Porsche, Audi and Toyota – the three main manufacturers contesting the race – all have a chance of winning the world’s ultimate endurance event.
During the opening sessions of track running at the Circuit de la Sarthe for teams and drivers on Wednesday evening, it was Porsche who set a blistering pace with their 919-Hybrid cars.
The team’s three cars, which include Sahara Force India F1 star Nico Hulkenberg driving the number 19 alongside Aston Clinton’s Mark Webber, looked formidable and the German machines are expected to set the race pace come the start on Saturday afternoon.
Brackley’s Anthony Davidson, the reigning FIA World Endurance Champion, will drive the lead Toyota TS-040 in the race. Davidson’s car will carry the number 1 and he will share driving duties with Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima.
In the lead up to the race, Davidson said: “The pace at the front his year is very fast. Porsche have shown that a three minute and 16 seconds lap is possible around here, and that is very quick.
“We know that the battle for the lead is going to be tough, as we all want to win. This is the one race Toyota really want to win and after coming close in previous years, victory this year is our aim.”
While Davidson and Toyota are looking for overall victory, Whittlebury’s Strakka Racing are hoping that they can record another triumph at Le Mans in the LMP2 class.
The team have been lucky enough to taste the victory champagne at Le Mans previously, and hopes are high for the squad who are returning to the race after missing the 2014 event.
Thornborough’s Danny Watts will lead the team’s challenge in the number 42 Nissan-powered Strakka-Dome, with Stowe’s Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane joining him in the line-up.
Watts said: “The World Endurance Championship in many ways is all about this one race. This is the big one!
“You can win every other round of the championship, but the one that really counts and the one people remember, is winning at Le Mans. This race has such an amazing history and it is a great feeling to be the only all-British trio of drivers in the race.”
Brackley’s Murphy Prototypes will also contest the LMP2 category with an Oreca 03-Nissan, driven by Nathanael Berthon, Karun Chandhok and Mark Patterson.
The Silverstone-based Nissan team will make a Le Mans race debut with their front-wheel-drive GT-R LM cars in the LMP1 class.
Over 300,000 spectators will attend the race this weekend, with an expected 50,000 British visitors. The race starts at 3pm on Saturday.