ROLLER: Live From Le Mans No. 2


LE MANS, France — Remember in school when you used to wonder, “When am I ever going to use algebra and all this physics stuff?”

I found out where. To understand the top class of cars in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans you better have been paying attention in those classes. If not, well they will still be cool cars but you will be missing out on something truly remarkable.

The history, in fact, the DNA of this great race is steeped in proving the automobile in the harshest of conditions. That was the reason for the first race run in 1923. That has never been more true than 2014. Race organizers have reduced the fuel allotments allowed the top class LMP1 cars by 30 percent and now talk to the teams more about energy used in Kilowatt/hours.

Oh, I can hear you now, “not another fuel formula like the early Group C days.” Well, I can assure you, it is not. That is because, by reducing fuel used and measuring energy used in KwH’s (It is no longer just about miles per gallon) the ACO & FIA are forcing the teams to focus less on fuel for power and more on coming up with efficient hybrid systems to do the work of making these cars some of the fastest to ever race at Le Mans. To aid the teams the rules makers have left the hybrid systems virtually free of restriction.

That has meant that three of the world’s top manufacturers have come to la Sarthe this year to prove their hybrid systems. Audi, Toyota and Porsche have all put their corporate reputations and many bags of Euros on the line in a high stakes game of mine is better than yours. And, amazingly in the monkey-see-monkey do world that is car racing they have come to the table with three totally different concepts to accomplish the same goal, victory at Le Mans while being as environmentally friendly as possible.