LE MANS, France — It is time for my annual sojourn to France to work with my friends and colleagues at Mobil One Radio Le Mans (radiolemans.com — listen live). This year we will be covering the 82nd running of the world’s greatest auto race — The 24 hours of Le Mans.
It is a special year for me for many bittersweet personal reasons but on track it will be special as well. New regulations, the return of one of Le Mans’ grand marques and an electric entry are just a few of the highlights.
The new regulations, that limit fuel flow and make the hybrid technologies of the major factory teams even more crucial to success or failure, have been overshadowed by the return of Porsche to the top line prototype category for the first time since it’s last win in 1998.
The return of Porsche, which used 16 wins at this great event to build much of it’s reputation as a great sports car, means we will see three top-flight manufacturers all gunning for the overall victory laurels. The Weissach based Porsche squad will be trying to dethrone their sister company from the Volkswagen AG empire, Audi. Early days here at la Sarthe have seen the Porsche drivers and engineers trying to limit expectations.
Meanwhile the marketing team is shouting from the mountaintops, “We’re back and we are a contender.” If the results of the season’s first two races are any guide, it will be wise for the folks who report to the boardroom and Dr. Prof Ing. Ferdinand Piech to keep their feet on the ground. A podium finish will be an outstanding performance.