The Favorites: This is Toyota’s race to lose. Later this week it’ll dominate qualifying, set a new track report—possibly with a sub-three-minute, sixteen-second lap time—and if the race were run on paper, it would dominate the sector. Toyota brings 3 LMP1 automobiles to France and lots of motivation given its terrible luck within the final minutes of 2016. However, with all of this comes enormous stress.
The Underdogs: How commonly has Porsche been taken into consideration an underdog to win average at Le Mans? Not many. The German powerhouse arrives in Le Mans with two new driving force lineups, one less car than Toyota, and one big hurdle—an older, slower vehicle than its Japanese rival.
The Controversy: Is the Toyota’s rear diffuser prison? Porsche thinks not, and has pushed the FIA and ACO sanctioning bodies for an explanation. Will the attraction be heard and addressed? I don’t expect any modifications.
The Rumor: Porsche is seriously considering retreating from the FIA World Endurance Championship on the quit of 2017. In the ultra-modern edition of the German publication Motorsport Aktuell, a tale outlines the motives why this may be extra than only a rumor. Porsche has the oldest car in LMP1. It thinks it’ll need to build a brand new car to be aggressive for the next two seasons, earlier than the 2020 guidelines take effect and hence a completely new automobile is important all over again. There is reportedly displeasure with the WEC over the Toyota’s legality, and additionally displeasure approximately the vast price of racing at this stage. These rumors will be robust this week, but don’t assume an assertion anytime soon.
The balance of Performance: Sports vehicle racing’s never-ending version of hide-and-searching for is a no-win recreation for each person worried. Sanctioning bodies need to have a degree gambling subject while racing groups don’t need to expose their hand until the green flag drops. Throw in politics and money, and all of sudden we’ve got a recreation of musical chairs, wherein one or greater car manufacturers are left without a seat whilst the music stops. In 2016, Corvette changed into left status. We definitely won’t understand who doesn’t have a seat for 2017 until race day.
There is not any perfect BoP device; each sports activities-vehicle sanctioning frame struggles with it. It’s a juggling act with having competitive races with the unstoppable pressure of racers locating approaches to make their motors pass faster. Ultimately, one crew plays the game better than anyone else. Ford become that team remaining year. And the sport starts in pre-season checking out, continues through all the races before Le Mans, where no one ever shows their car’s full ability, and maintains going till all of us arrives in France. Ford did this brilliantly in 2016—it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure how to sandbag. Some of it is pretty simple, consisting of telling your drivers to quick shift or brake earlier than normal. Or exchange the automobile’s tire pressures and journey height for the early season races, as a consequence disguising what the car can surely do, at the same time as nevertheless offering the authorities with data that show it’s far strolling flat out. I should point out a couple of teams who sense their BoP for this 12 months’ race is arbitrary, but sincerely each team feels this manner. The balance of Performance will effect the LMGTE Pro elegance greater than every other at Le Mans. It will either offer near racing throughout the class or create a scenario made for a Hollywood ending but which honestly mimics the curtain being pulled back in Oz.
The ACO Press Conference: The annual ACO press conference takes location on Friday. Expect plenty of news to come out of this, consisting of new rules for the 2020 season, whether or not or now not IMSA-spec Dpi vehicles might be invited to Le Mans in 2018, and news on new LMGTE Pro manufacturers getting into the game in 2018.
Don Panoz Returns to Le Mans: Nicotine-patch inventor and racing entrepreneur Panoz has a new imaginative and prescient, and he’ll announce and unveil it on Thursday.
The Brothers: Since I wrote approximately Ricky and Jordan Taylor in January, they have received the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and a complete of 5-straight IMSA races of their Cadillac Dpi rocket ship. Ricky Taylor additionally had a totally successful IndyCar test with Team Penske. The brothers try to finish the triple crown—prevailing Daytona, Sebring, and Le Mans in the identical season, however, this time now not as teammates. Ricky will drive a Riley LMP2 vehicle, Jordan a Corvette in LMGTE Pro. Both will need a piece of good fortune and perhaps loads of rain for this to take place.
Speed: The LMP2 motors have been 7-mph quicker inside the speed traps than the LMP1 Toyota during the current Le Mans check weekend. If you are a GT driving force, rather of having simply five cars blasting beyond you on the lengthy Le Mans straights, you presently have a whole field doing so. And that means paying plenty greater attention for your mirrors than in beyond years.
The Rematch: In my opinion, the French organizers need a rematch between Ford and Ferrari within the LMGTE Pro elegance. And who can blame them? Another 50th reunion of the epic Ford and Ferrari battles from the 1960s. And they will get their desire—perhaps an excellent nearer race than ultimate 12 months. Ferrari has the same Balance of Performance from 12 months ago, at the same time as Ford has had its BoP adjusted, in idea to convey the American group closer to its Italian opponents. This might be some other outstanding warfare.
The Darkhorse: I reckon the Porsche LMGTE Pro crew has played its BoP card higher than all and sundry in 2017. Don’t be surprised if the German squad upsets the Ford/Ferrari sequel. And if it rains plenty this weekend, Porsche could dominate the magnificence.