June 13, 2014
Le Mans 24 Hours: Countdown to Saturday at la Sarthe
In its 82nd year, Le Mans is the oldest active endurance race, held annually on an 8.5-mile circuit of public roads and track. For Nissan and its ZEOD RC team, this year’s race in France is one for the history books.
Drivers Satoshi Motoyama, Lucas Ordóñez and Wolfgang Reip look to complete the first all-electric lap in their “Zero Emissions on Demand” race car, running under the “Garage 56” designation for innovative automotive technologies.
“The last three yeas here at Le Mans I was driving an LMP2 car competing against other competitors teams and fighting for victor in class. This year, it’s not like that,” said Ordóñez.
“We are competing against the future, no? We are competing for the future, developing new technology. It’s a completely revolutionary car- innovative. Two electric motors and so much technology. There are so many things that we’re learning everyday. It’s beautiful to be a part of this project.”
Le Mans is famous for its tight chicanes and long straights, with speeds over 200mph demanding downforce to keep the wheels gripped.
The circuit challenges not only the technical capabilities of the vehicles, but the endurance – and creativity – of the team of drivers.
“I have been running everyday since I’ve been here, just for the heat acclimatization,” said Reip. “When you go from 15 degrees to 30 degrees your heart rate increases and you need a few days to get back where it is in normal conditions and that will be helpful for when I am in the car.”
“The most important thing in endurance racing is to complete your allocated stint, avoiding accidents and controlling risk as much as you can as a driver,” said Motoyama. “Then you need to be consistent throughout the 24 hours. That’s what I am most careful about.”
Former GT Academy champion and Nismo athlete Jann Mardenborough is teaming with Russian GT Academy champion Mark Shulzhitskiy and Alex Brundle in the LMP2 car No. 35 by Oak Racing.
Mardenborough clocked the fastest lap in early practice sessions, the 6th fastest for LMP2, and expectations are high for Saturday’s endurance race.
Across the grid, 55 cars will compete in the LMP1, LMP2 and GTE classes, but in the marathon test that is Le Mans, sometimes the greatest accomplishment is not winning or even a podium, but just completing the legendary 24-hour test of man and car.