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Le Mans Rules Tweaked For 2012


The winning Audi in action
Photo: Anne Proffit

The Automobile Club de L'Ouest ACO is moving to further equalize LMP1 engines at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in the new FIA World Endurance Championship, the Le Mans Series and U.S.-based American Le Mans Series.

Tired of seeing the diesel-powered cars from Audi and Peugeot pummel gasoline-fueled vehicles, the ACO--together with the FIA--moved to change the rules for the 2012 season. 

Starting with the first race of the year at Sebring International Raceway, diesel performance will be reduced by seven percent by decreasing the size of the mandatory air restrictors and the force fed engines' boost pressure.

The restrictor on an engine that runs a single restrictor, currently at 47.4 mm will then be 45.8 mm; for dual restrictors, sizing moves from 33.5 mm to 32.4 mm. Boost pressure of the turbochargers is being reduced from 3.000 to 2.800 millibars. In addition, the ACO is reducing fuel tank capacity on the turbodiesel engines from 65 to 60 liters.

In the interest of safety--and after two incredible accidents that destroyed two of the three Audi R18 TDI entries--the ACO has decreed that all cars in LMP1, LMP2 and FLM race cars have the dorsal fin first seen on the LMP1 cars this year. In addition, openings have to be made above the front and rear wheels to increase stability.

To assist in visibility (LMP1 excepted), ACO is increasing the size of rearview mirrors and they must have a night mode--similar to many production cars--as well as electric adjustment for the driver. A camera system at the rear will be mandatory for the GTE Pro and Am cars and allowed on all other cars. 

"Every year we progress by carrying out analyzes to establish the equivalences between the different engines," said Vincent Beaumesnil, ACO sports manager. "The groundwork carried out with the FIA demanded in-depth research and the main objective was not to put everybody on an equal footing in terms of performance," referring to lap times, "but to define the true potential of each of the competing technologies."

© 2011 Anne Proffit
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