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Old 29 Mar 2003, 08:29 (Ref:551893)   #1
Fab
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Performances analysis 99/02

Dear fellow ten-tenthers,
Considering the quantity of available informations about the recent Le Mans races, I would like to merge some and go beyond in our analysis of cars chances to get the goal : win the overall, or at least win the category classification.

I exploited mainly the 1999 and 2002 races, through the annual ACO, any things you can check or do yourself at home. Why those two races ? Because they’re obviously the most competitive we had in the last 10 years (we approximately the same rules or so).

I tried to compare the following things :
- times on one lap for each category
- speed in each category
- gap between qualification times and race times

First thing : why 1999 was so impressive ? Because there was no ‘small category’, or so. No LMP 675, and only three GTs. The rest of the grid was made with LMP 900 and GTS cars.

Second thing : an enormous and sharply fall of the performances between 1999 and 2000. We can consider that 2000 and 2001 were ‘weak’ years (way of talking, of course !).

Third thing : regarding the times and speeds, 2002 was really very fast, comparing with 1999. Even if Audi had been absent, Bentley and Oreca could have been in the pace of 99’ BMW and Toyota, to mention the top 99’ cars.

Fourth thing : the real lack in the nowadays races is not performances, but factories, as pointed out some of you those last days. Mercedes, Toyota, BMW, Audi, Nissan and Panoz gave us the feeling that the 99’ race was historical, but the performances were not as historical as we could feel. This make me think that the 2003 will be a real great race, very open, with at least five cars for the overall win (three Audis and two Bentleys), and some serious outsiders (Courage Evo, because they are reliable, RFH Domes, because they are fast and showed last year a real capacity to make the entire race, etc…).

Now the facts :
- 2002’ pole : 3’29”930 ; 1999’ pole : 3’29”905 : regarding the modifications of the track, I cannot see something significant against 2002 performances.
- Comparing each place on the grid from 2nd to 10th : all the 2002’ cars made better than the 1999’ cars (even if the gap is weak).
- GTS cars : 3’56”588 for 1999, 3’54”091 for 2002 ; beyond this, the top seven cars in this category were under 4’ on one lap, we were far from it in 1999.
- Slowest cars : if I put out the cars that are really ‘of the pace’, the slowest car (the Spyker) made 4’19”969 in 2002, the last GTS (Porsche 911 GT2) 4’15”793 in 1999 (it was a GTS, notice that).
- Speeds : during the qualifications, the best 99’ car (Toyota GT1) did 351 kph, the best 02’ car (RFH Dome) did 337 kph. We lost a lot, without being slower on a lap : something changing in the approach of the performance ?
- Speeds : the best 99’ GTS car (a Viper) did 316 kph, the best 02’ car (the Maranello) did 325 kph, still during qualifications
- Speeds during the race : the best Toyota did 339 kph in 99, the Dome made 340 kph. Here we start to point something : the great gap between the qualification settings and the race trims…
- Gaps between qualifications and race : the 99’ winner (BMW) did 3’33”993 at qualifications, 3’36”965 during the race (for the best Toyota, this gap fall to one second between qualifications and race). The 02’ winner (Audi) did 3’30’219 at qualifications, 3’33”483 during the race. Get this : the strength of Audi is in this weak gap between qualifications and race : they’re able to be fast during the race too !
- To confirm : the best Dallara made 3’40’268 during the race, seven seconds slower than the qualifications ; we understand here why there was no battle, even during the first laps… the Bentley did at its best 3’39”484, the Dome 3’40”141… and so on : the best car behind the Joest Audis was… an Audi ! The Goh Audi did 3’38”215, and the whole story is tell here… Oops ! Not quite true : the fastest cars behind the Joest’s cars on one lap during the race were the Mgs : 3’37”221. But they didn’t run 24 hours !
- What’s the weak point of MGs : the speed ! They did between 308 and 319 kph, far behind the LMP 900 (except Panozes and Courage Evo, which seem to have a real lack of speed last year)
- Panozes : they’ve lost one second between 99 and 02 at qualifications, and four seconds during the race, still on one lap. I can’t explain how a team could lose so much performances during four years…
- More generally, there’s a real significant gap between qualification settings and race settings ; the more this gap is important, the more the car is potentially weak. The more this gap is small, the more the car has a chance to see the chequered flag, and in a good position.

We may not pay enough attention to the ‘comfortable’ side of the car : lots of drivers notice how ‘hard’ or ‘easy’ is the car, even at the last Sebring race ; if I can remember, about one of the MGs, one of them said he was in ‘heaven’, considering how easy was the car. If it’s not so important on one lap, you can imagine how it is during 24 hours ! Watching the 94’ race yesterday night, I saw a Japanese driver struggling hard with a sequential gear box : he was literally ‘boxing’ it ! How could he be efficient one entire stint in those conditions ?

Audis were the easiest cars ; I heard only one team leader talking about the ‘easy’ side of his car : Henri Pescarolo. But the others do the same : preparing the car for the race, considering how few important is the place on the grid for a 24 hours race… except for media, of course !

Debate is open !

Last edited by Fab; 31 Mar 2003 at 06:10.
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Old 29 Mar 2003, 09:04 (Ref:551919)   #2
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krt917 should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridkrt917 should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
Wow, lots of work there. Nice one. I thought that, for 2002, there was an extra couple of corners inserted between the dunlop bridge and the esses, thus extending the lap times slightly. The performance of the Audis (and others) in '02 was, therefore, even more impressive. Might also help to explain the Panoz thing, though they also struggled with their new car in 2001 and had to go back to the old LMP roadster, which they subsequently developed. Hence, improvement was slow.

I agree that 2003 should be good, though I would like to see more competitive works entries. I think that's why 1999 is held in such high regard: Toyota, BMW, Mercedes and Audi all seemed capable of winning and there was a good 'supporting cast', including the Nissan R391. From a personal point of view, I've always liked closed cars, and there were more of those in '99.
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Old 30 Mar 2003, 22:32 (Ref:553169)   #3
Sean Crockett
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Sean Crockett should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Wow, what a lot of investigation has gone into this!


As regards the Panoz losing speed over the years, after the 99 Mercedes aerobatics, didn't the ACO insist on changes to the cars?

If the ACO had to mandate this, it would obviously affect performance, unless the teams would have made the changes of their own accord.
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Old 30 Mar 2003, 23:11 (Ref:553206)   #4
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The 02’ winner (Audi) did 3’30’219 at qualifications, 3’33”483 during the race.
hot damn, thats one hell of a lap O_o

and yes, we need more factorys back, but even more important (imho) we need more teams in the alms and the acos new series. purhapes bentley and oreca should get together
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Old 30 Mar 2003, 23:15 (Ref:553210)   #5
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first of all, very impressive work, Fab.

1999 race was so impressive because of two things: The number of major manufacturer´s involved and because of the Mercedes-Benz airline flights. As a race itself 1998 was better (´til 23rd hour there was a real fight between Boutsen´s toyota and McNish´s porsche) After MB´s incident ACO did everything they could to slow the cars down, introducing a Gurney Flap in the rear wing to slow the speeds, reducing the air restrictor, reducing side plates of rear wings and modification to the front fenders... Some cars were more affected than others, and that could explain how Panoz fared so badly, because basically is the same 99 car.
In those three years Audi has created the most impressive prototype of recent years, and there has been no manufacturer to seriously confront this (I don´t think Cadillac neither Chrysler were prepared to so so. American way of thinking...). With 3 or 4 years of development is very logic that the speeds are greater in every category. Over a lap, Porsche´s GT3 is at least equal to the more powerful and older GT2. Car design has developed a lot. All we have to hope is for a real race in our hands (remember 98&99), and I guess ingredients are in place. Bentley is favourite, but don´t discard the Audis. A question: 2003 Bentley team, with new car and star drivers VS 2002 Joest Audi works team. Do you really think Bentley will stand a chance?. Let me know..
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Old 31 Mar 2003, 06:04 (Ref:553407)   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by Javi
1999 race was so impressive because of two things: The number of major manufacturer´s involved and because of the Mercedes-Benz airline flights. As a race itself 1998 was better
Agree with you, even if the last part of the 99' race was hot, with the Toyota trying to catch the BMW and suffer a puncture in Les Hunaudičres...

Quote:
Originally posted by Javi
Do you really think Bentley will stand a chance?. Let me know..
A chance : certainly ! But all the chances ? Certianly not : see what happend in Sebring...

I'm still not confident on the fact that a car could be as easy as the Audis to drive on a long range race ; and the tyres are definitely too narrow on Bentleys (due to ACO rules).

I wwas wtaching 2001' first laps race yesterday : the Bentleys were matching well with the private Audis and Mopar Dallaras Oreca cars... but nothing to do against work Audis...

We could have a real open race this year. I wish a dry weather and no problems in the first hour (remember the burning Cadillac in 2000)...
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Old 31 Mar 2003, 12:50 (Ref:553668)   #7
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Well, I rate Joest very high. Except for their direct fuel injection, the works car from 01 differed little from 00, but Joest cars were faster than the (very good) costumers from Champion and Johansson, and the main difference: They went to the end. (same for 2002) No abandons in the joest squad from 00 to 02 (that´s so so impressive, it´s 8 cars!!!), and always winning. do you think both bentleys will go to the end? If we compared a Joest works squad, even with 2002 R8 chassis against this year´s bentley squad with 2003 chassis. I´ll put my money on joest. No doubt. Anyway, I am hoping for a very good race this year, and I would really like to see a bentley on top, but after a long, hard, and good fight with the audis...
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Old 1 Apr 2003, 07:07 (Ref:554527)   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Javi
Well, I rate Joest very high.
But they won't be at LM this year : that's why the race is so open !

I think the Bentleys will go to the end, and at a good place, maybe the first.

About customers Audis : the 01' Gulf one span and broke the front under the first shower, the 01' Champion didn't maid it, and the 02' Gih was quite a deception...

Real real open race ! I tend to think that EVERYTHING could happen a year like this... remember the 91' victory by Mazda, or the 94' finish... oh boy !
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Old 2 Apr 2003, 05:11 (Ref:555515)   #9
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LM this year will be all bentley. champion has the best shot, but, something will happen in the last 2 hours last like usual if the bentleys drop out ... i can only hope though

come back manufactors ... they're not afriad of vw/audi/bentley ... they want to be violated on tv by ferrari ...
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Old 2 Apr 2003, 06:00 (Ref:555529)   #10
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Originally posted by Es Nes
LM this year will be all bentley
Maybe, but I won't take a bet on it...
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Old 2 Apr 2003, 06:10 (Ref:555533)   #11
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heh ... youre right .. theyve practically no race expernce ...
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Old 2 Apr 2003, 06:15 (Ref:555536)   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by Es Nes
heh ... youre right .. theyve practically no race expernce ...
And still not a success ! Maybe LM 2003

Let's be clear : if the Bentleys are faster than the Audis in May, and if the cars are easy to drive, they'll win...

If the cars are tough... it'll turn like Sebring...

Last edited by Fab; 2 Apr 2003 at 06:17.
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Old 2 Apr 2003, 07:57 (Ref:555567)   #13
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I agre with Fab. I don´t think Bentleys will be that faster than the R8´s. Champion squad is very very good. DOn´t discard them. How may car failures has an audi had since 2000?. Very few of them....
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Old 2 Apr 2003, 13:17 (Ref:555825)   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Javi
I agre with Fab. I don´t think Bentleys will be that faster than the R8´s. Champion squad is very very good. DOn´t discard them. How may car failures has an audi had since 2000?. Very few of them....
The real chances stays in the fact that Joest in not here...
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Old 2 Apr 2003, 13:46 (Ref:555868)   #15
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Yes Fab, but I´ll miss the sight of Joest squad pitwork. FLAWLESS. So professional....
Anyway, thank god they are not entering an audi this year, or they will run away with the trophies ONE MORE TIME!!
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