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Old 28 Dec 2019, 22:54 (Ref:3948859)   #1
Chiana
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Drink Let's discuss! Rate Le Mans from 2010's, 2010-2019

Any criteria is accepted - quality of entry, quality of racing, quality of personal experience etc

Mine from best to worst:

2010
2011
2012
2015
2014
2016
2017
2013
2018
2019

2010 was amazing in each of the categories - a rarity on this list of races. LMP1 had amazing field on the privateer side - much as had been the case for few years at that point - and of course the Audi-Pug battle that was... something else. It's hard to think something like that could actually happen in a motor race. As I said on the other thread recently:
I always think it as the ultimate David vs Goliath, or rabbit vs turtle in terms of the ridiculous performance difference between 908 HDI FAP and R15+. The slow but steady tanks ultimately triumphed over fast but exploding rockets, which also had had numerical advantage on their side with the extra Oreca. On top there was interesting contrast when Pug boss broadly smiled as Audi hit trouble (contact with BMW GT2 IIRC), yet when Pugs started to break apart Ullrich was shaking hid head like a professional.
Off to LMP2, we had for the very final time a category being completely free-for-all, which resulted not only in pretty interesting field but also nice contrast between the dominating European and American HPDs. In GT1, the last hurrah for the old warhorses (some literal dinosaurs, like the winning Saleen) was very rollercoastery, with troubles literally for everyone before and during the race, ranging from ECU planks to fires and crashes. And finally GT2, for what I describe the last year before the dark times began, also had great battle between Ferrari and Corvette, yet in the end the high attrition - which actually played havoc quite a bit throughout the entire field - gave Porshche surprise win.

For 2011, obviously there's not much to add to what's been said of the legend that was the Audi-Peugeot cat-and-mouse game, as well as the famous crashes with Audis and Ferraris. It was quite a spectacle which we probably won't see for the rest of our lifetime again, not without artificial intervention anyway. We also had nice battle between Rebellion and old Pescarolo, I distinctly remember their duels on the Saturday night. The ludicrousness of AMR-One holds a warm memory in all our hearts as well :-D meanwhile LMP2 had entered the era of less interesting pro-am and cost-cap and tech-freeze. Obviously by the standards of today it was still extremely varied and interesting, even if by the time I did not much think of the class. In GTE we had started the slippery climb to the final doom with extensive balance of performance and waivers, although the 0,5% rule issued by the ILMC regulations retained some vague sense of purity still. As with 2010, plenty of chaos did ultimately end up in plenty of retirements, which lead to the emotional podium for the Robertson Fords in AM, even if it is a class that should never have been created as separate entity.

I think many see 2012 as kind of a hollow intermission year, you know with Toyotas that were not ready for the challenge, and Audi sending million cars to ensure first hybrid victory despite Peugeot no-show. Yet I found many interesting stories from the race. Not only was there once again a really interesting mix of cars in privateer P1 (I mean the Pescarolo split-up between the AMR-tub-frankstein-thing & Dome is still baffling) but seeing the development hell of Toyota all the way from early winter to the race itself was about as interesting as it goes. And Audi did all they could to destroy their own race, even after their only competition had been knocked out :P Now, from 2012 to 2014 the memories of LMP2 do start to fade out a bit, but I think the fall of Lola really affected the outlook the most at this point. In GTE, this was the very final time I can say that I'm even semi-not-frustrated by how things went, because Ferrari's direct injection effectively gave them the win. It was the final time GT classes had been won through technology and development, not by luck and balance of performance. No don't get me wrong, the class was effectively a goner by now and the 0,5% ILMC rule had been killed off too, but at least cars were still given _some_ freedom, somewhere.

Although I had actually enjoyed 2014 more than 2015 in terms of on-track action, I do have to elevate 15 over it because of several other factors. First off, obviously the most amazing of amazing OEM backing in LMP1, returning to the glory days of 1999. The German brilliance in the very height of multi million arms race, and opposite Japanese lacklusterness really tells the entire story of the event, there's not much more to add really. Darren Cox's continuous informercials on RLM and TV made the race kind of frustrating to watch, but at least you got some laughs. LMP2 had some interesting new coupe chassis coming up, like Dome and SMP and Oreca 05, it seemed like a fresh renaissance. GTE was crap just like in 2014 but whatever. The final huge improvement comes from the fact that for the first time ever night portion of the race was entirely covered by TV cameras, and not just CCTV and onboards outside the permanent circuit.

As said, I did find 2014 actually more interesting in terms of on-track battles in LMP1. Of course when I say battle, I more so mean the fragility of the cars with each of the three manufacturers, and the fact all three were more in the contention than in 2015. For the other classes, I again don't remember much of P2, despite for what in hindsight is 100-0 better than the product of today. GTE had become worthless by time, but ZEOD provided some well deserved laughs from our friends at Nissan. I guess I should not laugh for bringing up new technologies, particularly in this modern day of spec and bop, but once again Nissan just handled the PR wrong. Even Deltawing in 2012 had been more successful.

Another difficult choosing between 2016 and 2017, you know with the MASSIVE dramas in LMP1 in both years which resulted in equally exciting and interesting times for all involved, but I'm choosing 2016 solely because LMP2 was still non-spec by this time. The domination of Oreca (05) did show out but it was still not as bad as in later years, and teams could still counter act against that with different engine and tire choices. Meanwhile it was probably the most horrendous year in terms of GTE with the ludicrous sandbaggings and political bopping gone to hyperdrive, but honestly who cares at this point on how low the category had sunken. By this time the track had also been neutered with so much asphalt runoff and asphalt shoulders that it was unrecognizable in some places. The absolute worst thing about this race was the laughable Safety Car start though which went on and on and on and on forever, only ending when the track was almost bone dry. It was a god damn joke.

2017 had the amazingly bizarre LMP1 breakdown fiasco, which for better or worse did make hell of an exciting race. Now, there were only six cars to begin with and one of them was ByKolles, so obviously it was always going to be the case that not many would see the finish line. Yet still the outcome shocked me. Also while the LMP2s had now been turned into boring identical spec racers, the fact they (Oreca 07s and camouflage-rebadged Oreca 07s) were allowed to almost win the overall race because of P1 struggles did compensate quite a bit. Something happened in GTE I guess.

It goes without saying why 2013 is the black sheep here, towards the very end of the list, the main reason being quite obvious. But even without it, I thought the P1 battle was quite boring... very boring... But let me clear something. I don't mind boring, I will take it any day everyday over artificial door-to-door bop racing, like the one about to come in 2021 and years to come. BUT. in comparison to most of the other years in the list, it was just kind of stale. 2013 had also resulted in the one and only (sort of) bop situation between factory teams in 2007-2017, when Toyota had received breaks in lead up to the race, because of the diesel-petrol nagging (IIRC). By this time the privateer ranks had also shrunken to almost nothing in P1. P2 too was swimming in the middle ground still, despite some hilariousness from the likes of DKR Engineering messing everything up and "Lotus" Kolles cars being threatened by court judgement. In GTE, ACO by this point had killed off Ferrari's direct injection advantage as well as upped up the power in all things bop and waivers, which had completely killed off enjoyment of the race for me. Viper's illegal 8 liter engine was the final straw, if there were any straws left.

2018 had horrible, laughable mandated-fuel-mileage-and-one-lap-advantage-for-Toyota-or-otherwise-you-are-penalised for LMP1 which made the entire class somewhat a joke and ruined the enjoyment. The new nonhybrid cars consisting of Rebellion, SMP, Kolles, Dragonspeed and Ginetta were definitely the highlight, and did show off some interesting aspects in both lead-up and race itself, but ultimately it was not enough. In P2, despite reinforced tire war between Dunlop and Michelin bringing up some energy, it was all in all a pretty standardized, boring spec-Oreca-fest, with even less variety than year before thanks to Riley even not being accepted anymore. GTE not even worth a mention.

2019 was about the same as 2018, with the same stupid LMP1 fuel mileage restrictions reimposed after having been absent from most of the other WEC races. In the end there were even less interesting talk points due to nonhybrid section thinning out in both numbers and variety. LMP2 was about the same as before again - which is what happens with dull spec regulations - and GTE something something zzz. All in all not very exciting, HOWEVER still millions times more desirable outcome than what is promised of the future.

Last edited by Chiana; 28 Dec 2019 at 23:24.
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Old 7 Jan 2020, 12:10 (Ref:3950162)   #2
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Great post and review Chiana. I don't have your depth of knowledge - so I will just try to rate my best and the least favourite.

Without a doubt 2014 was the best. The return of Porsche to LMP1. The technical regulations that generated 3 different approaches by the 3 manufaturers - each with it's own strengths and weaknesses. Nothing contrived there! Wish Nissan would have given their project a little bit more time the following year. Their approach was very interesting.

Being a big GT fan, didn't like the rules impossed on the GT class that eliminated the endurance strategies so rate 2018 as my least favourite.
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Old 9 Jan 2020, 02:53 (Ref:3950537)   #3
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If you'll forgive me I'll do my rating just a bit different. As I only started going to Le Mans in the past decade and by going to four of those races I almost saw half in person, I'll provide my rating based on the races that I attended in person. The years I went were 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2017 (returning again this year!).

I've gotta put 2014 down as my favorite of the races that I've attended. When I first started getting into endurance racing and Le Mans it was back in the day where the machines were still a bit fragile, and it wasn't a 24 hour sprint race. I was intrigued by the notion that time spent in the pits could have a major outcome on your race, there was a time back then when you could spend a good deal of time in the pits and still have a reasonable expectation for a podium or even a win just based on attrition and the knowledge that your competitor could also face a problem. DRAMA, it's what got me interested. 2014 in my mind was the race that brought back the drama. Yes, I do try to get a little bit of sleep (4-5 hours) so that I'm not completely miserable and I can still follow things at the end. So when I went to bed (or sleeping bag) that night the Toyota had a healthy lead on the field and being a fan I went to sleep feeling pretty good. I set my alarm for about thirty minutes before sunrise so I could witness that, and I recall waking up an immediately turning my radio on to Radio Le Mans and literally the first thing I hear is, "Audi leads Le Mans". I just shook my head knowing that was what I kinda expected anyway. Fast forward a bit to watching from the Dunlop Grandstand as the sun was just under the bridge, the lead Audi going to the pits for a change of the turbo, figuring their race was over, and then they come back to win. DRAMA at its finest. IMHO a classic edition.

I guess I'd put 2017 down as the next favorite even though the field was lacking, again, DRAMA. I remember talking to Sam Collins at our very own ten tenths meet-up. "Hey Sam, who you think's gonna win the race?". Sam replies with a bit of nonsense, "Oh, I really think a P2 car is going to win it this year, the P1s just seem to fragile". Ha ha Sam with that crazy talk. Many, many hours in his words were prophetic. Yet again Toyota royally screwed the pooch, had bad luck, and must have upset some godly figure. Of course even when the Jackie Chan car was leading for many hours we all knew that the Porsche was going to come back, but hey, we got to dream for a bit didn't we? Plus I was in good company that year with many, many friends who joined me from the states.

2012 would come next. I remember booking my tickets and thinking how great it was going to be to see the next round of the Audi and Peugeot battle. I'd enjoyed seeing it on the TV at Le Mans and had enjoyed it even more in person at the ILMC race at Road Atlanta. And it was going to be my first Le Mans!!! Sadly we all know what happened next, Peugeot pulled the plug and we were stuck with four Audis and two Toyotas that were seemingly in way over their heads! But yet all of a sudden Toyota was leading! And the oh boy massive crash at Mulsanne corner! And then the DRAMA of the Deltawing. After that it was a bit of a procession, but it did end up being a better race than I had expected.

2015, great field on paper, but we all know the disappointment that was the Nissan program. My biggest memory from that edition was sitting in my seat at the Ford Chicane and watching poor Paul Dalla Lana crash his Aston Martin while leading the race with just over an hour to go. The sadness of that moment was shared by all of us sitting there, tears were shed.

And there you go, my ranking of my personal races from the past decade.

Last edited by ATLFalconsFAN; 9 Jan 2020 at 03:16.
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Old 10 Jan 2020, 16:30 (Ref:3950871)   #4
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Best:

2011 for the 1 Audi vs 3 Peugoets battle
2017 for the unpredictability with LMP1 cars being fragile and the Corvette/Aston battle in the last 10 minues.

Worst: 2018. Toyota run away. GTE ruined by saftey car procedures.
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