And into the 'great unknown' for Aston Martin Racing at the Le Mans 24hr

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Having had all twelve drivers and four cars participate at the official test last Sunday, Aston Martin Racing will have spent the last week prior readying their cars for the rigours that scrutineering will bring as the team present their cars to the ACO officials (in the case of AMR) on Monday afternoon.

Le Pesage as it is known locally, is where the teams take their cars to the Place de la République in the centre of Le Mans town itself, for the ACO to publicly inspect that the parameters of the cars meet both technical and homologation standards prior to the first (and only) official practice session of the race week on Wednesday afternoon. Huge crowds usually flock to this spectacle treating it as an event within a larger event with the opportunity of being close up to all the teams and drivers as official photos are taken.

2015 Le Pesage

Following the official test day it emerged that both the #95 and #97 Pro class cars have been given a further adjustment in the cars Balance of Performance (in addition to those received prior to Spa and Le Mans Test Day) that leave both cars significantly lighter to the registered base weight, having a seven litre larger fuel tank but at a cost of smaller air restrictors - all changes relevant to their FIA BoP datum point recorded at the start of the year. There are no significant changes to the AM class cars.

That places the Pro cars back into the 'land of the unknown' for us fans as far as relative performance is concerned. During the two sessions on test day it was clear that all four cars were following a strict test criteria and were not offering any degree of a fastest lap overall or sector, constantly clocking to within a few tenths of a second to each other despite the opposition making discretionary offers of an ultimate lap time.

One concern for the team is that the #97 did suffer from what appeared to be another engine issue having only run a dozen or so laps in the morning session leaving the team having to spend the next two-three hours undertaking a full engine change to be ready and running again at the start of the afternoon session - a great team effort indeed.

Overall performance relative to last year has also moved on abound since last year when both the #97 and #98 held the fastest respective Pro and Am fastest race lap time - both times were however easily improved upon by others during the test.

Drivers within the team who needed to complete their ten 'qualification' laps (Andrew Howard/Liam Griffin/Jonny Adam) all made the grade with time to spare however the #99 Beechdean car did experience some technical issue along the Mulsanne early on in the second session that rendered the car out of the remaining proceedings of the test. Andrew Howard did confirm that it was neither engine or gearbox related without clarifying what the issue actually was.

As with most of the circuits the team visit this year it will be for the first time on Dunlop rubber. Data acquisition and product development will be ongoing through the season and especially so at Le Mans.

Tyres add just another variable into the GTE equation and how the team show their 'working out' will not become visible until the final stages of qualifying if not the second half of the race itself and with the weather being forecasted to be very changeable and wet that again just confuses the issue!

Photo credits - AMR

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