Audi is back and looking strong to add another title in the LMP1 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Whether the mighty Audi team dominates the premier class once again or not, the endurance race features a lot for racing fans to sink their teeth into.
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the grand race. The occasion is being extravagantly marked by a Louis Vitton-crafted trophy case, and not quite as extravagantly marked by a small eight-car field in the LMP1, according to SPEED's John Dagys.
Take a look at the coverage details and some of the vitals for this event, and below I'll offer up three racing teams worth keeping an eye on.
Start Time: Saturday, June 22, at 9 a.m. ET
TV Coverage: SPEED will bring coverage of this event, which begins on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET, 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET and 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 a.m. ET.
Live Stream: SPEED.com on Saturday 2-4 p.m. ET and 7-7:30 p.m. ET
Entry List: View the entire entry list on the event's official website.
Schedule of Events
*All times ET; schedule via SPEED.com.
Sunday, June 16
8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.—Administrative Checks and Scrutineering (Place de la Republique)
Monday, June 17
4 to 11: 30 a.m.—Administrative Checks and Scrutineering (Place de la Republique)
Tuesday, June 18
11 a.m.—Drivers' Autograph Session (Pit Lane)
Wednesday, June 19
On-Track Activity: Practice: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Qualifying 7:10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursday, June 20
ACO Press Conference at 5 a.m.
On-Track Activity: Qualifying 2: 1-3 p.m., Qualifying 3: 4-8 p.m.
Friday, June 21
2 a.m. to 12 p.m.—Fan Pit Walk (Pit Lane)
11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.—Drivers' Parade (City Center)
Saturday, June 22
On-Track Activity: Warmup: 3-3:45 a.m., Race: 9 a.m.
Sunday, June 23
On-Track Activity: Race Finish: 9 a.m.
Teams to Watch
Audi Sport Team Joest
Audi has won at Le Mans 11 of the last 13 years, and it will likely add to that impressive total this year. Featuring three identical diesel-powered R18 e-tron quattro hybrids.
As SPEED's John Dagys notes, Audi posted the three fastest times during testing with the fastest coming from a driving group headed by eight-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen.
While that group posted the fastest time and Kristensen is the all-time leader in Le Mans victories, it is the group of Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler that is widely considered the favorites.
The defending WEC champions will try to grab their third consecutive win at Le Mans.
If Audi is upset, it will almost certainly come as a result of this team stepping up. Toyota has been rapidly closing the gap on Audi, and Toyota ended the WEC last year as the dominant team.
This team will be running the Toyota TS030 Hybrid, which was debuted at this race last year, but as Dagys noted, the gas-powered hybrids added three liters of fuel capacity.
Could this be enough to push Toyota past Audi? It certainly is not out of the question—even though Audi has been faster in testing.
The driver lineup is also the same as last year. This racing team features two groups. The first features Nicolas Lapierre, Alex Wurz and Kaz Nakajima and the other boasts of Anthony Davidson, Stephane Sarrazin and Sebastien Buemi.
Dempsey/Del Piero Racing
Grey's Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey is back for his second run at Le Mans.
In 2009, as noted by the LA Times' Jim Peltz, he drove an AF Corse Ferrari to a ninth-place finish in the GT2 class.
This year he'll be behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR in the GTE Am division. Joining him behind the wheel are co-drivers Joe Foster and Patrick Long.
Long brings some needed experience to this all American group. He is a two-time Le Mans class winner and is the only American Porsche factory driver.
Make no mistakes about it: This group isn't out just for the experience; it aims to win.