Le Mans 2012 Speculation Begins…

I know it’s early but with so much speculation about 2012 Le Mans I thought I would throw my hat into the ring with some of my own thoughts on who is going to be doing what in which machines.

Audi

As winners of last year, and the year before, it is only right and proper that we start with these guys. So far Audi have kept quiet about any plans for 2012 but personally I do not think that there are going to be any major changes to the R18 on the horizon. With the announcement that Porsche are going to return to Le Mans in 2014 it would be safe to assume that fellow VAG manufacture Audi will step down (the question of whether Porsche will run a diesel is for another post) after 2013 so a new car or power plant seems unlikely.

Peugeot

The main question for Purgeot is whether they are going to run a hybrid this year. Peugeot have already tested their 908 HYbrid4 (only the rear axle is hybrid powered) and have been making all the right noises, but then they would wouldn’t they.

There are certainly clear marketing advantages for doing so but with such fierce competition coming from Audi will they take the risk this year?

Their decision to wait may also be wanting to wait for the 2012 rules confirmation due out this month, although a French car, with a French team, in a French race might not need to worry as others might.

UPDATE 18/1/12

Today Peugeot have pulled out of endurance racing effective immediately. “This decision has been taken in the context of a difficult economic environment in Europe,” the Peugeot brand said in a statement on Wednesday. “Peugeot has chosen to concentrate resources on its sales performance in 2012.”

This is bad news for spectators and Audi as Audi will now run away with it this year. It is also bad news for the new WEC (World Endurance Championship), with Toyota only in their first year and Porsche not joining in until 2014 it would seem that the result will be quite predictable.

However in an attempt to find the silver lining this may mean that the private teams such as Strakka will have a chance of a podium. It may also mean that the petrol teams will now have to be given more leeway in the rules in an attempt to make them more competitive.

Toyota

Toyota has confirmed that they will be joining the fray in their all new petrol/hybrid LMP1 car. They have confirmed that the car will be driven by former F1 driver and 2 times Le Mans winner Alex Wertz, Former F1 (Williams-Toyota) driver Kazuki Nakajima and Nicolas Lapierre, a Team Oreca driver.

The car is going to be built and developed by the people at TMG. Based in Germany they previously built Toyota’s F1 cars. However the team will be run by the French squad Team Oreca giving Toyota the invaluable experience of a Le Mans winning team.

By running a hybrid engine Toyota are building upon their reputation for driving forward greener technologies in the automotive industry but who are they going to be targeting for this new marketing platform? Surely not your average Prius, Highlander or Sienna driver. If they were going for someone that would buy a Lexus then they would use that brand. So does this mean that Toyota are planning more performance cars based on their hybrid technology?

Whichever direction they choose to go I think we can all agree that it’s great to see another manufacturer enter Le Mans.

UPDATE 18/1/12

It would seem that Toyota have decided that they will run as Toyota. Follow this link to see a couple of photos of the new car, anyone think it looks like the 908??

Aston Martin

Sadly the same can not be said for Aston Martin who look set to abandon LMP1 and return instead to the GTE class. After the disaster called AMR1 I don’t think this is a surprise to anyone. What remains to be seen though are they going to continue using the Vantage GT2 car (first full season ALMS in 2008) or have they also got something in the pipeline?

Dyson Racing

This is the car that is cousing the most excitement in my household (granted the cat may not be the worlds foremost expert in racing but still…) Inhabiting the number 56 garage this year they will be running the new delta wing prototype. This car looks crazy and when you read the specs it’s even more so. The tub is from the AMR1 (a gamble in itself), the rubber is French and although the engine supplier has yet to be announced the Dyson has said that they want it to be an American engine.

Drayson Racing

Ever the self-publicist Lord Drayson is doing new Road to Le Mans program with Tiff, but so far there has been little talk of whether they will be using the same car as last year or will it be some form of hybrd to fit in with his ‘greenness’.

Drayson Racing

Drayson Racing rounding Luffield

Gulf Racing

This team are only allowed to be at Le Man if they run a DBR9 and although it’s always good to see, and hear, a DBR9 in the mix it does mean that they are not allowed to bring their new toys (Mclarens MPC-12C) to the party. Now I know they are only GT3 spec at the moment but surely a GT2 is just around the corner….

Follow this link for a full list of provisional Le Mans Prototype entries.

This blog will be added to over time so make sure you come back to check on further updates and of course if you know anything else and want to share then please leave a comment.

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