Bob McMurray: Back to the the important tasks
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France could be seen as the cradle of motor racing with the first road race between Paris and Rouen for “horseless carriages”.
Last weekend the 24 Heures du Mans, the oldest endurance race still held, was won by Toyota. And it was no less of a race of attrition than the first event in 1923.
This weekend the French Grand Prix, the event that gave the grand prix name to the world in 1906, returns to the Paul Ricard circuit at Le Castellet in the south of France.
Ferrari must find a way to win a race this season, and not search for yet another way to lose.
The Canadian event, and the Sebastian Vettel post race histrionics, must be pushed into the past and the team needs to just get on with the job.
Le Mans 2019 was the last event run under the current World Endurance Championship rules for LMP1 cars.
Perhaps the most technologically advanced cars to race, these hybrid cars simply became far too expensive forcing even the major manufacturers to withdraw from the class.
The intent of the event was initially more as a proving ground than a pure race emphasising reliability and innovation, as well as speed. But the cost of that innovation has seen the top class dwindle in numbers of entrants and become less relevant.
The FIA in conjunction with event’s governing body, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) announced new regulations that will put the emphasis “back to the future” by making “hypercars” the top class of racing.
Hypercars are the very top class of “supercars”. They are not exactly cheap to go racing with but they are at least recognisable as road cars, if only on posters in children’s bedroom. The concept harks back to the days when the privateers and the manufacturers could race together on a more even playing field with manageable (in world racing terms) budgets.
As might be expected with the FIA and the Le Mans authorities involved, the rules will almost certainly be detailed and complicated. But they will make provision for both hybrid and non hybrid cars and there will be tight budget controls to ensure costs are contained.
Full regulations have yet to be announced but there will be two classes of these new cars.
One will be for a prototype in the style of a hypercar, and the other a racing machine based on a road-going hypercar with a minimum of 20 road models produced over two years.
The new regulations open the door for the multiple makers of these high-end road car. Already Aston Martin with its Valkyrie and Toyota with the impending GR Super Sport, have said they will throw their respective hats in the ring. And McLaren, with a new super / hypercar seemingly being announced every week, would surely go back to the scene of the win for the marque in 1995.
Racing super-powerful cars recognisable as those seen on the roads to improve the breed is what the Le Mans 24 hour race is all about.
This move by the FIA and ACO is surely one that will not only improve the cars but the event, too.
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