Rain, regs, BoP highlight Le Mans Thursday as poles confirmed

Photo: ACO

Rain in most, if not all, of Thursday’s two qualifying sessions for the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans has ensured Wednesday’s qualifying times stood as the pole times for this year’s race.

So that means Neel Jani is on pole overall for a second consecutive season in the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid (LMP1 and overall) with Rene Rast (No. 26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 05 Nissan, LMP2), Dirk Mueller (No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford GT, GTE-Pro) and Rob Bell (No. 61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari F458 Italia, GTE-Am) the other class polesitters.


Full marks on Thursday have to go to the safety car driver, who completed this save, as well as Risi Competizione’s Matteo Malucelli, who saved his No. 82 Ferrari 488 GTE from a serious accident.

With the on-track action relegated to the background, off-track stories highlighted most of Thursday for the race.


From discussions with folks at Le Mans, and from a series of reports out Thursday, the topic of the race going into it is more related to Balance of Performance in GTE-Pro.

Ford was granted a 5 kg minimum weight reduction and Aston Martin a 60 kg minimum weight reduction; meanwhile both Porsche (5 kg) and Ferrari (10 kg) got minimum weight additions. Aston Martin (-0.6mm) and Corvette (-0.5mm) both got air restrictor reductions. There were also changes to maximum fuel volumes and fuel restrictor diameters.

The end result for qualifying was a Ford and Ferrari whitewash, with the new built-to-2016 GTE regulations turbo cars well and truly clear of the normally aspirated 2015 update variants.

You certainly expect newer cars to have advantages, but maybe by several tenths or at most a second, not 3.7 seconds as was the gap between the leading Ford and the first of the Porsches, which were resigned along with Aston Martin and Corvette to the bottom of the barrel.

So what has Thursday brought? Words, lots of them.

Multimatic’s Larry Holt went on record to Motorsport.com vehemently denying the allegations that Ford was sandbagging. He called the allegations “bullshit,” although the word was later edited to a softer landing of “nonsense.” The colorful Canadian has never been one to shy away from colorful language, though, beyond being a wizard of Multimatic’s engineering arm.

Meanwhile DailySportscar had a rather detailed tour through the paddock to gauge its take on BoP – Corvette being the most vocal, Porsche saying it at least ran to target while Ferrari had Rick Mayer of Risi as a voice noting that BoP is almost a necessary evil.

Respective pieces from both Sportscar365 and RACER got the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s Vincent Beaumesnil on record as saying that BoP changes could still be possible. An analysis of the regulations confirms that’s accurate, although whether the ACO in fact acts on it based on Wednesday’s controversial qualifying remains to be seen.

Bottom line though: the race’s best scripts are unwritten rather than planned in advance, and for any one or two manufacturers – regardless of who they are – to have this gaping an advantage on numbers goes entirely against the spirit of competition and the baseline of BoP. It’s an unfortunate talking point.


The headlining items out of the annual Automobile Club de l’Ouest press conference, held Thursday, were future LMP1 regulations for 2018 for privateers (DRS looks set to enter the paddock for privateers), the reveal of the new Gibson 2017 LMP2 engine (a new 4.2-liter V8 engine, supplying all LMP2 teams in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), including the Le Mans 24 Hours, as well as the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) and the Asian Le Mans Series (from 2019 onwards)) and, without saying as much, a strong indication that IMSA’s new Daytona Prototype international – or DPi – won’t be welcomed at Le Mans next year. More here, again, from Sportscar365 and RACER.

My colleague Luke Smith will have more on all of this tomorrow. Thursday is always the day at Le Mans when politics generally seems to take precedence.

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”