This Week in WEC: Pre Le Mans Edition


June 07, 2022

by Connor Kay

Le Mans week is undoubtedly the hot ticket for announcing endurance racing news. At no other point of the year is the media’s gaze so squarely fixated on sportscar racing and the big manufacturers are making sure not to miss out. With the sheer volume of this new news, and much more anticipated to be on the way, we thought we would take this time to bring you a special mid-week edition of ‘This week in WEC’, pre Le Mans edition.

 

Acura Tease 2023 LMDh

Acura released the first images of their ARX-06 LMDh prototype on Friday, presenting the car wrapped in a dazzle camouflage livery against a similar background to hide the finer details. Despite the deception attempts, Acura’s challenger clearly displays its family heritage, sharing an overall appearance with its forbearing DPI equivalent including the distinctive kite-like high wing on the car’s noise.

The car will utilise a chassis from French supplier ORECA with the aerodynamics, styling and engine being developed in-house. While there are no current plans to bring the new car to the WEC or Le Mans, both of Acura’s partnership teams, Wayne Taylor Racing and Meyer Shank Racing have expressed an interest in competing in the French classic, although this is expected to have to wait until at least 2024.

 

#7 Toyota Top Le Mans Test Day Times

Running at the Circuit de la Sarthe got underway on Sunday for this year’s edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the pre-event test day. The teams completed two four-hour sessions giving them valuable opportunity to set their cars up for the unique challenges of the part ready made circuit, part street track circuit.

The #7 Toyota driven by Jose Maria Lopez bagged the fastest time of the day, courtesy of the only sub 3:30 lap time, late into the afternoon session. They led a quartet of alternating Glickenhauses (Glickenhai?) and Toyotas, with the #708 car missing out on the top spot by only two tenths and all four covered by only a second. The final Hypercar challenger of the Alpine floundered in the LMP2 field throughout the day, finishing up 7th overall and some 2.5s off the leading pace, although with the BOP games clearly already in full swing this result can be taken with a large bucketful of salt.

The LMP2 class was topped by the #22 United Autosports entry, with the British team looking strong, finishing the day 1st and 3rd fastest in class. Both the #38 JOTA and the fleet of WRT cars followed close behind setting up what is likely to be a tight struggle throughout the entire week to follow.

The pair of Corvettes sandwiched the while GTE Pro field, with the #64 car narrowly leading the way, while the entire class followed covered by only half a second.

In the GTE Am ranks Ferrari took a 1-2-3 at the top of the class times, with Kessel Racing the fastest of them all. Championship leaders Northwest AMR came next, seven-tenths off the pace with a further pair of Ferrari 488 GTEs run by Iron Lynx and Iron Dames just behind.

 

BMW Unveil LMDh Challanger

Monday saw BMW release the first images of their M Hybrid V8 LMDh which will compete in the IMSA series for BMW North America from 2023. Somewhat unsurprisingly, the car will utilise a V8 powerplant, with the internal combustion engine being developed from an engine that began life in the German marque’s 2010s DTM cars.

The new car will be built around a chassis supplied by Dallara, with the bodywork featuring plenty of styling cues from the manufacturer’s road cars, most noticeably (and quite frankly impossible not to notice) being the massive double kidney grille which fills the majority of the front of the car.

There are currently no plans to bring the car to Europe, with the project coming from BMW North America, although the brand is known to be in discussions with a number of parties interested in running the car in the WEC, chief among them being WRT who are looking for an LMDh program to run after Audi scrapped their project.

Full details can be found at: https://downforceradio.uk/news/bmw-unveil-lmdh-challanger-1274

Lamborghini Announce Partnership With Ligier

After last month’s confirmation of the long-awaited Lamborghini LMDh project, the Italian manufacturer has confirmed it has partnered up with French chassis manufacturer Ligier to supply the chassis and bodywork package for its new challenger, with the engine expected to be an in-house unit derived from one of their road-going powerplants.

 Lamborghini are set to run in both the WEC and IMSA series with customer teams from 2024, with initial reports suggesting the successful Ferrari GTE and GT3 customer team Iron Lynx are looking to be one of the major customers for the new car.

 

With more news expected in the coming days, including a first look at Cadillac’s 2023 LMDh this Thursday, expected updates on next year’s Ferrari LMH, oh, and the running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans itself, it looks like its set to be a very busy week in the world of endurance racing.

Photo Credit: 24 Hours of Le Mans

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