Figures: Le Mans 2011
The Figures column brings you the numbers we didn't know a week ago. This week: celebrating this weekend's Le Mans 24-hour race with stats from the Sarthe classic.
The 5410.71km covered by last year's Le Mans winner (the Rockenfeller/Bernhard/Dumas Audi R15) was more than 90 per cent of an entire season of Formula 1 races (5796km in 2011, assuming the Bahrain Grand Prix does not take place).
Porsche has won 16 times at Le Mans, making it by far the most successful constructor. Ferrari and Audi are joint second with nine wins each. While Audi will be aiming for a 10th win this year, neither Ferrari nor Porsche are represented in the LMP1 class.
The Le Mans circuit is 13.6km (8.5 miles) long and largely made up of public roads. The purpose-built Bugatti circuit, constructed in 1966, is 4.2km (2.6 miles) long.
Peugeot driver Anthony Davidson is 24cm (9in) shorter than one of his Peugeot team-mates. To fit the 5ft 5in Davidson into the same Peugeot 908 HDi FAP as 5ft 8in Marc Gene and 6ft 1in Alex Wurz, the two shorter drivers have removable seat inserts which fit inside Wurz's seat, which is fixed into the car. "When I first heard that we were going to be team mates I was quite concerned that it would be impossible to fit the same car as Alex. I was very relieved when I was finally able to make a seat good enough," Davidson says in the video below.
The 2011 race has 56 entries - 17 in the LMP1 class, 11 in LMP2, and 28 split between two LMP GTE classes for race cars based on road-going sports cars.
There are 80,000 members in the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), which runs Le Mans.
More than 2 per cent variation in lap times of the top cars triggers a new rule in the Le Mans Series - allowing the ACO to rebalance the equivalence formulae between petrol, diesel and hybrid cars to maintain close racing.
Only 2 cars have ever won Le Mans more than once. In 1968 Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi won the race in the JW Automotive Ford GT40 chassis 1075, and Jacky Ickx and Jack Oliver took the same car to victory the following year. The feat was repeated in 1996/97 when the Joest TWR Porsche WSC-95 won Le Mans twice in a row, driven in 1996 by Manuel Reuter, Davy Jones and Alex Wurz and in 1997 by Michele Alboreto, Stefan Johansson and Tom Kristensen. Curiously, in neither case did a driver from the first win take part in the second.
Tom Kristensen has won Le Mans 8 times. The Danish driver has an unmatched record: he won the race six times in a row, and has won more Le Mans races than any other driver (Belgian great Jacky Ickx is second in the all-time winners list with six victories). The Audi R18 TDI that Kristensen is sharing with Dindo Capello and Allan McNish was the fastest car in the 2011 Le Mans test.
Just 101 days separate the Aston Martin AMR-One's public debut in March and the start of the Le Mans 24-hours on 11 June.