Le MANS, France (June 12th-13th, 2010) – With a record 56 entrants split over 4 classes, the 78th running of the 24 Hours of LeMans classis endurance race produced many surprises and broke a number of records. The event was held on the 12th and 13th of June at Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans, France, and Multimatic was well represented with 10 of the competing cars running Multimatic Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve (DSSV) dampers. In addition, a number of these teams, as well as many of the other competitors have relied on the engineering services of Multimatic, having visited the 4-post rig at MTCE in Thetford, UK, to optimize their suspension set-up.
Over 238,000 spectators witnessed a classic race, with the winners of both Prototype classes beating long standing distance records. For Audi it was not only their ninth overall victory, but yet another clean sweep of the Podium. They even beat the distance record from 1971, with the lead car of Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Bernhard, and Romain Dumas covering over 5410km (3360 miles) in the 24 hours. It was truly a gruelling race, with only 27 of the starters making it to the end. Less than 50%…
LMP2 also saw a distance record exceeded, with the Strakka Racing team’s (photo above) HPD ARX.01 prototype covering over 5000km (3125miles), on their way to both the P2 Class Win and also fifth overall. Strakka were running with the Multimatic DSSV dampers, and had undertaken a development program with Multimatic, including work on the 4-post rig. The team acknowledged that it was these two elements that enabled them to triple stint their Michelin tyres, something the other competitors in the class could not do, and hence contribute both to their victory and race records.
A commendable fifth in Class, and tenth overall went to the LMP2 Zytek of Team Bruichladdich. Again this was another prototype team running DSSV dampers, which they also optimised on the 4-post rig.
Two other Multimatic DSSV runners made it to the flag. In LM GT2 the Ferrari F430 of AF Corse and driven by ex-F1 stars Jean Alesi and Giancarlo Fisichella finished just off the Podium with a forth in Class. They had been running in the top two, until a major accident in the night set them back. The GT2 class was very competitive this year, with the might of Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette and BMW competing. The Risi Competizione Ferrari, running on Multimatic DSSV dampers, had qualified on class pole, but was demoted to the very back of the grid due to an infringement. This made the first couple of hours very exciting, as they raced back through the pack to actually take the class lead within 3 hours (and in fact had pulled a lap lead)! Unfortunately mechanical issues put them out before half distance, thus robbing the team of the opportunity to complete a three-pete of consecutive Le Mans victories.
The other finisher on Multimatic DSSV dampers was the well fancied Highcroft Racing HPD ARX, the sister car to Strakka. The two cars had run neck and neck until Highcroft, on their first visit to Le Mans, ran into mechanical issues that hobbled their chances.
Multimatic DSSV dampers were also used on two other cars which retired early on, when ex F1 and Champ Car champion Nigel Mansell crashed his Zytek LMP1 chassis out of the race in the first 15 minutes, and then the MarcVDS Ford GT LMGT1 chassis had a big ‘off’ that damaged the car beyond repair in the third hour. Even these two teams feared better than the second AF Corse Ferrari GT2, which was comprehensively destroyed during the first practice session on Wednesday evening. The car was withdraw and so never made the race.