Guest Column – Henri Pescarolo

Author

admin

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Diesel dismay

Le Mans legend Pescarolo says that the current regulations for the 24 Hours mean that petrol-powered entrants can’t race on equal terms

The beauty of the Le Mans 24 Hours has always been that different kinds of car can compete for victory: open-cockpit cars and coupés, normally-aspirated cars and turbos, V8s and V12s, and now diesels as well as petrol-powered machinery. The most important thing is that they should all have the chance to win, and right now that is not the case. 

My team’s Pescarolo-Judd 01 was two seconds off the pace of the new Peugeot 908 HDi at Monza for the opening round of the Le Mans Series in April. That will mean we will be five seconds behind around the long Le Mans lap, or the same gap as we had to the Audi R10 TDIs in the 24 Hours last June. I believe the difference comes only from engine power. 

Emmanuel Collard was following one of the Peugeots in practice at Monza for three laps and really had a chance to compare the performance of our petrol-powered car with that of a turbodiesel. He reckoned that the 908 was not so good in terms of handling: in medium and high-speed corners, he felt he was a bit quicker, and under braking they were losing a little bit of time compared to us.

Emmanuel said that the big difference was out of the corners at the beginning of each of the straights. The diesel cars really gain from 180-200kph up to 260-270kph, and that can only be down to engine power and torque. The top speeds are actually very similar, partly because the diesels have more drag because of the extra cooling they require.

I believe the maximum power of the turbodiesel V12s on the test bench is around 735-740bhp. I am not sure they are able to use all that power in the race, though maybe they can in qualifying. However, I’m sure that Audi and Peugeot can race with 700bhp, whereas we have a maximum of 640bhp with the new 5.5-litre version of the V10 Judd engine. 

The rules that give the diesels an extra 60 or more horsepower are bad for the future of Le Mans and the series that takes its name around the world. I have a good contact with a manufacturer looking to do the 24 Hours with a petrol-engined car, but they will not make a decision before there is parity with the diesels. Why would they sign up to do Le Mans and spend a lot of money if they are going to be five seconds off the pace? 

We know that Porsche has said that it would not move up to the LMP1 class as long as diesels are so blatantly favoured. And what about Honda? It says it wants to come but hasn’t told us when. The rules are threatening to kill the competition.

Some people say that if a manufacturer came with a big budget and a new petrol-powered LMP1 car it would be much closer to the Audis and the Peugeots than us. I’m not so sure. Perhaps they would not be five seconds behind, but definitely four or three and a half seconds. That means at the end of the race the gap would be a minimum of three laps. 

Look at what Porsche has done for this season. It has spent hundreds of hours in the windtunnel coming up with a heavily-revised version of its LMP2 RS Spyder, but it is only one second a lap faster than the old car. The aerodynamic rules have been very well written, which means that there are no big gains to be made. No one is going to find the five seconds to the turbodiesels in the wind-tunnel. 

I am not criticising the decision to allow diesels to race at Le Mans. On the contrary, I believe the Automobile Club de l’Ouest is absolutely right to encourage diesels, hybrids, bio-fuel cars and other new technologies. I have always said that. But the important thing is to get the equivalency between the cars right. If you favour one type of engine everyone will have to go in that direction. Right now, you have to have a diesel engine if you want to win. I’d love to run a diesel, but unfortunately there isn’t one available to me.

I believe it would be bad for Le Mans if everyone was forced to run diesels, particularly for the public who come to watch the race. Sometimes when I’m on the pitwall and I happen to be looking down at the timing screen when an Audi or a Peugeot goes past, I hardly notice it because it is so quiet. The noise of the cars is an essential element in the excitement of motorsport. I think the spectators would miss the noise of the cars.  

We should not forget that the ACO has changed the rules for this year by reducing the fuel capacity of the diesel cars from 90 to 81 litres. But this only represents a reduction in performance of 0.7 seconds a lap over the 24 hours, which is far from sufficient.

I think it is time all the prototype teams joined me and petitioned the ACO to do something about these iniquities in the rules. At the moment I feel like a lone voice.

Related articles

Related products