AD Group Le Mans News 2009
Le Mans Test Day Cancelled.
Issued December 1st 2008
Cancels Le Mans Test Day
With rumours circulating over the past few days concerning
the possible future of the official Le Mans Test Day, originally
scheduled for 31st May, it came as no great surprise when
the ACO released official confirmation today, 1st December,
that the test has been cancelled.
official communiqué is as follows:
Automobile Club de l’Ouest always listens attentively
to the manufacturers’ needs, and so in agreement
with teams that may be invited to the 2009 Le Mans 24
Hours, the Club, remaining faithful to its firmly-held
objective to reduce costs, has taken the decision to cancel
the test day scheduled for 31st May 2009, and to rethink
the format of the Le Mans Series events.
The Le Mans 24-Hours race has always been in tune with
the times and when motor racing shows signs of disquiet
linked to the economic situation, it is the ACO’s
duty to take preventive measures while respecting the
in keeping with the cost reductions already begun with
the 2009 ACO regulations, and the new orientations in
2011, the test day originally scheduled for 31st May 2009
has been cancelled.
the other hand, all the entrants invited by the ACO will
have to take part in free practice on Wednesday before
Thursday’s qualifying session on 11th June to be
allowed to start on Saturday 13th June at 15h00. This
decision represents considerable savings for all the entrants,
who must be ready at the circuit on Monday 8th June (scrutineering).
the same train of thought the 2009 Le Mans Series races
will be a day shorter so the entrants will be at the circuit
3 days instead of 4, scrutineering included. These measures
will favour the participation of entrants in the Le Mans
Series and American Le Mans Series events from the start
of the season to prepare for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
This decision is nothing exceptional in the history of
the Le Mans 24 Hours as the test day has not always been
on the ACO calendar. The test day before the race week
itself was held for the first time in 1959 as preliminary
practice and continued until 1974. It was suspended because
of the first petrol crisis. It was reinstated for 1986
and 1987, and then cancelled again before being part of
the event in 1993. According to the years this session
took place in March, April or May and since 2005 in June.
It lasted one two or three days and was called practice
day, preliminary practice, pre-qualifying and test day
the whole, this decision is likely to be welcomed by most
people. Although the test is extremely valuable to teams
preparing their cars for the 24 Hours, and especially to
those introducing new cars or drivers to the event, there
is no doubt that it has considerable cost implications.
is only relatively recently that the test was moved to the
weekend preceding the start of the Le Mans week. For many
teams this meant setting up at the circuit, and staying
there, for nearly three full weeks, with all the associated
costs this entailed. Not only did team personnel have to
be accommodated, but there were also charges levied by the
ACO on those who maintained a presence in the pit complex
during the week between the test and the start of scrutineering.
It was either that, or undertake an equally costly return
to base, wherever that might be.
cancellation of the test poses several fresh questions,
some of which will, hopefully, be addressed by the introduction
of the extra free practice session on the Wednesday, prior
to Thursday qualifying. Rookie drivers will need to gain
as much track-time as possible, to familiarise themselves
with one of the world's most demanding circuits. Teams with
new cars will also need that extra time to dial their cars
into a track that includes some of the fastest sections
in motor racing, as well as others which demand high downforce
and maximum grip. It is always a challenge, but this will
compress the timescale required to achieve the perfect compromise
into just a few hours.
not crystal clear in the press release, it is assumed that
what was once the Wednesday evening qualifying session is
now re-classified as Free Practice, although how long this
period is to be is not explained. Ideally, in order to compensate
for the loss of the Test Day, this allocation needs to be
extended from the usual four hours (7pm-9pm and 10pm-12am
) to a longer period, perhaps starting in the early afternoon.
the detail, the net result appears to be that Thursday's
pair of two-hour sessions will become the only ones devoted
to qualifying, thereby compressing the excitement into one
evening, and simultaneously removing the weather wild-card
which has sometimes been a significant factor in deciding
pole for the 24 Hours.
hopes that those teams who have already booked their accommodation
for the test weekend and intervening weeks can get a refund
on their hotel reservations.
details can be found on the ACO