A British car could win this yearâ€™s 24 Hours
When the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours kicks off this summer there may well be four English cars on the grid. The cars will be Ginetta G60s, and if testing goes well then Ginettaâ€™s boss, Lawrence Tomlinson, reckons they stand â€œa pretty good chanceâ€ of taking outright victory. That would be the first British car to win Le Mans since Bentleyâ€™s victory in 2003.
Thatâ€™s brave talk, but two G60s have already been bought by Manor, the Banbury based team, for this yearâ€™s World Endurance Championship, which includes Le Mans. Another team is in discussion for another pair of cars. Theyâ€™ll all be private teams as Ginetta isnâ€™t fielding a works team, but it is going to give them the weapons to fight with.
The G60 is an all-new non-hybrid LMP1 competitor, designed and built at the Leeds factory where the existing cars are built. They started with a blank sheet of paper. The engine is a Mecachrome V6 which has been specially developed from the FP2 level so that it has more ability to turn up the boost when the driver demands. Power will be around 700bhp.
The company has gone to great lengths to ensure it only uses the best carbonfibre, a material it reminds us varies in quality and hence weight. According to Tomlinson â€œour panels are so light theyâ€™re almost anti-gravityâ€.
Attention to detail is evident throughout, as well as some smart thinking based on experience. For example thereâ€™s an unusually accurate fuel gauge so the team know precisely how much they have, which can make the difference of getting in an extra lap or not at a critical time.
Ginetta will be taking on the might of companies like Toyota even if Porsche has withdrawn for this year. But the English company reckons Toyota was running its hybrid pretty much at the outer limits of its technology. And that also meant that reliability among the front runners was poor â€“ giving Ginetta yet more of a chance.
â€œWe believe our carâ€™s on the pace,â€ says Tomlinson. â€œAll our numbers indicate it has the speed we need. Last year, given decent reliability, we could have run our car five seconds a lap slower than its potential and won the race.â€
The World Endurance Championship super series has eight races, starting in Spa in May before arriving in June six weeks later at Le Mans. How will the plucky David get on against the established Goliaths? Tomlinson is upbeat. â€œWe have the technical ability and weâ€™ve done the necessary planning. What we now need is reliability â€“ and luck.â€