Earlier this month, we asked our readers to chime in with questions they had for Porsche engineers about what it’s like to prep for the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race.
We sent a few of these questions along to Porsche engineer Gary Davies. Check out his answers below!
What technology developed in racing most benefits road cars?
“Lots of racing technology transfers to road cars. For example, engine development, especially reducing fuel consumption. Tire technology transfers to road cars, specifically developments in wet tire compound and construction. Advanced materials used in engine construction, chassis construction.”
In today’s racing environment, for a 24 hr race, is it more important to engineer for durability, or outright performance?
“Today’s Le Mans [is] a 24-hour sprint race, especially due to the safety car rule. We need to run at the front so we don’t get separated should the safety car be deployed, therefore outright pace is as critical as reliability.”
On a GTE car, are the brake pads and rotors expected to last the entire 24hrs or are they expected to be changed during the race?
“With careful brake management, the rear brakes can just about last for the 24 hours, however, the fronts require changing. We usually plan to change the front brakes at approximately 7:00 a.m.”
At the end of the event a lot of times, win or lose, you see a lot of emotion from drivers that gets shown on camera. But what is it like in the garage?
“If we have a good result that same high emotion transfers to the garage. It’s such an iconic event, and very tiring for the crew. Some of the emotion is also relief that it’s over.”
There is a rotation of drivers so one races while the other 2 or 3 rest. Is that the same in the garage? Do you have a two technician team for each position?
“Only the drivers get a chance to rest properly. The technicians get chances to rest a little between pit stops, however, the engineers are awake for the complete race. From arriving at the track on Saturday morning, to going to bed Sunday night, the engineers can be awake for 38 hours.”
Assuming you’re not busy stitching the car back together from a practice crash, what are your pre-race preps or habits? An extra nap? Carb load? Yoga?
“I always take a light breakfast, and always avoid coffee. I eat light through the race, and try not to drink the Red Bulls until at least 11:00 a.m. the next day!”
What are some of the chief takeaways the engineers learned from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans?
“We always learn, every event, not just Le Mans. However, we have some setup ideas we would try next year to help make our cars quicker on the straight. We also have to practice our brake changes, as one small mistake can cost us valuable seconds, and those lost seconds can mean we lose a safety car position!”
Visit Porsche Motorsport to learn more about their dedication to high performance and incredible standards, and to see how the breakthroughs they make on an endurance track make their way into your garage.
Giaco Furino is Senior Writer for Studio@Gizmodo.