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Races
06/07/2016

The guardian angels of Le Mans

Unlike the drivers, there are no replacements for car engineers, who have to work the full 24 hours

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is universally known as the most difficult race in the world. A full day, from 3pm on the Saturday to 3pm on the Sunday, spent driving non-stop on the famously demanding Circuit de la Sarthe. Drivers enter the race as part of a trio, so that each member of the team can get at least a few hours of sleep.

 

Each competitor drives a total of between six and nine hours in 60-minute stints, though they often double their shift and only stop after the first hour to refuel and change tyres, if needed, without switching drivers. However, the 24 Hours of Le Mans does mean a full day's work without a break for some people: various technicians, strategists, and, above all, the car engineers. Each vehicle has an engineer who constantly checks on parameters and remains in constant contact with the drivers via radio.

 

We take a look at this vital role with the help of the AF Corse team and Ferrari’s official GT drivers: Davide Rigon, Sam Bird, Andrea Bertolini, James Calado and Gianmaria “Gimmi” Bruni.

 

In the video, Rigon invites us to experience the race with our headphones on and a radio connection with the team and the car, the 488 GTE number 71. His car engineer, Brice Laforge, and the engineer for car 51, Luca Massé, remained connected throughout the race, motivating the team, warning them of dangers and encouraging them through the most difficult moments.

The radio creates a strong bond between the engineer and the drivers: a relationship built on trust. Keeping in perfect synch with the pits helps the drivers remain calm and focused while driving, a crucial factor which can make all the difference and help win the race.