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Vanwall Hypercar suffering loss of power in Le Mans heat

Vanwall’s Le Mans Hypercar has been suffering from a loss of power in the hot conditions seen so far in the build up to this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680 of Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri, Tristan Vautier

The solo Vanwall Vandervell 680 was 15th-fastest of the 16 cars in the Hypercar field for the World Endurance Championship blue riband, ahead of only the Jota Porsche 963 LMDh that failed to set a lap due to hybrid issues.

Tom Dillmann set the car’s best lap of 3m29.745s, which put it some 4.5 seconds slower than the pace-setting Ferrari 499P, and more than a second behind the best of the Glickenhaus 007s, the only other non-hybrid car in the Hypercar field.

Cars in the Hypercar class are limited to a maximum power output of 520kW (697bhp), before Balance of Performance is applied, but this is only applicable in so-called ‘reference’ conditions of 20 degrees Celsius and 1010 millibars of atmospheric pressure.

But a source within Vanwall suggested that its performance deficit to its Hypercar rivals has been exacerbated at Le Mans by the ‘correction factor’ seen in other rounds of the WEC, as the lower night-time temperatures in the 24-hour race are taken into account.

When the correction factor is closer to 1, meaning that the turbo-powered cars that make up the bulk of the Hypercar field run closer to their full potential, it puts the normally-aspirated Gibson-powered Vanwall at a larger disadvantage.

“We are lacking a bit of power and it is costing quite some lap time,” Dillmann told Autosport. “We know that if it’s hot we are limited. Therefore, during the day, it’s tough and during the night it’s better.

“We can improve on the chassis side, but we are in a reasonable window. The car is not easy to drive, but not too bad. But when you lose power like this, it’s costing quite a bit.”

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680 of Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri, Tristan Vautier

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680 of Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri, Tristan Vautier

Photo by: Marc Fleury

Dillmann added that a sensor issue in first qualifying cost the Vanwall further performance, without which he felt it could have qualified even higher.

“I think we had the potential to split the Glickenhauses, I think we could have done a low 3m29s or a high 3m28s, but with the issue we had, we couldn’t,” he said.

The Vanwall squad, previously known as ByKolles, is making its first appearance at Le Mans since 2020, when it last raced the unreliable CLM P1/01 LMP1 car.

Dillmann, who was part of the ByKolles line-ups that failed to finish in 2018, ‘19 and ‘20, believes that he and team-mates Tristan Vautier and Esteban Guerrieri can be cautiously optimistic of seeing the chequered flag on Sunday.

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“We have never done 24 hours in a row, the most we have done was eight hours in Sebring, so we need to do triple that,” he admitted. “We ran solidly during the test day and free practice, although [on Thursday] we limited the mileage as we are on our race engine.

“We are a lot more confident about finishing, because everything we learned with the old car has been applied to this car. It has been quite solid, no big headaches on reliability, just one or two isolated events that we fixed.

“We are humble but we can have more confidence compared to previous years.”

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