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WEC tyre warmer ban remains in place for 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours

The ban on tyre warmers in the World Endurance Championship will remain in place for next year’s double-points Le Mans 24 Hours round in June.

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

Porsche

A repeat of this year’s U-turn for Le Mans to lift the new-for-2023 WEC rule prohibiting the pre-heating of tyres before they are put on the car was under discussion, series boss Frederic Lequien revealed late last month.

But it has now been confirmed that it will remain in place with the publication of the supplementary regulations for the French enduro.

The text of the extra regulations for Le Mans, which reflect the unique nature of Le Mans and the long Circuit de la Sarthe, now reads the same as the sporting regulations for the WEC.

They state: “Any process that involves a direct or indirect attempt at modifying the temperature of a tyre (compared to the ambient temperature) is forbidden.”

No comment has been forthcoming from Le Mans organiser the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, which also runs the WEC together with the FIA.

But it confirmed that the rule is now set in stone for its big race on 15/16 June when contacted by Autosport.

The rule proved contentious from its introduction at the start of 2023.

It was then brought into focus at the pre-Le Mans WEC round at Spa in April when the absence of tyre heaters was deemed to be a contributing factor in series of accidents in cool ambient conditions over the course of the event.

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963:  Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

Photo by: Porsche Motorsport

#5 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Michael Christensen, Frederic Makowiecki

The ACO statement in late May announcing the volte face for Le Mans said that the lifting of the ban on a one-off basis would give “tyre manufacturers, teams and drivers valuable time to develop better understanding of how to bring cold tyres up to temperature ahead of the remainder of the 2023 WEC season”.

Lequien said in November: “Le Mans is very specific because of the differentials in temperature [between day and night], also the different categories and also the differences in driver skill,” he said.

“When you exit the pitlane at three in the night and the temperatures are quite low, it is doable, but the drivers need to adapt to this, and for this we need time.”

“For the moment the decision is not taken for Le Mans: we need to discuss again and again to make sure it is doable.”

The decision for the WEC rule to remain in place for its centrepiece race has been met with support from teams.

Many had privately expressed a desire for a consistent rule across the WEC season.

United Autosports boss Richard Dean, whose team will continue its involvement in the WEC in the new LMGT3 class with McLaren after the axing of LMP2 from the full championship, said: “I preferred running tyre warmers, but I understand the reasons for the rule.

“We ran without them at the Daytona 24 Hours a couple of years ago and it was below freezing during the night, so it can be done."

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The publication of the Le Mans supplementary regulations has revealed that revised safety car rules introduced for Le Mans in 2023 have been tweaked for next season.

The field will no longer be ordered into class groupings for restarts under a procedure previously described in the rules as the “drop-back”.

This will reduced the time of a safety-car period before the race goes green; the increased length of a full neutralisation of the 8.47-mile circuit was one of the criticisms of the new rule.

The field will still be neutralised behind three safety cars before it groups up under a single course vehicle once the incident that caused yellow flag period has been dealt with.

Cars in the queue that are ahead of the leader in class in the queue will then be able to pass the safety car and rejoin back of the crocodile, which is known as the pass around.

But the provision for the 'drop back' has now been removed.

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