This quick, tricky and flowing section of the track is arguably the toughest for both man and machine. The long first right-hander is taken at frightening speed, with the accelerator pedal remaining flat to the floor through the following double left.
The final right-hander requires a small lift in LMP1 cars before drivers hit the gas once again. The speeds of the prototypes through this part of the Circuit de la Sarthe is truly staggering and watching onboards as racers tackle the sweeping section is truly breathtaking. It requires bravery, confidence and trust to really keep the speeds up through the Porsche Curves.
Another one of the Circuit de la Sarthe’s most famous corners, Tertre Rouge, is quick and crucial for the run onto the first stretch of the Mulsanne straight. It was recently updated to improve safety following the traffic death of Allan Simonsen in 2013.
Drivers are hard on the accelerator approaching the corner, with prototype racers lifting off, going down to fourth or third gear (depending on the machine) and hitting the brakes slightly to tackle the mid-speed right-hand turn. Using just the right amount of kerb both on the apex and exit makes a huge difference to carry speed through and onto the following straight.
The tricky hairpin follows a long stretch of straight, with LMP1 cars approaching it at over 200mph. The right-hand kink on the entry makes matters even trickier, as drivers hit the brakes and prepare for the tight second-gear hairpin. Mulsanne is a hugely important corner, both in terms of the overtaking opportunity it presents and the exit, which leads onto another long flat-out blast.
Specifically the third corner in the complex, which is a challenging, slightly banked and tightening left-hander. One of the toughest parts of this section is the fact it is quite bumpy and this can unsettle the car.
Taken in either third or fourth gear depending on the racing beast and class, this part of the Esses requires drivers to lift off slightly and lightly tap the brakes to bring the speed down. It’s swiftly followed by a quick right-hander so having a wide entry is important to straighten the car up for the next section. It is definitely one of the more underrated corners at the Le Mans track.
Like Mulsanne, this corner has a really tricky entry and is approached at staggering speeds. The braking power and strength of the cars are really put through their paces here. Plus, if a pass is made at this point on the circuit, it is almost certainly going to be one of the bravest and best overtakes of the race.
The right-hand kink on the corner entry is taken at high speed, with drivers lifting and starting to apply the brakes. The approach is bumpy and the length of the flat-out stretch means keeping concentration and focus is vital to tackle the corner. Drivers can’t let their minds wander.
The fast change of direction on the entry to Indianapolis is just one of the challenging characteristics. Drivers need to quickly position their cars as far right as possible for the slow left-hand, almost 90-degree corner, before scrubbing off speed and bringing the car down to second gear. From over 200mph, the corner is tackled at around 70mph. Drivers apply the throttle early in the corner to maximise speed on the exit, using some but not too much of the exit kerb.
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