In November 2014, the Syndicat Mixte des 24 Heures du Mans, the public organisation in charge of managing large investments for the Circuit de la Sarthe, announced plans for construction work in the Porsche curves. Following that announcement, a broader gravel trap was put in place on the first corner while the double-left corner section received abrasive stripes of bitumen.
This autumn, SAFER Barriers, which are commonly used in the United States, will also be installed in this area, and there will be significant construction work on the final right-hand corner of the Porsche curves, where Marc Gené’s 2008 Peugeot 908 (video below) and Loic Duval’s 2014 Audi R18 experienced terrible shunts.
This section of the track is currently amongst the most dangerous on the Circuit de la Sarthe, as driving errors often result in contact with concrete walls. The ACO and the Syndicat Mixte have decided to remedy this situation by creating a new gravel trap on the outside of the corner. It will replace what is currently a field covered in trees through which runs a stream. Protective walls will be removed over a distance of approximately 150 meters, allowing cars to go off-track in safer conditions. Due to the challenges posed by the stream, construction work will last up to five months and begin in mid-October 2015.
Another project on the Arnage corner will start around the same time. Here, construction work will turn a section of approximately 200 meters in length extending from the exit of the left-hand Indianapolis corner to the exit of the right-hand Arnage corner into a part of the track forbidden to public road cars (traffic will be rerouted from the Indianapolis curve towards the town of Arnage via a brand new road). Safety will be reinforced there with the introduction of additional protective fences and the extension of the Arnage corner gravel trap. Fans will still be allowed to enjoy this spot during the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The construction work will be completed by the end of March 2016.
Another significant project involving the construction of four new pits should start before the end of 2015 or early 2016. Details surrounding these works will be released at a later date.
Mat Fernandez (@matlemans)