We asked Dunlop Motorsport general Manager Jean-Felix Bazelin to explain just what was involved in planning for the Le Mans 24 Hours …
How many tyres, and of which sort, are required to deal with the demands of Le Mans?
“With LMP2 and GTE Am we bring all three dry specifications plus the intermediate and wet tyre. That’s fixed from the first WEC event of the year.
“With the LMP1 and GTE Pro teams we have more scope, so bring what we feel is most suitable closer to the race.
“By regulation the RFID and barcode data for every tyre must be submitted before scrutineering starts at 9am on Monday 13th June so it’s not possible to make any last-minute changes, but we could introduce new tyres in the final weeks if we wanted to.”
And the famously ‘diverse’ Le Mans weather plays a part too?
“The weather is too unpredictable to govern our plan so we use experience.
“For the event, practice, qualifying, warm-up and the race, our teams can use a maximum of 2608 tyres, but we need to bring far more than that to allow for the different conditions but don’t want to bring too many more than we need or that pushes the costs up.
“Teams only have a certain number of wheel rims so we can be switching between different slick options, intermediates and wets throughout the race for all the teams.
“Last year KCMG won the LMP2 class using just nine sets of tyres and two dry compounds but that’s very unusual. Previously the lowest number of tyres used was 11.
So how many Dunlop tyres does that all add up to?
“For 2016 we will have around 6000 tyres at the track for our 27 cars in the four classes.
“We don’t have a magic formula, just experience of what we have needed in the past.
“Statistically not all the cars will complete the 24 hours and those 24 hours are unlikely to be all very hot or very wet so we use previous years’ usage to calculate our requirements with a safety margin.
“We know that teams are most likely to use medium or medium-plus for the majority of the race and that during the cool of the night they will be likely to use a softer compound, so soft or medium.
“The wets and intermediates can be used any time, but the wets have a very low wear rate in full wet conditions and our intermediate is durable enough to cope with the four-hour maximum that a driver is allowed to do.
“The biggest factor for using more tyres is when the conditions cycle, so evolving between wet and dry repeatedly. That’s why our intermediate tyre is so important because that minimises the number of stops that are required and the number of tyres that a team needs to use out of their allocation.”