If you’re a world-class racing fan, there was only one race you should’ve beeen watching this weekend; the 24 Hours of Le Mans. It is for many the pinnacle of automotive competition, pitting man and machine against each other as the absolute limits of both are tested.
Not the kind of place one expects to see say, a hybrid car. And yet, for the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Automobile Club de L’Ouest (ACO), the governing body of the race, has approved hybrid-powered cars. So should we expect to see a field of Toyota Prius’s making the 24 hour march?
No. No Prius in Le Mans, at least not in the near future. But many exotic automakers, from Porsche to Ferrari, are experimenting with hybrid drive systems in their production cars. Porsche has even gone so far as to dangle a kinetic energy recovery hybrid racer in front of our eyes, all the while stating it isn’t intended for production.
Some race series, like American Le Mans, have already allowed hybrid to participate (though there are none in this season’s races). The ACO has been watching the ALMS, and has decided they too will allow hybrid vehicles to participate. The vehicles will be allowed to store a maximum of 500 joules of energy connected to two wheels. This means such a vehicle could store that energy to use for a burst of speed to pass an opponent…and this could prove to be a huge advantage for many teams.
This year it was all about the diesels, with the Audi team taking home the 1-2-3 finish, beating out favorite Peugeot. But next year could be the reckoning for the solo-engined vehicles. Beware, the hybrids cometh…
Source: AutoBlogGreen | Image: Porsche