The administrative and technical checks - otherwise known at Scrutineering - serve to ensure the cars' compliance with the 24 Hours of Le Mans regulations. This is a ritual viewed very favourably by spectators and sometimes dreaded by competitors.
In the past, the pre-race technical checks were rather basic. It consisted primarily of weighing the cars, but today things are quite different: the 24 Hours of Le Mans cars are scrutinised down to the smallest detail before the race, and sometimes literally taken apart after the competition! There are two technical checks: the first before Test Day, the second before the race itself. This year, the administrative and technical checks will take place Sunday, June 12th and Monday, June 13th at the Place de la République in downtown Le Mans.
Hours for each car can be found here.
The technical checks will happen in four stages as explained below by Alain Tannier. The Chief Pit Marshal for the FIA WEC and an ACO volunteer for nearly 40 years, this former insurance company employee serves as secretary during this critical pre-race stage. At the end of the checks, Alain hands to team managers a document giving them the green light to participate in the 24 Hours, or requesting they proceed with modifications to their car, otherwise taking the start will be prohibited. Friendly but firm, that's Alain Tannier, nicknamed the Sheriff by Henri Pescarolo...a name which has stayed with him!
The first check post deals with the weight of the car: for example, a prototype in the LMP1 class cannot be less than 855 kg on the scale. "Its dimensions, body height, all must be compliant with the class regulations. We use lasers so measurements are spot-on! If a spoiler is too long, by even a half centimeter, it must be adjusted," indicates Alain Tannier.
Then the car is directed to a second post where it is placed on a bridge so as to examine the underbody: the bottom must be flat, the measurements accurate, it must be in compliance with standards. And for prototypes, the width as well as the shape must be compliant.
The third check post deals with exterior safety, such as the racing numbers which must be backlit and the car's headlights. For example, the headlights must be compliant with standards. A team cannot modify them, they must remain compliant with standardized specs. "We also verify all the interior safety measures of the car: the extinguisher, the seats, the mounted cameras," explains Tannier.
Lastly, the fourth check post covers timekeeping and digital communications between the car and the Race Direction. The drivers must be able to receive official information such as announcements about race neutralizations, details Tannier: "The race direction also receives in real time information about the car's position on the circuit , the fuel consumption of the LP M1s and the speed of the cars at all times especially during neutralizations. If the temperature in the cockpit is too high, the race director is able to stop a competitor in order to protect the health of the driver. Also received is other information about the turbo and tyre pressure, for example."
Going through Scrutineering takes between 45 and 60 minutes per car. In addition to the dozen or so scrutineers, representatives of the Fédération Internationale Automobile (FIA) and the ACO are present.
Regarding the engines, all technical features must be advised in advance by the teams, and as for all other aspects of the car, "anything that is not specifically authorised by the regulations is prohibited,"confirms Tannier.
Engines and gearboxes can be taken apart after the race to confirm their compliance. The cars claiming a podium finish in each class are fully and systematically checked. "You think the car that crosses the finish line in the lead after 24 hours of racing is the winner, but actually it isn't until the next day, or the day after. Only after the technical checks are we really sure of the identity of the winner!" smiles the Sheriff of Le Mans.
Pictures from Vickie Miller - Cheers!!!