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Le Mans 24 Hours: Davidson blasts Le Mans qualifying ‘dangerous and hollow’

Anthony Davidson says every year he competes at Le Mans 24 Hours he has the same complaint about qualifying which doesn't get addressed.
Anthony Davidson says every year he competes at Le Mans 24 Hours he has the same complaint about qualifying which doesn't get addressed by race organisers.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver returns for his ninth Le Mans 24 Hours and has had the same frustration each year about the brash qualifying format which he feels is unfair on drivers and fans.

Le Mans has three two-hour qualifying sessions – one during the day and two at night – in which aside from organising the starting grid and ensuring new drivers run a mandatory number of practice laps in day and night conditions, teams are largely left free to run whatever programme they choose.

The British driver says with a mixture of teams adjusting race set-up, running simulation stints or going for outright qualifying laps it causes havoc with traffic running at different speeds.

With the equal-largest Le Mans grid in history with 60 entries the congestion is maximised which Davidson blasts as a danger to competitors and an injustice to fans.

“I absolutely detest the way qualifying is run for Le Mans,” Davidson said. “I think it is unfair on the drivers, on the fans and the media. It should be all about the lap time and we are robbed of the chance to do it as a driver, see it as a fan and to report on it in the media.

“It is the same story every year. It should be a great fight to see who really has the fastest car but it is a competition of who can get the clearest lap, not the fastest.

“In this techie age people want black and white facts. The only fact we have is every car couldn't maximise its potential.

“On top of everything it is also bloody dangerous. You've got cars which have a massive discrepancy in terms of outright speed but then you've got the selfishness that has to kick in for qualifying. Someone one day is going to have a massive crash in qualifying.”

Davidson feels a simple alternative could be devised by race organisers ACO and teams – using the World Endurance Championship example of splitting LMP1 and LMP2 away from GTE-Pro and GTE-Am for qualifying – but does concede regardless of qualifying outcomes it rarely has a direct effect on the outcome of the prestigious endurance event.

“I've been championing it for ages to change it but nobody listens,” he said. “It frustrates but I know for a 24-hour race it doesn't matter but people want to know who has the fastest car. It is hollow and pointless.”
by Haydn Cobb



Related Pictures

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Anthony Davidson - Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid
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Sasha Alexandrovich

June 17, 2016 7:26 AM

@nealio but it isn't fun to watch and not fun to drive. Simple solution might be to start qualifying half an hour earlier for everything but LMP classes and use the last half hour exlusively for LMP qualifying. Everyone should be able to do 2 runs, they could start the outlap the moment all the GT classes are on their inlap.

paso996

June 17, 2016 2:40 PM

Qualifying should be broken into classes and not have every class on the track at one time. One qualifying period to whittle down the slower cars. Qualifying in MotoGP is a two stage process. First 10 positions come from practice times. 11 through the rest of the field qualify together as they are slower. Two fastest times go into qualifying 2 where the top speeds qualify together giving them a better chance to do a fast lap. Do not use qualifying as practice. Do it during the day when people can see what is going on. Remember, the fans come to see racing and they pay the bills! Give them something worth watching.



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