When teams head to Circuit de la Sarthe in June for the 82nd annual 24 Hours of Le Mans, they’ll be greeted by a number of safety improvements to the legendary French circuit.
Most notably, changes have been made to the Tetre Rouge corner, which claimed the life of Allan Simonsen in last year’s race.
A new metal guardrail has been installed on the exit of the high-speed corner, while two rows of tires will be added in front of the guardrail. Simonsen’s Aston Martin had made heavy impact on the barriers, which were not covered in tires, and is believed to have bent the guardrail around a tree.
No changes, however, are expected to be made to the grove of 100-plus-year-old trees on the entry of the Mulsanne Straight, which is the property of the local government.
Other improvements include a new gravel trap runoff area at the Corvette corner, along with the installation of two rows of tire barriers at the Corvette and Porsche corners and also in the two chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight.
Both the pit straight and the “Virage de la Chapelle,” the link between the Bugatti Circuit and the 24-hour layout, has been resurfaced, while there will be improved lighting at the entry of the Porsche and Ford corners.
Additionally, the hard shoulders at both the Ford Corner and Forest Esses will be stabilized, while a new set of curbing will be installed at Forest Esses.
Despite the modifications to the circuit, the track length remains unchanged at 8.46 miles.
The circuit improvements come in the wake of the ACO’s previously announced new “Slow Zone” safety car procedure, on-board marshaling system and a half-day simulation training course, mandatory for any rookie driver or those who have not raced at Le Mans for the past three years.