Le Mans’ 24 Hours Karting is a one-of-a-kind event because it is the greatest endurance race for “real” 2-stroke competition karts in the world. This year, the organisation of the “Fête de l’ACO”, with its racing car, motorcycle and superkart competitions taking place on the same weekend on the nearby Bugatti circuit, will enhance the event even more. Yet, the competitors of this 27th edition will also have the great honour to close an important chapter of the Karting history. Indeed, in 2013, the 24 Hours will abandon the famous 1200-meter Alain Prost racetrack to settle a few meters away on a new complex… which should probably soon become a myth too!
Win the 24 Hours Karting is quite a thing! Ask Sébastien Bourdais who won in 1996 while Romain Dumas and Bruno Tréluyer didn’t! As usual, the 24 Hours Karting will welcome the cream of the endurance teams within two categories: The Group 1 gathers the sophisticated karts of the international KF2 category (2-stroke, 125cc engines, 34hp) also in force for the CIK/FIA World Championship. In the Group 2 are the karts which usually race in single-make series. The chassis and tyre rules are the same as in the Group 1, but the engines, mostly Rotax Max, have a little less power (30hp).
Those two categories are often compared to the LMP1 and LMP2 race cars, but their respective laptimes are much closer. The Group 1 karts are about half a second a lap faster, but it is enough to watch for big favourites among them. Take a look at the last editions’ honours lists, or the provisional ranking of the Euro Endurance Series: the Sarthe RTKF Sodikart name recurs like a leitmotiv. The local team cherished by Claude Jamin enters, as in previous years, the kart n°1 currently leading the championship, and the n°72 that won the 24 Hours in 2011. The n°1 gathers an impressive crew with former winners Anthony Abbasse, Charles Fiault and Antoine Poulain joined by Antoine Lepesqueux, 2nd last year. The winners of the 2011 edition Maxime Bidard and Adrien Bloyet will be at the wheel of the 72, as well as William Westerloppe and Sébastien Ranbaut.
However, Sarthe RTKF should beware of the driver deserving the nickname of “Tom Kristensen of Karting” as he will aim at a ninth 24 Hours victory! Wilfried Lecarpentier is back to La Manche Kart mag alongside Rabineau, Granju and Ponsart. The team from Normandy, famous for its n°50, is entering this year a second crew within the premier class under the n°100, composed with four very ambitious young talents.
Among the potential winners, we will keep a close watch on Cotentin Intermarché, author of two victories at Le Mans, as well as Calvados Technikart, second in the Euro Endurance Series and finally, the up-and-coming team Sarthe GTL Energy Corse.
In Group 2, the Technikart organisation acts as a spectre with its several crews as fast as experienced, including Nantes-Technikart that finished 2nd in 2011 and Eure-Technikart, which is leading the class in the Euro Endurance Series. Not to be forgotten are the Brands Hatch Screenvyn tremendous British drivers, the four-time winner Jacques Gautier’s Belinois-Jac Kart team or La Rochelle Malevaut Sport with its Vortex-Rok engine. The La Hague DSM team, which respects a gender balance, is also a candidate for a podium place. The team of La Réunion Island perpetuates a long tradition of competitors coming from the end of the world to compete in the 24 Hours. Eventually, the indomitable Jacky Foulatier will celebrate his 24th entry, joining his journalist colleague François Hurel as co-recordmen. The Managing Editor of Kart mag won the race in 2006, the year of the 2004 kilometres, a distance record that is just waiting to be beaten this year…
On Saturday 29th of September, at 3 p.m., after the eagerly awaited « Kart Legend » show, the 29 competitors will set off for the 24 Hours, more uncertain than ever.