5 tips to help watch Le Mans as a newbie or an old fan
It's here, finally, so just in case you've forgotten how to watch Le Mans, or you're a first timer, here are a few quick tips...
It may be over 90 days later than originally planned, but the 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans is finally upon us. Thank f***.
If you're like me and Le Mans is the pretty much the defining event of the year then you'll already be stocked up and ready for this weekend's race. If you're a newbie, whose maybe found the time to watch the race as a result of the pandemic-induced delay, welcome to what is the greatest motorsporting spectacle in the world. And if that sounds daunting, don't fear.
Seasoned fan or La Sarthe virgin, there are a few crucial tasks everyone must complete before the race just to make viewing even more pleasurable.
1. Find out where to watch
It may sound silly but Le Mans isn't actually in the same place every year. Obviously it's at the same track every 12 months, but the platforms and channels broadcasting the race might not be the same as the previous event, so don't just assume you can watch it.
And just before any of you make the fatal error, the race start is at 14:30 CEST this year. Half an hour than usual. Already saving your bacon.
Image: Marius Hecker/AdrenalMedia.com / via FIA WEC
A large number of the viewing platforms are behind a paywall, which might sound unfair but all are very reasonably priced. For between 7-15 of your regional currencies you can pay for a weekend pass on the FIA WEC app, or on Eurosport. Underpriced for what is essentially an all-inclusive ticket to the best endurance race out there.
Be careful, however, of regional differences so best to CHECK HERE where you can view the race.
2. Set an alarm clock and plan some sleep
We're all human. It doesn't matter if you've watched every Le Mans since 1975 blah blah blah, at some point the eyelids get just that little bit too heavy to resist.
The best way to deal with this is plan some time away from the race to get a hard earned nap. It doesn't matter whether it's an hour or whether it's six, best to stay alert and awake so you can fully enjoy the race.
Image: FIA WEC
One thing to definitely do is set an alarm for about six hours to go, just so if you do happen to drop off, you'll be woken up to enjoy the last quarter of the race which this year will include the some lovely early morning running due to the different time of year.
3. Keep an eye on a weather forecast
In recent years the Le Mans 24h has been uncharacteristically dry. The famed "It always rains at Le Mans," hasn't exactly rung true, but this year that might change.
Image: Porsche Newsroom
Owing to the Autumn race date, the 2020 race looks set to be affected by some rather heavy precipitation. All the teams have weather radars on the pitwall, so why not keep on top of changing conditions and pull up a forecast app on your phone or laptop and get ahead of the game.
Start taking a look at when the rain might hit, and when things might start drying up again, so you know when the right time is to pit for new tyres, and when it's best to stick it out on the rubber you've got.
4. Pick a team, or four
If you watch Formula 1 or MotoGP there's probably three or four drivers maximum that you keep tabs on during the races. Out of a field of around 20 competitors that's not too much of a task.
At Le Mans, 177 drivers make up the squads of 59 entries. That's right, there are enough drivers to give F1 a completely new grid for nearly nine years. Sometimes, that can be a little difficult to keep on top of.
Image: John Rourke / AdrenalMedia.com / via FIA WEC
Best way to avoid getting lost in the action or lose interest, is to pick a team in each of the four categories and track their progress across the race. Whether it be you like the livery of the car or you recognise a name, backing a squad really helps to keep tabs on the race as a whole, and the battles in each class.
Check out the entry list HERE to start scouting out your teams. Maybe throw something at your screen and see what it lands on (I'm not liable for any damages you cause by doing this).
5. Enjoy the 'boring' bits
Last, but not least, let us address one of the biggest criticisms of endurance racing. Outsiders often speculate "How do you watch them go round in circles for so long?" and "Doesn't it get so boring?"
The reality is, yes, at times the race can peak and trough in terms of action, but what competitive event doesn't?
In times like this, the best thing to do is take into account the story taking place in front of our very eyes. The most advanced protoype machinery on the planet and the quickest GT cars out there are hammering round the fastest and most iconic circuit in history.
Image: Joao Filipe/AdrenalMedia.com / via FIA WEC
When the race lulls, just remember that strapped inside the machine you see on screen is a driver giving absolutely everything, pushing their own physical limits as well as the limits of the car. Some of them professionals, others are amateurs who pay out of their own pocket to take part in the event.
Breathe-hammer the brakes-turn-pin the gas-turn-breathe-watch the mirrors-breathe. It is relentless.
At times other motorsport events can get boring, Le Mans on the other hand never fails to keep you amazed.