Nick Tandy Reveals the Brutal Toll of the Le Mans 24-Hour Race: 'We're Close to Heat Exhaustion'

(mikedabell/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

by Natasha Henry, The Telegraph, June 16, 2017

Nick Tandy has a lot on his mind. If the prospect of spending 24 hours in a car driving at speeds of up to 250mph was not enough, he is also contemplating the sweltering prospect of doing all that in temperatures of 32C in France this weekend. "It gets very tough," he says, with more than a little understatement.

Then again, Tandy is used to such demands. He has already won one Le Mans 24 hour - one of the most iconic events in motor sport - and, as he sits in a Porsche hospitality tent, he lays bare the physical demands of an event which can total 38 hours when preparation time and media commitments are taken into account with the nonchalance of someone describing their weekly shop.

Virtual Event

Pivoting Back to Travel, The Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Edition

2020 put the nuptial plans of thousands upon thousands of couples on hold, but with the promise of widespread vaccine distribution in the near future, it’s time to get back to planning and ensure your clients live out the destination weddings & honeymoons of their dreams. Hear from top suppliers and destinations on wedding venue & ceremony options, romantic destinations & resorts and more when you watch the event on-demand.

“We are regulated by the officials to have a maximum temperature that we can run at, of 32 degrees, although it could well be above that in the race,” Tandy explained. “Then our engineers want to control the air conditioning system, but everything they use to control the atmosphere in the car for the driver takes away from the performance of the car so it’s about finding balance and we are right on the limit of heat exhaustion.

“I know from practice yesterday that you’re taking on more fluids than are actually in the car to drink on an hourly basis. And if you want to do four hours in the car in this temperature, you are definitely going to have to direct more power into the air conditioning into the cockpit.”

Heat is just one of Tandy's headaches. The World Endurance Championship driver, who will race in a Porsche 919 hybrid, is more than aware that he and his team are facing their toughest challenge in recent years.

Toyota Gazoo Racing, a manufacturer that includes former Formula One drivers; Anthony Davidson and Sebastian Buemi, want to take the title from the most successful manufacturers in the sport's history, and the bookmakers are backing them to do so. Porsche, who have won the race a record 18 times since their first entry in 1968, could be lucky to make the podium this time out.

It is a good job, then, that Tandy is able to switch off. The 32-year-old is a fan of calmer sports; most notably darts, golf and snooker. Although he did admit that having two young children meant that he cannot completely step away from energetic activities when he leaves the track.

“To be honest, I feel more sorry for the engineers that control the car because they can't sleep at all," he says. "Yes, it’s difficult for us to drive for three to four hours at a time, but then you get six or eight hours off.

“I think the best preparation is race experience. I know that I need about an hours sleep throughout the race in order to not be tired the next morning while we’re still driving. I think the adrenaline takes over a lot."

He was right to be cautious about the competition with the Toyota car driven by another former F1 veteran, Kamui Kobayashi, taking pole with a time of  3:14.'791.

The Japanese driver will bid to give the manufacturer their first win in the race with Stephane Sarrazin and Briton, Mike Conway. The other Toyota team of Davidson, Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima will start second; while Tandy will start the race in third alongside his teammates Neel Jani and Andre Lotterer.

This was hardly a surprise, but adds to the sense that Porsche - unusually - enter the race as underdogs. “We’ve got a target on our back and our competition knows what to aim at so it’s difficult for us to know how hard to push the boundaries of performance versus reliability," he said.

“It’s the same in any form of motorsport. If you know what you’re trying to beat then you can push yourself to a level of performance over that, and then worry about reliability after that.

“We are aware that our main competition, Toyota, is very strong. The thing is that cars that we bring to this race and this track is different to any other race in WEC. We do know it’s going to be a big fight.”

 

This article was written by Natasha Henry from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

Suggested Articles:

The holistic spa treatment selection is the latest initiative from The Nautilus, building upon the island’s already established overwater Solasta Spa.

Silversea announced that its new expedition ship, Silver Origin, will sail two enhanced 2021 itineraries in the Galapagos Islands, starting June 19.

Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong has announced the completion of the first phase of its top-to-bottom renovation. Read more here.