Every year it seems the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans make a controversial change to Circuit de la Sarthe and 2017 is no different. One of the safety changes that track officials made is adding a larger run-off area to the final right hand corner on the Porsche Curves before leading into Corvette Corner.
While drivers admit that that overall safety has improved, not all are happy including Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen, who missed the 2015 race after crashing hard in the Porsche curves during the qualifying session.
“I’m not necessary a fan of moving the walls and the barriers further away,” he said. “If you move them miles away, this track becomes like any Formula 1 circuit and anyone can be fast.”
Vincint Beaumesnil, the sporting director of the Automotibe Clue de l’Ouest which oversees the summer classic said that adding a run-off area was more preferable to changing the layout of the track:
“The Porsche Curves are one of the most famous sections of track where we have cars going at 250km/h between two walls,” he told Motorsport.com.
With the wall moved back and a large area of asphalt run-off, the track change has created the potential for cars to the cut the corner at Corvette Corner although drivers say that’s unlikely due to to the off-camber nature of the corner.
Three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner Andre Lotterer agreed with the changes, but still has reservations about making changes to the historic circuit: “It is safer, I guess, but if the trend is continued it will be like driving through a parking lot with nothing around you.” He added, “The Porsche Curves have always been one of the most iconic places at Le Mans and this is going to make it a little bit less thrilling. I think we have to be careful what we do this track.”