Reliability In The 24 Hours Of Le Mans

Hyper Car driving in the 24 Hours of Le Mans

The engineers that build cars for endurance racing do not have an easy job. There are so many factors that need to be considered, but one of the most important ones, is reliability, and today, we want to take a brief look at reliability in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Reliability in the Le Mans 24-hour is crucial as the cars, and drivers tackle extreme conditions for a prolonged period. Any mechanical failure can end a team’s race early. Ensuring consistent performance is key to achieving success in the race.

At Quorum, we are constantly discussing topics like this, and we always talk about the role of Supportability Engineers. So, we decided to put this discussion into an article, keep reading.

The Le Mans 24 Hour Race: What You Need to Know

The 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place once a year in France around June. The track is the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, a 13.626 km (8.467 miles) track that has 38 turns. Part of the track is on public roads, and another part on an asphalt racetrack called “the Bugatti Circuit”.

The fastest lap in a race, 3:17.297 was done by the British Mike Conway in the Toyota TS050 Hybrid (LMP1) in 2019.

Most competitors cover around 5000 km (3100 miles) over the 24-hour race. Each team has three drivers that do stints that last between 45 minutes, to four hours, each team has their own strategy.

In 2024, the race had 62 cars with 186 drivers form four different classes, two Hyper classes, the LMP1 and the LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 1 and 2), and two GT classes. 15 of those cars did not finish the race, showing just how important it is to implement comprehensive Supportability Engineering.

The manufacturer with the most wins is Porsche with 19 followed by Audi with 13, and then Ferrari with 11. That said, the Porsche team is 2nd in terms of “team wins” with 12, while Joest Racing is 1st with 15 wins, primarily using a Porsche or Audi, but they have used other like the Glickenhaus SCG 007 LMH.

Rules and regulations for the race are extensive and can be found here.

Human Factors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Forgetting about Human Factors (HF) when building a car would be catastrophic for any team. Imagine putting in so much effort to ensure a car remains reliable over the 24-hour race only to have the driver make a mistake due to poor oversight on behalf of the engineering team. Now, while you can’t guarantee that one of the three drivers won’t make a mistake, we can still minimise the risk.

Drivers and support teams rely heavily on intuitive, ergonomic interfaces and controls. A well-designed cockpit reduces fatigue and enhances driver performance over long stints.

Visibility, ease of control, and accessibility of crucial functions ensure that drivers can maintain focus and react swiftly under high-stress conditions. Additionally, the design must accommodate quick repairs and adjustments by pit crews, emphasising clear, user-friendly systems that minimise errors.

By prioritising HF, designers enhance safety, efficiency, and reliability, ultimately contributing to better overall performance and fewer mechanical failures during the race.

We have published a recent article about HF, and if you want to know more about it, we recommend checking it out.

Risk Management

As we discussedin our article about ILS in F1, every car component presents its own set of risks including everything from the engine to the brakes. Effective Risk Management involves identifying potential hazards associated with each component and implementing strategies to mitigate these risks.

Supportability Engineering in the Garage

A supportability engineer should conduct regular inspections and maintenance checks on all tools and machinery used during pit stops, ensuring everything is in optimal working condition.

By implementing testing protocols and predictive maintenance strategies, we can help prevent equipment failures that could lead to costly delays. Additionally, we can work on enhancing the ergonomics and usability of pit stop equipment, making it easier and faster for the crew to perform their tasks.

To better understand why this is so important, check out the video below from the 2024 24 Hours of Le mans, even the commentator mentions the importance of “Reliability.”

The Role of a Supportability Engineer in the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Writing an article like this is tricky, we must know when we should stop because we can write about it for hundreds of pages.

So, to finish off, let’s look at why ILS Consultants are so crucial to ensuring that the car is reliable enough to take on the 24 Hours of Le mans.

  • Predictive Maintenance Planning: Using data analytics to predict and prevent potential failures before they occur.
  • Component Lifecycle Management: Ensuring that parts are replaced at optimal intervals to maintain peak performance.
  • Training: Developing comprehensive training programs for drivers and support crews to handle technical issues efficiently.
  • Logistics and Supply Chain Coordination: Streamlining the supply chain to ensure timely delivery of critical components and tools.
  • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA): Conducting thorough analyses to identify and mitigate potential points of failure in the car’s design and maintenance procedures.
  • Documentation and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs): Creating detailed manuals and checklists to guide maintenance and repair activities, reducing the likelihood of human error.
  • Collaboration with Design Teams: Working closely with engineers and designers to incorporate reliability and maintainability into the car’s initial design.
  • Post-Race Analysis and Feedback: Conducting debriefs and collecting data post-race to continuously improve reliability strategies and address any weaknesses identified during the race.


Final Thoughts

Endurance racing is becoming increasingly popular, and we can’t help but think about it from the perspective of an ILS consultant. From managing spare parts and optimising pit stop equipment to real-time data analysis and human factors engineering, these efforts collectively enhance the car’s durability and efficiency.

Find out how ILS can help your business – Book an informal chat with Shaun

+44 (0)1952 671950

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