What is the event taking place in the centre of Le Mans on Sunday 11th and Monday 12th June, and what happens under the big white tents?
On Sunday 11th and Monday 12th June the traditional Scrutineering and Administrative checks or ‘Pesage’ will kick off the start of race week for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. All 180 drivers and 60 cars entered for the twice-round-the-clock race on 17/18th June must present themselves at the Place de la République in the centre of Le Mans.
The event provides a unique opportunity for real fans as well as passers-by to get a close-up look at the cars and the competitors who will be on the grid for the start of the most legendary endurance race in the world.
But what gets checked under the big white tents?
Following a clearly marked-out route, the cars are checked at three different posts to make sure they conform to the regulations. The first is where the main dimensions are measured (width, length, overhang, wheelbase, height of the wing and the fin (for prototypes) and so on. Scrutineers can now use 3D scanners that reproduces the surface of the car to check dimensions such as the wheelbase.
The cars then pass onto a platform which can be raised so that the underneath of the car can be checked. The platform is equipped with lasers and mounted on scales so the weight of the car can be verified.
At the final post, bodywork is partially removed for the inspection of safety features such as fire extinguishers, belts, circuit breakers, indicators, hybrid safety systems etc), the fuel tank and the engine oil catch tank as well as the conformity of certain key elements such as placement of decals transponders, dataloggers and the leader light system.
The data acquisition system in each car is scrupulously tested as is the in-car marshalling system which, via a special black box, tells the drivers in the cars about what’s going on around the circuit and the actions carried out by track marshals. In total, the operation lasts around 50 minutes per car.
And what about the drivers?
They too are subject to checks, and all must present their licenses and every part of their equipment from race suits to helmets and everything in between to make sure they conform to FIA regulations. Once this is done, official photographs are taken and media work is carried out before they meet up again with their cars and team personnel for the big group photo which serves as a record for each participation and which often appears in the annual Le Mans Yearbook.