Le Mans 2000 Guide by Wolf Feather

Version: Final | Updated: 05/08/02 | Printable Version



Wolf Feather/Jamie Stafford

Current Version:           FINAL
Current Version Completed: May 8, 2002
Initial Version Completed: December 19, 2001


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Spacing and Length
Comparison with Petit Le Mans
Time Compression
Suggested Car Set-ups
General Tips
Circuit Overview
Circuit Details
Information on the Web


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Dating back to 1923, The 24 Hours of Le Mans (Les 24 Heures
du Mans) is one of the classics of auto racing.  In terms of
endurance racing, this is THE race to win to turn a driver's,
team's, or manufacturer's name into a household name at
domiciles worldwide.  Le Mans 24 Hours brings the experience
of a full 24-hour race at Le Mans home... and thankfully
allows the player to take breaks essentially at will.

While I have written a general guide covering virtually all
aspects of Le Mans 24 Hours, I am submitting this race-
specific game guide to delve even more into the world's
pinnacle event of endurance racing.  Some of the information
provided herein comes from my Le Mans 24 Hours Game Guide.
Also, whereas LM24H has several modes (including Quick Race
and Time Trial), this guide focuses specifically on the
longer, 4-hour and 24-hour races at Le Mans.


The Petit Le Mans, held every October at Road Atlanta, is the
other major endurance race included in Le Mans 24 Hours.
Personally, I far prefer Petit Le Mans for two reasons: 1.)
The Road Atlanta circuit is FAR shorter, with lap times
averaging about 1:10.000 in a Prototype car; 2.) Since the
Road Atlanta circuit is far shorter, there is A LOT more
passing involved - rarely does a lap go by without making at
least one pass, and usually three or more passes are common
per lap.  These two points converge to make Petit Le Mans a
much more intensive race on the brain, thus helping to keep

Le Mans 2000, on the other hand, is not nearly as intensive
on the brain.  At over 8 miles in length, the Le Mans circuit
is so long that it is quite possible to drive for numerous
consecutive laps without needing to make a single pass.
Second, the first four-fifths of the circuit is constructed
primarily with super-lengthy, full-throttle straightaways,
lulling the mind into a state of numbness by the time you
reach the highly-technical final stage of the circuit.  If
nothing else, a full 24-hour race at Le Mans is a test of
extreme concentration.

Inclement weather aside, the other major point of comparison
is the psychological impact of the two races due to daytime
and nighttime conditions.  Petit Le Mans begins at 12:30PM
and ends at 10:30PM the same day, so the amount of time spent
in nighttime driving is essentially minimal.  Le Mans,
however, begins at 4PM on Saturday and ends at 4PM on Sunday,
so a significant portion of the race (approximately 10 hours)
is held at night; even though I personally prefer nighttime
to daytime in the real world (I generally do the bulk of my
work late at night), I find that racing through such an
extended period of darkness is mentally taxing; even worse is
the seemingly-interminable period of approximately 10 hours
of daylight before the end of the race.  Even though a trip
to Pit Lane allows each race to be saved at that point, long
breaks between game sessions still do not really help to
alleviate the mental destruction resulting from a full race
at Le Mans.

Amazingly, wet weather is a great thing for the 4- and 24-
hour races at Le Mans.  The reason is that in dry conditions,
the circuit is extremely monotonous, especially during the
numerous consecutive laps without a single pass.  Wet weather
adds another level of challenge, both in braking and in
general car control, this requiring much more mental ability
which can itself help players to stay awake.


Players can compete in Le Mans 2000 at four different time
increments: 10 minutes, 24 minutes, 240 minutes, and the full
24-hour race.  At each time increment, the race begins at 4PM
on Saturday and ends at 4PM on Sunday, including the
appropriate transition from daylight to darkness to daylight.
Except for the full 24-hour race, this means that time must
be compressed.  For those interested, the time compression
works in this manner (if my math is correct):

Interval:   10 minutes     24 minutes  240 minutes  24 hours
1 second =  14 min 24 sec  1 minute    6 seconds    1 second
1 minute =  2 hr 24 min    1 hour      6 minutes    1 minute
1 hour =    N/A            N/A         6 hours      1 hour


Le Mans 24 Hours provides only two car classes for Le Mans
2000: Open Prototype and GT.  A suggested car set-up is
provided for each car class.  These suggestions are for dry-
conditions racing; wet-conditions racing requires Wet or
Intermediate Tires, and a raise in downforce if needed to
suit your personal driving style.  First, however, an
explanation of the set-up options is needed.

   Fuel:        Lower fuel loads will provide a faster
                overall top speed initially due to the lesser
                overall weight of the car.  Conversely, a
                higher fuel load will slow the car initially
                while allowing the car to stay on the circuit
                for a longer period of time.  Unfortunately,
                it is impossible to adjust initial fuel load
                for the races :-(   In a four-hour race at Le
                Mans, a typical lap will consume
                approximately 8% of the fuel; a 24-hour race
                will have approximately 4% fuel consumption
                per lap.
   Downforce:   Low downforce provides a faster top-end
                speed while making cornering more difficult.
                High downforce gives easier cornering while
                lowering overall top-end speed.
   Tires:       Soft Tires provide the most grip of the
                pavement, but wear out faster than other
                tires, resulting in more trips to Pit Lane to
                change tires.  Hard Tires provide the least
                grip of the dry-conditions tires while
                lasting the longest, resulting in fewer trips
                to Pit Lane.
                   Should the track become damp or wet,
                'slick' (Soft and Hard) tires quickly become
                useless.  Wet Tires are for very wet
                conditions, when your car emits a 'rooster
                tail' of spray at high speeds.  If it has
                been raining or has just started to rain and
                there is no 'rooster tail' behind your car,
                Intermediate Tires are a good choice;
                however, do not waste the time changing to
                and from Intermediate Tires unless your
                opinion of the clouds is that Intermediate
                Tires will be needed for more than one or two
   Gear Ratio:  An Acceleration setting will provide maximum
                acceleration for the car; at Le Mans, this
                would really only be useful in the final
                fifth of the circuit.  Top Speed provides
                slower acceleration, but the car's top-end
                speed will be much higher.  Balance is the
                'middle ground' setting.
   Engine:      A Sprint Engine will help boost your car
                through the field in shorter races, and can
                be useful in the 10-minute, 24-minute, and
                4-hour Le Mans race.  However, for the full
                24-hour race, only an Endurance Engine will
                provide the long-lasting power required to
                finish the race.  Balance is a 'middle
                ground' position, and is also a good choice
                for the 4-hour race at Le Mans.

Open Prototype Class
   Fuel:        50%
   Downforce:   Low
   Tires:       Soft
   Gear Ratio:  Top Speed
   Engine:      Sprint for the 4-hour race; Endurance for the
                full 24-hour race
   Notes:       Prototype cars are inherently faster than GT
                cars.  The suggested settings will help to
                quickly pass the Open Prototype cars as well,
                especially when taking on only a 50% fuel
                load.  The low downforce setting will provide
                excellent top-end speed on the lengthy
                Hunaudieres Straight (Parts I, II, and III)
                and the long 'straightaway' between Mulsanne
                Curve and Indianapolis Curve, but the
                chicanes and the Indianapolis-Arnage complex
                will be rather tricky, especially in wet
                conditions.  The 50% initial fuel load fits
                well with Soft Tires, as Soft Tires will
                start giving out about the time you will
                need to return to Pit Lane to refuel anyhow.

GT Class
   Fuel:        80%
   Downforce:   Low
   Tires:       Hard
   Gear Ratio:  Top Speed
   Engine:      Sprint for the 4-hour race; Endurance for the
                full 24-hour race
   Notes:       In general, see the notes for the Open
                Prototype Class, above.  However, I find that
                GT cars have better handling with more fuel,
                thus making the car a bit heavier.  Hard
                Tires will then allow the car to stay on the
                circuit longer, as the car will begin with a
                heavier fuel load; however, Hard Tires
                provide the least amount of grip, so more
                care must be given early in a run, especially
                when cornering.

Note #1: It is not impossible for a GT Class car to win a
full Le Mans 2000 race outright, beating even all the Open
Prototype Class cars.  This will depend upon the settings
selected for a GT Class car, pit strategy, and the game
parameters (in terms of driving aids and AI Skill).

Note #2: Both Open Prototype and GT Class cars tend to
fishtail; this is especially significant in GT Class
vehicles.  As such, heavier fuel loads tend to reduce the
fishtail effect.  Unless extreme care is afforded the tires,
the rear tires will wear out faster, which can itself aid the
fishtailing effect.  Be especially wary of fishtailing when
running over rumble strips while turning (and when cornering
at fast speeds, especially in wet conditions).


After driving all night long (especially in the full 24-hour
race), the transition to daylight driving (especially under
clear skies) can result in poor visibility of cars far ahead
of you until your eyes adjust.  Be wary of your closing rate
on slower, 'unseen' cars far ahead, as you can suddenly find
your front bumper banging the rear end of another vehicle.

Lights are used for nighttime driving and other poor
visibility conditions (primarily constant rain).  While the
lights are great in poor visibility conditions, do not allow
yourself to become too reliant upon them.  Once clear
visibility returns, the lights are turned off (approximately
6:30AM in the full 24-hour race if rain is not present).

ALWAYS keep an eye on your fuel usage.  If you run out of
fuel somewhat early in a lap, you may not make it back to Pit
Lane without placing yourself just right to be bumped from
behind or making use of a downhill slope to help gain speed.

Tire selection is extremely important at Le Mans because of
the immense length of the circuit; if your tires wear out in
the early portion of the circuit, you may well find yourself
sliding around in corners later in the lap.  Many of the
turns at Le Mans can be taken at full throttle; however, the
slower, tighter corners - especially the Indianapolis-Arnage
complex and the final double-chicane at White House - can be
absolutely brutal on tires, especially if cornering at a too-
high speed for the condition of the tires.  For more specific
tips on tire usage, please read the full Le Mans 24 Hours
Game Guide, and/or also look at my Gran Turismo 3: Tires

To pass, use the draft; this is especially effective in
prototype cars.  The Le Mans circuit has numerous long
straightaways and sections with gentle, full-throttle curves,
providing plenty of opportunity to make use of a competitor's
draft.  On the wide public roads, CPU-controlled cars almost
always straddle the center line, so this is a great place to
be to make use of another car's draft as you approach.

If you do not choose to qualify, you will automatically start
in last place; therefore, you have nothing to lose and A LOT
to gain by qualifying.  If you can qualify on Pole, that can
mean twenty-three FEWER passes you will need to make as a
race progresses.  In the longer (4-hour and 24-hour) Le Mans
races, this could become a significant factor, especially in
relation to Pit strategy.

If you are in first place and begin lapping other cars, those
cars one or more laps behind you will have blue indicators on
the track map.

If at all possible, do not go to Pit Lane with a pack of
competitors.  If there is another car directly in front of
you, the CPU will slow you to a near halt while that car
slots into its Pit Stall.  Similarly, once your Pit Stop has
been completed, if there are any cars passing your position,
the CPU will hold you there until they ALL pass, even if it
appears that there is plenty of room for you to slot into the
line of cars.


The Le Mans circuit has seen numerous changes throughout its
vast and storied history (detailed at some of the Web sites
in the Information on the Web section).  The current
configuration is 8.454 miles in length; as such, the circuit
has numerous long straightaways and sections with gentle,
full-throttle curves.  A small part of the circuit shares
pavement with the permanent Bugatti circuit, while much of
the Le Mans circuit makes use of local public roads.  The
potential irony of racing at this circuit is that
approximately fifty seconds into a lap, racers will pass an
Elf gas station on the right; if a car is low on fuel, this
is simply a nasty reminder that there is still at least three
minutes remaining in the lap before finding Pit Lane :-(

In clear daylight, this circuit is a beauty.  Much of the
circuit is surrounded very closely by tall trees, which -
depending on the position of the sun and the portion of the
circuit you may be in at a particular moment - can produce
some rather long shadows across the circuit, potentially
obscuring a view of cars or pavement ahead.  Fortunately,
most of the tight corners have wide recovery areas lined with
grass and/or sand.

During a star-filled night, the Le Mans circuit can be a
massive beast compared to the beauty of the sky above.  While
four of the corners and the immediate entrance to Pit Lane
are marked by bright red lights which can be seen at a long
distance, the tightest corners of the circuit are NOT lit in
the same manner; the taillights of any cars ahead will
certainly help to mark the corners, but intimate familiarity
is required to successfully navigate these tight, unmarked
corners.  However, the bright red lights can also obscure
your view of cars ahead, as competitors' taillights often
'disappear' into the bright red corner indicators on

In a rainstorm, whether during the day or at night, the
circuit can quickly turn into a sheet of ice.  The trick in
wet conditions is to expertly regulate the use of both the
brakes and the accelerator, especially in the Indianapolis-
Arnage complex and the double-chicane at White House.  Just
as important is pit strategy to change to/from Wet or
Intermediate Tires; therefore, if playing with Weather set to
Random, always keep an eye on the sky, especially at the
eastern and western ends of the circuit, to better anticipate
how the weather may change.


This is without question the longest circuit of the game...
and quite likely the reason players buy or rent this game!!!
It is IMPERATIVE to learn this circuit flawlessly during
daylight conditions, as visibility is unbelievably poor at
night and in wet-weather conditions (although better than in
the old PlayStation game Test Drive: Le Mans).

Turn 1 (Dunlop Curve): This is a rather nice right-hand fade
which can be taken flat-out.  However, it may be a good idea
to begin braking for Dunlop Chicane when exiting Dunlop
Curve.  An elevation change begins here.  Pit Exit rejoins
the main circuit at the entry to Dunlop Curve.

Turns 2-4 (Dunlop Chicane): Given the continual upward slope
through Dunlop Chicane, it is extremely easy to slip off the
pavement on either side of the circuit... and both sides are
filled with plenty of kitty litter.  Braking well before
entering the Dunlop Chicane is of UTMOST importance -
especially in wet conditions - as the corners of the chicane
are rather tight.  At the beginning of a race, all the
traffic can make this segment even more treacherous than it
would be normally - which should be enough incentive to try
to qualify on pole.

Straightaway: The significant hill crests as you pass
underneath the big Dunlop tire.

Turns 5-6 (Red Mound S): This left-right chicane begins just
after passing the Ferris Wheel (lit with bright red lights at
night) on the left side of the course, and is a good
reference point to use in picking your braking zone.  The
barriers are rather close to the pavement on both sides
through the chicane, so any off-pavement excursions will
certainly result in sliding along the rails; this is
especially important in case you carry too much speed through
this chicane.

Turns 7-9 (Red Mound Curve): This is a set of three right-
hand semi-corners which can usually be taken flat-out, unless
you find yourself encumbered by traffic.  However, keep a
tight line to the apex of each of the three semi-corners, or
you may find yourself with a few wheels in the sand and grass
on the outside of the course.  The outside of the final
corner is actually paved (where public roads form the major
portion of the circuit), so this can be used as a good swing-
out area if necessary, and can also be used to pass a small
group of cars on the inside of the corner; beware the outside
barrier here as you will be likely be carrying A LOT of

The 'Back Stretch:' Approximately one minute, forty seconds
is spent here on the back side of the circuit.  This is
without question the best place for drafting and passing
other cars.  The 'Back Stretch' (the Hunaudieres Straight) is
broken by two chicanes.

   Straightaway (Hunaudieres Straight - Part I): This is the
   longest straightaway of the circuit, and very good top-end
   speeds can be achieved here, especially if you were able
   to blast your way through Red Mound Curve without even
   tapping the brakes.  However, there is no room for error
   if you get involved in a three-abreast situation, as the
   barriers come almost directly up to the pavement.  During
   the day, look for the distance-to-corner markers or else
   you will miss Motorola Chicane (flashing red lights alert
   you to the chicane at night and in poor-visibility
   conditions).  All along this straightaway, make use of the
   draft if at all possible to increase your overall speed.

   Turns 10-12 (Motorola Chicane): This is the same chicane
   format as the Dunlop Chicane (right-left-right), but wider
   and without the hill.  Beware the barriers.  In poor
   visibility conditions, the first corner of the chicane is
   easily identifiable by the red lights; during the day,
   however, the chicane is very difficult to see from a
   distance, so be sure to look for the distance-to-corner

   Straightaway (Hunaudieres Straight - Part II): Very good
   top-end speeds can be achieved here.  However, there is no
   room for error if you get involved in a three-abreast
   situation, as the barriers come almost directly up to the
   pavement.  During the day, look for the distance-to-corner
   markers or else you will miss Michelin Chicane (flashing
   red lights alert you to the chicane at night).  All along
   this straightaway, make use of the draft if at all
   possible to increase your overall speed.

   Turns 13-15 (Michelin Chicane): This is exactly like the
   Motorola Chicane, but is a left-right-left combination
   with a tighter initial turn.  In poor-visibility
   conditions, the first corner of the chicane is easily
   identifiable by the red lights; during the day, however,
   the chicane is very difficult to see from a distance, so
   be sure to look for the distance-to-corner markers.

   Straightaway (Hunaudieres Straight - Part III): Yet
   another long straightaway, but with a small fade to the
   right almost one-third of the way along its length.
   After clearing the small rise (similar to a bridge over a
   small country stream, about two-thirds of the way along
   the straightaway), look for the distance-to-corner markers
   for Mulsanne Curve.  All along this straightaway, make use
   of the draft if at all possible to increase your overall

Mulsanne: If you can carry enough speed into Mulsanne and
have sufficient tire grip, you can essentially treat both
Mulsanne Hump and Mulsanne Curve as one long double-apex
corner by riding up on the inside rumble strip of Mulsanne
Curve.  Mulsanne Hump and Mulsanne Curve together essentially
form a 135-degree (double-apex) megacorner.  It is very easy
to go too wide exiting this megacorner, and CPU-controlled
cars often will find themselves in the sand trap, so keep
watch for such activity as you round Mulsanne Curve.

   Turn 16 (Mulsanne Hump): The distance-to-corner markers
   actually are for the following right-hand turn, but no one
   can afford to miss Mulsanne Hump, whose apex is almost
   exactly in line with the 100m marker and bounded on the
   left by a nasty barrier.

   Turn 17 (Mulsanne Curve): The distance-to-corner markers
   are actually for THIS corner.  This is a ninety-degree
   corner requiring moderate braking and a solid, clean
   racing line to keep out of the sand trap.  It may help
   to keep tight to the apex and roll the right tires up on
   the inside rumble strips; however, the barrier is just
   barely off the pavement, so do not edge TOO far toward
   the inside of the corner here, or your car will be bounced
   back across the pavement and possibly into the sand trap
   on the outside of Mulsanne Curve.

Straightaway: This straightaway has three fades to the right
along its length.  All along this straightaway, make use of
the draft if at all possible to increase your overall speed.
At the apex of the third fade, begin braking for the
Indianapolis Curve.

Turn 18 (Indianapolis Curve): This left-hand right-angle
corner can easily be missed, so use plenty of braking
beginning at the apex of the third fade along the previous
straightaway.  Do not cut this corner too sharp or you will
likely bang the barrier on the inside of the turn, which is
set rather close to the pavement.  Indianapolis Curve is
marked by bright red lights.

Turn 19 (Arnage Curve): After a very brief straightaway, this
is a right-hand right-angle corner.  The trick here is to NOT
come up to full speed following the Indianapolis Curve, thus
saving your brakes a little (which is extremely important in
endurance races).  Do not cut this corner too sharp or you
will likely bang the barrier on the inside of the turn, which
is set very close to the pavement.  If you go wide, say
'Bonjour' (daytime) or 'Bonsoir' (evening/nighttime) to the
outside barrier.  Likewise, if you carry too much speed over
the inside rumble strip, countersteer immediately to avoid a
spin (and that still may not help).  Arnage Curve is marked
by bright red lights.

Straightaway: This 'straightaway' has four fades (left-right-
left-right).  After the fourth fade, get ready for the fast-
approaching Porsche Curve.

'Chicane:' This next segment essentially forms an extra-wide
right-left-left-right (classic 'bus stop') chicane as it
leaves the public roads.  Extreme care is required here, as
the pavement is extremely narrow.

   Turn 20 (Porsche Curve): Light braking will likely be
   needed here, although - with a tight racing line - experts
   can probably blast through here at top speed if not
   encumbered by traffic.  An uphill rise begins here.

   Turn 21: The rise crests here as the course turns to the
   left.  The barrier on the left is very close to the
   pavement here.

   Turns 22-23: The course elevation drops at Turn 22 as the
   circuit turns to the left, making this corner more
   challenging than it would at first appear.  Turn 23
   follows immediately, turning to the right.  The left-side
   barrier is extremely close to the pavement through these
   two corners.

Turns 24-27 (Prairie): There are four significant semi-
corners (right-left-right-left) here.  Top speed can be
carried all the way through Prairie, but only with a flawless
racing line, else you risk dropping a wheel in the grass and
slowing yourself down.  On exiting Turn 27, the single yellow
line marking the Pit Entry begins on the right; often, even
the computer-controlled cars which are not going to Pit Lane
will be straddling or driving to the right of this Pit Lane

Turns 28-31 (White House): These tight left-right-left-right
S-curves are the finale of a rather lengthy lap of the Le
Mans circuit.  The pavement here is extremely narrow, making
safe passing impossible; if any passing is to be done here,
it is only by ramming another car off the pavement and into
the kitty litter.  The entire area is surrounded by massive
sand traps, so if you slip off the pavement, you will be
slowed almost to a snail's crawl, losing valuable time and
allowing those behind you to pass with the greatest of ease.
A VERY brief straightaway separates the first left-right
combination from the second.  Note that to keep your time in
this section to a minimum, you will need to make use of the
rumble strips on the inside of each corner; however, if you
come through ANY corner of White House carrying too much
speed (especially in wet racing conditions), the car will
bounce severely and perhaps spin or slide out into the kitty

Pit Entry: Just like White House, Pit Entry is a double-
chicane, so severe braking is required before reaching the
first corner.  Pit Entry is also surrounded by sand traps,
and the outside of the second corner of the double-chicane
has a barrier to protect cars in Pit Entry from out-of-
control cars sliding off the main circuit.


For more information on The 24 Hours of Le Mans, visit these
Web sites:

The Official Web Site of The 24 Hours of Le Mans:

Automobile Club de l'Ouest (race organizers):


Le Mans Register:

Maison Blanche (named after the final segment of the Le Mans

Mulsanne's Corner:


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