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    Le Mans 2000 Guide by Wolf Feather

    Version: Final | Updated: 05/08/02 | Search Guide | Bookmark Guide

    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:
    For rants, raves, etc., contact me at FEATHER7@IX.NETCOM.COM;
    also, if you have enjoyed this guide and feel that it has
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