The greatest longtails… in the world
Le Mans is almost upon us. Time to pay tribute to some of the maddest-looking racers to take on the 24 hours…
Posted: 14 Jun 2013
It’s just a week now now until the 90th running of World’s Greatest (our caps) motor race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Two rounds of this year’s World Endurance Championship (their caps) have already taken place and, guess what, Audi has won both of them.
Toyota, the only rival to the Germans, is already throwing its towel in; “we cannot win,” they say, “unless you change the rules, Monsieur!” And this is why: the 2013 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro Langheck.
Low-drag Langheck – Deutsche for long tail – cars have recorded some monumental top speeds along what was the longest straight on any circuit, the Mulsanne or what locals call the N138 on their way to work in the morning when it’s not June.
In the Group C era in the 1980s the 3.7 mile blast at 250mph terrified even the coolest of drivers (Andy Wallace, the 1988 winner in the long tailed, Jaguar XJR-9LM told us he spend his time worriedly pressing the tyre check buttons one after another after another until hitting the brakes for Mulsanne corner). In 1990 the chicanes were added, and long tails largely went out of fashion. Which was a shame, as they looked just fantastic.
So to celebrate the return of the long tail, as Audi adds complex aerodynamics to it already mind-bogglingly complex four-wheel drive, hybrid turbo diesel, we present for your consideration and in no particular order a short history of Le Mans cars in (low) drag.