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.