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Friday, February 15, 2013

Circuit de la Sarthe

John B. Marine | 2:36 PM | | |
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the world's greatest races. The action all takes place at the 8.47-mile (13.63-kilometer) Circuit de la Sarthe, which is 1/8 Bugatti Circuit and 7/8 public roads. This semi-permanent course has been raced on since 1923 with many world-class manufacturers and racing constructors winning overall and in class. This blog post is a unique look at this historic racing venue in the Gran Turismo realm.

--- Circuit de la Sarthe ---

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a race you likely won't start in unless you have a great racing resume and loads of talent. So like many other things, you'll have to settle for the virtual realm. There have been lots of "LM Race Cars" in Gran Turismo history. Now imagine being able to put those "LM Race Cars" to the test at the track they are named for- Circuit de la Sarthe and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Circuit de la Sarthe is a very long course that will test the limits of just about every aspect of you and your car. The course comes in two varieties- with and without the chicanes. The proper Circuit de la Sarthe features two chicanes to break up those long blasts down the Hunaudieres (commonly called the Mulsanne Straight). The old Circuit de la Sarthe does not have the chicanes, allowing your car to reach top speed. Most of the course is top speed; the rest is a grinding challenge with a number of tricky and decisive corners. This course is offered in Gran Turismo 5 with the same two versions, but it also includes the old Circuit de la Sarthe carried over from Gran Turismo 4 (Circuit de la Sarthe 2005). Feeling nostalgic? Take on this course without the two chicanes. Since the Circuit de la Sarthe circuit could be run in darkness and with rain, you need to be very careful racing this course at night. It can be tough to see through the darkness while at speed.

One-Lap Description.

NOTE: This description mostly pertains to the main course (Circuit de la Sarthe 2009).

Your journey around Circuit de la Sarthe begins on the front straight of the Bugatti Circuit. The road ahead goes uphill with a long right-hand corner. Atop this section lies the first major hurdle you must clear- the Dunlop Chicane. Brake hard enough to properly take on the left-right chicane as you go under the Dunlop Bridge. The road now snakes right and left as you leave the roads of the Bugatti Circuit and make your way onto the country roads of Le Mans. As you cross under the Pays de la Loire overhang, Tertre Rouge- a sharp right-hand kink- awaits you. Take it just right, and you will have set yourself up properly for the Hunaudieres. Take it wrong, and you'll lose a great deal of speed. Only one way to go after Tertre Rouge- flat out! Go full speed down the Hunaudieres as your car will take a beating from the bumpy road (these are public roads when it isn't 24 Hours of Le Mans weekend). The first of the two chicanes is a right-hand chicane. When you start to notice a few buildings to your left and see the 200 sign marker, that is your cue to brake hard as you negotiate the first of two chicanes. Get a good run out of that chicane to set yourself up for the second straight. The second chicane (to me) is a bit harder because you don't have a very good reference point as to when to brake. So you'll have to use your judgment to find the best braking point. And, oh yeah- brake hard. After the second chicane is the road slowly progressing to the right. When you note a sharp kink to the right, make that your brake point so you can properly take on the very sharp Mulsanne Kink afterwards. Now begins the real driver's part of Circuit de la Sarthe- the second half of the course. Up next lies the road that leads to Indianapolis and Arnage. The road after the Mulsanne Kink has a few kinks to the right. All of the kinks can be taken at full speed except for the one that leads to Indianapolis. Then when Indianapolis comes, slam on the brakes and make sure not to fly off the course upon exit. In case you're wondering, the corner is called Indianapolis because it is banked like the corners at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After a brief straight, slam onto the brakes harder for Arnage. Be extremely careful not to go into the outside wall or get a poor exit out of this section. Up next is the road going to the Porsche Curves. Go full speed until you actually reach the Porsche Curves themselves. The first of the Porsche Curves goes a bit uphill and to the right. Up next is Maison Blanche- two smooth left corners follow along with a very long sweeping right. That sweeping right then flows into a shorter radius left-hand sweeper. A brief straight is followed by a high-speed right-left chicane. As you blast down the straight, you can enter the pits to your right, or you can take on the Ford Chicane. The final two chicanes are both left-right chicanes. The first one is a bit sharp, and the second one is even sharper. Both require hard braking. Go full speed to the Start/Finish line to start another wicked lap around this awesome circuit.

If you are racing the non-chicane version of Circuit de la Sarthe, then just go full speed between Tertre Rouge and the Mulsanne Kink.

Video Lap.

This lap video showcases this fantastic voyage around this awesome French circuit. This is from a good friend of mine online, so I'm pleased to show this one:

^ "GT5 Hot Lap: Peugeot 908 at Circuit De La Sarthe"

Are you ready to take on Circuit de la Sarthe?

Thank you for reading! Have a happy journey around Circuit de la Sarthe!

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