For the first time, the organizers, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the International Automobile Federation, have opened up the rules for cars that will push environment-friendly technologies to the limit and turn the race into both a sporting event and a laboratory.
Although only one car will test the extremes of this goal — the DeltaWing makes an appearance as a 56th entry, running to its own rules — there will be four cars from two car-manufacturer teams that use hybrid technology of a level never used in racing before.
Those are the Audi and Toyota teams, which are also favorites to win. Audi has dominated the event since 2000, winning every year except for 2003, when a Bentley using Audi technology won, and 2009, when Peugeot won. Peugeot had joined specifically to challenge the diesel-dominating car of the Audi with its own diesel cars. But this year, because of the economic crisis, Peugeot pulled out of the event, creating a void at the highest level of the race, in the prototype cars, or LMP1 category.
CONTINUED at the NY Times.