The 24 Hours of Le Mans (24 Heures du Mans) is the world's oldest active sports car race in endurance racing. Held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France, it is considered one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world and has been heralded as the ‘Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency’. The track is 13.629 km long and including part of the Bugatti race circuit as well as roads which are open to the public all year round.
Of the eight bends in the circuit, the Mulsanne is the most dangerous. The drivers reach speeds of up to 335 km/h while heading for the famed 90° bend. The braking zone has not been properly illuminated for years, surprising the drivers who either ended up in the gravel pit to the side (if they were lucky). For years, drivers have been appealing that something be done for their safety.
Towards the end of 2019, the technical director of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), asked Gwennaël Chevrier, Head of Lighting Sales at Sonepar Connect West, to carry out a lighting study for this bend, while respecting the following constraints:
- No glare with only indirect lighting
- Standardize the lighting throughout the racetrack
- Sufficient level of lighting for video capture
- Ensure the safety of the race marshals
Technical studies with specific products are normally reserved for the Philips design office in Madrid. In this specific case, the normative constraints were such that to surround the file, Philips gave Sonepar Connect the confidential plugins to be able to manage the project from A to Z. Gwennaël thus carried out the study and a 3D immersion video, so that the race direction could plan and validate the proposed concept. A first for the distributor! In the end, nine Optivision Philips Projectors were supplied for the race.