If motorsports is the ultimate test of man and motor vehicle, then France’s 24 Hours of Le Mans is Survivor: Guatemala — The Mayan Empire, the toughest of them all. And, throughout the years, it’s seen more than its share of legendary carmaker rivalries. Ford vs Ferrari. Ford vs Porsche. Ferrari vs Porsche. Porsche vs Matra-Simca. Porsche vs Jaguar. The most recent of these, of course, are the epic Audi vs Peugeot turbodiesel battles, whose 2008 iteration was vividly chronicled in Audi’s Truth in 24 documentary.
The last of these battles (again documented by Audi in a filmed sequel, Truth in 24 II) took place at the 2011 24 Hours of Le Mans, after which, on 18 January 2012, Peugeot dropped a bombshell by announcing its departure from LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) sports car racing, surely the most seismic such announcement since Honda and Toyota’s retirement from Formula 1 in 2008 and 2009, respectively. Enter a new archrival for Audi in the FIA World Endurance Championship: Toyota, whose decision we amply chronicled back in October 2011.
Since then, much has happened, including an untimely crash during testing on Wednesday 4 April 2012 that pushed back the Toyota TS030 Hybrid’s planned competition debut from round two of the FIA World Endurance Championship (at the Spa 6 Hours in Belgium on May 5) to Le Mans itself on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 June.
Until then, Toyota has engaged Audi in a sort of battle of the documentaries. Just as “Truth in 24 II chronicled the end of the Peugeot vs Audi rivalry that spanned half a decade, Toyota has filmed its buildup to the next great endurance sports car battle: Toyota’s Road to Le Mans: Racing Redefined. As described by SPEED TV:
Toyota’s Road to Le Mans is a riveting one-hour special that documents Toyota’s struggles and triumphs as they push against the very frontiers of racing to create the world’s most revolutionary racing program. We’ll take viewers on an extraordinary international journey as we travel from Toyta’s super secret development and testing program in Japan, to the assembly of the car at the former Formula One facility in Germany, to Toyota’s testing sessions at Paul Riccard racetrack in France and finally to their qualifying session at Le Mans. Filled with insider interviews, and up close footage of the competitions and qualifiying sessions leading up to the world’s most demanding endurance race, Toyota’s Road to Le Mans is an incredible look at history in the making.
SPEED TV will air Toyota’s Road to Le Mans: Racing Redefined at the following days and times:
Friday 15 June: 7 PM Pacific time / 8 PM Mountain time / 9 PM Central time / 10 PM Eastern time
Friday 15 June: 11 PM Pacific time
Saturday 16 June: 12 Midnight Mountain time / 1 AM Central time / 2 AM Eastern time
Saturday 16 June: 4:30 AM Pacific time / 5:30 AM Mountain time / 6:30 AM Central time / 7:30 AM Eastern time
As to the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans race itself, SPEED TV will air it in the following time blocks (which immediately follow the third airing of Toyota’s Road to Le Mans: Racing Redefined):
Saturday 16 June
The Start: 5:30 AM-10 AM Pacific time / 6:30 AM-11 AM Mountain time / 7:30 AM-12 Noon Central time / 8:30 AM-1 PM Eastern time
Saturday 16 June
Part 2: 11:30 AM-4 PM Pacific time / 12:30 PM-5 PM Mountain time / 1:30 PM-6 PM Central time / 2:30 PM-7 PM Eastern time
Saturday 16 thru Sunday 17 June
Parts 3, 4 and The Finish: 4:30 PM Saturday-6:30 AM Sunday Pacific time / 5:30 PM Saturday-7:30 AM Sunday Mountain time / 6:30 PM Saturday-8:30 AM Sunday Central time / 7:30 PM Saturday-9:30 AM Sunday Eastern time