PARIS, France (13 Nov. 2013) The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest active sports car endurance race. Race teams have to balance speed against the cars’ ability to run for 24 hours and, crucially, they have to manage their fuel to the last drop. Since 1955, Tokheim has supplied fuel dispensing and storage solutions to world renowned Bugatti Circuit. Some of the biggest names in the auto-industry – including Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Peugeot and Ferrari – have stormed to victory utilising Tokheim’s refuelling solutions.
It’s not always been about the cars though, legendary drivers such as Graham Hill and Mario Andretti, and Hollywood icons Paul Newman and Steve McQueen, have raced here. Today, it still attracts talented drivers such as Nick Heidfeld, former Lotus F1 driver, and stars such as Patrick Dempsey from Grey’s Anatomy.
The preparation of Tokheim’s equipment begins after winter, well in advance of the new season. 8 huge tanks, consisting of 56 compartments supply 225,000 litres of fuel during the race. At Le Mans the unique conditions of an endurance race means that a pitstop requires more focus on wear and tear as well as fuel. The average time it takes to complete is around 35 seconds, adding 10 seconds or so when there is a driver change. Fuel is dispensed at speed using 50 litre “air tanks” which are rested on suspended pedestals and allow the fuel to be dispensed by a gravitational fuelling method. There are a total of 80 “air tanks” across the pitlanes. Flexible couplings are connected to the distribution system and ensure a faster and safer fuelling experience for the pitstop crews.
It is not just the competing teams who have their endurance tested. The 24-hour race requires assistance from Tokheim engineers both day and night throughout the duration of the competition. Two Tokheim support teams are present to provide technical assistance around the clock. These two teams are on hand via a hotline and take alternative rest phases. The team manages the pump controls and fuel tank levels throughout the race itself and provide technical solutions if there are any anomalies with refuelling equipment at the pitstop area. This year 245,000 spectators watched Audi take the victory at Le Mans, supported by Tokheim fuelling solutions.
Tokheim and Le Mans history:
1955 to present: A variety of Tokheim service brands have been involved in the maintenance and support at events.
1954: First common fuel stop facilities developed: pipeline system with gravity and distribution to each stand with shut-off valve.
1955: Tokheim (Boutillon) commission system with mechanical counter, hose and nozzle.
From 1965: First appearance of refuelling system called ” coupline ” system usually used to fill aircraft and helicopters.
1968-1970: Unique system developed; filling coupling with overflow valve.
1991 to present: new stands, new fuel distribution. Each stand has its own distribution. This system is equipped with an underground tank with a traditional electric pump unit. Over the years, safety mechanisms have been further developed through automatic cutouts with safety sensors and position controls.
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Tokheim Group S.A.S., based in Paris, France, is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and service providers of fuel dispensing and automation equipment. With operations in many countries around the globe, Tokheim offers customers a complete range of fuel dispensers and pumps, retail automation systems, payment terminals, media devices, replacement parts and upgrade kits, and a full range of support services, including maintenance, service station construction and project management. For more information visit www.tokheim.com.
Tokheim Group Marketing Communications Manager
Mob: +44 (0)755 703 6752