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Le Mans 24 Hours 2014

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Le Mans 24 Hours 2014 Thread


As it's the annual Test Day for the 24 Hours of Le Mans this Sunday, I thought I'd start a thread for the race this year. Is anyone going to the race itself, or staying up to watch the whole thing (I tried last year, got to about 15 hours and had to take a tactical nap so I didn't miss the end)?

For those who are perhaps not up to speed on how Le Mans works, basically its 4 races going on all at once on the same track for 24 hours straight. Pretty much every single car is fighting for something and not just the pride of not being last like Marussia and Caterham do in F1. This year has the potential to be one of the most memorable in recent years. Porsche are back in contention for overall victory for the first time since 1998 whilst Toyota look like having the best chance of breaking Audi's recent dominance of the event. The top cars are all brand new racers this year and have not done longer than a 6 hour race so reliability and keeping out of trouble will be key.

So here is my run down of the classes, who to look out for, where the names you may recognise are and any other interesting nuggets that may be of interest.

LMP1 Class

Ok let's kick off with probably the most complicated yet interesting class. The LMP1 class is for the big-daddy's, the thoroughbreds, the cars that will be competing to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This class is split into two groups, the Lightweights and Heavyweights. The big difference between the two is that the Heavyweights are the hybrid vehicles which use KERS-style system and the Lightweights are the more conventional petrol-powered non-hybrid racers. The winner barring some real drama will be a Heavyweight.

The LMP1-H class is made up of 7 cars from some of the biggest manufacturers in the world, Audi, Toyota and Porsche. Due to the freedom the regulations give the teams, each manufacturer has taken a totally different approach to making the hybrid sportscar prototype of the future. Teams are allowed to store either 2 Megajoules, 4MJ, 6MJ or 8MJ of electrical hybrid energy, which can be delivered however the manufacturers want. This has delivered a fascinating demonstration of modern day technology that is not only relevant to the road but also creates exciting racing. Audi have gone with an arguably conservative option for their R18 e-tron quattro, powered by a V6 Turbodiesel engine coupled with a 2MJ hybrid system equipped with a flywheel. Toyota and Porsche have both gone with cars with 6MJ hybrid systems but different engine setups and energy storage systems. Toyota have a V8 normal aspirated engine with super-capacitors to store their energy, with the capability of temporary 4WD by adding a set of super-capacitors to the front axle. Porsche meanwhile have gone with a V4 Turbo petrol engine with F1-style battery storage for their energy solution. For me F1 and its restrictive rules set should really take a look at what the World Endurance Championship is doing here, the level of creativity, innovation and relevant findings to the road industry is way ahead of what F1 is currently doing with its V6 Turbo's, and the racing the arguably better as well, with no DRS, no need for 2 compounds of tyre and the freedom for teams and drivers to do what they want, when they want. 

Audi return to Le Mans as reigning winners with 3 cars headed up by the #1 car which includes Tom Kristensen, Le Mans legend, looking for his 10th victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe. As ever Audi have very strong lineups in all 3 cars which are each capable of winning overall. Avid F1 fans will remember the name of Lucas Di Grassi who shares the #1 with Kristensen and Loic Duval. Di Grassi replaces Allan McNish in the car which is also the reigning FIA World Endurance Championship winner. Audi have struggled in the first two races of the WEC on sheer pace but their German efficiency and tactical know-how made sure they scored a podium at the 6 Hours of Spa earlier this spring. Don't count Audi out just yet, after all to finish first, first you have to finish, and that is something Audi have always been good at.



Toyota are arguably the favourites for Le Mans this year having won the first 2 rounds of the WEC in some style. Toyota's 2 car effort is full of the top talent in sportscar racing with former F1 drivers Anthony Davidson and Sebastian Buemi alongside Nicolas Lapierre in the #8 TS040 (current FIA WEC leaders) and a full trio of ex-F1 drivers in the #7 with former Benetton and Williams driver Alex Wurz, long time Toyota protege Kaz Nakajima and one-time Minardi racer Stephane Sarrazin. As has been said Toyota have won the first 2 races and would love to make it 3 with the big one, but this is Le Mans and anything can happen especially reliability wise with Toyota's reliance on a high tariff of energy usage potentially an Achilles heel. The big plus for this car's design though is it's acceleration out of the corners, outputting up to almost 1000bhp at full boost, this thing shifts and not much can keep up with it.



Last but not least for Porsche who return to the top class at Le Mans with the Porsche 919 Hybrid. Two cars travel to Le Mans, the #14 and #20. F1 fans will eagerly want to see how Mark Webber does in the #20 who himself returns to the 24 Hours for the first time since 1999 when he drove for Mercedes-Benz. Fans of the race will no doubt remember the horrific crashes that Mark suffered, flipping over twice during practice and the warm-up due to a fault with the aero of the Benz. The safety improvements to both the cars and the circuit should ensure that they will be no repeat of such an accident. The race win may be a bit of a stretch for Porsches in what is still their first year back, however don't be surprised if the Porsche are right up there battling for the lead in the early stages, just as Toyota did on their return to Le Mans 2 years ago.



Of the LMP1-L entrants, only two remain, the privateer entries from Rebellion Racing who come with their own car for the first time. The Rebellion is a thing of beauty in my eyes, and it sounds great too. The car is still very much a baby so getting to the finish would be a truly great accomplishment in itself, but as a team they have shown in the past that they are capable of being a nuisance to Audi and Toyota so monitor their progress. Another long time F1 driver appears here with Nick Heidfeld heading up the #12 alongside son of Alain, Nicolas Prost and reigning GP2 champion Fabio Leimer in the #13, a testament to the appeal of Le Mans and the WEC to the young drivers of today.


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It's a bit earlier this year isn't it? I remember the previous years it was on mid-June I think..

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Good read and good job. Watched until about 11 PM last year and got back up 7 or 8 I think. Was the first one I watched live too. Still remember that shower in the morning and the GT cars were fighting for the lead after like 17 or 18 hours. And the Toyota crashing and the Audi nearly getting taken out. That was brilliant. 

Really looking forward to it this year. Especially since the World Cup starts on the same weekend. What a weekend that'll be. Really looking forward to it !

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mike96 said:
It's a bit earlier this year isn't it? I remember the previous years it was on mid-June I think..
Oops, I thought the race was this weekend... Anyway, hopefully we won't have another tragic accident like last year...

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mike96 said:
mike96 said:
It's a bit earlier this year isn't it? I remember the previous years it was on mid-June I think..
Oops, I thought the race was this weekend... Anyway, hopefully we won't have another tragic accident like last year...
Yeah , that was horrible. I won't say ruined because that's not the right word for it but the race lost it's atmosphere after that. I'd say they spent hours repairing the barriers after that. It seemed like they were paranoid after it.

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LMP2 Class

The LMP2 class is for mostly privateer teams racing with a combination of a bought in prototype chassis and customer engine. These production chassis can also be integrated with several engines so you get a real mix of solutions to the engineering problems these race teams will encounter. The LMP2 class always produces strong, competitive racing throughout the 24 Hours and with 18 entrants, this year will be no exception. These cars are of course slower than the LMP1's but still a lot quicker than the GTE's, the result is one of the bigger challenges for a driver at Le Mans. Battling against others in your class, not getting held up by the GTE's and making sure you don't get involved in a tangle with the LMP1's when they come flying through, who would be an LMP2 driver. That said this class is thriving as a test bed for new talent, especially as the rules of LMP2 state that each team have at least 1 'Silver' or 'Bronze' driver, ie a less experienced guy rising through the ranks or a rather fast amateur gentleman driver. 



LMP2 has an array of ex-F1 talent in its midst along with upcoming stars who've taken a step away from the normal goal of F1 and are looking for glory on a different stage. So here is my list of guys to look out for in LMP2.

Ex-F1 dudes

#27 SMP Racing (Oreca 03-Nissan) - Mika Salo, ex-Ferrari, Arrows, BAR

#35 OAK Racing (Ligier JS P2-Nissan) - Alex Brundle, son of Martin and quickly becoming one of the rising stars of sportscar racing. Alongside him is also Jann Mardenborough, winner of the Nissan GT Academy programme. The Ligier JSP2 is a new car though so their chances of winning may be slimmer than they were last year, but this is no doubt on of the strongest LMP2 lineups with Mark Shulzhitskiy making up the trio.

#38 JOTA Sport (Zytek Z11SN-Nissan) - Marc Gene, ex-Minardi, Williams alongside Simon Dolan and rising Brit Harry Tincknell (FIA F3 European race winner last year). My smart money tip for the win, an experienced engineering team with reliable drivers in a familiar car to the outfit. 

#42 Caterham Racing (Zytek Z11SN-Nissan) Tom Kimber-Smith, rapid in whatever he drives, alongside experienced American Chris Dyson and 16 year old, yes 16, Matt McMurray. Outfit run by the experienced Greaves Motorsport group, sponsored by Caterham, this is another team that could do very well.

#43 Newblood by Morand Racing (Morgan LMP2-Judd) Christian Klien, ex-Red Bull Racing

#48 Murphy Prototypes (Oreca 03-Nissan) Karun Chandhok, not his first time to Le Mans and he's been surprisingly quick in the past. This car could be another dark horse for class victory.

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LM GTE-Pro & LM GTE-Am

The two GT classes at Le Mans both run with the same machinery, the difference between the two comes from the standard of driver in the teams. As the names suggest GTE-Pro is for the professionals, the works-drivers paid and employed by the cars companies which run in the GTE classes. GTE-Am is a mixture of once again rising stars, gentlemen drivers and everything in between. 4 manufacturers will run in GTE-Pro, Aston Martin, Chevrolet, Ferrari and Porsche whilst everyone except Chevrolet will run in GTE-Am along with a series of privateer teams.

GTE-Pro's Ferrari list consists of 3 458's, 2 run by AF Corse (effectively the works Ferrari team) and the other by British outfit RAM Racing. Look out for F1 winner Giancarlo Fisichella alongside arguably the best GT driver in the world and another former F1 face, Gianmaria Bruni (reigning FIA WEC GT Champion). Toni Vilander makes up the trio in the #51 which will be a favourite for victory, the weak link actually being Fisichella who can sometimes make mistakes deep into long runs. 



Chevrolet return to Le Mans with their new Corvette C7.R (which looks beast) and as long as they aren't screwed by balance of performance (the procedure of car homologation and performance equalisation to keep racing competitive) could do very well as the car has already had plenty of racing experience in America, especially at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Kevin's dad, Jan Magnussen heads up the 6 drivers onboard the yellow machines with Oliver Gavin the pick of the drivers also in the team. 



Porsche continue with their works GTE program with 2 entries with their collection of highly talented works drivers. The Team Manthey will be looking to make it two victories in a row, having won GTE-Pro last year after an enthralling battle with the Aston Martins. The Porsche 911 RSR has looked mighty so far this season in the WEC and it's hard to look past either of the two Porsche to take the honours. But this is Le Mans...



Finally Aston Martin, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Aston Martin Racing, will be desperate to get their first GTE-Pro win of 2014 at the biggest event of them all. Two Vantage V8's head to France with the pick of the two being the #97 with Darren Turner, Stefan Mucke and Bruno Senna making in my opinion the strongest GTE driver line-up. Aston Martin have been hit hard in the past by their success away from Le Mans in terms of balance of performance, hopefully luck with be on their side this time and they may even receive a reprise before test day and the race itself.



GTE-Am has an enormous 19 entries, 7 of which are involved in the FIA WEC and will be looking to take full advantage of the double points on offer for the 24 Hours. The mix of drivers in this class covers many areas, from ex-footballer Fabien Barthez, actor Patrick Dempsey, the original White Stig Ben Collins and a few ex-F1 drivers from the 1990's. The competition will be fierce as a class victory means as much to these guys as overall victory does to Audi, Toyota and Porsche. Personally my heart more than anything can't see past the potential for the #95 Aston Martin taking the class win. Lovingly nicknamed 'The Dane Train', the all Danish trio of Kristian Poulsen, David Heinemeier Hansson and Nicki Thiim bravely return to Le Mans a year after the awful and tragic death of teammate Allan Simonsen. For not just these 3 drivers but the whole crew involved with that car to win at Le Mans 12 months on would a credit to Allan's legacy and a victory fully deserved. The circumstances aside, these guys are quick and work incredibly well together as a team. If I want one thing to happen at Le Mans this year, it is that these guys have one hell of a run, come on lads, do it for Allan.

So I hope you've enjoyed reading my thoughts on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As already stated on the thread the race is on the weekend of the 14-15 of June, Test Day is this Sunday. 

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fIsince08 said:
I'll only watch it if a) it's on Motors TV and b) John Hindhaugh is commentating.
It should be on Motors TV. Some of it anyway. Dunno if John Hindhaugh is commentating though. I'd hazard aguess and say he'll be doing some of it and some of it on Radio Le Mans . No need to be so biased though.:P

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I think Audi will do it. I don't know how they will but they always find a way to pull it out. Just think 2011. The #1 and #3 Audi both crashing out and the # 2 holding on by 13 seconds to win. Great race. But it's certainly open for Toyota to take it, and I'd like to think Porsche will mix in somewhere as well. Looking forward to it. 

Great thread btw. 


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Watched the entire thing last year and I plan on doing the same thing this year.

Stock up on lots of beer, lads.

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Mexicola said:
Watched the entire thing last year and I plan on doing the same thing this year.

Stock up on lots of beer, lads.
I 'm aiming to watch the whole thing this year too. Only problem is England v Italy is on too so I might watch a bit of that too.

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fIsince08 said:
I'll only watch it if a) it's on Motors TV and b) John Hindhaugh is commentating.
It should be on Motors TV. Some of it anyway. Dunno if John Hindhaugh is commentating though. I'd hazard aguess and say he'll be doing some of it and some of it on Radio Le Mans . No need to be so biased though.:P
Radio Le Mans are doing the whole race for free online. TV pictures on Motors I'm not sure about it but I'm 90% sure the full race won't be on there. It will be on Eurosport and last year I think they did a track sound only channel on their online subscription player along with their own commentary. There is also the FIA WEC app which you can get just for Le Mans. There are a couple of outlets such as Audi TV that I hear are doing free streams onboard their cars.

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I will try to watch 14 until 16 hours again. Who's going to win overall? Well that's a tough question. Toyota has won the last two WEC races, but we don't know how this car perfoms in a 24h race, same with Audi and Porsche. Audi lacks the top speed but has the reliability and the fuel efficiency, Porsche has the top speed but not the reliability, Toyota seem to have top speed and reliability, but aren't as fuel efficient. Going to be really interesting. And well with Rebellion, they're going to battle for the golden Ananas, zero competition for them as Lotus have withdrawn from the enrty list this year (as expected).

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fIsince08 said:
I'll only watch it if a) it's on Motors TV and b) John Hindhaugh is commentating.
It should be on Motors TV. Some of it anyway. Dunno if John Hindhaugh is commentating though. I'd hazard aguess and say he'll be doing some of it and some of it on Radio Le Mans . No need to be so biased though.:P
Radio Le Mans are doing the whole race for free online. TV pictures on Motors I'm not sure about it but I'm 90% sure the full race won't be on there. It will be on Eurosport and last year I think they did a track sound only channel on their online subscription player along with their own commentary. There is also the FIA WEC app which you can get just for Le Mans. There are a couple of outlets such as Audi TV that I hear are doing free streams onboard their cars.
Yeah I know Radio Le Mans are doing the whole race , what I was saying is that John Hindhaugh won't be commentating for the whole race on it. I remember last year Motors didn't do the whole thing so I'd say it's the same this time around.

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Great thread, thanks for the posts Andrew :) Personally I'm hoping for Toyota to win, simply because they have a naturally aspirated V8 in the back.

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I always love the 24H! I have always supported Audi and I hope they can win again this year, but if Webber's Porsche can get on the podium then that would be awesome.

The race starts usually at 15:00 our time right? I usually end up watching like this

15:00-17:30 - Live
17:30-18:30 - Dinner
18:30-20:00 - Live
20:00-21:30 - Other stuff
21:30-23:00 - Live

Then I go to bed and record the 24 minutes shows to watch in the morning :p

10:00-12:30 - Live
12:30-13:30 - Lunch
13:30-15:00 - Live

@fIsince08 I think that the race is on Eurosport again unfortunately fella. I went on the F1 Broadcasting Blog and it says this:

World Endurance Championship (2014)
- live coverage on Motors TV*
- highlights on British Eurosport and Sky Sports
* except 24 Hours of Le Mans which is live on British Eurosport

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Cheers Matt for that :) Honestly though getting the Eurosport feed up on a screen with RLM playing through a laptop was still pretty good for me last year. I think you get the engine noises from the TV feed through RLM anyway with the much superior commentary. Plus get some of that multi screen action on the go, I had a nice setup of TV feed on my larger screen via a VGA cable from the laptop and timing on my laptop screen. 

Also forgot to do a post about Garage 56... Give me 5 mins

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Garage 56 - Nissan ZEOD Project



What on earth is Garage 56?

Garage 56 is an initiative by ACO, the Le Mans organisers, to showcase new automotive technology at the 24 Hours. The scheme is in the 3rd year with the first entry being the DeltaWing back in 2012. 2013's entry sadly had to pull out prior to test day but this year Garage 56 is back in action with another Nissan backed project.

The car and its aims

The Nissan ZEOD aims to be the first car to complete a full racing lap of Le Mans purely on electric powered drive. Remember the Circuit de la Sarthe is a lot longer as well than typical F1 tracks and road courses in general so to do the distance of nearly 8.5 miles is some achievement. The Nissan ZEOD resembles the DeltaWing for several reasons. Firstly many of the design team who did the original DeltaWing are also on this project and remember that Nissan backed the 2012 DeltaWing before parting towards the end of 2012 after a successful run at Petit Le Mans in the US. 

The DeltaWing used the philosophy of making a car with half the mass, half the aerodynamic drag and dramatically reduced fuel consumption. That philosophy carries over here but the big difference is the propulsion system, a 1.5 litre three cylinder turbo engine combined with hybrid system similar to those run in F1 and the LMP1 class. The engine is stated to produce around 400bhp. 

I imagine the car will aim to run at a similar pace to the LMP2 cars, just as the DeltaWing did. The aim will be of course to reach the finish, the car runs in its own single car class so isn't really running for honours. This is very much an experimental exhibition for this new technology. This of course means avoiding the troubles that can happen at Le Mans not through reliability but the attrition of the race. DeltaWing hearts of both the team and many fans of the car, which developed a strong cult following in 2012, were broken when the car was taken out during a restart period after a caution by one of the Toyota LMP1's. 

I expect the car to do well, Nissan have run the project very professionally and considering their recent announcement to enter LMP1 next year to take on Audi, Toyota and Porsche, they will want to put their best foot forward and show what they are capable of in terms of race engineering as opposed to their already highly regarded mechanical engineering work with the LMP2 engine customer programme.

The drivers 

Another large part of Nissan's continuing work in sportscars, whether it be Garage 56, LMP2 or their GT efforts with Blancpain, is the Nissan GT Academy. The original winner of the GT Academy, Lucas Ordonez, heads up the trio of drivers making up the ZEOD team. Ordonez despite his lack of conventional driver training and years of experience has already made a name for himself as one of the leading LMP2 drivers over the last couple of years and is highly regarded as a reliable, fast and fair driver. Ordonez already has two LMP2 class podium finishes at Le Mans (2011 & 2013) and surely will have an eye on an LMP1 seat for next which I have no doubt he will get, the guy clearly deserves it. 

Ordonez is joined by Super GT star and alumnus from the 2012 DeltaWing team Satoshi Motoyama who will provide a level headed, experienced racer to the team. The trio is made up by Wolfgang Reip, the 2012 GT Academy winner, who makes his Le Mans 24 Hours debut this year and will be looking to follow in the footsteps of Ordonez, Jann Mardenborough and Mark Shulzhitskiy who have all turned heads in previous years with their Le Mans exploits.

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For once I do hope Audi can win , but only if it's the Kristensen car , because of what happened last year. Really hope he can get one more to dedicate to his dad.

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Have to agree Silver Arrows, especially as I can see TK retiring after this year. It's incredible to think he's 46 and still at least near the top of his game. But with McNish hanging up the helmet last year he's the last of the original set of Audi drivers from the early 2000's. I've just had a look at his finishing record at Le Mans and whenever his car has got to the end of the race its always been on the podium and I don't think he's been the cause of any retirements either. If this is his last he'll be dearly missed I'm sure.

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Have to agree Silver Arrows, especially as I can see TK retiring after this year. It's incredible to think he's 46 and still at least near the top of his game. But with McNish hanging up the helmet last year he's the last of the original set of Audi drivers from the early 2000's. I've just had a look at his finishing record at Le Mans and whenever his car has got to the end of the race its always been on the podium and I don't think he's been the cause of any retirements either. If this is his last he'll be dearly missed I'm sure.
Well I remember 2011 I think it was when he crashed trying to avoid a GT car. I don't think it was his fault but I can't remember if they retired or not from it.

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Have to agree Silver Arrows, especially as I can see TK retiring after this year. It's incredible to think he's 46 and still at least near the top of his game. But with McNish hanging up the helmet last year he's the last of the original set of Audi drivers from the early 2000's. I've just had a look at his finishing record at Le Mans and whenever his car has got to the end of the race its always been on the podium and I don't think he's been the cause of any retirements either. If this is his last he'll be dearly missed I'm sure.
Well I remember 2011 I think it was when he crashed trying to avoid a GT car. I don't think it was his fault but I can't remember if they retired or not from it.
Well I guess that crash resulted into retirement if you ask me, although it's just minor damage... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW3NDGk6YQE

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Have to agree Silver Arrows, especially as I can see TK retiring after this year. It's incredible to think he's 46 and still at least near the top of his game. But with McNish hanging up the helmet last year he's the last of the original set of Audi drivers from the early 2000's. I've just had a look at his finishing record at Le Mans and whenever his car has got to the end of the race its always been on the podium and I don't think he's been the cause of any retirements either. If this is his last he'll be dearly missed I'm sure.
Well I remember 2011 I think it was when he crashed trying to avoid a GT car. I don't think it was his fault but I can't remember if they retired or not from it.
Well I guess that crash resulted into retirement if you ask me, although it's just minor damage... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JW3NDGk6YQE
That was McNish who crashed. It must have been a different year then , but I think it was during the Porsche curves.

EDIT : It was 2010 , sorry.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ph5gecjTSqY

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