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Medicina dello Sport 2018 December;71(4):627-35

DOI: 10.23736/S0025-7826.18.03387-2

Copyright © 2018 EDIZIONI MINERVA MEDICA

language: English, Italian

The challenge of the Petit Le Mans: a case study in driver science

Edward S. POTKANOWICZ

Human Performance and Sport Science, Ohio Northern University, Ada, OH, USA


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The Petit Le Mans is a 10-hour motorsports endurance race run in both dry and wet conditions. While technology drives the development of the cars, there has been comparatively little interest in using that technology for the assessment of the driver-athlete. Also, little published data exists relating to the physiological challenges experienced by the driver-athlete. The purpose of this case study is to present the pre- and post-stint core body temperature, heart rate, and physiological strain data from two professional driver-athletes collected during a single stint during the 2016 Petit Le Mans. This data is being offered here in an effort to add, incrementally, to the growing body of work on the topic of driver science. Two drivers, for one stint each, were monitored pre- and post-stint for core temperature, heart rate, and physiological strain. Each driver exhibited an increase in PSI (driver 1 pre/post stint PSI= 0.21/7.76, driver 2 pre/post PSI= 2.16/8.17). Similarly, the work of racing was evident in core body temperature (Tgi) and heart rate (HR) (driver 1 Tgi pre/post= 37.24/38.78 °C, driver 2 Tgi pre/post= 37.54/38.42 °C; driver 1 HR pre/post =71/166, driver 2 HR pre/post =93/195). Post-stint HR levels represented 85% and 96% of their respective age-estimated maximal heart rate. These results add to the slowly growing body of driver science research and support the findings of others who have contributed to the topic. However, it is abundantly clear that there is much to learn in the area of driver science. While the current investigation added incrementally to this growing body of work, the most obvious limitation is the lack of suitable micro-technology. Driver science research would benefit greatly by moving in the direction of using research-grade micro-biometrics which for the continuous real-time and non-intrusive assessment of the driver-athlete. The lack of adequate technology, combined with the lack of published literature, offers compelling evidence for the continuation of this work.


KEY WORDS: Automobile driving - Microtechnology - Athletes

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