Close

Le Mans 24 hrs

31 August 2020

Le Mans is a fascinating place to visit with its many different aspects contributing to its appeal. It is known as the Plantagenet City and a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage status. It is also called the Ville Nature because of the wealth of green spaces in and surrounding the town.

To many people however, the name is synonymous with the annual 24 hour race which has been rescheduled due to Covid – 19 for dates 19th – 20th September 2020. Something for fans to look forward to later in the year.

Le Mans 24h

Le Mans 24 hrs

TOYOTA GAZOO RACING (JPN) CAR MODEL : TOYOTA TS050 – HYBRID TYRES : MICHELIN DRIVERS : Sébastien BUEMI (CHE) Kazuki NAKAJIMA (JPN) Fernando ALONSO (ESP), REMPORTE POUR MA SECONDE FOIS CONSÉCUTIVE LES 24 HEURES DU MANS © Dominique BREUGNOT (ACO)

 

Due to Covid – 19, the most famous of classic races, the Le Mans 24h has been postponed from June to 19th – 20th September 2020.The decision was made by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO- the organiser) and the Féderation Internationale Automobile (FIA) together with the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC).

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

TOYOTA GAZOO RACING (JPN) CAR MODEL : TOYOTA TS050 – HYBRID TYRES : MICHELIN DRIVERS : Sébastien BUEMI (CHE) Kazuki NAKAJIMA (JPN) Fernando ALONSO (ESP) © Alexis GOURE (ACO)

 

This is the world’s oldest active, endurance sports car race that has been held here since 1923.  It is one of the most prestigious, global automobile races and forms part of the Motorsport Triple Crown along with the Indianapolis 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix.

The 24 Hours Le Mans is won by the car that covers the greatest distance in 24 hours; it is not a time lead race. Racing teams must balance the demands of speed with the cars’ ability to run for 24 hours without mechanical failure. In the 2018 race, 41 of the 60 qualifying cars ran the full duration. The whole point of the race was to test endurance rather than speed of sporty yet reliable vehicles.  The design of the track added to the importance of the engineering of the cars.  No other track has as long a straight, and due to part of the race being held on public roads of the Sarthe department, the meticulous reliability of the vehicles is super important.

Le Mans 24 hrs

TOYOTA GAZOO RACING (JPN) CAR MODEL : TOYOTA TS050 – HYBRID TYRES : MICHELIN DRIVERS : Sébastien BUEMI (CHE) Kazuki NAKAJIMA (JPN) Fernando ALONSO (ESP) © Arnaud CORNILLEAU (ACO)

 

Dating from the time of the oil crisis, fuel economy has been top of mind in later years, with the evolving hybrid options being the most recent innovations, which, importantly tend to trickle down to the consumer car sector.

The 24 Hours Le Mans used to be part of the World Sportscar Championship, 1953 – 1992 when the competition ended. It has been a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship since 2012. It has inspired 24 hr races all over the globe from Daytona to Nürburgring and beyond.

For those wanting to attend the event – quarantine and so forth permitting, there are a wide variety of packages available incorporating Channel crossings, tickets for the events, accommodation … The simplest and most popular way to experience Le Mans 2020 is to join the thousands of people that drive to Le Mans and camp at the circuit. Although the public campsites have just basic shower & toilet facilities, they are all just a short walk to the circuit. Packages start at £545 per person.

 

A few facts & figures …

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

TOYOTA GAZOO RACING (JPN) CAR MODEL : TOYOTA TS050 – HYBRID TYRES : MICHELIN DRIVERS : Sébastien BUEMI (CHE) Kazuki NAKAJIMA (JPN) Fernando ALONSO (ESP) © Alexis GOURE (ACO)

 

  • Vision – at night and with speeds of over 300km/h, often in wet weather, visibility can be poor. Some drivers count in their heads along the straights in order to know when a corner is approaching, despite the marker boards along the track.
  • Entrants – 2019 had the largest number of entrants ever – 52 teams and 186 drivers.
  • Showers – American driver Dan Gurney, is responsible for starting the podium champagne shower tradition. He was keen to recreate a scene from the previous year when the cork accidentally shot out and sprayed the crowd.
  • Winning margin – 1927 – 350 kilometres between the winner, in a Bentley, and second place!
  • Safety cars – they need three at Le Mans because of the length of the circuit whereas normally there is only one.  They ensure fairness and keep equidistant all the time.
  • Top speed – 1988 Frenchman Roger Dorchy reached about 400 km/h but 2017 saw Kamui Kobayashi drive his Toyota TS050 HYBRID around the track in a time of 3:14.791!
  • Cancelled? – only in the Second World War and in 1936 due to the General Strike.  Because of the political turmoil at the time the 1968 race was also cancelled.
  • Films – Steve McQueen starred in the 1971 “Le Mans” and A-listers Matt Damon and Christian Bale starred in Ford v Ferrari in 2019

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

 TOYOTA GAZOO RACING (JPN) CAR MODEL : TOYOTA TS050 – HYBRID TYRES : MICHELIN DRIVERS : Sébastien BUEMI (CHE) Kazuki NAKAJIMA (JPN) Fernando ALONSO (ESP) © Frederic GAUDIN (ACO)

 

Shark Helmets Moto Grand Prix de France

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

TEAM SRC KAWASAKI FRANCE (FRA) BIKE : Kawasaki ZX 10R CATEGORY : EWC RIDERS : GUARNONI Jeremy * (FRA) CHECA David (ESP) NIGON Erwan (FRA) © ANTONIN VINCENT (ACO)

 

The famous car race is not the only motor sport event for which Le Mans is famous. Two wheeled vehicle enthusiasts will be happy to know that the Shark Helmets Grand Prix de France is now scheduled to take place 9-11 October 2020. They are hoping that by that time the public will be allowed to watch the race ‘in the flesh’ as it were with growing excitement over each of the 19 laps mounting to a total race distance of just under 100 kilometres.

Le Mans first held a motorcycle Grand Prix event in 1969, when Agostini won the 500cc race, lapping all the other riders on his MV Agusta.

The modern circuit has been a unique and permanent fixture on the MotoGP™ calendar since 2000. Before this the races were alternated with The Paul Ricard Circuit at Le Castellet, amongst others.

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

VRD IGOL PIERRET EXPERIENCES (FRA) BIKE : Yamaha YZF-R1 CATEGORY : EWC RIDERS : ALT Florian * (GER) MARINO Florian (FRA) SIMEON Xavier (BEL) © JONATHAN BICHE (ACO)

 

Local French fans are knowledgeable and passionate about their racing, with a boisterous atmosphere at races. French riders of different eras and in different classes such as Johann Zarco, Christian Sarron, Olivier Jacque, Arnaud Vincent, Guy Bertin, Randy de Puniet and Mike Di Meglio have brought their country race wins and titles, adding to France’s significant racing heritage.

 

The 24h Camions International Truck Race

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

CHAMPIONNAT D’EUROPE CAMIONS © Jean-Philippe Boyer (ACO)

 

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest and FranceRoutes, in conjunction with ETRA Promotion (FIA ERTC promoter) and the FFSA have announced the postponement of the 24h Camion race this year. This 24-hour truck race is another favourite on the Le Mans calendar. The race was originally planned for the 26-27 September but wanting to minimise the knock-on effects of Covid-19 the race, on the Bugatti track, has been put back until the 7-8 November, but will be as tough as it always is.

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

Parade Camions décorés © Stéphane BATARIERE (ACO)

 

This 24h truck race is unique in the world, covers a distance of 4,273 kilometres and encompasses 11 corners. It is part of the European Truck Racing Championship (ETRC) circuit in which well-known brands such as IVECO and Mercedes-Benz take part. Each competition normally attracts more than 420,000 visitors. There are four races at each event with a speed limit of 160km/hr. The minimum weight of a participating truck must be 5.3tons. New this year is the #onetruckfamily initiative set to attract new blood into the trucking business as well as to the racing circuit.  Each event is a great window on the industry as well as an exciting racing spectacle.

 

Le Mans 24h Karting

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

COURSE © Michel JAMIN (ACO)

 

Another popular event on the circuit is the Go Karting race – this year, the 35thrace, is taking place from 27 to 30 August 2020. It is a flagship event that will be more open and competitor-friendly than ever before.

There are two classes or groups. The ELITE class for Rotax and X30 Brand Cup engines and open to national and international C licence holders born before 2007. Additionally, a MASTERS classification will reward driver crews over 32 years of age entered in this class. The second group is the ESPOIR class for Rotax and X30 Junior Brand Cup engines and is open to young drivers born between 2004 and 2008 who hold a national or international C-Junior licence. This is a new system giving lots of competitors fresh hope of topping the 24 Hours Karting rankings.

 

Le Mans 24 hrs

COURSE © Michel JAMIN (ACO)

 

The ASK-ACO president François Bourdin explained: “Karting is the first step on the motorsport ladder. The discipline must remain simple and affordable so we can get as many youngsters as possible competing and coming through.”

 

 

 

Travelling to Le Mans: Take the Eurostar or fly to Paris and travel from Paris Montparnasse Train Station via TGV Atlantique direct to Le Mans (55 minutes). It’s only around a two hour drive from Caen.

 

Image courtesy of Ville du Mans

Image courtesy of Ville du Mans