With the Le Mans 24-Hour race just three short weeks away, we thought this short clip showing a lap of the famous circuit with Oliver Gavin in the 2011 Corvette may whet you appetite…enjoy!
The Le Mans 24-Hour race would not be what it is today if it had not enjoyed the support and heritage that has seen it grow into the world’s premier sports car endurance event that it is today. First run in 1923, the Le Mans 24-Hour race has been held every year without interruption, with the exception of the years 1940-1948, during the War and the years immediately afterwards in which materials and money were in short supply, making 2012 the 80th running of this legendary race.
In recognition of this heritage, the ACO holds a Legends race each year on the Saturday morning as a curtain raiser to the main event, in which the iconic Ferraris, Healeys, Jaguars, Porsches, Aston Martins, et alia, of yesteryear participate. Far from being a parade of expensive old cars, these race cars are put through their paces from the word GO!
This year celebrates the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Group C cars. This era, which ran from 1982 to 1992, saw what was undoubtedly one of the most exciting and technically innovative periods of development in sports car racing. The Porsche 956 and 962C dominated the first half of this decade in a manner not seen up until that time, and which has not been witnessed since. The 956 took the top three places at Le Mans in 1982 and when Porsche made this race car available to its customer teams in 1983, the German marque swooped nine out of the top ten places taking positions 1-through-8 as well as tenth. Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Nissan and Toyota muscled in on the action towards the end of the 1980s as the Porsche racer lost its lustre by then, but it is the WM-Peugeot P87 which still holds the all-time fastest speed of 405km/h through the trap down the Mulsanne Straight set in 1988 – these were amazing times of courage and innovation.
So…set your alarm clocks for early on Saturday morning and get down to the track in good time to witness the armada of Group C missiles as they line up for the hour-long Legends race starting at 11h00.
May 23rd was the date set aside by the ACO for the official announcement of every team’s driver line-up, and this year sees no fewer than 167 drivers who will take to the track in 56 cars. Toyota Racing has however requested an extension to this deadline, as the Japanese driver Hiroaki Ishiura has withdrawn from the race due to a bad back. The ACO press release said that the Japanese driver had ‘cried off’ with a sore back, which seemed a bit harsh, but the extension was granted by the ACO although we don’t yet know the name of the third driver in the No.8 Toyota TS030 Hybrid.
As mentioned last week, administration and scrutineering begins on Sunday 10th June and runs for two days. The first car on the ramp at 15h00 on Sunday will be the No.45 Boutsen Ginion Racing LM P2 ORECA 03 – Nissan, while the last car at 17h40 on the Monday afternoon will be the No.8 Toyota Racing LM P1 Toyota TS 030 – Hybrid. In between these two start/finish times, a further 54 cars must pass administration and technical scrutineering, and to manoeuvre this many race cars in and out of a restricted area against a tight schedule, will no doubt produce some fun and games.