David Richards and Mark Webber honoured

It has now become a tradition. Every year major figures in the world of the motor car are honoured at the Le Mans 24 Hours. In 2017 (race on 17-18 June) David Richards will be awarded the Spirit of Le Mans Trophy while Mark Webber will fill the role of Grand Marshal.

Since 2001 the Spirit of Le Mans prize celebrates an outstanding figure who has served the “Esprit Le Mans.” At the 2017 race the Automobile Club de l’Ouest is delighted to award it to David Richards, the President of Aston Martin.  
 Richards’ history at the Le Mans 24 Hours began in 2002. That year Prodrive built a competition version of the Ferrari 550 Maranello, which clinched a dominating category victory in the Sarthe in 2003. While its drivers Peter Kox, Jamie Davies and Thomas Enge were celebrating this success Richards was already working on a much more ambitious project – Aston Martin’s return to the track as he had become the president of the make that won the race in 1959. Since 2006 Aston Martin has been one of the most-consistent front-runners in endurance clinching victory in the LM GT1 category two years running in 2008 and 2009 with the DBR9. It then made a foray into the LM P1 prototype category in the sky blue and orange colours of the Gulf petrol company, three-time winner at Le Mans (1968-69-75). Since 2012 the V8 Vantage has been one of the stars of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship. 
 David will receive the Rolex watch that symbolises the Spirit of Le Mans on Friday 16th June at the ACO press conference. 

In 2017, Mark Webber will follow in the footsteps of Henri Pescarolo, Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Alexander Wurz by becoming the Grand Marshall of the 85th Le Mans 24 Hours. 
 In a career that included both single-seater and endurance racing, rather like that of the drivers in the 1970s, the Australian racked up one of the best sets of results in motor sport on circuits in the last quarter-of-a-century. After an 11-year career in Formula 1 (2002-2013) crowned with nine victories he entered for the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2014 as part of Porsche’s return to the LM P1 category with its new 919 Hybrid prototype. The following year Webber scored his best result in the Sarthe with second place as well as clinching the Endurance Drivers’ World Championship title with his team-mates. He retired from racing in 2016, and this year as Grand Marshall he will have the privilege of driving the official pace car that will lead the entrants on the formation lap at the end of which he will pull off just before the flag is waved to unleash the field.   

Two of the figures honoured at the 85th Le Mans 24 Hours are now known. 
 All that remains is to announce the name of the official starter of the pinnacle of the World Endurance Championship.
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