The week leading up to the big day is marked by several key anniversaries, including the Bentley centenary, the 50th anniversary of Jacky Ickx’s stroll to victory and the 60th anniversary of Aston Martin’s triumph.
The Bentley centenary
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum is celebrating the occasion by showcasing two Bentleys that left their mark on the history of the legendary endurance race: the Bentley Speed 8 that won in 2003 with Rinaldo Capello, Tom Kristensen and Guy Smith at the wheel, and the Bentley 3 Litre Sport, the British marque’s first model to take the honours in 1924. A section of the Rue de Laigné near the museum will also be renamed “Rue des Bentley Boys” at 14:15 on Thursday 13 June.
Seventy years ago, the return of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1949 race was a special vintage as it was the first post-war edition after a ten-year hiatus. It was also the year that Ferrari scored its maiden Le Mans victory with Peter Mitchell-Thomson and Luigi Chinetti sharing the wheel of a 166MM.
1959 – Aston Martin’s red-letter day
This year, Aston Martin will be popping the champagne corks to celebrate the 60th anniversary of its one and only outright Le Mans win. Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori drove the DBR1 to victory in 1959.
Fifty years since the Ickx rebellion
This was the year that Jacky Ickx ambled across the track to his Ford GT40 to draw attention to the safety issues posed by the traditional Le Mans-style start. His protest didn’t prevent the Belgian ace shading the race ahead of Herrmann and Larrousse’s Porsche.
A significant win for Sauber
In 1989, Sauber joined forces with Mercedes to clinch victory at Le Mans with the Sauber C9 Mercedes-Benz seeing off Jaguar and Porsche. Thirty years later, it remains a landmark win for the Swiss outfit and its founder, Peter Sauber.
BMW made its mark... two decades ago
In 1999, Pierluigi Martini, Yannick Dalmas and Joachim Winkelhock drove a BMW V12 LMR to victory – the Bavarian manufacturer’s only outright Le Mans win to date. To mark the occasion, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest has opened a new exhibition, entitled “Art and Victory”, that the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum will host until 6 October 2019. It reviews 80 years of BMW history at Le Mans and features six authentic vehicles with different designs that took part in the French endurance classic: the 328, the CSL, the famous Lichtenstein 320i, the M1 Procar, the Jenny Holzer V12 and the McLaren F1 painted by César.
Iconic win for the Peugeot 908
In 2009, Peugeot Sport managed to outmuscle Audi with the 908 HDi FAP driven by David Brabham, Marc Gené and Alexander Wurz. It was to be this diesel prototype’s only triumph at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Quite a feat it was too as the French manufacturer gained revenge over its German counterpart, unconquered in La Sarthe since 2004.
They celebrate their birthday too
Three of this year’s 186 drivers celebrate their birthday this week. Loïc Duval, driver of the #28 LMP2-class Oreca 07-Gibson entered by TDS Racing, will be 37 on Wednesday when free practice and the first qualifying session will be held. Filipe Albuquerque will be looking to celebrate his 34th birthday in style on Thursday by clocking a fast time in United Autosports’ #22 Ligier JS P217-Gibson LMP2 during the final qualifying sessions. Finally, LMGTE Pro driver James Calado will be at the wheel of AF Corse’s #51 Ferrari on his 30th birthday, also on Thursday.
Tomorrow, 22 of the 62 cars entered will be making the short trip to Place de la République in Le Mans city centre for technical and administrative checks on the first day of scrutineering. The drivers’ equipment and licences will be examined while the cars are carefully measured by the scrutineers who ensure that they comply with regulations. This free event offers spectators a tremendous opportunity to get a close-up view of cars and drivers.
>> Download the scrutineering timetable <<
Schedule of race-related events
Sunday 9 June
- 14:30–19:00: Scrutineering, Place de la République, Le Mans city centre
Monday 10 June
- 10:00–18:00: Scrutineering, Place de la République, Le Mans city centre
- From 15:45 on the Scrutineering stage: Winners’ handprints ceremony
Tuesday 11 June
- 10:30–10:45: Drivers group photograph
- 17:00–18:30: Autograph sessions
Wednesday 12 June
- 10:00 – 15:00: Pit walk
- 16:00 – 20:00: 24 Hours of Le Mans Free Practice
- 20:30 – 21:30: Road to Le Mans Free Practice 1
- 22:00 – 00:00: 24 Hours of Le Mans Qualifying
Thursday 13 June
- 08:30–09:30: Road to Le Mans Free Practice 2
- 10:00–10:45: Ferrari Challenge Free Practice 1
- 11:25–12:10: Ferrari Challenge Free Practice 2
- 13:00–13:20: Road to Le Mans Qualifying 1
- 13:35–13:55: Road to Le Mans Qualifying 2
- 15:00–16:00: Ferrari Challenge Qualifying
- 17:30–18:25: Road to Le Mans Race 1
- 19:00–21:00: 24 Hours of Le Mans Qualifying
- 22:00–00:00: 24 Hours of Le Mans Qualifying
Friday 14 June
- 10:00-20:00: Pit walk
- 11:00: Start of the Le Mans Esports Series Final
- 16:00: Exclusive screening of a 10-minute extract of Le Mans ’66 at Pathé cinema, Le Mans (media)
- 17:00–18:30: Drivers Parade (Parade des Pilotes) in the city centre
Saturday 15 June
- 09:00–09:45: 24 Hours of Le Mans warm-up
- 10:15–11:00: Ferrari Challenge Race
- 11:30–12:25: Road to Le Mans Race 2
- 12:25–12:30: Le Mans Esports Series Podium
- 15:00: 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans START
Sunday 16 June
15:00: 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans FINISH
Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June:
- 24 Heures Golf at the 24 Hours golf course – tee-off at 13:00 on Saturday
Tuesday 11 June:
- Les R’Hunaudières, Ruaudin sports arena, 16:00–23:00;
- Neuville dans la course, open-air cinema, Vieux Moulin, Neuville-sur-Sarthe, from 19:00
Wednesday 12 June :
- 20:00: Diva Faune in concert at the racetrack
Thursday 13 June:
- Arnage dans la course, place François Mitterrand in Arnage, 09:00–17:00;
- 20:00: Cock Robin in concert at the racetrack
Friday 14 June:
- Classic British Welcome, Saint-Saturnin, 09:00–17:00;
- Le Virage de Mulsanne, 2 avenue François Mitterrand in Mulsanne, 09:00–16:00;
- 21:00: DJ Loran set with RTL2 at the racetrack
Saturday 15 June :
- 20:00: Dissident, then Franz Ferdinand in concert at the racetrack
BMW – Art and Victory exhibition and Bentley Centenary at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum:
• Monday 10 June: 10:00–19:00
• Tuesday 11 June: 10:00–19:00
• Wednesday 12 June: 10:00–22:00
• Thursday 13 June: 10:00–22:00
• Friday 14 June: 10:00–22:00
• Saturday 15 June: 09:00–01:00
• Sunday 16 June: 09:00–19:00