This weekend, the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is revisited on the iconic Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans with over 700 cars and a thousand drivers taking part in the ninth Le Mans Classic. New this year, the Porsche Classic Race Le Mans – a commemoration of the marque’s 70th anniversary – and the Global Endurance Legends.
The superb machines that have graced the tarmac in the big race from the twenties to the noughties take to the track once more in a festival of vintage racing. Driving these works of art are a fantastic line-up of amateur and professional drivers, all relishing the opportunity to perpetuate a legend. This year’s line-up includes ten former Le Mans 24 Hours winners, plus Sébastien Loeb who is invited on Saturday and Pierre Fillon, president of the ACO and Richard Mille, President of the FIA Endurance Commission.
Le Mans Classic is a biennial event, founded in 2002 by the ACO and Peter Auto to honour the heritage of the world’s greatest endurance race. Just weeks after the gruelling 24 Hours of Le Mans, which focuses on the cutting-edge technology that forms the future of motoring, the crowds are back in their thousands to celebrate the glittering past of the iconic race.
Having saluted Toyota’s first win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after twenty attempts in June, the Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans will be the scene of the ninth Le Mans Classic. This year’s event pays tribute to the 40th anniversary of Alpine’s victory, the 70th anniversary of the Porsche brand, the 25th anniversary of the Peugeot 905 clean sweep of the podium, and the 50th anniversaries of the Ligier, the Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona and the BMW 2002.
Le Mans Classic also welcomes newness! This weekend sees the introduction of the Porsche Classic Race Le Mans and the Global Endurance Legends featuring the Peugeot 908, the Audi R8, the Saleen and the McLaren F1 GTR, all figures of the nineties and noughties.
The event comprises day and night sessions with six grids of classic cars (1923–1981), plus Group C racing, the Jaguar Classic, the Porsche Classic and Little Big Mans.
Infield entertainment is plentiful, with a drive-in cinema, Le Mans Heritage Club, the Artcurial auction, the race village and club parades.
At the wheel this year, ten Le Mans winners: Derek Bell (in a 1969 Porsche 917 LH), Romain Dumas (1969 Porsche 917), Loïc Duval (1967 Alpine Renault A210), Jan Lammers (1962 Austin Healey 3000 MkII ), Gérard Larrousse (1970 Porsche 911 ST), Klaus Ludwig (Porsche 930 Gr IV 1978), Jochen Mass (Porsche 356 and 911), Stéphane Ortelli (1964 Porsche 904 Carrera GTS ), Henri Pescarolo (1976 Inaltera Le Mans ) and Marco Werner (1955 Lotus Mark IX , 1963 Maserati Tipo 63 Birdcage, 1971 Lola T212 FVC and 1990 Porsche 962C). Ex-Formula One drivers will also be putting their vintage steeds through their paces: René Arnoux (1979 BMW M1 Procar), Paul Belmondo (1981 Porsche 935), Jacques Laffite (1966 Lola T70 Mk III), Jean Ragnotti (Alpine Renault M65 1965) and Alain Serpaggi (Alpine A443 1978).
Le Mans 24 Hours race director Eduardo Freitas will be swapping the control tower for a marshal post at Mulsanne Corner.
The temporary exhibition Blue and Orange about John Wyers and his team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans museum is open throughout the weekend (09:00–22:00 on Saturday and 09:00–19:00 on Sunday).
Both the CIK and Alain Prost karting tracks are also open and are hoping for a visit from Sébastien Loeb, Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval who may well drop by.
Le Mans Karting International
- Saturday, 13:30–19:00
Alain Prost (270cc)
- Saturday 10:00–12:30, 13:30–19:00
- Sunday 13:30–19:00
See www.lemansclassic.com for full details of schedules and entry lists.