Le Mans 24 hour - the original sports car endurance race

« Back to Articles - Date Posted: 04/02/2014 1:22pm by Alison Cummings

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The ‘24 Hours of Le Mans’ is the original sports car endurance race. Beginning in 1923, this annual event is considered the ‘Grand Prix’ of endurance racing and is the most prestigious of its kind. The race tests all kinds of skills, from the cars durability to the driver’s perseverance. The race teams must carefully balance all aspects of their driving so they can successfully keep the car running for 24 hours. This means an extremely precise formulation of fuel, tyre pressure and braking so that the car is able to continuously run for this length of time. As a result of the race’s considerable time scale, and the relatively small size of the race teams, the drivers as well as the cars go through endurance tests. With race teams of just three people, drivers are often sat behind the wheel for up to two hours at a time. The race therefore requires an enormous amount of stamina from both car and team alike. The race is held on the ‘Circuit de la Sarthe’, which is an interesting mix of specially designed racetrack and normal, but of course closed, public road. This ensures a variety of terrains to make the track as well as the length of time particularly challenging.

At its inception, the race included cars that were sold to the general public. These were originally known as ‘sports cars’ when compared to the specialised ‘racing cars’ designed for the actual Grand Prix. Nowadays the race still involves proto-type sports cars but also ‘Grand touring’ models, similar to those on sale to the general public. Therefore the likes of BMW, Porsche and even Ford have won Le Mans in previous years. The winner for the last two years has been an Audi Hybrid, with the Audi R18 achieving the crown in 2013. This was driven by McNish, Duval and Kristensen, which marked Kristensen’s ninth win and ensured that he still holds the record for number of race wins. Although the race is the original, it is by no means the only one of its kind. It has inspired many imitations around the world, including Daytona, where just last weekend previous victors of Le Mans competed once again.

The race is held in June, this year between the 14th and 15th, which makes it a perfect opportunity to combine this esteemed event with the perfect French getaway. General Enclosure tickets include a Test Day on the 1st June, practice sessions, a pits visit and the entire race weekend all for just 73€. Alternatively, Grandstand tickets are 65€. This guarantees you a seat for the entire race, including through the night and although the race may start at 3pm, there is still the final practice at 9am where the race hype begins. Moreover, Camping is just 35€ if you want to be even closer to the action. Whether race car enthusiast or not, this is certainly not to be missed and can easily be turned into a full two week event!

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