Tag Archives: Travel Destinations

Le Mans 2017

Le Mans 2017: GTE Preview

With just days left before the Le Mans 24 Hours 2017, we take a closer look at the GTE entrants at Le Mans 2017 & what we should expect from them with our man in the stands; Stephen Kilbey.

GTE Am; The Second Battle of the Brands
While GTE Pro may feature full factory-backed GT entries, GTE Am’s grid this year, will be just as fiercely competitive, with almost as much variety. There’s something for everyone, with a smattering of Aston Martins, including a factory-supported Aston Martin Racing effort, lots of brand new Ferrari 488s, some Porsche 911s and as usual, a single Larbre Corvette. The driver talent is also high in the Am class, with plenty of factory talent placed in among the teams to assist the amateurs; and they’ll be the difference. When the world-class drivers are out of the cars, and its down to the more inexperienced gentlemen drivers, that’s when the race will be won. It’ll be fascinating, it’ll be unpredictable, and well worth keeping an eye on all week at Le Mans 2017.

Le Mans 2017

Tyre Wars
There’s a tyre war in GTE Pro and GTE Am. Michelin vs Dunlop. The Pro class Aston Martins and the Am class Astons and Porsches wearing the Dunlops. The Fords, Corvettes (Pro and Am), Pro Porsches and all of the Ferraris are with Michelin. Last season saw the Dunlops in Pro come on strong for Aston Martin (the weather at Le Mans 2017 could be another curve ball in this battle). Pace in the dry might not be the only story! Commercial success here will be measured by the colour of the caps on the podium on Sunday afternoon!

Porsche’s New Weapon
Porsche have followed Ford into the new era of GTE Pro racing by utilizing the more open rule-book to produce the fabulous looking 2017 spec 911 RSR. As is well known, the car now features a mid-mounted (ahead of the rear axle) flat six, and the car looks and sounds fabulous, particularly in the cauldron of the pit straight at Le Mans. With Porsche foregoing the opportunity for a turbo power plant the race long performance might be one to watch, certainly in wet running so far there’s no sign that Porsche have lost their wet-weather traction edge!

Le Mans 2017

Corvette
Fastest at the Test Day on the full circuit in the Pro Class, with the solo Am ‘Vette right at the sharp end too. Things look good for the 5.5 litre V8 bellowing Chevys. The soundtrack of the Corvettes is a highlight at Le Mans for many and a top pit crew, top quality and highly international driving squad and, by the look of things, a Balance of performance that should see the ‘Vettes back in the leading group should mean that ‘America’s SportsCar’ is back at the sharp end.

Le Mans 24 Hours

With Marcel Fässler back at Corvette for the first time since 2009 (after his Audi adventure) there’s even more depth of talent beyond the long-stay talents of Oliver ‘The Tall One’ Gavin, Antonio ‘The little Spanish One’ Garcia, Tommy ‘Don’t Call Me Junior’ Milner and Jan’ Kevin’s Dad’ Magnussen – Jordan ‘the Wacky One from Social Media’ is the other third man for this one.

Colours
Not the LA Gang turf war colours, instead the ‘give Andy Blackmore a nightmare by producing intricate liveries to stand out’ sort. From variations on the traditional Porsche white, Ferrari red (this year the Pro cars are in a gorgeous deeper shade), Aston Martin green and Corvette yellow, through the Gulf liveried Porsche in Am, the tricky to tell apart Fords, Duncan Cameron’s dark green Ferrari in Am and the oh so simple, but oh so very effective Risi red Ferrari.

Le Mans 2017

There’s also JMW’s new yellow Am Ferrari 488, Clearwater Racing’s pair of contrasting dragon liveried Ferraris (one chrome-based the other matt grey based) and the Art Car for this year, the gloriously bonkers comic book themed ‘Human’ Larbre Corvette – this grid of 29 GTE cars has something for everyone’s visual tastes!

Who’s The Daddy?
With the FIA WEC qualifying format not used at Le Mans its all about raw speed in qualifying. With such a depth of talent on tap it’s a tough call on who will be setting pole in GTE Pro. Nicki Thiim has been the pace man at Aston Martin, ably assisted by Darren Turner. Fred Mako and Patrick Pilet are amongst Porsche’s usual picks, Harry Tincknell has Andy Priaulx edging him on at Ford UK whilst Joey Hand has always been quick here too. Brit pair James Calado and Sam Bird look set to do battle for Ferrari, Toni Vilander for Risi, and at Corvette Oliver Gavin and Jan Magnussen just seem to forget that advancing years should take the edge off by producing stellar times.

Balance of Performance
A system designed to ensure close competition has become an annual battle of who can befuddle the rule makers by more than the opposition! Last year it was Ford, ‘finding’ a huge amount of pace between the Test Day and race week much to the irritation of the race organisers, and their competition! This year Ford were again off the pace at the Test Day after a turbo boost restriction was enforced as part of their BoP – the values can be amended at any point before the race – but will they be, and if they are what will be the response to another Ford win at Le Mans 2017?

Le Mans 2017

Aston Martin meanwhile have a car which is in its last season as the Factory weapon, up against cars that, for the most part, are no more than a season old. For them BoP is an important part of staying in the game, can they – or will a brand new Porsche, cutting edge Ferrari and four car Ford effort relegate them to minor placings at Le Mans 2017?

Am Dram
Whilst the big budget GT drama surrounds the factory-backed efforts in the Pro class don’t ignore what is likely the strongest GTE Am field in recent years. 16 cars, plenty of variety, and a tyre war there too, should dole out plenty of excitement. Pick a favourite or two and watch their progress. Eight Ferrari 488s (including teams from The UK, mainland Europe, Asia and the USA) four Porsches, including the gorgeous Gulf liveried No.86, three Aston Martins all upgraded to 2016 specification (GTE AM cars MUST be a spec that is at least a year old) and the single Art Car Corvette will entertain for sure. Check the entry list for some very familiar names from national and international racing.

Le Mans 24 Hours

Ford vs Ferrari
A classic confrontation and one which the events of 2016’s 24 Hours of Le mans did little to dissipate. Ironically though whereas back in period it was the Fords taking on the ‘establishment’, this time around it feels almost the opposite. 2016 saw controversy about Balance of Performance, a meltdown by the factory-backed AF Corse pair then a race long battle between the four Fords and a solo Ferrari from the Risi Competizione outfit that took the race to the wire. There is respect, but with a razor edge, to this battle at Le Mans 2017 – don’t miss a moment of it.

Le Mans 2017

Aston Martin vs Corvette
Another classic encounter, and one that is likely to be overlapping with the Ford/Ferrari battles for added spice! Here though whilst the on-track battles are no less more seriously contested, the off-track dynamics are altogether more respectful. It dates back to the old GT1 days, pit crews exchanging banter, an annual near impromptu car pushing race up the grid and much back slapping and bear-hugging depending on the result Green vs Yellow is as much a part of this great race as the factory battles in LMP1 at Le Mans 2017.

Le Mans 2017

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

Le Mans tickets

The Countdown to Le Mans

It is now that time of year when everyone’s thoughts turn to Le Mans. Thousands of people are counting down the days until it is time to return to La Sarthe. Routes are being planned, tents pre-erected following 12 months of storage, and supplies are being purchased. The Travel Destinations teams are making their final preparations before departure as well.

Travel Destinations Le Mans Ticket Packs
All Le Mans tickets have now been sent out from our office (unless you made a purchase in the last 24 hours or have arranged to collect tickets from us at the circuit). If you have received a card from the post office asking you to collect a package, then we request you do so as soon as possible, before your tickets are returned to us. When you receive your ticket pack, please do check all your tickets to ensure that you have everything that you require. Now would also be a good time to check that your passport is in date for when you travel too!

Le Mans tickets
Eurotunnel travellers

If you are travelling with Eurotunnel please ensure that you also complete your Advance Passenger Information by following the instructions on your ticket. You will need to do this for all passengers travelling in a car. You will need to input passport details for each person travelling. This is not required if you are travelling by ferry as your passports will be scanned at the point of departure.

Your Essential Guide & further campsite information
Along with your Le Mans tickets, you will also have received our new-look “Essential Guide to Le Mans”. Please do read this before you travel and bring it with you as there is a lot of useful information inside. Le Mans can be a confusing place at times, particularly if this is your first visit, however a bit of planning now can save on stress later. The guide contains directions, maps and a race week schedule to assist you in enjoying your visit to Le Mans.

Le Mans tickets
If you are staying in one of our private areas (our trackside campsite at Porsche Curves, our Event Tents & our Flexotel Village) then you will have been sent a separate email containing further information specifically for you. It is important that you read this information in conjunction with our essential guide as it will assist you with access and answer many questions. Even if you have been to Le Mans with us before, please ensure you have read this document as things to change at Le Mans.

Photography Courses
We have had a fantastic response to our Le Mans photography workshops in association with Jessops Academy. Important information including joining instructions has already been sent directly to those people who have already signed up. We are all looking forward to seeing the results. If you haven’t yet booked for these courses but are interested in joining in, please do call us for an update on late availability.

Le Mans Tickets
For those making a last-minute decision to attend Le Mans, then we can still assist you. There is very limited availability for Le Mans tickets but we can help you with on-circuit & off-circuit camping, entrance tickets & travel. As you would expect the availability situation is changing on a daily basis so please call us for up to date Le Mans ticket information.

Le Mans tickets
We wish you all a safe journey to the circuit & hope that we see you there. Should you need to contact any of our staff during your stay at Le Mans, please do call our on-circuit helpline provided in your pack. Our staff at the track will be happy to assist.

Le Mans 2018
For those planning even further ahead; we will go on sale for Le Mans 2018 during the week after this year’s race. If you wish to guarantee your place at Le Mans 2018 then please do call us on 0844 873 0203 when you return. A deposit will be required at the time of booking.

Le Mans tickets
Thank you for choosing Travel Destinations for your Le Mans visit this year & we hope you can join us again soon.

Le Mans photography

Photography workshops at Le Mans

Have you ever been disappointed with your motorsport photography? Or have you ever wondered how professional photographers obtain the best shots? Then we now have the answer for you.
Travel Destinations have created an exciting partnership with Jessops Academy Photography Training School to offer you the chance to join a number of photo workshops trackside at the Le Mans 24 Hours. These workshops are exclusive to Travel Destinations customers and can be added to any of our Le Mans 2017 packages.

JessopsJessops award winning academy trainers will be hosting photography workshops at the Le Mans circuit on the Saturday and Sunday, to offer you the chance to learn and practice professional techniques and obtain even better photos. These workshops are designed to be fun and educational, enabling you to be able to us professional techniques trackside at Le Mans.

Le Mans 2017
Silhouettes at Le Mans

Jessops Academy have been running motorsport photography workshops in the UK for the last 4 years however, this will be the first opportunity that anyone has had the chance to learn from their knowledge trackside at the Le Mans 24 Hours.

For Le Mans 2017 there will be a total of 6 different training workshops available with 2 Jessops Academy trainers. Each workshop session will be limited to a maximum of 30 people to ensure everyone is able to receive the assistance that they need.

Each 2-hour session can be purchased individually for £50.00 per person, or as a special Travel Destinations offer, all 6 workshops can be purchased together for just £150.00 per person. 

Le Mans 2017 Workshops:
1. Camera set-up and control for motorsport photography. (Saturday, 11:00hrs)
2. Editorial Shooting (photography with a theme) and mastering panning shots trackside (Saturday 14:30hrs)
3. Dusk lighting, silhouettes and making the most of low light (Saturday 20:00hrs)
4. Shooting at night, light trails and slow shutter pit lane action (Saturday 23:00hrs)
5. Using sunrise and the dawn light. The perfect time of day for photography (Sunday 05:00hrs)
6. Reviewing motorsport images, problem solving and post production set (Sunday 11:00hrs)

As well as training at various locations around the track, the training team will be on-site on Friday evening and encourage all workshop participants to join them for a chat & introduction before the workshops begin on Saturday.

Spaces are strictly limited, so please secure your desired workshop by calling Travel Destinations now on 0844 873 0203.

Le Mans 2017
Camera panning gives good results

Further information:
– The workshops are open to all Travel Destinations customers of any photography standard and experience. The workshops can be added to your existing booking.
– A Digital SLR or mirrorless camera is recommended for all workshops. Although the workshops will still be relevant for compact or bridge cameras, the obtainable results will be limited by the technology.
– Bringing at least 2 different lenses with your DSLR is recommended. Particularly a wide-angle lens, and a form of telephoto (3 – 600mm)
– Although a tripod/monopod is not essential, it will be useful for night-time and low light sessions.
– You should expect to take a large number of photos during each session, so please ensure you have enough memory cards & battery life.
– Each trackside session will take place in public areas around the circuit. Media access is not necessary and will not be provided.
– Each session will take place at the circuit, usually trackside so if you are sensitive to noise ear defenders or earplugs are recommended.
– Be prepared for all weathers. Le Mans can be warm, cold, wet, dry and dusty all in one day. The workshops will take place whatever the conditions so you may need to protect your camera from the elements.
– Wear comfortable clothing. We will be moving around the track so comfortable shoes are a must and you may wish to kneel or lie down to get the best angles.

Le Mans 2017
You only get light trails like this at Le Mans

Reserve your place on the Jessops Academy photography workshops at Le Mans by calling Travel Destinations now on 0844 873 0203.

Le Mans Classic tickets

Le Mans Classic Returns

Le Mans Classic 2018We are pleased to confirm that the 9th running of the famous Le Mans Classic will take place from the 6th – 8th July 2018. The Le Mans Classic offers a great motor racing retrospective every two years at the historic Circuit de la Sarthe, in Le Mans, France. The event itself is much anticipated by participants and spectators alike, so booking your place early is highly recommended.

Last July, more than 123,000 spectators made the pilgrimage to Le Mans to witness 550 race cars take to the track as well as an amazing 8500 classic and sports cars from various clubs and organisations gather on the infield.

Travel Destinations are official agents for the Le Mans Classic and so are in a privileged position  to offer our customers the best choice in travel, Le Mans Classic tickets and accommodation for the Le Mans Classic 2018. Local hotels to Le Mans will be in high demand, however we have a selection available within a few minutes drive to the circuit. Camping has always been a tradition at Le Mans, so as well as the basic circuit run camping, we have 2 different trackside campsites offering superior facilities and secure parking adjacent to the track.

For the Le Mans Classic 2018 Travel Destinations will also be able to offer our Event Tents (Glamping) and our Flexotel Village (pop-up hotel) in the centre of the circuit. These options will enable all guests to enjoy a little more comfort, whilst still staying on the circuit. All these options can include entrance tickets and paddock access, as well as your choice of channel crossings from the UK if required. Options are also available without travel if required, so please enquire at the time of booking. Grandstand seats, circuit laps/track laps and meals can also be added to bookings on request. All available options and further details are now available on this website.

All these options are available to book now & can be secured today with a deposit. To learn more and to reserve your place please call our experienced team on 0844 873 0203. We look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Glamping at Le Mans

Camping at Le Mans

Part 3: Camping at Le Mans

Camping is a tradition at Le Mans. If you want to experience all that the Le Mans 24 Hours has to offer then staying at the track is the best way to do it. No question. Often camping is a necessity as well, as more than 250,000 spectators descend on Le Mans during Le Mans week and there just aren’t enough rooms to go around. Supply and demand means that any rooms that are available are expensive and are often snapped up by corporate bookings and never go on sale to the general public. So camping it is.

Travel Destinations have many customers that would never camp at any other time of the year, but for Le Mans it is just accepted. But then there are different types of camping available too. So, it is very important to make the right choice of campsite at the circuit. The difficulty is that everyone will have a different opinion depending on their experiences during their stay. At Travel Destinations, we speak to thousands of Le Mans customers every year. Sometimes we will have people in one campsite say it is the best place and rebook again, whilst others in the same campsite will choose a different one for the next year. This is one of the reasons why we speak to every customer, so that we can talk to them, find out their needs and requests and then discuss the best options available.
The majority of the camping areas at the track are run by the circuit (the ACO). Thousands of people camp in each area year after year. We describe it as a motor racing Glastonbury, although actually there are twice as many people at Le Mans than the music event. But you can get the idea. The campsites are full of tents and cars. Although there are lots of different areas, there are some things they all have in common. Each camping plot will give a 7 metre by 5 metre area. This will need to accommodate both a vehicle and tents. Each campsite will also provide shower and toilet blocks, but as with any event like this expect them to be very busy at peak times.

Camping at Le Mans

Each campsite has a name and they are different prices depending on the size and location. As a rule of thumb the closer the campsite is to the start/finish straight the more expensive it will be. There are always exceptions, but that is the general rule. Perhaps the most popular circuit run campsites are Maison Blanche, Houx & Tertre Rouge. Maison Blanche borders the track just before the Ford Chicane. It has been much reduced in recent years with the building of the new Porsche Experience Centre but it remains popular. Houx is a larger campsite in the centre of the infield. It is also a short walk to the village and the start line. Perhaps its most notable point is that Houx is the only campsite that offers access to electricity. Tertre Rouge is located adjacent to the track at the northern end of the circuit just beyond the Dunlop Bridge. It is a small campsite that looks down on the track which makes it very popular. Each of these campsites will often sell out a long time in advance of the race.

Beyond these three campsites are other areas such as Houx Annexe, Blue Nord & Blue Sud. Although these campsites offer similar facilities to the first three (except electricity) they are a bit further to walk to the village or start line, so therefore they aren’t as expensive. Each of these campsites will give a numbered pitch, so these are popular with campers who may be arriving later in the week as they won’t have to search for a spot. The biggest circuit run campsite is called Beausejour. This campsite is located on the infield, with the closest part of the track being the Porsche Curves. Pitches aren’t numbered so arriving early is recommended if you want to be near the entrance. Even then a walk from the Beausejour campsite to the start line will take about 30 minutes, so bring your walking shoes with you. The campsite as huge with thousands of pitches, so usually this is the last area to sell out.

Camping at Le Mans

There are two other circuit run campsites that are further away from the start line than Beausejour. Both Arnage and Mulsanne campsites are located on corners and offer great views. However they are beyond walking distance from the rest of the circuit, so new visitors will need to be careful as they can be quite isolated. These areas can be popular with regular visitors that don’t mind being away from the main areas of the circuit.

So far we have only mentioned the circuit run campsites on the track. These are cheap and cheerful, but offer little in the way of facilities and security. However there are alternatives for those people who wish to stay on circuit but would like a bit more for their money. Private campsites will offer a range of extra facilities usually including 24 hours security, private showers & toilets as well as food & drinks on-site. Even then there are differences between what each company can offer. Some private campsites are located within the ACO public areas, but are fenced off to keep them private. Others are located trackside and have no neighbours at all, so it is important to understand exactly what you are buying.

Travel Destinations were actually the first company to introduce private camping more than 10 years ago. Our private campsite at the Porsche Curves has increased in area and capacity since then but still offers the extra security, serviced showers and toilets as well as our popular marquee where our bar and food outlet can be found. It is also where we have our TV screens and evening entertainment so it is a real social hub. Our Porsche Curves campsite also has the only private viewing bank at the circuit, so our guests can get a unique view of the race.

Glamping at Le Mans
Travel Destinations Event Tents

For those that don’t enjoy camping, Travel Destinations have added Glamping and Flexotels to the on-circuit choices. Glamping is still under canvas, but the large pre-erected tents come with carpet and beds, so you don’t need to have any equipment. Similarly, the Travel Destinations Flexotel Village provides pop-up hotel rooms in the centre of the circuit so that you can return to your own bedroom and a proper bed each night. The height of luxury at Le Mans.

Pop up hotel at Le Mans
Travel Destinations Flexotel Village

By their nature all private areas at the circuit are going to be limited in space and more expensive than the large circuit run campsites, but it is important to note that the private campsites will sell out the quickest, so it is always important to book early. It is unlikely that there is going to be much availability as the race gets closer.

Top tips for Camping at Le Mans are:
• There are lots of options so it is important to do your research or speak to an official agent before you make your booking.
• Consider the distance from the campsite to the track as you will be doing a lot of walking
• Think about what you want from your experience. Is cost the priority or would you prefer security or luxury?

Le Mans official ticket agency

Travel Destinations are the largest UK Tour Operator to Le Mans.
Travel Destinations are an Officially appointed agency for Le Mans and are a fully bonded ABTA and ATOL tour operator.
All our Le Mans options are available to view on this website or call us now for more details on 0844 873 0203.

This article first appeared on Motorsport Magazine online & is the third in a series of guest blogs by Richard about Le Mans.

Le Mans

Le Mans 2017 tickets are on sale

Le Mans tickets are on sale now , so Motorsport Magazine asked Richard Webb of Travel Destinations for his advice on booking.

Part one: When to book
Le Mans is the pinnacle of sports car racing. It is on the bucket list of spectators and drivers from all fields of motor sport and every June more than 250,000 race fans make the pilgrimage to Le Mans. So why is it so popular, and how can you get the most from your Le Mans experience?

Le Mans is unique. It really has to be experienced to fully appreciate the history, the challenge, the emotion and the atmosphere of the event. It is for this very reason that National Geographic rated Le Mans the number one sporting event in the world; higher even than the Olympics, the Super Bowl or the World Cup. For spectators, such a big event does provide a number of challenges. When to book, where to stay, what tickets are required, how long to stay, where to watch and what to do all needs to be considered. Often there is no right or wrong answer, just a different solution to the same problem. We at Travel Destinations talk customers through the pros and cons of the available options, having been looking after people at Le Mans for more than 20 years now. We have done everything, seen everything and can help from a position of knowledge and experience – and we’re racing fans, too. But each company is different.

Le Mans

We would always recommend booking early. As with any event availability is key, so the earlier you book the more choice that you have. You can turn up on the day at Le Mans and purchase an entrance ticket, but that is all that will be available; campsites and grandstands will always sell out these days. Gone are the days of turning up in your car and pitching a tent in the nearest field. Travel Destinations look after a few thousand customers at Le Mans each year, many of whom are repeat customers, and often these people will re-book immediately on their return or even on their way home from the race, which some people do. However, this isn’t always necessary unless you are particularly forgetful…

We would usually recommend that people reserve the travel, tickets and accommodation before Christmas for the following year. This will usually guarantee you everything that you want. Once the New Year comes around certain things will start to sell out. The more popular grandstands and campsites start to fill up, although there will always be something available until April and May. We do even make some very late bookings in the first week of June, but by then there is no choice – you simply get what is left. So in short, the time to book is now.

Le Mans

Once you have decided that you want to go to Le Mans then you need to act. Now, the first thing most people do is surf the internet. You will find endless forums and message boards offering opinions on where is the best place and who are the best company. However, there are really only two things that you should look for when purchasing tickets for Le Mans.

The first is to look for an official agent logo. You will see this on all pages on our site. The logo means that the company is licensed to sell tickets directly from the race organizers; the ACO. Anyone without that logo is ultimately buying tickets and reselling without authorization. That is ticket touting and is effectively illegal. Not only that but you run the risk of not receiving the correct tickets, or in some cases, any tickets at all. So message one has to be always look for that logo.

The second thing to look for – and this applies for any travel that you may choose to book – is check whether the company is bonded in any way. The most well-known of these is ABTA and ATOL. These logos show that the company you are booking through has been authorized to sell travel packages and that they have all the insurances in place to do so. Sadly there are many companies that will claim your money is safe if you book with them, but ultimately you should ask more questions before you book. Le Mans is a holiday, in the same was a cruise round the Mediterranean, flights around the world, or a week in Majorca. You book your holidays through a specialist travel company & Le Mans should be no different. We recommend looking for the logos – if they aren’t there or you are not sure, don’t book.

Le Mans

The internet is great for many things, but for Le Mans it can cause issues if you don’t know what you are doing, or the website is in a foreign language. Sometimes it is best to speak to someone and ask some questions. We actively encourage our customers to call us even if they have been to Le Mans many times before. Things are always changing at the circuit so you can’t just presume things will be the same as the last visit. In recent years some campsites have been built on and closed or reduced in size. New campsites have opened and others have changed the facilities on offer. All our staff have been to Le Mans so can speak from experience, they are also kept up to date with current events at the circuit so they can pass on that information directly. Ticking a box on a website can’t do that.

Top tips for booking tickets for Le Mans:
• Only purchase from an official agent.
• Check for financial bonding if booking travel (look for the logos!)
• Speak to the company. If they can’t answer the phone or don’t know the answers to your questions, try someone who can.

Le Mans official ticket agency

Travel Destinations are the largest UK Tour Operator to Le Mans.
Travel Destinations are also an officially appointed ticket agency for Le Mans and are a fully bonded ABTA and ATOL tour operator.
All our Le Mans options are available to view on this website or call us now for more details or call 0844 873 0203.

This article first appeared on Motorsport Magazine‘s online content & is the first in a series of guest blogs by Richard about Le Mans. 

Le Mans Classic

Sun shines on the Le Mans Classic

The sun shines on the Le Mans Classic

On Sunday at 4pm, the flag came down on the 8th running of Le Mans Classic. This biennial event celebrates the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours and has grown in stature and crowd numbers on each occasion.

Le Mans Classic
Le Mans Classic Heritage Club competition

This year’s event was blessed by exceptional weather, as crowds in excess of 123,000 witnessed a full weekend retracing the history of the greatest endurance race in the world over the period 1923 to 1993. 550 cars took to the track, with 1000 drivers, including 10 former Le Mans winners, navigated the circuit in race conditions. In addition to the racing cars, a further 8500 cars represented 180 makes’ clubs assembled to display their vehicles around the Bugatti circuit. Important notice was taken of the celebration of BMW’s centenary and the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40’s first victory in the Le Mans 24 Hours with appropriate displays. Concourse competitions, the Le Mans Heritage Club, the “Little Big Mans” children’s race, a special exhibition devoted to racing team transporters and a host of other entertainment and activities in the main village meant that all the right ingredients were in place to make this huge celebration of motor sport.

Le Mans Classic
Grid 1 start at the Le Mans Classic

Among the innovations this year was the opening of the circuit on Friday morning representing an additional five hours of track time so that more practice session could be scheduled, as well as the Group C races with an entry of almost 40 cars represented. There was also the magnificent field of the Jaguar Classic Challenge with around 60 cars representing the Coventry make. Victory in this event went to British driver Andy Wallace (19 starts in the Le Mans 24 Hours including outright victory in 1988) at the wheel of the Jaguar D-Type that won Le Mans in 1955.

Le Mans Classic
Group C racing at the Le Mans Classic

At 4pm on Saturday American music star (and motorsport fan) Pharrell Williams waved the French flag to begin the 24hrs of racing around the full 13,629-km circuit. These races were divided in to 6 grids covering the period 1923 to 1981. Each grid took to the circuit in day and night across the Saturday and Sunday.

Le Mans Classic
Glamping at the Le Mans Classic with Travel Destinations

Travel Destinations are official agents for the Le Mans Classic and are proud to have been involved in the Le Mans Classic since its inception in 2002. This year travel Destinations looked after guests from many different car clubs including the MG Owners’ Club, Morgan Sports Car Club, Jaguar Enthusiasts’ club and the TR Register. With 2 private trackside campsites, a further “glamping” site and our Flexotel Village (pop-up hotel) all on the circuit, Travel Destinations also looked after more guests on the circuit than ever at the Le Mans Classic. We extend a big thank you to all those who booked through Travel Destinations & we hope that you can join us again soon.

Le Mans Classic
Travel Destinations’ Hunaudieres campsite at the Le Mans Classic

The 8th Le Mans Classic consolidated the success of the previous events thanks to the attendance of its faithful fans and the beautiful weather. The good news is that the Le Mans Classic will return in 2018 for the 9th edition, but for those that can’t wait that long for your historic motorsport fix, perhaps you might like to join Travel Destinations at the Spa Classic in May 2017.

Le Mans Classic
Grid 3 at the Le Mans Classic 2016
Le Mans Classic

Le Mans Classic Returns

Former winners return to Le Mans

The Le Mans Classic returns from the 8th – 10th July giving spectators a unique opportunity to see the cars that took part in the Le Mans 24 Hours between 1923 and 1993 back racing at La Sarthe. It is not only the cars that are returning, as many famous drivers also use the Le Mans Classic to get back behind the wheel.

Le Mans Classic

Of the nine former winners down to drive, the man with the highest number of victories is Emanuele Pirro, five-time winner of the race with Audi (2000, 2001, 2002, 2006 and 2007). The popular Italian has been a regular member of the Peter Auto grids and in the Le Mans Classic he will be driving an Alfa Romeo T33/3 (1969), a Lola T290 (1972) and a Lancia Beta Gr.V (1979). Out on the track he may come across his former team-mate, Marco Werner, three-time winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours, who is also entered to drive three different cars: a Lotus IX (1955), a Maserati T63 Birdcage (1961) and a Maserati A6 GCS Barchetta (1954). The most recent winner is current works Porsche driver Romain Dumas who won at Le Mans just a few weeks ago in the Porsche 919. This time he will compete in the Group C grid with a Porsche 962C.

Romain Dumas
Romain Dumas

In homage to his father Jean-Pierre who died last year, Julien Beltoise will race in grid 6 with Henri Pescarolo (who still holds the record for the highest number of races; 33) in the same Inaltera that he drove with Jean-Pierre in 1976. Another driver who spearheaded the Matra attack in the early 70s, Gérard Larrousse, the current president of the Drivers’ Club, is back at the wheel of a Porsche 550 Spyder (1958). Eric Hélary, a hero of Peugeot’s historic triple in 1993 will share his time between a Chevrolet Corvette C3 (1970), a Lancia Beta Gr.V (1979) and an Alfa Romeo T 33 TT (1971).

Emanuele Pirro
Emanuele Pirro

British driver Andy Wallace, who won the race in 1988 in a Jaguar, remains faithful to the make as he will be at the wheel of a D-Type (1955). The Englishman is among the drivers who have raced in the event on multiple occasions with 19 starts. But his former team-mate in 1988 Jan Lammers from Holland, entered in an Austin Healey 3000, has racked up more starts than Wallace as he has 22 to his name. Emmanuel Collard has also reached this number after just competing the Le Mans 24 Hours for the 22nd time this year. At Le Mans Classic he will be tackling the long circuit in a Porsche 908/3 (1971) and a 911 Turbo RSR (1974).

Emmanuel Collard
Emmanuel Collard

Other outright winners Jochen Mass (1989) and Gijs van Lennep (1971 and 1976) are back in a De Tomaso Pantera Gr. IV (1971), a Porsche 911 RSR 3L (1974) and a Porsche 908 LH (1968) respectively. A number of class winners will also be on the grid including Casper Elgaard, first in the LMP2 category in 2009, in a 1964 Porsche 904 as well as John Fitzpatrick, Ralf Kelleners and Uwe Alzen, all victorious at the wheel of Porsche 911s (1975, 1996 and 1999 respectively), who remain faithful to the Stuttgart make. Double Grand Touring winner, Raymond Narac, is at the wheel of a prototype, a Group C Porsche 962 (1987).

Gerard Larrouse
Gerard Larrouse

Many other well-know figures who have raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours are also expected such as David Halliday (BMW 3.0 CSL), Jean Ragnotti (Alpine M 65, Renault Alpine A443), Paul Belmondo (Ford GT 40), Chris Mac Allister, Eric De Doncker, Gareth Evans, Roald Goethe, Lucien Guitteny, Stuart Hall, Sam Hancock, David Hart, Hans Hugenholtz, Wolfgang Kaufmann, Patrice Lafargue, Franck Lagorce, Michel Lecourt, Erik Maris, Jean-Marc Merlin, Jacques Nicolet, Martin O’Connell, François Perrodo, Christian Pescatori, Frédéric Da Rocha, Lucien Rossiaud, Alain Serpaggi, John Sheldon, Pierre de Thoisy and more. It promises to be quite a reunion.

Marco Werner
Marco Werner

The Le Mans Classic takes place on the full Le Mans circuit from the 8th – 10th July. Travel Destinations are official agents for the Le Mans Classic and are proud to have been looking after spectators at the circuit since its inception, offering private trackside camping, pre-erected glamping tents, and our Flexotel Village cabins all on the circuit. For late bookings for the 2016 Le Mans Classic please call 0844 873 0203.

Le Mans 24 Hours

24 things to enjoy at Le Mans 2016

24 things to enjoy at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2016

(In no particular order)

1. See 60 cars racing on the famous Le Mans circuit. For the first time since the 1950s there will be 60 cars at the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Thanks to the four new pits built in record time 9 LMP1s, 23 LMP2s, 14 LMGTE Pros, 13 LMGTE Ams and the car in the no. 56 garage will be on the grid on the 18th June.
2. Catch a glimpse of Brad Pitt, the honorary starter of the 84th event, as he waves the French flag to unleash the 60 cars.
3. See if Porsche can repeat its 2015 victory. The German manufacturer made its comeback to the LMP1 category in 2014, and took only a year to enjoy a perfect season with a win at Le Mans, and the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in the FIA WEC.
4. Share your pleasure between endurance and football. You don’t have to choose between the 2016 Euro Football Championship and the Le Mans 24 Hours as all the matches will be shown live in the Le Mans 24 Hours village.
5. See the no-holds-barred battle in LMP1 between Porsche, Audi and Toyota who will each enter two cars. After the first two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship picking the winner of the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours is like looking very difficult; especially as you will have to beware of the experienced private teams of Rebellion Racing and Bykolles Racing.
6. See Ford’s return. It is 60 years since Ford’s first victory at Le Mans and the American manufacturer is making its big comeback in the LM GTE Pro category with four cars.
7. See if the Hong Kong team (KCMG) will defend its LMP2 title against a horde of highly-motivated challengers (with Nissan engines) determined to oust them from the top spot and claim the trophy.
8. Enjoy an exceptional view of the track from the new revamp of the Indianapolis/Arnage spectator zone. The cars arrive at full speed and have to round a slightly banked corner. Don’t miss this spectacle – especially during the night.
9. See a home win. While French constructors have virtually no chance of emerging victorious in the overall classification, Alpine, Ligier and Oreca are strong contenders for first place in the LMP2 category in which they represent 18 out of the 23 entries.
10. Enjoy a full week of entertainment. Starting in the Le Mans town centre, numerous forms of entertainment will be on offer for the spectators between 12th & 19th June: scrutineering, Drivers’ Parade, pit and track walks, concerts and autograph sessions.
11. Enjoy the intense and always competitive battle between the five manufacturers in LMGTE Pro: Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette, Aston Martin and Ford.
12.  Experience the sounds of the three concert evenings on Wednesday 15th, Thursday 16th and Saturday 18th June. Included on the bill are: Shake Shake Go, Julian Perretta, The Shoes and The Avener.
13. Cheer on the British drivers at the start. British drivers lead the way in terms of numbers with 38 drivers at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours Next nearest are French drivers with 32 on the grid.
14. Ladies can come and discover the Women’s Pavilion Year that returns this year. In 2015 it was a great success, and this year the venue entirely devoted to women will reopen its doors with several innovations on its programme.
15. Follow the performance of the gentlemen drivers entered for the Le Mans 24 Hours in the LM GTE Am category. This is usually hotly-contested fight that often goes down to the wire.
16. Dive right into the core of the latest virtual reality technologies thanks to the Virtual Room, which will offer a young, connected public a more than real plunge into the thick of the race.
17. Follow the race from the ACO Club zones reserved for the ACO members, which you can join on the day if you wish.
18. See the new LMP3s and GT3s racing on the full Le Mans circuit for the first time. The Road to Le Mans race, a curtain-raiser to the Le Mans 24 Hours, will give these two categories the ideal theatre in which to go head-to-head in a new 1-hour event. There is also the Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli to enjoy before the main event begins.
19. Run into the 2016 Miss 24 Heures. 105 candidates from all over France entered but there is only one who can wear the crown. The winner will be chosen on 4th June.
20. Discover the talented endurance drivers from Asia. Beside Toyota in LMP1, several teams and drivers come from Asia like Eurasia Motorsport (Philippines), Baxi DC Racing Alpine (China), KCMG (Hong Kong), Team AAI (Taiwan) and Clearwater Racing (Singapore).
21. Stroll through the Le Mans 24 Hours village and discover the many boutiques, exhibitions, restaurants with varied menus, stands, and activities throughout the race week.
22. Support the two women drivers. The two female drivers will be making their Le Mans 24 Hours debut. 26-year-old Inès Tattinger from France is entered in the Pegasus Racing Morgan in LMP2, and Christina Nielsen from Denmark is in the LMGTE Am class in a Ferrari run by Formula Racing.
23. Visit the ACO Historic exhibition which, this year, will be devoted to Americans at Le Mans, and get close to no fewer than 15 beautiful American cars that have marked the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
24. Enjoy a unique experience at the 84th running of the most mythical endurance race in the world and then begin your planning for the 85th Le Mans 24 Hours with Travel Destinations.

FIA WEC 2016

Introducing the FIA WEC 2016

The official prologue for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship took place over Easter weekend. This was the first chance for the public to see the new teams and cars in the flesh. Although little can be concluded from lap times at this stage, Stephen Kilbey from Dailysportscar, was trackside at Paul Ricard to give Travel Destinations a briefing on what to expect in the FIA WEC and at Le Mans 2016.

LMP1
Porsche, Audi and Toyota are all back for another season which is posed to be just as enthralling as last year. Each team will be entering 2 cars each in 2016, so there is a level playing field at the front of the grid.

Porsche 919 Hybrid

Porsche has opted to tweak its 919 Hybrid for the new season and take lots of small steps in an attempt to improve on performance, and nullify the ACO’s new restrictions on fuel-flow imposed to slow all the LMP1 cars down.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro

Audi and Toyota meanwhile enter 2016 with entirely new packages. Both the new Audi R18 and the Toyota TS050 are very different to what the teams ran last year, and that’s very apparent not just aesthetically, with new liveries and noticeable aero developments, but also under the covers too. The gamble here is whether the new technology will be as reliable as the tweaked tried and tested formula adopted by Porsche. Porsche topped the time sheets at Paul Ricard, but both Audi and Toyota showed quick sector times, without needing to put them all together. Ultimately the first race at Silverstone will really show us what each car is capable of.

Toyota TS050

In the privateer subdivision, one of the two teams present – Rebellion Racing – makes a return with two R-Ones, in a very similar package to last season, but a very shiny new livery which up-close is extremely detailed and in some ways mesmerising. The ACO have promised to review this class to try and enable them to be more competitive moving forward. Perhaps Rebellion’s efforts and consistency over the last few years deserves more.

Rebellion Racing

LMP2
There are plenty of new faces in the LMP2 class this year. This is probably the most difficult grid to predict with many similarly powered cars lining up alongside each other. G-Drive Racing, after winning the LMP2 Championship last season, have partnered up with Jota Sport to run a brand new Oreca 05, sporting the team’s standard eye-catching livery.

Manor

Aside from that, both Signatech Alpine and ex-F1 outfit Manor have also purchased Orecas for the new season. Alpine’s blue and orange looks just as good on a prototype with a roof, and Manor’s fresh look – conceived by team principal Graeme Lowdon – will certainly stand out in what promises to be a very competitive field.

RGR Morand

RGR Morand’s very patriotic livery representing the re-branded team’s Mexican ties on the new Ligier is also one to look out for.
GTE Pro
Much like LMP1 class the GTE Pro grid is oozing manufacturer interest, and the addition of Ford is a testament to the class’ relevancy in global GT racing.

Ford GT

On the subject of Ford, Chip Ganassi Team UK’s pair of GTs look astonishing up close, and with some more development should be in the running for some results throughout the season having already run at Daytona and Sebring in the States this year.

Ferrari 488

Outside of the Ford’s new car on the grid, the well-established AF Corse squad are back with two brand new Ferrari 488 GTEs which promise to be in contention for the title right away. When has a Ferrari not been in the mix over the last few years?

Aston Martin Racing

Aston Martin Racing and Dempsey Proton Racing – Porsche’s only Pro representative this year – meanwhile have revised cars for the season. Aston martin’s Vantages are substantially more meaty in the rear diffuser department, and livery wise, after sporting Gulf colours since 2008, Aston Martin return to the team’s roots by running in a very smart (and British) green.

GTE Am
Although the Aston Martin’s will no longer be carrying the Gulf Oil branding, the famous colours won’t be missing from the grid, as European Le Mans Series graduates Gulf Racing UK are participating in the full FIA WEC season this year with their Porsche. It is certainly a striking car and sure to be a fan favourite.

Gulf Racing UK

Top to bottom, GTE Am’s foundations remain unchanged, although 2015 LMP2 runner-up KCMG are also set to run a Porsche in the 2016 FIA WEC championship.

As the clock ticks down to the start of the season at Silverstone from the 15th – 17th April, the work behind the scenes will be ramped up. The official prologue has certainly whetted the appetite for what is going to be another great endurance racing season.

 

The Le Mans 24 Hours remains the pinnacle in the endurance racing calendar and the jewel in the crown of the FIA World Endurance Championship. For those wishing to watch the racing live, travel, ticket and camping packages are still available from Official Agent Travel Destinations. Availability restrictions for certain areas apply, but it is still possible to reserve your place Le Mans 2016.

Travel Destinations also have exclusive offers to attend the FIA World Endurance Championship  rounds at both Spa-Francorchamps and the Nurburgring. Visit our dedicated site for more information and the best prices or call Travel Destinations direct now on 0844 873 0203.