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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.

 

Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves

Porsche Curves Update

Porsche Curves Update

Last week, works began at the Le Mans circuit to improve driver safety at the entrance to the Porsche Curves section of the track. This planned work was announced by the ACO more than a year ago and will include a wider gravel trap and new energy absorbing barriers. The Porsche Curves is the fastest complex on the famous Le Mans circuit and these works hope to prevent serious injuries in future races. These developments are just a part of a continued safety upgrade to the traditional circuit being undertaken by the ACO.

Porsche Curves 2015

The Porsche Curves is also the home to our popular private trackside campsite. It will continue to be the home of our campsite for the foreseeable future. This location enables us to offer something unique at Le Mans; a relaxed private camping area, away from other camping areas, with 24 hours security, fully serviced showers & toilets and a hospitality marquee on-site.

Due to the current works at Porsche Curves, regular guests to our campsite will notice a few changes, as we are re-arranging the layout (moving the marquee & showers etc.) compared to previous years. This is to match the new location of water pipes & other services moved by the current developments.

Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves

Perhaps the most visible change will be the viewing bank at the rear of the campsite. The extension of the run off area means that the viewing bank is being moved back towards the campsite. In effect, we have had to reduce the size of our campsite as there will be less grass area available for tents. This decision was made in conjunction with the ACO before we went on sale for the 2015 event.

The very good news for all our Porsche Curves & Event Tent customers is that the ACO have confirmed that the newly constructed viewing bank will have direct access only for Travel Destinations customers staying at Porsche Curves and that there will no longer be general public access through our campsite entrance to this viewing bank. We believe that this additional security and private access will be a great benefit for all our guests staying at our Porsche Curves campsite.

Porsceh Curves March 2015

The Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves campsite is currently sold out for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2015, although we are also running a waitlist for any possible cancellations. All our customers travelling with us to the Le Mans 24 Hours this year must have paid their balances before the end of March. Please check your individual booking confirmations for your exact date.

If you have yet to make a booking for Le Mans 2015 then there is still time. We have a limited number of camping options available in the circuit-run public campsites & a last few rooms at our Flexotel Village in the centre of the circuit. Please call us on 0844 873 0203 to secure your place at Le Mans.

Thanks to Dailysportscar for photos of ongoing works.