Category Archives: Motorsport News

Le Mans 2009 Photo Galleries

Don’t forget to take a look at our photo galleries from this year’s Le Mans 24 hours. Our resident photographer, David Davies, was again trackside to bring you close up action, whilst elsewhere our staff bring you a different view from the campsites.


David has been taking motorsport photos for years and is now a well recognised face behind the lens at Le Mans. This year a selection of David’s photos are exclusively available on this website getting you as close as possible to the action. His photos are available in our galleries or by clicking here.


We know that Le Mans has a unique atmosphere so we asked our staff to get out in the campsites and try to capture a feeling of what it is like to be part of Le Mans. Their photos are available in our galleries or by clicking here.


Remember that you can be a part of the Le Mans 24 hours & the Le Mans Classic in 2010. We are now open for pre-registration, so don’t miss out. Call us now on (0844) 873 0203 and we can assist you with your channel crossings, Le Mans tickets and camping/accommodation

Aston Martin goes back to the future

As will be the case in 2009, Aston Martin entered three factory cars in the 1959 race: for Stirling Moss/Jack Fairman, Roy Salvadori/Carroll Shelby and Paul Frère /Maurice Trintignant.

At the time Ferrari was the dominant force in endurance racing, so the Aston Martin team entered the race as underdogs and had to come up with a clever race strategy to defeat the Italian squad. It was decided that the Moss/Fairman car would act as a ‘hare’ to try and force the Ferrari team into an unsustainably quick pace, while the other Aston Martins would follow.

The tactic worked brilliantly, and at 4pm on Sunday 21 June 1959 the Salvadori/Shelby DBR1 crossed the finish line at Le Mans ahead of the sister car of Frère/Trintignant after 24 hours and 4347.9 kilometres of racing. The closest Ferrari, a privateer example in third, was a full 25 laps down.

While the race was a resounding success for Aston Martin and the DBR1, not everything went entirely to plan 50 years ago, as Salvadori remembered. “At the start we quickly got into the hunt and took the lead in the late evening,” he said. “Then we ran into a severe vibration problem. I made a pit stop but the trouble could not be diagnosed so I was sent off again to complete my stint. This cost us a lot of time and we had to make two more pit stops before the fault was found: a large chunk of tread had come off a rear tyre but due to the dark and the aerodynamic spats over the rear wheels this could not be seen.”

The number 5 Aston Martin DBR1 pitted in the night to have the offending tyre changed, and then it started gaining on the lead Ferrari. “We were faster than the Ferrari and catching it all the time,” added Salvadori. “When the Ferrari retired on Sunday morning, I received a ‘slow’ signal from the pits. But I slowed so much that I had to be speeded up again, as Paul Frère and Maurice Trintignant in the other DBR1 were catching us up!”

A one-two at Le Mans was just one of the high points of a tremendous season for Aston Martin, in which the company also won the World Sportscar Championship.

Aston Martin returns to the top class at Le Mans 50 years later as the underdog once more, but the team is hoping to take the fight to the mighty diesel-powered opposition. These days, there are three drivers to every car as opposed to two in the DBR1’s day, but according to Salvadori a strong working relationship between team mates is still an essential ingredient to success.

“Carroll and I were the ideal partnership,” he said. “We were chosen together because we were the same height and we could both put our left foot between the brake and clutch pedals. We were comfortable together and the team thought that it was a good partnership. At Le Mans back in 1959 we only did one day of practice, or seven laps each.”

The Aston Martin Racing team is preparing for Le Mans this year through participation in the Le Mans Series, which has so far resulted in a win at Barcelona and a podium in Spa. With no Le Mans test day this year, all the teams will have limited running at La Sarthe before embarking on the endurance classic on June 13 at 3pm local time.

Last year’s pole time at Le Mans was 3m18.513; in 1959 the winning DBR1 was set a target lap time of around 4m20s, whereas the fastest lap (set by Moss) was 4m01s. According to the team’s strategy, the Salvadori/Shelby crew concentrated on reliability by keeping their car relatively unstressed and adopting a conservative rev limit.

By the very end of the 1959 race, with a huge margin over the third-placed competitor, the leading Aston Martins could afford to lap at around 4m50s. By contrast, Le Mans these days is more like a series of sprint races punctuated by pit stops – with the race laps not hugely dissimilar to the qualifying laps.

Shelby said: “The DBR1 was a very good handling car but slower down the straight. However, we were definitely superior to the others in terms of handling. And you always felt safe in the car – you always wanted to drive the Aston. I never heard a driver criticise it. At the end, I couldn’t believe we’d won Le Mans because we’d dreamed of it for so long. To win at Le Mans at last was the epitome. Aston Martin was like a personal family and I was very happy for the team.”

The odds are stacked against Aston Martin this year, just as they were in 1959 but Le Mans is a race where miracles can still happen. Just as was the case 50 years ago, winning the Le Mans 24 Hours is not simply a question of having the quickest car or the best-funded team – and that is one of the very few things that has never changed at the Circuit de La Sarthe.

The Aston Martin Racing team is now completing its final preparations for the epic race, hoping for the smallest chance that history might repeat itself. Whatever the outcome, just getting to the end of what is arguably the world’s toughest race is a human and mechanical triumph in itself.

Le Mans Series Spa Report

Peugeot roars in the Belgian hills

With its mixture of long straights, fast corners and varying gradients, the Spa-Francorchamps circuit ranks as one of the most technically challenging circuits visited by the Le Mans Series but is a firm favorite with drivers, teams and fans alike.

Team Peugeot Total took up the challenge of this historic track and claimed first place overall, while Team Essex did the same in the LMP2 class. The Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette scored its first victory of the season in the GT1 class and Team Felbermayr-Proton ruled in the GT2 class.

Over 100 drivers and about 30,000 spectators could enjoy a fine, sunny race which was disrupted by five safety-car periods. Indeed, many cars went off or had contact, but, on the whole, professional and gentlemen drivers were able to share the track in good spirit.

Favorites win in LMP classes

The race at Barcelona kicked the season off and the teams are now used to the new regulations, both in the pits and in technical matters. The very demanding Belgian roller-coaster has honoured its reputation and has been merciless to both teams and drivers. The winner had the best technical set-up compromises and spent very little time in the pits.

The # 7 Team Peugeot Total did not miss a beat in its season debut in the Le Mans Series and took the checkered flag in first place. The French team clearly showed to its main rivals that it will be one of the main contenders for victory at Le Mans in June, as Nicolas Minassian explained: “We had a different strategy from our sister-car. We tried many solutions to learn as much as we could. Now we know the good things to do.” Nothing today could prevent the 908 HDi FAP from taking another victory but, despite chalking up the best lap time, the team could not achieve a 1-2 victory as the #9 car ran into a number of problems.

Team Pescarolo reached the second step of the podium, as in Barcelona. Team Pescarolo Sport has been a stalwart of the Le Mans Series since it started and has reaped the rewards of its hard work on car set-up on the Bugatti track two weeks ago. After taking the victory at Barcelona one month ago, Aston Martin Racing has reinforced its good result, finishing third, right ahead of Team Oreca Matmut AIM, and positioned itself as one of the favorites for the 2009 title.

The Porsche RS Spyder is back at the top of the LMP2 class. The German prototype won every round in the series last year and despite very few technical changes – the ones needed to comply with the 2009 regulations – it is still racing super-competitively. But, as the Spa race might be a one-off for the Danes, Speedy Racing Team Sebah and Racing Box keep their chances alive for the title after respectively second and third place in Belgium.

Moreover, after the Bruichladdich-Bruneau Radical at Barcelona, Team Essex has been the best performer while using the least amount of fuel and won the Michelin Green X Challenge.

A tremendous GT race

Despite only three cars being entered, the GT1 class was interesting throughout the race. The JetAlliance Aston Martin DBR9 started from pole position but it was Luc Alphand Aventures Corvette C6.R which took the checkered flag first.

The GT2 class is surely becoming the most competitive in the world. Five marques struggled fiercely throughout although Porsche and Ferarri had the upper hand throughout. In the end, it was Team Felbermayr-Proton’s Porsche 997 GT3 RS, driven by Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz which crossed the line first, followed by three Ferraris.

An Aston Martin perspective:
ASTON MARTIN RACING TRIUMPHS OVER ADVERSITY FOR SPA PODIUM

The 007 Aston Martin Racing LMP1 car of Jan Charouz (CZ), Tomas Enge (CZ) and Stefan Mücke (GER) has finished on the podium of the Spa 1000 kilometres in Belgium following a magnificent fightback after the team started from the back of the grid.
The 007 crew failed to set a qualifying time on Saturday as the result of a mechanical problem, which saw the Aston Martin Racing mechanics work late into the night to replace the car’s engine in readiness for today’s six-hour race.

Nonetheless a superlative performance from all three drivers throughout an incident-packed race, plus a well-deserved fifth place for the sister 009 car, has resulted in Aston Martin Racing adding to its Le Mans Series team points total following victory at the opening round in Barcelona last month. This was despite strong opposition from diesel-powered rivals that turned out to have a significant performance advantage on the seven-kilometre Spa circuit, located in the heart of the Ardennes Mountains. Although this region of Belgium is noted for its changeable weather, conditions remained warm and dry for the 143-lap race. Mücke started the race at 12:50 in the 007 car from the back of the grid, and soon demonstrated an impressive pace coupled with the incisive ability to cut through traffic. Within an hour he had already moved into the top five behind the 009 car. However, the German did not have an entirely trouble-free stint: a collision with another competitor who had outbraked himself damaged the nose of the 007 Aston Martin, affecting the car’s handling.

“The damage meant that the underside of the nose was actually moving, which made the handling totally nervous and unpredictable,” reported Mücke. “But to come back from the problem of not being able to qualify yesterday and surviving some interesting moments during the race only makes this podium result all the more satisfying. What is clear is that our car is very competitive when we have a clean run, as our ability to move through the traffic showed.” Jan Charouz – who formed part of the victorious 007 crew at Barcelona – then took over for the second stint, which was characterised by several incidents, accidents and safety car periods. Charouz then handed the car over to his Czech compatriot Tomas Enge after a tricky double stint on the notoriously complex Spa-Francorchamps circuit. During Charouz’s stint the 007 car’s nose was changed in order to rectify a problem with the lights, and it was then that the crack in the underside that had affected Mücke was discovered.

“Conditions were really difficult,” reported Charouz, who did not put a foot wrong throughout his long stint. “This is one of the most challenging circuits in the world, and the number of people going off proved the point. I struggled a little bit with the set-up, but in the end this result here has certainly gone beyond our expectations at the start of the weekend so we are very happy.” Enge got into the car with two hours to go when it was running in fourth, but he was able to close up to the leaders under yet another lengthy safety car period. He emerged in third place with around 20 minutes of racing left, meaning that he had to strike a delicate compromise between guaranteeing a strong finish for the team and attempting to secure a podium place against strong opposition that was right behind him.

“There was some pressure on me in those final laps, for sure,” reflected Enge at the finish. “Our instructions were very clear: with Le Mans so close we did not want to take any risks with the cars. However, I also really wanted to be on the podium. So I pushed as hard as I could while keeping a certain safety margin, and thankfully it had the right result. I said from the start that I believed we could put the difficulties we experienced during qualifying behind us with some good teamwork and this was proved to be the case today. It just goes to show the strength of our team.” Darren Turner started the race from third on the grid in the 009 car but the Englishman had a puncture at the first corner after he was hit by another competitor. He said: “It was just one of those things: a racing incident. Nobody was at fault, but it was unfortunate that we had to complete the first lap with a puncture. What helped us was the fact that a safety car came out, so we lost track position but didn’t go a lap down.”

After the problem was rectified Turner was able to make impressive progress through the field, climbing as high as third place throughout a double stint that lasted for nearly two hours. He subsequently handed over to Portugal’s Miguel Ramos, who had to battle a serious vibration throughout his own double stint. “I’m not sure what the problem was but the effect was dramatic,” said Ramos. “The vibration was so bad that it was hard to concentrate on the braking zones sometimes as I could not see them properly. Under those circumstances it was just a question of bringing the car home safely, and I’m pleased that we managed to do that.”

Swiss driver Harold Primat drove the car for the final and longest stint totalling over two hours. He dropped a bit of time with a spin in the closing stages after being tagged by another competitor. Thankfully this had no lasting consequences and the team was able to seal its first double points finish in the Le Mans Series. Primat said: “This was the longest stint I have ever done in the car and I was feeling a bit tired by the end of it. Above all I was aiming for consistency, and I think I managed to do this. It was just a pity that somebody hit me at the end and I had a spin; there was nothing I could do. It took me a little while to get going again, and maybe without that we could have taken fourth place. But fifth is still a good result and I think we all worked well together today. ”

The next competitive outing for the Aston Martin Racing team will be its biggest challenge of the year: the daunting Le Mans 24 Hours itself, on June 13-14. Aston Martin Racing Team Principal George Howard-Chappell concluded: “I’m extremely pleased to get both cars home in one piece this close to Le Mans. It was an excellent result for the 007 crew, full credit to the team for working so hard to deal with what was a tough weekend.”

The Classic Motor Show

Come and meet the Travel Destinations team at this year’s Classic Motor Show.
The Classic Motor Show is being held at the NEC in Birmingham, beween the 14th & 16th November 2008.

The Travel Destinations team will be on hand in Hall 4 (Stand No. 4T08) to discuss all things Le Mans 24hrsLe Mans Classic, and Le Mans Series.

We will also be promoting our new website www.sixhoursofspa.co.uk and we will be launching our new 2009 brochure.

Further information and tickets are available at www.necclassicmotorshow.com

We look forward to seeing you there.

Le Mans Classic – Sold Out! How about Six Hours of Spa?

The Six hours of Spa festival is a whole weekend of spectacular classic motor racing, at the famous Francorchamps circuit. The weekend programme features around 600 vehicles in around 20 different races, including favourites such as Ford GT40’s, E-type Jaguars, Bentley 4.5’s, Brabhams, Lola T70 and Ferrari 250LM.

General Entrance, Grandstand & Paddock tickets are only £22.00 per person

Self Drive camping packages are available from £139.00 per person

Self Drive hotel packages in a selection of 2, 3, & 4 star hotels are available from £205.00 per person.

For more details call 08700339923 or visit our website www.sixhoursofspa.co.uk

Le Mans Classic – Sold Out! How about Six Hours of Spa?

The Six hours of Spa festival is a whole weekend of spectacular classic motor racing, at the famous Francorchamps circuit. The weekend programme features around 600 vehicles in around 20 different races, including favourites such as Ford GT40’s, E-type Jaguars, Bentley 4.5’s, Brabhams, Lola T70 and Ferrari 250LM.

General Entrance, Grandstand & Paddock tickets are only £22.00 per person

Self Drive camping packages are available from £139.00 per person

Self Drive hotel packages in a selection of 2, 3, & 4 star hotels are available from £205.00 per person.

For more details call 08700339923 or visit our website www.sixhoursofspa.co.uk

New 2009 Travel Destinations Brochure

The new Travel Destinations Tours & Events brochure for 2009 will be launched at the Classic Motor Show & MPH Show at the NEC from the 14th – 16th November.

This new brochure includes 20 pages featuring all our packages for the Le Mans 24 Hours, helpful hints for first time Le Mans visitors, and some stunning photography.

The brochure also features packages for other excellent motorsport events including:
– French Moto GP
– Circuit Historique de Laon
– Le Mans Classic
– Monaco Historic GP
– Six Hours of Spa
– Circuit des Remparts; Angouleme

New for 2009 will be our very own drivers’ experience at the Nurburgring. Which will enable you to test and improve your driving skills before testing them out on the famous Nordschleife circuit.

For those more interested in touring than motorsport, the new brochure includes some of our group touring packages that we arrange for the MG Owners’ Club & the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club.

Visit the Travel Destinations Stand in Hall 4 of Classic Motor Show next to the MPH Hall at the NEC to pick up your copy of the new brochure (Stand 4T08). Alternatively email your name & postal address to info@traveldestinations.co.uk and we will send a copy in the post.

All our Le Mans 24 Hours 2009 packages are available now. Prices are available by clicking here, or calling our reservations team on (08700) 339923.

New 2009 Travel Destinations Brochure

The new Travel Destinations Tours & Events brochure for 2009 will be launched at the Classic Motor Show & MPH Show at the NEC from the 14th – 16th November.

This new brochure includes 20 pages featuring all our packages for the Le Mans 24 Hours, helpful hints for first time Le Mans visitors, and some stunning photography.

The brochure also features packages for other excellent motorsport events including:
– French Moto GP
– Circuit Historique de Laon
– Le Mans Classic
– Monaco Historic GP
– Six Hours of Spa
– Circuit des Remparts; Angouleme

New for 2009 will be our very own drivers’ experience at the Nurburgring. Which will enable you to test and improve your driving skills before testing them out on the famous Nordschleife circuit.

For those more interested in touring than motorsport, the new brochure includes some of our group touring packages that we arrange for the MG Owners’ Club & the Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club.

Visit the Travel Destinations Stand in Hall 4 of Classic Motor Show next to the MPH Hall at the NEC to pick up your copy of the new brochure (Stand 4T08). Alternatively email your name & postal address to info@traveldestinations.co.uk and we will send a copy in the post.

All our Le Mans 24 Hours 2009 packages are available now. Prices are available by clicking here, or calling our reservations team on (08700) 339923.