Tag Archives: Le Mans 2020

Le Mans

The future at Le Mans

The Future at Le Mans

Upon reflection, the 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours was significant. Not necessarily for the racing, which at times was spectacular, but for what the week showed us about the future of top-level sportscar racing and the forthcoming 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship season which starts in August. From the ACO Press Conference held before the race, until the flag on fell on Sunday afternoon crowning the winners, a picture was painted of what is to come in Le Mans 2020 and beyond.

Much of the talk in the paddock surrounded the 2020/21 season, which will mark the beginning of the new ‘Hypercar Prototype’ era. But, before the ACO confirmed that the new regulations have been finalised, it revealed next year’s FIA WEC entry list, which is 33 cars strong for the full season. And it is a very strong selection of cars that are set to take on, what many would assume will be a rather forgettable season. But, after the Le Mans 24 Hours we’ve just seen, the next campaign looks to have real potential.

Le Mans

The key for many, will be the competitiveness of the LMP1 class. What we saw at La Sarthe marked tremendous progress, with Rebellion and SMP challengers producing blistering lap times and battling with each other throughout the race. Were the privateers able to keep tabs with Toyota come race time? Not quite. Though there are real signs of improvement.The lap time produced by SMP Racing’s fastest BR1 AER in qualifying was quicker than any Audi or Porsche LMP1 time, and Rebellion with its developmental Gibson engine was able to get close to matching that. A year on from the cars’ Le Mans debut, the raw performance was sublime and the reliability is certainly getting there. It made for a race for third overall that kept everyone guessing throughout. It looked for much of the race, especially after the No.17 SMP Racing AER had an off during the night, that Rebellion Racing would take the final podium spot on offer, but a series of errors and mechanical issues meant its chances faded late in the race for the Swiss team, leading to its Russian rival taking third.

At Toyota, there was an inter-team battle which came down to the final hour of the race when a sensor issue diagnosed a puncture, but for the wrong tyre on the leading No.7 TS050 HYBRID. This caused the Toyota team to pit Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez’s car twice for two unscheduled tyre changes, dropping the car to second. Hearts sank in the garage, after such a commanding performance could only produce a second place finish, behind Fernando Alonso, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Buemi who took a second win at Le Mans and the World Drivers’ Championship in the process. It was strange to see an LMP1 podium at Le Mans such little jubilation shown from the winners.

Next season, with a fresh approach to balancing the cars in the top class, the ACO hopes we will see the privateer pack (which will include a pair of Team LNT Ginetta G60-LT-P1’s, now powered by AER engines) go head-to-head with Toyota after further development to their cars. Toyota does too, as such dominance, after a while, doesn’t add any further value to its programme ahead of its 2020/21 ‘Hypercar’ Programme.

Le Mans

And Toyota has now formally committed to a ‘Hypercar Protoype’. The Japanese marque one of two makes that are set to do battle in the first year of the new regulations. Toyota continuing its programme isn’t much of a surprise, as it has made it clear for over a year now that should the regulations support development of a hybrid system, it would carry on its sportscar programme. Thus we have Toyota Gazoo Racing hybrid-powered protyotypes, which will be styled to look like the forthcoming GR Super Sport Concept to look forward to. Excited? Those behind the programme certainly are, after a long wait for the regulations to be finalised.

The other factory that will take part is Aston Martin. The British marque is set to return to the top class of sportscar racing for the first time since prior to the Hybrid era began. Its last attempt at overall Le Mans glory was forgettable, with the AMR-One prototype not worthy of the brand’s rich history. But the brand looks very different now, inside and out, and this programme will bring together multiple parties associated with its motorsport commitments, who are all capable of delivering the goods. Aston Martin will race “at least two” non-hybrid, V12-powered Valkyries, designed by Adrian Newey, the man behind Red Bull Racing’s successes in F1, with financial support from AF Racing, which runs its new DTM programme and has been competing in the GT3 ranks in recent years. The new Aston ‘Hypercar’ programme will not affect Prodrive’s current GTE effort, which continues to win races in the FIA WEC’s GTE Pro class up against other factories. And that’s huge news, as GTE has taken a hit with the confirmed departure of both BMW and Ford in the past two months.

Le Mans

But the FIA WEC’s long-term viability will hinge on the success of its top class, which looks set to be filled with both factory and privateer teams, Glickenhaus and ByKolles are currently still insistent that they will race too. Beyond Year 1, further manufacturers are expected to join too. McLaren is still on the verge of green-lighting a programme and Porsche is also deep into the evaluation process. And that is just two of the brands still ‘in the room’.

Where does all this leave the other classes? LMP2 will continue to be healthy. Eight cars are on the FIA WEC entry for next season, with another strong set of drivers expected to do battle for some of the more professional prototype teams in the world. There’s a real chance that when ‘Hypercar Prototype’ takes over, then the current LMP2 cars will need to be slowed, as the pace of the ACO’s new breed are not expected to be capable of matching the supreme pace of the current LMP1s. And that’s OK, if the racing is exciting, and the formula attracts a strong number of entries, then few will complain. This will be especially true if the rule-makers can find a way to allow IMSA DPis to come and play at Le Mans and fight the ‘Hypercar Prototypes’ for the overall win. The performance window is similar and Scott Atherton insists that IMSA and the ACO’s relationship “is as strong as its ever been”.

What about GTE? Well Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin are all still committed with factory teams. Will Corvette bring its new C8R to Le Mans, which is currently being developed to the world stage? Unlikely, but there’s certainly a chance of some guest entries here and there. Luckily the customer ranks of GTE are booming. GTE Am will be the biggest class in the FIA WEC field next season, and the level of interest is showing no signs of waning.

After months of rumours, speculations and negativity as the ACO and FIA have put together its plans for the years ahead. We have heard positivity and plenty of it. Of course this has all come later than most would have liked, and both Aston Martin and Toyota will have to work unbelievably hard in the background during the next FIA WEC season to ensure it can make the start of the 2020/21 season with its new cars. But, a grid is forming, and if Aston Martin can take the fight to Toyota when it takes this bold step, then a new era will begin, and others will likely follow their lead.

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

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Le Mans 2020

Le Mans 2020: On Sale Now

Plan now for Le Mans 2020

The dust has barely settled from the Le Mans 24 Hours 2019 that also marked the end of the FIA World Endurance Championship “Super Season”. Another remarkable race and a fitting end to the season. Already our thoughts are turning to Le Mans 2020 and we would love you to join us track-side. This year 252,000 spectators watched the race in person, taking in the sights, sounds and unique atmosphere around the famous Le Mans circuit. Travel Destinations are an official ticket agency for the Le Mans 24 Hours and we provide unique options enabling you to stay track-side and enjoy the best of Le Mans 2020. Most importantly we are on sale now! So you can book your Le Mans 2020 experience with us today!

Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves
Our legendary track-side campsite provides the perfect location from which to enjoy Le Mans 2020. Travel Destinations were the first people to introduce a private campsite at Le Mans exclusive for our guests and our campsite is so popular it sells out every year. The campsite’s track-side location is legendary; it is mentioned on the race commentary every year as the cars pass by. We are fortunate to be able to offer the only private viewing bank at Le Mans. The campsite provides 24 hours security, fully serviced shower/toilet facilities and a friendly cafe and bar on-site. Read more about the Travel Destinations campsite at the Porsche Curves
Le Mans 2020
Travel Destinations Event Tents
We brought glamping to Le Mans five years ago and our Event Tents area has gone from strength to strength each year. Located on the infield close to our Porsche Curves campsite, our Event Tents provide pre-erected bell-tents, with carpet, mattresses and all bed linen. For those that want a comfortable, no-hassle way to enjoy Le Mans 2020, then our Event Tents can provide the solution. Located in their own secure area, the Event Tents have serviced shower & toilet blocks as well as their own hospitality marquee with cafe and bar. In addition all Event Tent guests will also have access to our private viewing bank overlooking the Porsche Curves. Read more about the Travel Destinations Event Tents
Le Mans 2020

Travel Destinations Flexotel Village
The Flexotel Village is our exclusive “pop-up hotel” located in the centre of the circuit. Each Flexotel cabin provides a private, lockable bedroom with two proper beds and all bed-linen. Located at Antares, the Flexotel Village is a short walk from the start/finsh line, Tertre Rouge Corner and the circuit tram terminus. The Flexotel Village is located in its own, secure, tree-lined paddock providing an area of calm inside the hectic circuit. There are fully-serviced showers and toilets as well as a hospitality marquee on-site where the barbecue is always going. For those not wanting to camp, or for those just desiring an exclusive experience the Travel Destinations Flexotel Village will be perfect for Le Mans 2020. Read more about the Travel Destinations Flexotel Village
Le Mans 2020

Circuit-run camping
Camping has long been a tradition at Le Mans and the circuit provide a number of camping areas where you can pitch your tent. Providing a festival-style vibe at Le Mans 2020, these camping areas provide basic facilities for international race fans. These areas are great for groups and experienced Le Mans attendees. They provide an economical alternative with a party-like atmosphere. Read more about the circuit-run campsites.
Le Mans 2020
Travel Destinations staff can assist you with making the right choice for Le Mans 2020. They can also advise on grandstand seats and hospitality offers.

To book your place at Le Mans 2020, please call Travel Destinations (during office hours) on +44 (0)1707 329988.

 

Travel to Le Mans

Travel to Le Mans – How to get there

The city of Le Mans lies approximately 125 miles to the west of Paris and about 100 miles south of the Normandy coast, which makes it a very easy destination to visit for international race fans. Around a quarter of Le Mans visitors actually come from the UK to the circuit each June and the vast majority of those will choose a car to travel to Le Mans. Travelling by car has two major benefits. The first is social & economic. If you are coming in your own vehicle you can fill it with your friends & they can contribute to the cost of travel. Everyone wins! The second is practical. If you are camping at Le Mans, then you will want to be as self-sufficient as possible, and it is amazing what you can fit in a car when you need to.

When originating from the UK there is a choice of routes for travel to Le Mans. There is no right or wrong way to do this and much will depend on your priorities, such as cost, time and driving distance. The shortest and quickest way across the Channel is to head towards Calais. You can choose either the ferry from Dover or the Eurotunnel from Folkestone. The ferry takes 80 minutes and you get the chance to wander the ship, eat & drink or go shopping. The Eurotunnel takes 35 minutes but you stay in your car the whole time. Both are priced similarly and they both get you to Calais. The route from Calais is an easy drive & can be done on dual carriageways all the way. These are tolled roads that will cost just over €30.00 in total. If your Sat Nav suggests going via Paris, ignore it and look at a map. The simplest route is going to be via driving via Rouen. Expect the driving time from Calais to be around 4½ hours plus any stops that you make.

Travel to Le Mans
You can directly compare this with the longer sea crossings out of Portsmouth. You can choose routes to Caen, Le Havre, Cherbourg and St. Malo, but all are operated by Brittany Ferries. In our experience the service is generally good on these ships, which is a good thing as you are generally looking at more than 6 hours on board. You can choose overnight sailings on some of the routes which are popular but remember that any cabins you book will increase your costs. Price is usually the deciding factor when comparing these routes to Calais as they are generally at least 4 times the price of the Calais routes. So why would you choose them? Well if you live near the south coast, then Portsmouth could be your nearest port anyway, but most people will look at the drive times on the French side as the deciding factor. From Caen to travel to Le Mans, the drive time is going to be in the region of 2½ hours to Le Mans, depending on which route you choose and the tolls will be half the price if you choose to use the tolled motorways.

For those living in the North of England or beyond a good option to look at is the route from Hull to Zeebrugge. This is an overnight ferry run by P&O Ferries. Initially this may look like an odd choice for travel to Le Mans, but under closer inspection it often saves time and money. Zeebrugge is just over the border in to Belgium but remains within an hour’s drive of Calais. So not much driving difference from the Calais routes. The big bonus is that by sailing down you have avoided some of the more notorious British roads and driving on the continent is a lot easier with less traffic than the M6, M1 and M25 or M23. As it is an overnight ferry, this may not work for everyone, and cabins will need to be booked, but if you live within a 2 hours’ drive of Hull, then I would be taking this route quite seriously.

Travel to Le Mans

Every year. Travel Destinations looks after increasing numbers of people from outside the UK that wish to travel to Le Mans. Le Mans is a truly international event, with significant numbers travelling from the USA, Australia, the Middle East, South Africa, South America and elsewhere around Europe. Although many of these people do hire a car and then drive, most will choose to travel by train. Those travelling from the UK can choose the Eurostar train service (not Eurotunnel, they are separate things) that starts at London St. Pancras and finishes in Paris. If you are heading directly to Le Mans, then consider changing at Lille as you can then catch the train straight to Le Mans from there (and it is easier than traversing Paris). If you are arriving in Paris at Charles de Gaulle airport you can also catch this train direct to Le Mans. Alternatively, if you are combining a visit to Le Mans with a visit to Paris, then the fast train (TGV) goes direct to Le Mans from Paris Montparnasse station. Once at the Le Mans station, then the tram to the circuit is right outside the station, with the end of the line at Antares in the centre of the circuit, so that couldn’t be simpler.

Top tips for travelling to Le Mans:
• Think about drive times on both sides of the Channel before booking your crossings
• Maximise the number of people in your vehicle to keep the costs down.
• Think about the economy of your vehicle. Maybe the more expensive crossings will work out cheaper in the long run. Or consider going by train.

Travel Destinations are the largest UK Tour Operator to Le Mans. Travel Destinations are an officially appointed ticket agency for Le Mans and are a fully bonded ABTA and ATOL tour operator.
Visit www.lemansrace.com for more details or call +44 (0)1707 329988.

Written by Richard Webb

Le Mans tickets

When & how to book Le Mans tickets

The Le Mans 24 Hours is seen as the pinnacle of sports car racing and it is on the bucket list of spectators and drivers from all fields of motorsport. Every June more than 250,000 race fans make the pilgrimage to Le Mans. So what makes Le Mans so popular? What Le Mans tickets do you need? and how can you get the most from your own personal Le Mans Experience?

The Le Mans 24 Hours is a unique event. The Le Mans circuit is like no other motorsport venue in the world. It really has to be experienced in person to fully appreciate the history, the challenge, the emotion and the atmosphere of the event. This is the reason that National Geographic rated the Le Mans 24 Hours the number one sporting event in the world; higher than the Olympics, the super bowl or the football world cup.

The history of the Le Mans 24 Hours is well known. A 24 hours endurance race has taken place at Le Mans annually since 1923; only interrupted by a general strike in 1936 and the Second World War. Nearly every car manufacturer that you can think of has competed at Le Mans over the years, but relatively few have been successful. It is not easy to win at Le Mans.

Le Mans tickets
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 & what to do. That is where Travel Destinations as a specialist travel company can assist. Travel Destinations has been looking after people at Le Mans for more than 20 years now, so in that time we have done everything, seen everything and can help from a position of knowledge and experience. Often there is no right or wrong answer, just a different solution to the same problem, but at least Travel Destinations staff can talk customers through the pros and cons of all the available options.

The one thing that all the Travel Destinations staff agree on is that booking early for Le Mans is highly recommended. As with any large-scale event, availability is key; so the earlier you book your Le Mans tickets, the more choice that you will have. In reality it is possible to turn up on the day and purchase an entrance ticket to the circuit, but that is all that will be available. Campsites, grandstands, glamping and hospitality will always sell out. Gone are the days of turning up in your car and just pitching a tent in the nearest field.

Travel Destinations looks after a few thousand customers at the Le Mans 24 Hours each year, many of whom are repeat customers. Often these people will re-book immediately on their return or even before if they phone 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. Particularly popular grandstands and track-side campsites may start to fill up. There will always be something available right up 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, it is just what is left available at that time.

Le Mans tickets
So, ultimately what we are saying is that the time to book is as soon as possible. Once you have decided that you want to go to Le Mans then you need to act. These days the first thing most people do is surf the internet. You will find endless social media, forums and message boards all offering their opinions on where is the best place and what the best tickets to have are. However, there are really only two things that you should look for when purchasing tickets etc. for Le Mans: The first thing to look for is an official Le Mans tickets agent logo. This logo means that the company is officially licensed to sell tickets directly from the ACO (the Automobile Club De L’Ouest, are the race organizers). Anyone without that logo is effectively a re-seller and is probably acting without authorization from the circuit. That is called ticket touting and is effectively breaks the terms and condition of buying a Le Mans ticket. Not only that, but you run the risk of not receiving the correct tickets or any at all. So message one is to always look for that Le Mans official agency logo. The second thing to look for, & this applies for any holiday that you may choose to book, is that the company should be bonded to offer financial protection. The most well-known if these in the UK is ABTA and ATOL. These logos show that the company you are booking through have 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 to ensure your money is safe if you book with them, but ultimately you should ask more questions before you book. We recommend looking for the logos. If they aren’t there or you are not sure, don’t book.

The internet is great for many things, but for Le Mans tickets it can cause issues if you aren’t familiar with Le Mans, are visiting for the first time, or the website is in a foreign language. Sometimes it is best to speak to someone with experience and ask some questions. Travel Destinations actively encourages all our customers to call us, even if they have been to Le Mans many times before. Things are always changing at Le Mans, so you can’t just presume things will be the same as previous years. 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 Travel Destinations 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 that they can pass on that information directly to our customers. Ticking a box on a website just can’t do that.

Top tips for booking for Le Mans tickets:
• Only purchase from an official agent (or the circuit directly).
• Check for financial bonding if booking as part of a travel package (look for the logos!)
• Pick up the telephone and speak to the company. If they can’t answer the phone or don’t know the answers to your questions, try someone else who can.

Travel Destinations is the largest UK Tour Operator to Le Mans. Travel Destinations are an officially appointed Le Mans tickets agency for the Le Mans 24 Hours as well as the Le Mans Classic and they are a fully ABTA and ATOL bonded tour operator.
Visit www.lemansrace.com for more details or call the Travel Destinations team on +44 (0)1707 329988.

Written by Richard Webb