Tag Archives: Le Mans 24 Hours

2020 Le Mans 24 Hours To Be Held Behind Closed Doors

The 2020 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours is set to be run behind closed doors in September (19th-20th), following a decision from the event organiser, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the Sarthe Prefecture today.

Prior to today’s announcement the ACO had explored multiple solutions to allow a limited number of spectators to attend the race during the current COVID-19 situation, including a zone system which would segregate the fans trackside. However, after lengthy discussions with the public health and safety authorities the ACO and the Sarthe Prefecture decided that the best move was to run the event without fans.

“The 88th 24 Hours of Le Mans will go down in the annals of history as, sadly, the world’s greatest endurance race will be run this year with no spectators trackside,” Pierre Fillon, president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest said.

“Over the last few weeks, we have looked at many ways in which we could hold our event in September with fans present, albeit in limited numbers. However, given the constraints involved in organising a festival-scale event over several days in the current situation, we have opted with the local government authorities to hold the race behind closed doors. There were still too many question marks regarding health and safety.

“We know that our fans will be as disappointed as we are by this decision but, with public health in the balance, it really wasn’t a difficult call to make. You don’t compromise where safety is concerned.

“Fans will not miss out altogether. They may not be at Le Mans, but our media teams and service providers will bring Le Mans to them! We are sure that we can count on everyone’s support and understanding at this time.”

Anyone with an existing booking with Travel Destinations to attend the Le Mans 24 Hours this September will be contacted directly by a member of the team to discuss the available options in the next few days.

Travel Destinations is already looking ahead to the 2021 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours, which is set to be held on the 12th & 13th June. Everyone can book travel packages to next year’s race now (and at 2020 prices for a limited time). Please call our offices on 01707 329988 today.

Le Mans

Le Mans 2020 Update

Travel Destinations has announced today that it is continuing to sell travel packages for the 2020 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours in September (19-20), following yesterday’s update from the ACO which stated that the event will run with spectators track-side.

In terms of accommodation, in addition to booking customers ferry and tunnel crossings, Travel Destinations continues to offer its increasingly popular on-site glamping and Flexotel (temporary hotel) options, as well as a variety of camping options including its private on-site area situated trackside at the Porsche Curves (featuring access to TD’s private viewing bank). Hotel and B&B bookings off-site are still being offered too.

As for race tickets, while additional sales via the ACO have been postponed, as an official agent of the Le Mans 24 Hours Travel Destinations has an allocation of both general admission and grandstand tickets still available for customers.

Pop up hotel at Le Mans

Hospitality packages remain on offer too, with a variety of options from TD partner Michelin, as well as official ACO hospitality areas at the Porsche Curves and Start/Finish straight. These include options such as full catering, suite, paddock and grid walk access, VIP parking and shuttle bus services.

Anyone interested in attending the 2020 (and/or the 2021 running) of the race can contact Travel Destinations by calling one of our experts on 01707329988 (+44 1707 32 9988 for international callers) or emailing info@traveldestinations.co.uk.

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Le Mans vs Le Mans

With the Le Mans Classic returning in 2021, and Hypercars making their debuts at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year, both events will be very appealing to all motorsport fans. But how do you choose which event is right for you? Here we look at the similarities and differences between the events to help you make the right decision for you.

Where
The Circuit de la Sarthe has hosted the Le Mans 24 Hours since 1923. The circuit has seen various modifications since then, but essentially it is the same place. Located to the south of the city of Le Mans, the roughly 8½ miles (13.6km) of track is made up of a combination of public & private roads. The Mulsanne straight, Arnage corner and Dunlop Bridge are all part of the famous circuit.

The Le Mans Classic takes place on exactly the same circuit as the modern event. The racing takes place on the same tarmac, featuring the same iconic straights and corners of the full Le Mans Circuit. It may take the cars longer to complete one lap of the famous Le Mans track, but it is the same track of the same length and in the same location.

When
Although the first 24 Hours of Le Mans was actually held in May, the traditional month for the race has been June (falling on the 24th week of the year). There have been exceptions, including 1956 when it took place in July and then 1968 and most recently 2020 when the race was postponed from June to September (19th & 20th). However, the Le Mans 24 Hours remains an annual event and is scheduled to take place in June every year, with 2021’s race scheduled for the 12th & 13th June.

The Le Mans Classic was introduced as an event in 2002 and takes place every two years, on the first weekend in July. The event was postponed in 2020 due to the pandemic, so the next event will take place from the 1st – 4th July 2021. The event organizers have already stated that they will keep the event taking place every two years, to ensure the quality of the competing cars is maintained. This raises the prospect of the Le Mans Classic also taking place in 2023, as part of the circuit’s centenary celebrations.

Le Mans 2021
Le Mans 24 Hours

The Cars
Around 60 cars take to the starting grid of the Le Mans 24 Hours each year. The cars are a mixture of prototypes and GT cars designed specifically with endurance racing in mind. The Le Mans 24 Hours is now a long sprint race, with cars able to complete a full lap in just over 3 minutes, even with rule changes designed to slow the cars down for safety reasons. 2021’s Le Mans 24 Hours will see the start of a new era in sportscar racing with the new Hypercar classification replacing the previous top-class of LMP1.

All cars that have previously participated in the Le Mans 24 Hours (from 1923 through to 2010) are now invited to join in the Le Mans Classic. This means that more than 500 competing cars will take to the track over the long weekend. Not all cars will race at the same time, so the 24 hours of racing is divided up in to different eras (grids or plateau) to equalize performance. Each era will then take to the track three times during the 24 hours period. Competition is fierce so scrutineering is strict, ensuring that the cars taking part are as close to the original specifications as possible, whilst those eras that included a Le Mans style start, will re-enact the event when they first take to the track.

Le Mans Classic
Le Mans Classic

Spectators
The official attendance at the Le Mans 24 Hours is regularly more than 200,000 people, making it one of the most attended events in the world, not just in motorsport. The circuit is large and so can accommodate this large number of people; having said that expect large crowds of people particularly along the start/finish straight both at the start of the race and the end, where spectators will also traditionally invade the track. Although mostly French, the Le Mans 24 Hours does attract a multinational audience. A large percentage of spectators will have travelled from the UK, Scandinavia and the Netherlands with smaller numbers travelling from the USA, Australia, South Africa and elsewhere around the world. In general, the Le Mans 24 Hours attracts a predominantly young adult audience, with large groups and a party-style atmosphere is common.

The Le Mans Classic has grown in size with each event with the official spectator numbers now well over 100,000. Despite being around half the number of the 24 hours, this is not a small event and in addition nearly 9000 classic cars will be driven to the Le Mans Classic and parked on the infield, creating the largest car-club gathering in the world. Whilst many of the grandstands will be full for the very first race, the Le Mans Classic has more of an ebb and flow to the crowd than the 24 Hours, so it rarely feels over-crowded. The Le Mans Classic attracts a wider age range than the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it is equally multinational. A local audience will always be present, but motorsport enthusiasts from around the world travel to witness the Le Mans Classic, so expect to hear many accents from the UK and America, as well as other European countries. The Le Mans Classic tends to attract a more mature group of spectators, often in pairs (due to the predominance of two-seater sports-cars) and therefore a calmer atmosphere often prevails.

The Paddock
The paddock is the area behind the garages where the teams work during race week. Often typified by large lorries and team hospitality units at big events. At the Le Mans 24 Hours the paddock area has restricted access. Unless you are a VIP or have an invitation from one of the teams then you are unlikely to be able to enter the race paddock. There are various support race paddocks that you may be able to access with your general tickets, but the main race paddock has restricted access for health and safety reasons.

The paddock at the Le Mans Classic looks & feels a lot different to most race events. The Le Mans Classic paddocks are arranged by the different grids and include a tented garage for each participating car. With the appropriate pass (included in all Travel Destinations offers) you can have access to each paddock and get up close to all the cars. You are able to talk to drivers and mechanics as they continue to prepare or repair their cars. There is a loose dress-code for the Le Mans Classic paddock area, but this is rarely enforced. There is always something happening in the paddock area as cars are leaving or returning from the track all the time, so awareness of what is going on is important, but it is always a rewarding place to spend some of your time.

Le Mans 2021
Le Mans Classic Paddock

The Village
This is the commercial area just to the north of paddocks and garages, which at the Le Mans 24 Hours is home retail outlets for official race merchandise, branded team gear, as well as some cafés and bars. There are often car displays & other promotions around this area throughout Le Mans week. Usefully, considering its proximity to the shops, the village is also where you will find the only ATM on the circuit.

The village area at the Le Mans Classic appears to sprawl a bit wider and further than at the Le Mans 24 hours. As well as the official branded products, expect to find a diverse selection of retailers with goods from memorabilia, refurbished petrol pumps, to leather flying hats and goggles. There tends to be a vintage & artisan theme throughout, with a selection of big-name brands thrown in for good measure. There a car displays and themed concours competitions all within this area, which will take some time to explore if you can be dragged away from the on-track action.

Entertainment
If the action on the track is not enough fun for you then the Le Mans 24 Hours provides some additional activities that you may find entertaining. The funfair is located just south of the grandstands on the outside of the track. In particular that big-wheel provides an excellent vantage point for photography, especially at night. Alternatively, if you like your music with a background of engine noise, then on most evenings there are free concerts on the big stage adjacent to the Dunlop Bridge. Although many of the guest bands have a French slant, some are often International names such as Razorlight, Franz Ferdinand & Jamiroquai.

The Le Mans Classic provides its musical entertainment in the form of mobile jazz bands & vintage singers around the village area throughout the event. For something different there is also a drive-in cinema on the Bugatti circuit. The Bugatti circuit is also the home to a plethora of car clubs from all over Europe. It seems that every marque and brand is accommodated on the various twists and turns of the internal circuit. It is well worth a wander. The ultimate highlight for many attending the Le Mans Classic is the opportunity to drive their own classic or sports car around the famous circuit. Whilst some of the roads are usually open to the public, it is rare to get the chance to drive around the whole circuit (twice!). At £200 per car it isn’t cheap and helmets are compulsory, but for many the price is worth it for the hot brakes and big smile at the end.

Le Mans 2021
Travel Destinations Event Tents at Le Mans Classic

Accommodation
Camping has long been a tradition at the Le Mans 24 Hours. With such large numbers of spectators descending on the city of Le Mans, there is just not enough other accommodation available. Those hotel rooms that are available can become expensive and camping enables race fans to stay at the track. The circuit-run campsites provide good locations with basic facilities. In the last 20 years Travel Destinations has paved the way to more options with the introduction of secure track-side camping at Porsche Curves, private glamping tents and individual bedrooms within the circuit in our Flexotel Village.

Because spectators still number more than 100,000 at the Le Mans Classic camping is still looked on as the default option. Whilst there are some more hotel and B&B rooms available in the area, driving to and from the circuit can become tiresome if you are doing it every day. Travel Destinations continue to offer two private track-side campsites and our glamping site inside the circuit for those that enjoy staying under canvas. Alternatively, our Flexotel Village is also available for those that prefer a proper bed and a roof over their head.

Le Mans 2021
Travel Destinations Flexotel Village

Alternatives
The Le Mans 24 Hours is unique. It is not easy to compare it to any other motor race in the world. However, for a mix of great racing and entertainment, then the Nurburgring 24 Hours could offer a good alternative. Although there is no prototype racing, the mix of up to 200 GT cars on the grid makes for quite a spectacle. Using a combination of the Nurburgring’s F1 circuit and the famous Nordschleife makes a large circuit with some spectacular viewing opportunities. The dates for the race follow a German holiday, so move around from year to year, but for 2021 the race will take place from the 3rd – 6th June, so you could even make the Nurburgring 24 an appetizer to the main course of the 24 Hours of Le Mans the following week!

Historic racing is the fastest growing class of motorsport in Europe, and there are many events on the calendar that are worth your attention. The Monaco historic, Nurburgring Oldtimer Grand Prix and the Angouleme Circuit des Remparts are all very good. However, the Spa Classic is now an annual event from the same organisers as the Le Mans Classic. The beautiful setting of the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes, and some of the cars from the Le Mans Classic now racing on this historic circuit make this a favourite event. The Spa Classic feels like a little sister to the Le Mans Classic.

The 2021 calendar is already packed with some amazing events. The Le Mans 24 Hours and the Le Mans Classic will certainly be among the highlights. Can you attend both? Or which will you choose?
Reserve your place now by calling Travel Destinations on +44 (0)1707 329988.

Le Mans

Reasons to be Cheerful – Le Mans

My phone calendar has helpfully reminded me where we all should be next week. As we move into what would have been Le Mans week, many of us are filled with a longing for La Sarthe. You often don’t appreciate something until it’s gone, but we have always appreciated the spectacle that is Le Mans.

You don’t have to look far to find negativity regarding the future of Le Mans on websites, forums and social media groups. It has been there for a while, even before the pandemic. However, while it may not be fashionable right now, I would like to point out the positives and see if we can find some reasons to be cheerful. After all, the Le Mans 24 Hours will return and so will we.

2020

The virtual Le Mans event next week may be just a reminder of what could have been, but expect the ACO to be reminding everyone the real thing will return this September. Once it was apparent that the race couldn’t take place this June, the ACO was relatively quick to pencil in the 19th & 20th September for this year’s race. Initial doubts that this may still be too early to return to Le Mans, have now been replaced by belief that this will happen.

There are many political and business reasons why the race must take place, which I won’t go into here, but I can say that the noises from Le Mans, have gone from “If the race can go ahead” through “how the race can go ahead” to now “the race will go ahead”. I have no doubt now that the race will happen, but will we be able to be there?

We know that the ACO is currently liaising with the French government at various levels from local to national, to see what requirements will be required to make the race safe for everyone, including spectators. Those in charge will do their best to make that happen. Don’t get me wrong, Le Mans 2020 may not have the same crowds as previous races, but accepting that may be the best way forward. Expect further news soon, so watch this space….

2021

It is never too early to plan Le Mans. We already know that the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2021 will take place on the 12th & 13th June and you can already book your place through Travel Destinations (of course you can!). Why should we be looking forward to 2021?

This could be the start of a new era in sports car racing and you can be there at the beginning! Well nearly the beginning, as actually the new season of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) is scheduled to start earlier in the year, with new machinery most likely making their debuts at Sebring in March. 2021 will see the entrance of Hypercar. The journey to get here is less important now. The cars will be here and racing.

At the time of writing we know that Toyota will be present. Their loyalty to Le Mans should be recognised by us all. We also know that they will be joined by two cars from Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus for what has been dubbed by Jim Glickenhaus himself as a ‘David vs Goliath’ battle. In 2019 Toyota manufactured more than 10 million cars. Glickenhaus produced less than 400.

Does that mean that Glickenhaus cannot take the fight to Toyota and win Le Mans? It wouldn’t be the first time that we have seen something like that happen. Glickenhaus also has form when it comes to surprising doubters; just ask Jeff Westphal who took pole position for the American team with its in-house 003C at the Nurburgring 24 Hours a few years ago when up against the factory-backed GT3 cars from Audi, Porsche, BMW, Mercedes and Bentley.

We also know that ByKolles is likely to take to the grid with its new Hypercar too, so this could be the start of a new manufacturer competition at the front of the grid.

Le Mans
Toyota’s Hypercar

2022

Just when you have got over the excitement of seeing Hypercars race at Le Mans, you have something more to look forward to. The Le Mans 24 Hours in 2022 is set to be the first time you will get to see the new LMDh class go head-to-head with the Hypercar field, which is in-turn set to be bolstered by the return to Le Mans of Peugeot Sport.

The claims in recent years of tensions between the ACO and IMSA appear to be unfounded as the two bodies have come together and approved a global top class, paving the way for something truly special at Le Mans; a huge field of manufacturers fighting for the overall win, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the late 1990s.

Along with the possible addition of Peugeot to the Hypercar grid, there is a sizeable list of prospective manufacturers all currently evaluating LMDh programmes. Porsche, Mazda, Cadillac, Audi, Acura, Lamborghini and McLaren are all known to be ‘in the room’ and seriously considering their options. It is now a case of which marque makes the first move and gives a programme the green light, but it all looks promising.

2023

Back in 1923, André Lagache & Réné Léonard won the very first 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ultimately, they had two grandstands at the circuit named after them too. 2023’s centennial celebrations should be something not to be missed. A new pit-complex with future-proofed garages enabling the introduction of a Hydrogen class at Le Mans, set to be unveiled for 2023, is currently in the works.

Needless to say, a centenary of racing at Le Mans will be celebrated in a big way throughout 2023, and the Le Mans 24 Hours (and, we believe, the Le Mans Classic too) will be at the centre of it. It is certainly something to start looking forward to. The crowds will be huge and the manufacturers involved will all be more eager than ever to claim a historic victory.

We may not be able to watch racing at Le Mans next week, and of course that is disappointing, but look a bit further down the road and there are a lot of reasons to be cheerful.

Written by Richard Webb
Photography by Dailysportscar

Want to reserve your place at Le Mans in September 2020 or June 2021? Call the Travel Destinations team now on +44 (0)1707 329988.

Speed Chills

Open for business again

Apologies for not posting content on here recently, but rather than doing nothing for the last couple of months, all the Travel Destinations team have been working remotely and have been very busy trying to assist all our customers with their future travel plans.

All our events up until the end of August have now been postponed; either to dates in September & October or to similar dates in 2021. All events originally scheduled for September and October retain their positions in the calendar and whilst they continue to be reviewed by the relevant authorities, if the events can go ahead, we will be there!

The Travel Destinations team would like to say a genuinely big thank you to all our customers for your patience and understanding during what has been difficult times for everybody. Quite early on we decided that we should try, where possible, to contact all our customers individually to discuss their bookings and the best options available to them. This has been quite an undertaking and has taken time, so we are grateful for everyone bearing with us.

We are so pleased that in the majority of cases, customers have chosen to transfer their bookings forward to the revised event dates. Not only does this help us, but it also gives us all something to look forward to, which is really positive looking forward. Thank you.

Thankfully, as some lock-down restrictions are lifted, from this week, we are now able to return to our office. Initially this will be limited to a few staff at a time on a rota basis, whilst others will continue to work remotely. The phone has already started ringing, so we are now trying to answer as many calls as we can. You can reach us on our usual number 0044 (0) 1707 329988, but if initially you can’t get through, you can still contact us via email (info@travelestinations.co.uk) and we will call you back as soon as we can.

All the new dates for our events have been confirmed on our websites www.traveldestinations.co.uk and www.lemansrace.com and we will continue to update these as further news is announced, so please do keep checking-in for future events.

Thank you again & we look forward to seeing you on your travels soon.

Le Mans 2021

Le Mans 24 Hours 2020: Important Update

LE MANS 24 HOURS: IMPORTANT UPDATE

Today we have received the news that the Le Mans 24 Hours has been postponed and the new dates have now been confirmed as the 19th & 20th September 2020.

IMPORTANT

  • In the first instance, please do not call or email our office.
    In order to manage the volumes of correspondence we are receiving, we respectfully ask you to refrain from contacting us at this time. Rest assured we will be contacting you in due course in a systematic manner. This may well take some weeks in the current situation so your patience would be appreciated.
  • Reservations will be amended to the new dates, keeping the same price and travel arrangements as previously confirmed. Your new balance due date will be on or before 1st June.
  • Should you be unable to attend the Le Mans 24hrs in September, you are entitled to a credit note or refund for the full amount already paid. This must be redeemed by 24th December 2021 and is valid for any events until 30th September 2022.
  • As ABTA members we would like to re-assure you that any monies held with us are financially protected.

Please note that at this time the Le Mans Classic will continue to go ahead in July as planned.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter and we will be in touch very soon.

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

Don’t miss your chance to be track-side for the final season of the LMP1 class
The Le Mans 24 Hours 2020 is on sale now. Read more about our offers here.
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Le Mans 2021

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.

 

Le Mans 2019

Le Mans 2019: The Result

Toyota win Le Mans 2019 but not with the right car

The Le Mans 24 Hours 2019 had stories unfolding from the start to the finish. It was predictable and unpredictable at the same time, if that is possible. A crowd of 252,000 spectators were kept enthralled for the full 24 hours as the story of Le Mans 2019 unfolded. The history books will say that Toyota won Le Mans 2019 comfortably, as was predicted before a wheel turned at the famous Le Mans circuit. However, there was so much more that went in to this race than just a Toyota Win.

Late drama sees the No. 8 Toyota take the win
Toyota dominated Le Mans 2019. No one can argue that. As the sole manufacturer with a hybrid in the top class, it was going to be a big surprise if they didn’t. Even Toyota’s harshest critic would have to recognise that both their cars performed amazingly well. They continued lapping in the 3m20s throughout the 24 Hours and were reliable (almost) until the very end. That alone is impressive and should be acknowledged. It is not their fault they had little competition. From the very start, the No. 7 car of Conway, Kobayashi & Lopez were the quickets. In particular Mike Conway managed to get something extra from the No. 7 car. The No. 8 car of Buemi, Nakajima & Alonso followed behind, except where pit cycle rotation gave them the lead. As the race played out the No. 7 Toyota retook the lead after 2am and didn’t relinquish it until the final hour. Then there was drama.

Le Mans 24 Hours

With less than an hour to go in Le Mans 2019, the No. 7 car overtook a GT car and had to move off the racing line to do so. They had done this many times throughout the race, but this time they picked up a slow puncture. They were far enough ahead of the sister car, that they could afford to pit and still come out in front. For whatever reason, a decision was made to only change the punctured tyre and not replace the full set. As the No. 7 car rejoined the race, there was a problem as the car was still registering a puncture. Apparently there was a sensor problem and the wrong tyre had been changed so the No. 7 car had to return to the pit lane again. This stop, combined with the slow running with a puncture, allowed the sister Toyota to catch and pass the No. 7 car. Although the No. 7 car returned to the race, there was not enough time to catch the No. 8 car again. The No. 8 car completed 384 laps of the Le Mans circuit and took the chequered flag to win the Le Mans 24 Hours 2019.

Elsewhere in LMP1 there was a great race between SMP Racing & Rebellion Racing for the unofficial privateers crown (and 3rd place in Le Mans 2019). With two cars each it was a very fair fight which saw both ahead of each other at different stages. In the end the No. 11 SMP Racing outlasted the Rebellion pair after the No. 3 car had a major incident in to a tyre wall. That both Rebellions still finished is a statement to the professionalism of the team, but it was SMP Racing that got to stand on the podium alongside Toyota.

 Signatech-Alpine conquer Le Mans 2019 
In such a crowded class with similar technology it was always going to be difficult to predict a winner in LMP2 for Le Mans 2019. The race saw special performances from the No. 29 Racing Team Nederland team that came back from multiple punctures and broken suspension after a collision with the wall.  Dragonspeed were impressive early on and looked to be a contender until Maldonado crashed the car before sunrise. The class outfits (with much FIA WEC experience) were G-Drive Racing and Signatech-Alpine. The two teams were battling together from the very beginning. It appeared that G-Drive had got themselves ahead in the early hours of the morning only for a technical glitch on a routine pit stop, find them unable to restart the car. The following 20 minutes spent in the garage cost them at least a podium place. So it was left to Signatech-Alpine to dominate the final stages and finish ahead of Jackie-Chan DC Racing and TDS Racing who kept going until the end.

Le Mans 24 Hours

Ferrari step up to take GTE Pro at Le Mans 2019
In many ways this was the class to watch throughout the race. Particularly at the start there were often five different manufacturers all in a line, following each other down the Mulsanne Straight. The lead changed multiple times and often the pit lane was a battle ground as stops happened simultaneously. The race was a disappointment for Aston Martin Racing. having qualified on pole, they were hit by Balance of Performance adjustments, that left them unable to manage tyres and ultimately compete. After a couple of hours they were dropping fast down this competitive field and an accident eventually put paid to their challenge. BMW. in their last Le Mans for the time being, also failed to make an impact. So it was left to Corvette, Ford, Porsche and Ferrari to battle it out. And this they duly did. Corvette surprised many in the last outing of the C7.R and were ahead for long stints in the first half of the race.  However, one too many off track excursions ultimately cost them a podium. Ford were always there and challenging. Their numerical supremacy of 4 cars enabled them to extend their challenge, but this wasn’t to be their year. In the end it was the familiar sight of Porsche and Ferrari who got to decide the podiums. In the end it was the underestimated Ferrari team of AF Corse (a factory team in all but name) that came through to claim the top step. The Porsche GT team were always keeping them honest, but going in to the last hour the Ferrari had built a comfortable lead and were never really challenged as the end of the race approached.

Le Mans 24 Hours

Purple is the colour for Keating
So often overlooked, the GTE Am class, once again, provided an excellent spectacle. initially it looked like a Porsche was the car to have. Both Dempsey-Proton cars started the race well and were closely followed by the Gulf Racing Porsche.  As the race went on, the Project 1 Porsche appeared to get stronger and also came to the fore. However, as incidents thinned the challengers, it was the No. 85 Ford GT of Keating Motorsports that broke the Porsche stranglehold. The purple liveried Ford driven and managed by American Ben Keating, survived a late challenge by Team Project 1 that saw the gap reduced to 10 seconds in the last hour, after damage to the car meant a change of nose for the Ford. However, they managed to stay out in front and hold on for an emotional victory for the whole team.

Le Mans 24 Hours

The new FIA World Endurance Championship season begins again in August at Silverstone, and will end at Le Mans 2020. The Le Mans 24 Hours continues to deliver stories and on-track action that makes it the most famous race in the world.

Written by Richard Webb
Photography by Dailysportscar

 

Le Mans 2019

Le Mans 2019: Qualifying Review

Toyota cruise & Aston Martin sprint to Le Mans 2019 poles

Qualifying for Le Mans 2019 came to an end at midnight on Thursday evening, although the celebrations for some went on in to the early hours of Friday morning. The headlines were grabbed by the No. 7 Toyota who took overall pole position with a fastest time of 3m15.497s. They finished ahead of their sister car, with the No. 8 car completing the front row. It can be argued that the difference between starting first and second in a 24 hours endurance race is of little significance, but Kobayashi, Lopez & Conway were happy to celebrate in front of the cameras. In reality the point they receive for pole position narrows the gap to the No. 7 crew who still lead the FIA WEC Championship by 30 points.

Le Mans 2019

Perhaps more significant for the top LMP1 class was the performance of the 3rd placed No. 17 SMP Racing car. Not only were they the first of the non-hybrid (privateer) cars, but they were impressively quick. Not only was their qualification time 3 seconds quicker than this time last year, but it was also quicker than the factory hybrid Porsche 919s and Audi R18 that preceded it. Paul Truswell, the much respected statistician at Radio Le Mans, calculated that if all cars ran without problems for 24 hours, then the Toyotas would have a 28 minutes gap to the next nearest car. However, Le Mans is rarely without problems, many of which take longer than 30 minutes to repair. So Toyota will be still be looking over their shoulders come the start of Le Mans 2019.

Le Mans 2019

There was a certain amount of controversy in the LMP2 qualification, with the No. 39 Graff Racing car initially setting the fastest lap time. However, the team were stripped of their times by the stewards after the chequered flag, after the car failed to stop and a mandatory weighbridge. So the official pole position in the LMP2 class was inherited by the No. 28 TDS Racing car in the early hours of the morning. This was a costly error by Graff Racing and the celebratory champagne had to go back on the ice as they will try to redeem themselves during the race.

Le Mans 2019

Some of the best qualifying action was witnessed in the GTE Pro class, which regularly saw 4 different manufacturers occupying each of the 4 fastest time slots.  In the end, and with the clock ticking down to midnight, it was a clear track for the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing with Nicki Thiim at the wheel that enabled them to complete a hot lap and take pole in this class. The qualifying result saw Aston Martin finish ahead of Ford and then Corvette in the top three. Perhaps surprising was the relative speeds for Porsche & Ferrari who qualified further down the order.

Le Mans 2019

By contrast Porsche completed a 1-2-3 in the GTE Am class, with No. 88 Dempsey-Proton Racing 911 RSR, claiming pole. The No. 77 sister car claimed second place on the grid with a remarkable turnaround seeing the No. 86 Gulf Racing Porsche claim 3rd. Gulf Racing looked out of the equation during the qualifying sessions, as they experienced gear-box issues. however, some sterling work by their pit team managed to get the car back on the track late in the last qualifying session and with enough time to set the 3rd fastest time. This relegated the No. 84 Ferrari 488 of JMW Motorsport to 4th on the GTE Am grid.

The weather looks set fair for the race on Saturday & Sunday and if the Le Mans 2019 qualifying sessions were anything to go by then we should be in for an exciting Le Mans 2019.

Written by Richard Webb
Photography by Dailysportscar