Tag Archives: Le Mans

Le Mans 24 Hours

Le Mans 24 Hours 2017: Race review

The Le Mans 24 Hours 2017 may be most remembered for beautiful weather and surprise results; the race was run under sunshine and cloudless skies with track temperatures in excess of 30 degrees centigrade, and surprise results as most of the LMP1 manufacturer team cars fell by the wayside allowing two LMP2 cars on to the winners podium.

LMP1
Although this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours had a relatively low attrition rate, the opposite could be said of the manufacturers in the LMP1 class. By the end, no car had avoided lengthy time in the garage ore retirement on track & only two LMP1s managed to complete the 24 hours. The writing was perhaps on the wall early when a Toyota sustained damage in the early laps, causing debris to hit the ByKolles Racing team car. Despite it limping back to the pit lane, the car was never able to get going again and the garage door was pulled down early.. With the numeric disadvantage of only 2 cars, Porsche suffered a blow when the No. 2 car had to spend an hour in the garage for a rebuilt front axle, relegating them out of the top 50.

Toyota looked to dominate the first period of the race from pole position. They secured a 1-2 for much of this time but could never really pull away from the lone Porsche during this time. The No. 7 Toyota lead the way and looked particularly fast in the early stages. However it was all going to go wrong for Toyota as darkness fell. One by one, they experienced power problems. Only the No. 8 car managed to return to the race, but after losing more than 2 hours in the garage, they were never in contention for the overall win, despite setting the race’s fastest lap.

The demise of Toyota’s challenge left the No.1 Porsche with a free run at the chequered flag. They managed to survive the night and most of the morning, until, with just four hours to go, oil pressure problems left them limping with just electric power down the Mulsanne straight. Despite Andre Lotterer’s best efforts the car ground to a halt and could not get going again.

Le Mans 24 Hours

The demise of the No. 1 Porsche briefly opened the window for an LMP2 win, as No.38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca-07 Gibson, inherited the lead. However, their hopes were dashed, with the flying return of the No. 2 Porsche. Despite their early delay in the garage, the No. 2 Porsche came flying back through the field. Brendon Hartley, Earl Bamber & in particular Timo Bernhard got the best out of the car, and managed to avoid and pass the traffic with ease. They took the lead with almost exactly an hour to go and didn’t look back, eventually crossing the finish line more than half a lap of the second placed car. A remarkable turnaround then from the No.2 Porsche team, who were not even in the top 50 cars after their technical woes.

LMP2
Whilst the top class suffered with a very high attrition rate, the opposite could be said of the biggest field in the race; LMP2. Only four of the twenty-five cars in this class failed to finish. This is all the more remarkable considering there were new regulations for this class this year, and none of the contenders had completed a race of this distance. Despite many expert predictions to the contrary the LMP2 class not only showed the necessary endurance, but also very nearly pulled of the overall win.

For the majority of the race the two cars from Vaillante Rebellion showed their experience and stayed at the front of the pack. Having raced LMP1 cars over the last few year, the Rebellion team clearly know a thing or two about how to race at Le Mans. The G-Drive and CEFC Manor TRS Racing teams, also showed strong performances, but ultimately the story of this class enfolded late on. Having watched the LMP1 cars disappear in front, and finding themselves more than 10 laps behind the leaders, the LMP2 cars started to climb the leader-board as the manufacturer LMP1s began to retire. When the leading No.1 came to a halt on the track, it was the No. 38 Jacki Chan DC Racing car that caught up and inherited the lead of the race. They managed to defend that position from other LMP2 challenges, and for 2 hours they continued at the front. It would have been the most remarkable story. A David vs Goliath type victory, however it was not to be. Despite the best efforts of Thomas Laurent, Oliver Jarvis and ultimately Ho-Pin Tung, behind the wheel, they were unable to compete with the superior speed of the Porsche No. 2 car that reeled them in; hunting them down shark-like and then passing them with only an hour of the race to go.

Despite this the all involved with the No. 38 car should be immensely proud of what they achieved; not only winning the LMP2 class, but finishing second overall at Le Man. The No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion ended second in class, so took the third step on the overall podium which was just reward for the excellent Rebellion team.

GTE Pro
There had been much criticism before the race about the rule makers and the changes made under the balance of performance regulations. It is a complex thing trying to make all cars competitive and in the past, this has been hugely unsuccessful. However, credit where credit is due, they definitely got it right this time and they provided the spectators with a remarkable race. In fact had Hollywood script writers come up with the story they would have probably rejected the idea under grounds of lack of reality.

No one manufacturer was able to dominate this class. Even Ford’s numeric advantage didn’t help them get ahead. Hour after hour, often minute after minute, the lead changed hands. The racing was so close, that as cars peeled off to complete their pit stops, the next car would inherit the lead. Once that car pitted the baton was passed on. And do it went on throughout the race.

Quite unbelievably going in to the last hour of the 24, each manufacturer had a car on the lead lap. Corvette, Aston Martin, Ford, Porsche and Ferrari all had a chance to win. Nobody was able to pull away and seconds separated all five cars. In the end it came down to pit lane strategy and a bit of luck as to when the race was actually going to finish. Aston Martin were leading, but had to have an extra stop for fuel. This opened the door for Corvette. With the other three cars fast catching, Corvette with Jordan Taylor at the wheel, left the pit lane with Aston Martin and Jonny Adam filling its mirrors. It was going to go right down to the wire. The two cars continued to lap just seconds apart as Jonny Adam looked for a place to attack. It looked as though Jordan Taylor had done enough to keep ahead and take the win, when the Aston Martin braked late at Mulsanne and tried to pass. Quite legitimately the Corvette closed the door as they exited and the corner, but there was contact between the two.

The two cars continued around for one more lap, but suddenly the Corvette had an issue and cut one of the chicanes on the Mulsanne straight, skidding across the gravel, but retaining the lead. However, Jonny Adam could sense he might get one more opportunity. It came literally at the start of their last lap. Coming through the Ford chicane on to the start finish straight, the Aston Martin took advantage of the damaged Corvette and powered past. Despite the great skills of Jordan Taylor there was nothing he could do to protect the lead. As the Aston Martin disappeared to take the win, salt was rubbed in to Corvette’s wounds as the No. 67 Ford managed to catch the limping Corvette and demote them to third in Class. Nevertheless all teams involved should take great credit for their efforts. This was a very hard fault battle that really entertained the fans, and should be remembered for a very long time.

GTE Am
The battle in GTE Am was not as close as the Pro class. In the early running, it appeared that the No. 98 Aston Martin would run away with it. However, technical issues dragged them back. The speed shown by the Larbre Competition Corvette in qualifying never reappeared, and it was left to the Ferraris to dominate the class. The No. 84 yellow and black, JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE took the lead in the darkness and was not in the mood to relinquish the position once daylight returned. For hours they remained at the front of the class, often mixing with the back markers of the GTE Pro field. They managed to spend the minimum of time in the pit lane and came home to be quite comfortable winners in the end. The other class podium slots were also filled by Ferraris, clearly the car to have in this class, with Spirit of the Race and Scuderia Corsa coming home second and third.

Overall this was an excellent race, and one that will be much talked about around the trackside barbecues tonight. Porsche were the outright winners, but the plaudits will be taken elsewhere in the classes below. Le Mans 24 Hours 2017 will be remembered for the hot temperatures around the circuit and the amazing racing that took place on it. Roll on Le Mans 24 hours 2018.

Written by Richard Webb
Photos by Dailysportscar

You can book with us now for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2018 and the Le Mans Classic 2018. Price details and dates are available on this website. Please call us to make your reservations. A deposit will be required at the time of booking.

Toyota LMP1

FIA WEC Spa-Francorchamps Review

The 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship moved on to Belgium and the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit this last weekend. As always this is the last FIA WEC race before Le Mans, so whilst there were battles on the track for championship points, there was also a lot of planning for the Le Mans 24 Hours. Ever present, our man in the stands was present trackside to follow all the action and bring you this exclusive report, looking at the main talking points and what we learned from the race.

1. Toyota’s Le Mans chances look good
Toyota Gazoo Racing has started the FIA WEC season with two wins from two races, and a Le Mans outlook which has arguably never been stronger. The 2017 TS050 Hybrid is a winning machine, with the regular drivers in the No.7 and No.8 cars both proving to be in the form of their lives heading into the big race next month. The question remaining though, concerns the aero-package. At Spa, the No.9 car of Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Sarrazin and Yuji Kunimoto debuted the low-drag configuration of the car, which the team will race at Le Mans, while the No.7 and No.8 full-season FIA WEC entries ran the high-downforce kits that the team will use at the six-hour races all season.
FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa-FrancorchampsWhile the performance (a fifth-place finish) for the Le Mans option is likely down to the team using the race as an extended test session for both the car and drivers, it was interesting that it didn’t feature all weekend. The car did briefly take the lead when Lapierre out-braked himself into La Source at the start, but after that it failed to feature in the race for the podium, finishing far behind the two other Toyotas and both Porsches.

The difference is that Porsche has been running its own Le Mans kit all season so far, and has therefore had much more race experience with it, which is confidence building, as even though it hasn’t won yet, it came close at Spa with the No.2 919 Hybrid, which would have been involved in a grandstand finish had Brendon Hartley not lost time in the pits due to a nose change late in the race following a clumsy collision with the No.36 Signatech Alpine.

It remains to be seen how close the two marques will be on-track at Le Mans because of this, though it has all the makings of a classic should Toyota have some speed up its sleeve.

2. Aston Martin struggling for pace?
Aston Martin Racing has had a remarkably quiet 2017. While its two Vantages are still relatively fresh from combining to score the Teams’ Championship and Drivers’ Championship last year, so far this year they haven’t looked like even sniffing a podium.FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa FrancorchampsIn GTE Pro it’s been all Ford and Ferrari so far, with Chip Ganassi Team UK and AF Corse in turn dominating Silverstone and Spa. Porsche has had flashes of pace, but the new car looks to be a few months from being perfect in the reliability and consistency department. Le Mans could well be a different story though. Le Mans will have a separate and thus far undetermined Balance of Performance applied, and this could favour Aston Martin’s Vantages as the cars have looked to be struggling.

In addition, the No.95 did produce one single lap in Free Practice 2 at Spa which put Dane, Marco Sorensen seconds quicker than his teammates, and atop the standings in the class. After that it was unable to produce a similar time, but it begs the question, is there something in reserve?

3. The Ferrari 488 has arrived
As mentioned above, the Ferrari 488 dominated at Spa, and in the second half of the race proved totally untouchable. It has been reliable – which it wasn’t last year – and now has the speed to match. AF Corse’s driver line-up too seems to be strong from top to bottom, with newcomer Alessandro Pier Guidi looking both quick and consistent over his stints in the car.

FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa-FrancorchampsThe team finished the race 1 & 2, and looked unstoppable. If they can continue their form at the Le Mans 24 Hours, then they may well emerge as title favourites, should Ford not keep tabs, the Porsche get up to speed and Aston pick up the pace.

4. The new LMP2s look reliable
Before the season started there was much speculation as to how reliable the new LMP2 cars would prove. In testing the cars were suffering from electrical woes, and gearbox issues which often prevented teams from having extended runs. Silverstone and Spa though, have been very encouraging, the 2017 cars looking strong over long distances all of a sudden. Last weekend there was only one retirement in the field, which was Tockwith Motorsports’ Ligier JS P217, which suffered from a gearbox failure at the very end of the race. Tockwith is new to racing in LMP2 though, and the FIA WEC is a difficult challenge to master.

FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa-FrancorchampsLe Mans may be a different story, as going for twenty-four hours is much harder than six. But so far the signs are positive, and Le Mans’ potential to become a race of attrition is looking increasingly slim.

5. And race well together too!
As well as being reliable, the race at Spa put to rest the nay-sayers who assumed the racing in the FIA WEC’s LMP2 class would be poor, with the entire field being made up of Oreca 07s. The cars are aerodynamically sophisticated and performance wise much more powerful, which on paper in effectively a ‘spec series’, has the potential to produce processional racing. So far that hasn’t been the case, especially at Spa, with the 07s able to get a good tow and race close together.

FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa-FrancorchampsThe drivers are enjoying racing with the new kit, and so are the fans. So when Le Mans rolls around, with a diverse 23-car grid, it could be the class to watch!

The next round of the FIA WEC will be the 24 Hours of Le Mans, taking place on the 17th -18th June 2017.
If you would like tickets to be at the big race of the season then please call the Travel Destinations team now on 0844 873 0203. Availability is limited, but we can still look after you.

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

Porsche Le Mans prototype 2017

FIA WEC Preview: The Prologue

This last weekend saw the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue take place at Monza. This was a first chance for the public and the media to see this season’s cars on track and it revealed some insights in to what we may expect in the forthcoming FIA WEC season. As ever, our man in the stands was trackside in Monza and has filed his latest report.

The 2017 LMP2s flexed their muscles
Last week at Monza, for the first time in a public setting, the new breed of LMP2 cars were shown off, and they didn’t disappoint. The new LMP2s are quick, look sleek and are being driven by arguably the best crop of drivers in the category’s history this year. While the FIA WEC LMP2 class doesn’t have any variety in chassis, it won’t detract from the racing. At Monza, the Oreca 07s – in their high downforce configuration – all managed speeds close to 200mph with their Gibson engines, with the best lap time – Bruno Senna’s 1:36.094 – eclipsing the 2008 LMP2 pole time by almost a second. And when it comes to the full season, we expect that figure to rise, especially at Le Mans, as at the Dunlop test before the Prologue one team managed to reach 220mph in the high downforce package.

FIA WEC LMP2

Who knows what can be achieved down the Mulsanne straight this year?
Either way, the important thing to note here is that the LMP2s are likely to be quicker than LMP1 cars in a straight line, which could provide some hairy moments in heavy braking zones. Those images of LMP1 cars skipping past the LMP2 field may be just memories of seasons gone by.

Porsche’s new GTE car impresses
Porsche’s new 911 RSR GTE car continues to impress. It is reliable, and notably fast. Michael Christensen set the quickest time of the Prologue – a 1:47.379 on Saturday – as the team consistently sat at the top the timing screens. The car also ran without any hiccups, racking up a ton of mileage and getting its drivers even more tuned into its new characteristics.

FIA WEC Porsche GTE Pro

While testing times win no awards, they are an indication of what  we can expect to come. For this year the Balance of Performance system has been overhauled for the GTE Pro teams, and at Monza the cars were running with their baseline BoP. So it is first blood for Porsche GT Team heading into Round 1 at Silverstone next week.

LMP1 reliability
Both Porsche and Toyota’s new LMP1 challengers were officially unveiled at Monza and initial signs were good; Not only in their continued advancements in hybrid technology, but in their ability to complete long runs. All four factory LMP1 hybrids on show managed to complete well over 1000km of running over the two days, with the No.2 Porsche 919 clocking up the most mileage from 327 tours of the circuit, which totaled just a fraction under 1,800km.

Porsche LMP1

None of them spent any extended periods in their garage aside from during the thunderstorm on Saturday night, and aside from a couple of brief technical hiccups, there were no dramas on track either. The preparation from both Toyota and Porsche in the off season therefore looks to have paid off, with Porsche confirming it had completed at least one 24-hour test, and Toyota stating that it had completed four 30-hour runs.

After last year’s shaky start to the season on the reliability front, this year could be a turn around, and the races at Silverstone and Spa could turn into sprint races rather than races of attrition & constant niggles.

Dunlop makes further GTE gains
Dunlop has drawn in more interest in the GTE side of its endurance commitments, with both Dempsey Proton Racing and Gulf Racing making the change away from Michelin tyres for this season. Last year Aston Martin Racing took the risk and ran with Dunlop tyres, which at the start of the season left the two Vantages in the GTE Pro class heading into Le Mans with consistency, but not much to show for in the outright pace department. From Mexico onwards though, and with a new compound, Aston Martin made incredible strides, winning races and eventually the Drivers and Teams championship. For this year, Gulf Racing and Proton Racing are hoping for similar results in GTE Am, as their 2015-spec Porsches – and Aston Martin’s No.98 entry – take on the likes of Spirit of Race and Clearwater Racing with their different sets of rubber. The WEC’s GTE tyre war is now in full swing, and should be fascinating to keep tabs on as the season progresses.

Gulf Racing

Monza magic impressed the paddock
This year’s trip to Monza was the first for Le Mans Prototypes in an officially sanctioned event since 2008, and it was greeted positively up and down the paddock. Not only is it a circuit which everyone enjoys making the visit because of its history, but it is a valuable place to test on too. The Paul Ricard circuit, where the Prologue took place in previous years, is hard to test on because of its hard winds and unique surface which is tough to read when It comes to tyre testing. Monza meanwhile provides a good simulation for the teams ahead of Le Mans, and it showed, as most teams made the most of the chance to run their cars on both days.

Fans turned up in their droves too, making for an extremely busy pit walk on both Saturday and Sunday, and giving the grandstands a bit of an atmosphere at times. There’s certainly a case for Monza being put onto the full FIA WEC calendar for a race in the future, which would prove popular with the series’ increasing supporter base.

The FIA World Endurance championship begins with the 6 Hours of Silverstone over the Easter weekend. You can also join us for the following rounds at Spa-Francorchamps in May and then the Nurburgring in July.

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

Sebring

Sebring 12 Hours; Preview

This weekend sees the 65th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. This is one of our favourite races on the motorsport calendar and this year looks set for another exciting race. If you like small tight circuits, old fashioned concrete tracks, lots of action and of course the Florida sunshine then you just have to go to Sebring. Here our man in the stands takes a look at what we can expect from the race this weekend.

Cadillac held back?
After dominating proceedings at Daytona, the three Cadillacs racing at Sebring have been pegged back by the IMSA Balance of Performance process. The three DPi V.Rs have had weight added and had the air flow to the engines reduced in an attempt to allow the other prototypes to compete over a single lap. Whether it will work at Sebring or not remains to be seen, as the Cadillacs proved to be the most reliable, as well as the quickest in almost all conditions at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The prototype field which Action Express and Wayne Taylor Racing is up against, as a whole, is still impressive following Daytona. Entries from Mazda, Cadillac, Ligier, Oreca, Riley and Nissan grace the class, making for the most diverse prototype grid on the planet. Only DragonSpeed has fallen off the list since January. With the gloves off at Sebring, it’ll be very interesting to see who actually emerges on top!

Sebring
Alex Lynn out to impress
While the Cadillacs entered are the same as at Daytona, the driver lineups have seen some tweaking. The most notable change heading into the race is Wayne Taylor Racing’s addition of British driver Alex Lynn. Lynn takes the place of newly-retired Max Angelelli in the team’s third seat for the endurance rounds of the WeatherTech Championship this year, and is set to impress on the North American endurance stage. Since moving over from single-seater racing last year, Lynn has raced with Manor in the World Endurance Championship as well as United Autosports in a one-off LMP3 race. He’s fast, consistent and used to high-pressure situations. If you watch a lot of sportscar racing, then you’ll be seeing a lot more of Alex too. With appearances in the VLN championship and Nürburgring 24 Hours with BMW, Petit Le Mans with Cadillac and the full World Endurnace Championship with G-Drive Racing. He is going to be busy.

Sebring Title Defence Beckons For ESM
After winning both the Rolex 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours last year, Extreme Speed Motorsports is back for another crack this year to try and repeat at least one of its high-profile victories from a year ago. At the Rolex 24, the Ligier-based Nissan DPi impressed over the full race, with only minor issues setting it back and preventing it from truly challenging for a podium spot in the final hours.
In its return to Sebring since its big win, it continues to field a stellar lineup, with Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and Pipo Derani in the No.2 car and Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek, Bruno Senna and Brendon Hartley in the other. We still don’t know for sure who the favourites for the overall title are this year, but we’ll have more of an idea after this weekend. If ESM take on the punishing airfield-based circuit this weekend and come away with a good result, then it’s game on for the remainder of the season.

Sebring
Ford Brings Three
Ford Performance is set to field a trio of GTs in the GTLM class this year, after taking a quartet of them to the Rolex 24 Hours. Out to win the big races, Ford knows that it has the chance to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, Rolex 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours in less than nine months if it can seal the deal this weekend. Driving the third car is the World Endurance Championship crew of Billy Johnson, Stefan Mucke and Olivier Pla in the No.68, which should provide a formidable third bullet in the Ford gun. It would be mightily impressive but not necessarily surprising to see them win its second Floridian race this year; as even a year later the GT still looks just as much like a prototype (if you squint your eyes) as it did at its debut. The GTLM field will be close though, with Porsche, Corvette and the Risi Ferrari all looking capable of taking the win at Daytona. There is not much between them as they head to Sebring.

Sebring
GTD looks wide open
After Alegra Motorsports took a surprise victory at Daytona, with its Porsche 911 GT3 R that had a quiet run to the front, anything can happen going forward. Alegra will race at Sebring – after its impressive run prompted it to extend its commitments for 2017 – but it’s so close that we will likely see a second winner in as many races. Will the Acura NSX GT3 show its true potential? Can the Mercedes AMG GT3 runners mimic their European counterparts? Is counting out the Audi teams going to be a mistake? At this point we just don’t know, which should make the GT3-based class a fascinating watch.

Sebring

It certainly looks like Travel Destinations guests trackside at Sebring this year are going to be royally entertained on the track. With the addition of the Club 12 bar and grill in the centre of the track alongside live music and entertainment throughout the weekend, there is plenty going on around the circuit too. It is going to be fun!

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar.com

If you would like to be at the 12 Hours of Sebring next year, then you can register with us now to be the first in line to choose your travel, accommodation and tickets. Register your interest by calling Travel Destinations on 0844 873 0203 or email info@traveldestinations.co.uk

Ford

Looking forward to 2016

The Four Biggest Endurance Racing Stories of 2016

Okay so that’s a rather arrogant assertion, there are bound to be stories through this year that eclipse some of those below but to do so they’ll have to be very big indeed!

1- Ford – 50 Years on
The Blue Oval is back and this is no badge engineering stunt.
The new Ford GT is a GT racing mould breaker, the first of a brand new breed of n few generation GTE cars.
It’s very clear that Ford’s turbo V6 engined ‘halo’ hyper car has been designed first as a racer and THEN as a road car.  It’s attention to aerodynamic detail is astounding, and whilst the front of the car pays homage to its grandaddy, the iconic 1960s Ford GT40, the 2016 version has a rear end like no other road car, ever!
So that ticks the boxes for the car fans, but the racing fans get an even better treat – two huge programmes, one in North America, and the other in the full FIA WEC, both with a pair of cars apiece, will come together for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.
If Ford’s plans come together we should see four of these extraordinary cars battling it out with their decades long racing rivals from Ferrari (who have their own new turbo-engined 488) Porsche, Aston Martin and Corvette
This could be the year when GT racing joins LMP1 in the headlines!

2 – Bigger Grid at Le Mans
2016 will see a bigger grid than ever before at the Le Mans 24 Hours as the ACO start a two year programme to build the grid to 60 cars.
This year will see a staging post towards that aim, 58 cars should start, after a maximum of 56 to this point.
OK we are going to have a couple off fewer factory cars than anticipated, economic pressures on Porsche and Audi and the withdrawal of the popular but underperforming Nissan effort have seen to that but the strength in depth across the world of endurance racing should see an astounding mix of prototype and GT cars in June, and with some new spectator viewing areas being installed at Indianapolis there could be some of the best views in years available.
More cars, more variety, Do not stay home in June!

3 – War at the Nurburgring
The Nurburgring 24 Hours is always a spectacle, but 2016 should be very special indeed.
Why?
Because it is one of the biggest races in Germany, and every significant German GT car manufacturer has brand new product to sell.
Audi debuted their new R8 last year and won, but now BMW (M6 GT3), Mercedes Benz (AMG GT3) and Porsche (911 GT3 R) all have new toys to field too, and in this market, both for marque prestige and bragging rights, and for car sales, nothing matters more.
It matters enough to Porsche that they have preferred preserving this programme to their WEC GTE effort in 2016 to mount a full house, two car all factory driver effort under the icily effective auspices of Olaf Manthey.
Add into the mix confirmed multi car factory efforts from both Aston Martin and Bentley, and more potential factory contenders too and this could be something truly spectacular.
And that’s before we have even mentioned the track, the biggest, baddest, most challenging and yes most dangerous road racing course on the planet.
Work has been done around the circuit to enable the organisers to lift the localised speed restrictions so now it is going to be about who has built the better GT3 weapon.
Multi car teams packed with factory drivers can be guaranteed – If you haven’t seen this race live then honestly what are you waiting for – This is THE year to go.

4 – The British Are Coming!
Moves in the close season to reshuffle the pack have left patriotic British sportswear racing fans with an embarrassment of riches.
In the FIA WEC there are likely to be no fewer than nine British factory drivers stretched across LMP1 (Oliver Jarvis at Audi, Anthony Davidson and Mike Conway at a resurgent Toyota) and GTE Pro (Ferrari: James Calado and Sam Bird, Ford Marino Franchitti and Andy Priaulx, Aston Martin Darren Turner and Jonny Adam)
Add to that little lot Oliver Gavin (Corvette), Richard Westbrook (Ford) and 2015 overall winner Nick Tandy (Porsche) for Le Mans, all in GTE Pro and by god there might just be some singing of the National Anthem for the podium!

And beyond those three there’s more to look forward to too.
The FIA WEC adds a ninth round with Mexico City joining the calendar. If that’s too rich for your travelling blood then the astonishingly entertaining European Le Mans Series has also added a race, up to six for 2016 as the Series visit Spa in October.
There are more opportunities than ever to see better endurance racing with better cars and better teams in more places than at any time in living memory – Go on, treat yourself, get off the couch and pick up the phone – I’ll see you in the paddock!

Graham Goodwin (www.dailysportscar.com)

Porsche

Porsche dominate in Austin

The 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship touched down in Austin, Texas for a 6 hours race that was dominated at the front by the Porsche teams. However, with Audi taking the other 2 steps on the podium there is clear evidence that there is no room for error this season.

Start of the 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas

Sunshine and warm weather greeted all the teams on the grid for the Six Hours of the Circuit of the Americas, with the 2 Porsches heading the field. In the early stages the two frontrunners were battling each other with the No 17 car managing to pass its sister for the lead. The Audis and Toyotas were also fighting for the minor places but it appeared the Porsche was the car to have.

Audi at the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Circuit of the Americas

As the race continued the spectacle became a little scrappy with mistakes and penalties ruining team strategies and some of the excitement. The No. 2 Toyota driven by Mike Conway was the first to exit the battle after losing control on the kerbs and hitting the barrier quite hard. Audi had an unusual pit stop issue when an airline got entangled with a tyre causing the mechanic to slip; a one minute stop go penalty for the incident delayed their progress. Porsche were not blameless either as the No. 17 car also incurring two stop go penalties, one for just overshooting the garage.

Porsche at the Circuit of the Americas

All these incidents enabled the No. 18 Porsche to extend a big lead and all was looking good for them until electrical issues caused the car to return to the garage (only to return for the final lap). Audi perhaps sensed a chance to take the race and certainly pushed hard, but the No. 17 Porsche managed to avoid any more problems and penalties and ultimately lead the LMP1 cars home by just over 60 seconds. The two Audis gained good points in the overall Championship with their 2nd and 3rd place finishes. On reflection this was perhaps a missed opportunity for the Audi team.

In the privateer LMP1 class victory was taken by the ByKolles CLM car after both the Rebellion cars suffered electrical issues.

G Drive Racing at the Circuit of the Americas
In the LMP2 class the Ligier Nissans of the G-Drive team claimed 1st and 3rd place on the podium with relatively untroubled runs. KCMG claimed a very creditable 2nd place having started at the back of the grid following a penalty from qualifying. Behind them there was a scary incident for the No.31 ESM Ligier when brake failure occurred through turns 19 & 20, which led to hitting the kerb, becoming airbourne and impacting hard with the barriers. Fortunately Ed Brown, who was behind the wheel at the time, was OK; the car, however, was not.

Porsche GTE Pro

Porsche were also the dominant car in the GTE Pro class, with an unchallenged 1-2 on top of the podium. Aston Martin Racing had looked quick early on, but their fight was quickly dampened by the Porsches. The No. 51 Ferrari that has set the standard in this class over recent years, was besieged by technical problems and pit lane penalties and didn’t feature, whilst the sister Ferrari got ahead of the Aston Martins to claim the final step on the podium.

SMP Racing at the Circuit of the Americas

Ferrari fared better in the GTE Am class. The early challenge of Corvette and Aston Martin faded in the Texas heat, leaving a battle between Porsches and Ferraris. Dempsey Racing’s Porsche looked strong and led after a great stint from Patrick Long. The No. 82 AF Corse Ferrari was eventually able to pass them, only to be overtaken themselves by the No.88 Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche that had made up ground from the very back of the grid. However, the eventual winner was the Championship leading SMP Racing Ferrari that waited until the last hour to hit the front and then didn’t look back. They now have a 35 point lead over the chasing pack in this year’s championship.

The FIA World Endurance Championship now changes continents again and moves on to Japan for the 6 hours of Fuji next month.

Written by Richard Webb
Photography by Dailysportscar.com

Book now for Le Mans 2016

Book now for Le Mans 2016

Book now for Le Mans 2016

The 84th Le Mans 24 Hours will take place on the 18th & 19th June 2016 and you can reserve your place to join us trackside now. The dust is just settling at the track from this year’s race but already we are open for reservations for Le Mans 2016. The dates for Le Mans 2016 were confirmed in a press conference at the circuit in the build up to this year’s race, and as an official agent for the Le Mans 24 Hours Travel Destinations are able to guarantee you the best tickets and accommodation options available.
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Although prices will not be confirmed until later this year, you are still able to reserve your place with us now. Deposits to secure your booking will be required once prices are published and balances will not be payable until 10 weeks before the event. As always, if you are booking your travel and tickets with us you will be covered by our ABTA bonding, so you can book with confidence.
Travel Destinations are able to offer you the best options for staying at the circuit so you don’t miss any of the action. More than 260,000 people attended Le Mans 2015 and the majority of those people camped at the circuit. The most economical option is to book a permit to camp in one of the circuit (ACO) run campsites. These are large campsites located on the circuit, with basic facilities but within walking distance of the track.
For those that are happy camping but prefer better facilities, then the Travel Destinations Porsche Curves campsite is ideal. Located trackside at the famous Porsche Curves, our campsite offers 24 Hours security, fully serviced showers & toilets, a hospitality marquee on site as well as a great viewing bank at the rear of the campsite.
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For those who prefer something different, then our Event Tents are a great solution. Glamping has become popular at festivals in recent years, so we have brought glamping to Le Mans, adjacent to the Porsche Curves! This very popular option offers large tents that sleep up to 4 adults, with full carpet, mattresses and all bed linen. The Event Tents come with table and chairs as well as solar powered lighting. The Event tents are located in a secure area managed by our staff & have fully serviced showers and toilets as well as access to a hospitality marquee serving food and drinks throughout the weekend.
For those that won’t camp, but want to stay on the circuit then our Flexotel Village is the best option around. This “pop-up hotel” offers individual bedrooms in the centre of the circuit. Each room can sleep up to 2 people and come with proper beds and all bed linen. The Flexotel Village has private, fully serviced showers & toilets as well as plenty of secure car parking. The Flexotel Village benefits from 24 hours security and its own hospitality marquee offering breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout your stay.
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Travel Destinations can also offer a variety of camping and hotel options away from the circuit.
Prices for all these options at Le Mans 2016 will not be available until later in the year, however the prices for this year’s race will remain on this website to act as a guide. All options can be purchased with or without your chosen travel option included. Please browse through all the different available options and then call us to reserve your place.
All reservations will be made by telephone, allowing us to discuss your needs and to help us find the right product for you. Call us now on 0844 873 0203 (UK) or +44 1707 329988 (rest of the world) to reserve your place at Le Mans 2016.

The 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours By Numbers

Taking a look at the numbers from this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours race with our resident statistician Graham Goodwin.

1 – Number of minutes separating LMP2 podium finishers
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2 – The number of Le Mans rookie drivers aboard the winning car and the number of positions gained by the No.99 Aston Martin on the final lap!
3 – Number of different leaders in LMP2
4 – Number of cylinders in the engine of the winning car (the first time a 4 cylinder car has won since 1927)
5 – Class wins by Oliver Gavin
6 – Number of different leaders in LM GTE Pro
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7 – Number of cars whose fastest race lap beat the 2014 pole position time
8 – The number of class wins scored by Corvette Racing – and the number of British drivers finishing in podium positions
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9 – Finishing position of LMP2 winner
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10 – The number of months since Gaetan Paletou won GT Academy and became a racing driver!
11 – Factory LMP1 cars – and number of different engine makers across the grid.
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12 – Number of LMP1 finishers (though one was later excluded)
13 – The number of different nations represented by teams (31 different nations on the driver roster)
14 – The number of starters in the LM GTE Am grid
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15 – Number of official retirements from the 55 starters and the number of turbocharged cars on the grid.
16 – Number of British Drivers to finish the race
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17 – The number of consecutive years that Audi has finished on the podium – and the number of 2015 drivers with at least one F1 race on their cvs
18 – Consecutive wins by cars shod by Michelin tyres
19 – 2015 was the first ever Le Mans won by a car carrying No.19
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20 – Slow Zone Periods in race
21 – The number of consecutive Le Mans race starts from Emmanuel Collard
22 – The number of the one Nissan GT-R LM NISMO to finish (albeit unclassified)
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23 – The number of GT cars on the entry
24 – Number of years since a current Formula One Driver won Le Mans
And the number to call to book your place at Le Mans 2016 is 0844 873 0203.

Le Mans 2014 prices are now available

Prices for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2015

Audi’s victory at Le Mans 2014 is already a distant memory for some & plans are under way for endurance racing fans to return to Le Mans in 2015. We have not been idle since the end of the race either, and we are now pleased to be able to confirm our exclusive offers for Le Mans 2015. We already have hundreds of provisional bookings & these will be confirmed in the coming the weeks. If you haven’t already begun your plans to be at Le Mans next June then let us help you!

 

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Travel Destinations is an official ticket agency for the Le Mans circuit. We can offer you the largest and best choice of tickets at the track and further afield. This is why we are confident that we have an offer here perfect for you. Travel Destinations continues to be the leader at Le Mans with our private camping area at Porsche Curves, our Event Tent (Glamping) options and our Flexotel Village cabins all on the circuit.

 

Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves
Travel Destinations was the 1st company to offer a private secure campsite for our customers at the Le Mans circuit. Over the years our private camping area, located trackside at the Porshe Curves, has grown and grown. There are lots of reasons why this campsite sells out each year with lots of repeat customers. Travel Destinations campsite at Porsche Curves has always been an oasis in the hectic few days that is Le Mans week. It has 24 hours security keeping you & your belongings safe, as well as fully serviced toilets & shower blocks. The on-site hospitality marquee serves good quality food and drinks to hundreds of our guests each night with big screen TVs show practice, qualifying and the race as well as other events throughout the weekend. The viewing bank to the back of the camping area is still one of the best places to view the action either day or night.

 

Find out more about Travel Destinations’ Porsche Curves campsite offers here.

 

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Travel Destinations’ Event Tents
Glamourous camping (Glamping) is very popular on the festival circuit, particularly in recent years. Travel Destinations were the first to bring glamping to the Le Mans 24hrs. Our Event Tents are large (5 metres) luxury bell tents that can sleep up to 4 adults in comfort. The tents are provided with full carpet and mattresses with sheets and duvets; so no sleeping bags are required. The tents have a table and chairs, rugs, door mats and solar powered lighting so all you really need to bring is your toothbrush and a change of clothes. Our Event Tents have the same facilities as our other campers at our Porsche Curves so 24 hours security and serviced toilets and shower blocks are on-site. You can now camp in comfort at Le Mans in one of our Event Tents!
Find out more about Travel Destinations’ Event Tents offers here.

 

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Travel Destinations’ Flexotel Village
The Flexotel business grew out of Holland. They were designed to provide on-site bedrooms at music festivals. Travel Destinations saw that they would be ideal at a 24hrs race & so broght the Flexotels to Le Mans. In the first year Travel Destinations provided 20 rooms. Last year this had grown to 200 rooms creating the largest hotel in the whole of Le Mans! The Flexotels allow you to have your own bedroom at the circuit. The rooms are lockable and can sleep 2 adults. The Flexotel rooms come with 2 beds and all the bed linen. The Flexotel Village is located in the centre of the circuit at Antares-Sud and has its own private paddock with 24 hours security (including space for parking), fully serviced showers & toilets as well as a hospitality marquee offering good quality food & drink all weekend. The Flexotel Village is within 10 minutes walking distance of the start/finish straight and with the tram stop only 2 minutes away, it is also very easy to get in to Le Mans town.
Find out more about Travel Destinations’ Flexotel Village offers here.

 

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Public camping at the circuit
Camping at the circuit has been a tradition for spectators at Le Mans since the race was first run back in 1923. The majority of the 250,000 spectators at the 2014 race camped at the circuit. Camping at the circuit is like camping at any music festival or event. The camping facilities are basic but the atmosphere around the campsites is always electric. There are 12 different public campsites run by the circuit at Le Mans. You will be able to find fans of every campsite, but there are always some camping areas that sell out quickly. Early bookers always benefit from the best choice of camping. Campsites such as Maison Blanche, Tertre Rouge & Houx do sell out early, but that doesn’t mean they are the best available. Our staff have all been to Le Mans and will be happy to help you find the right campsite for you when you call.
Find out more about our public camping offers here.

 

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For those that don’t wish to camp at the circuit, we have other options as well. Off-circuit campsites provide quieter & more relaxed environments for you and your tents, hotels enable you to stay alongside the teams and drivers and chateaux options provide a bit of French flare to your stay and are always popular. In addition to all these offers you can also add to your Le Mans experience with a choice of grandstand seats as well as full hospitality options.

 

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If you like what you have seen here, please call our reservations team to secure your place at Le Mans 2015. You can secure your booking with a deposit knowing that your tickets will be held for you until next year. Final balances will only be due at the end of March 2015.

 

Travel Destinations is proud to be the largest UK tour operator at Le Mans, but we also look after customers travelling from all around the world. This year we looked after the ticket & accommodation requirements of guests from as far away as the USA, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Japan & China.

 

Call our Le Mans reservations team now on 0844 873 0203 (UK) or +44 1707 329988 (International callers) to make your booking for Le Mans 2015.