Category Archives: Travel Destinations News

Le Mans 2020

Temporary office closure: How to contact us

Dear All,

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak and current restrictions being imposed, our office is now closed with all staff working from home during office hours; Monday – Friday 09:00hrs – 17.30hrs.

Should you need to contact us please do so via email, leaving your full name, booking number, the nature of your enquiry and your contact details.

If you know the person that you would like to contact, please email them directly using their first name, followed by @traveldestinations.co.uk


If you aren’t sure who to contact then please email info@traveldestinations.co.uk and one of our staff will respond as soon as they can.

Yours sincerely.

Andrew Melley
Managing Director

London Classic Car Show

The London Classic Car Show

Travel Destinations will be exhibiting at the London Classic Car Show at London Olympia later this month. Come and say hello to members of the team, pick up a brochure and see the amazing car we will have on our stand!

The London Classic Car Show returns this year from the 20th – 23rd February, at its new home of London Olympia, in Kensington, marking the next chapter in the history of The London Classic Car Show.

Not only will classic car collectors and connoisseurs have the opportunity to view and purchase more than 500 desirable cars, but they will also be treated to brand-new features, including Famous Car Stories, the 50th Anniversary of Range Rover, the 40th Anniversary of the Audi quattro, all following the history of some of the World’s most iconic and interesting cars.

Travel Destinations will be adding to the show by exhibiting a famous Audi R8 LMP1 Le Mans prototype that competed at the Le Mans 24 Hours from 2000 – 2004. Proving that not all “classic” cars need to be that old, this car will now be able to race at both the Le Mans Classic and the Spa Classic later this year as part of the Endurance Racing Legends grid.

London Classic Car Show
Audi R8 LMP1

The Spa Classic will take place from the 22nd – 24th May 2020 and the Le Mans Classic returns from the 2nd – 5th of July 2020. Travel Destinations will be at the London Classic Car Show selling tickets and travel packages for both these events and all of our other events throughout 2020 and in to 2021.

Be sure to pop by the Travel Destinations stand at the London Classic Car Show to book your place track-side! Tickets for the London Classic Car Show are available now by visiting their website: thelondonclassiccarshow.co.uk

Circuit des Remparts

Angoulême, Circuit des Remparts – the 80th Anniversary

The Circuit des Remparts in Angoulême is an event that we have been attending since the late 90’s. It is a firm favourite of ours, if you have yet to experience it, then let us set the scene; picture a beautiful city in an elevated position overlooking the meandering Charente river. Visitors and participants attending the event fill the bars and restaurants which line the streets. The anticipation ahead of the weekend’s events are palpable. The soundtrack is provided by the burble of unsilenced race cars weaving passed the crowds en route to the paddock ready for race day.

Bugatti in the Circuit des Remparts paddock
Bugatti in the Circuit des Remparts paddock
Circuit des Remparts
Vintage cars line the streets in Angoulême
Circuit des Remparts
Moss – a previous participant

In 2019 it was the 80th anniversary of the Circuit des Remparts. The concept for the event was born in 1938 by the local car club and ratified by the mayor of Angouleme. The first race happened in 1939, Some of the most prestigious pilots of the time were entered into the first edition of the Angoulême Circuit des Remparts: Maurice Trintignant, Jean-Pierre Wimille, René Bonnet or Raymond Sommer who won the race and scored the fastest lap with 1 minute 10 second lap at the wheel of his Alfa Romeo 308.

When the Second World War was announced two months after the Circuit des Remparts first edition, the events were suspended from this point for eight years. The second edition of the Angouleme race took place in June 1947.

There is so much history of the race during the period of 1947 and 1955, it is worth reading on www.circuitdesremparts.com/en/history. In 1955 the laws were changing about racing on street circuits. Then the catastrophic accident at Le Mans that year put pay to street racing, for the most part, for years to come.

The event was revived in 1978 although the rules about running timed events restricted what the organisers were able to put in place. The true revival was in 1983, with real racing back on the streets. That year Stirling Moss, John Surtess and Didier Peroni were all guests at the event. In 1990 the Circuit des Remparts adopted the format we know today, with the Concours d’Elegance/d’Etat, the Saturday rally and racing on the Sunday. To this day the circuit layout remains as it did in 1939.

Our 2019 tour started in Portsmouth on a Tuesday evening, for the overnight sailing to Caen. We then travelled down via the d-roads for breakfast in Putanges, followed by a fascinating visit to the chateau that Steve McQueen stayed in during the making of the movie Le Mans. Our first overnight stay was in the charming town of Loué, at a hotel also linked with the movie Le Mans. There was plenty of time to relax, explore and unwind before an excellent dinner.

The sun and sea air welcomed us on day two, as we arrived on the West Coast at les Sables d’Olonne. There was once again plenty of time for a stroll along the sea front ahead of drinks in the bar and dinner. From the coast it was a delightful run under beautiful sunshine into Angouleme. We arrived at our central hotel and parked the cars up in their dedicated spaces for the weekend. Thanks to our early arrival we set out on foot to give our customers (all first timers in Angouleme) a walking tour of the city. With bearings well and truly worked out the group took up position in a central bar to soak up the special atmosphere.

Tour managers Thomas and Richard, both long running supporters of the event found this edition to be the best yet. Commenting that the atmosphere was better than ever with real care and attention paid to the additional anniversary features; from the Exhibition in the Angoulême museum detailing the history of the Circuit des Remparts, through to the images of the drivers that have competed at the event over the year, displayed in the streets.

The International rally was a highlight for many of our guests. They were blown away by the crowds that come out to cheer the participants on as they drove their classics through the Charentais countryside.

On Sunday the paddock came alive as the racers and mechanics prepared themselves and their cars for action. Each grid head out onto the circuit during the morning to set their qualifying times and grid position for their race in the afternoon. The GT category saw Mini’s, Mini Marcos, Alfa Giulia’s and E-Types to name but a few. In the Vintage classes there were numerous Austin 7 specials, Frazer Nash and of course a whole grid of Grand Prix Bugatti’s. The Edwardian cars we something else, dating back to 1902, these thundering beasts looked right at home on the historic street circuit. Last but not least the sight and sound of the 700 brake horsepower Corvette will live with us for some time!

There is no event like the Circuit des Remparts, it has to be seen to be believed and without doubt one to tick off your list of events to attend. See you there in 2020. https://traveldestinations.co.uk/motorsport-events/circuit-des-remparts-angouleme-tour/

Speed Chills

Speed Chills joins the Travel Destinations family

Travel Destinations Ltd is pleased to confirm that the Speed Chills brand will be returning to Le Mans as part of the Travel Destinations family.

Speed Chills

Speed Chills was set up by Directors Neil Matthews & Chris Daynes to look after race fans at Le Mans, offering a comprehensive service of travel, tickets and camping offers. In recent months Neil’s work commitments away from the company, meant he was unable to devote the time he would like to Speed Chills & its customers.

Neil Matthews said “With Speed Chills, our aim was always to put the customer at the heart of everything we did and then to surround them with rock-solid administration and the best team of like-minded people we could muster to deliver a great experience. So, when the time came to pass on the baton, there was only one organisation to work with; the team at Travel Destinations. I am confident that our customers will be extremely well looked after and the spirit in which we developed the brand will be upheld.”

Richard Webb, Director at Travel Destinations, added “We have always kept good relations with Neil and the Speed Chills team, so we were delighted when Neil approached us to continue the Speed Chills brand. We see Speed Chills as a very good fit with Travel Destinations & we look forward to welcoming Speed Chills customers to Le Mans and our other events.”

Speed Chills

Initially Speed Chills customers will notice a face-lift to the Speed Chills website in the coming days and then all Speed Chills registered subscribers will receive a further update in the next week.

Your questions answered:

We usually book for Le Mans now, when can we book for Le Mans 2020?
We are open and on sale now for the Le Mans 24 Hours & the Le Mans Classic. Initial bookings are best made by telephone by calling 01707 329988. If you have already lodged a booking request with Speed Chills, that information has been passed to Travel Destinations and we will be in touch.

Can I still contact Speed Chills?
The Speed Chills brand will now be owned by Travel Destinations. Initially the Speed Chills phone number will be diverted to the Travel Destinations reservations team, who will be happy to assist.

I normally buy just my tickets through Speed Chills; can I still do this?
Of course, you can still call to purchase your tickets, ultimately these will be processed via www.tickets-2-u.com, another member of the Travel Destinations family.

Will the Speed Chills private camping areas resume?
Speed Chills last offered private camping at Le Mans in 2018. Travel Destinations were actually the first company to offer private camping and continue to offer private camping at Porsche Curves. We hope that Speed Chills customers will enjoy their new home there. Travel Destinations also offers glamping and our Flexotel Village cabins, which will also be available to Speed Chills customers.

Were Speed Chills in financial difficulties?
No. Speed Chills were always successful, but Neil recognised that his time was being spent away from the business. By transferring the brand to Travel Destinations, Speed Chills customers will continue to receive a knowledgeable & experienced customer service.

In the past we travelled with Speed Chills to Daytona and hoped to return.
This is also no problem; Travel Destinations already have 2 very similar offers available for the Daytona 24 Hours & the Daytona Classic. We also have offers for Sebring & Bathurst. All Travel Destinations offers are available now on www.traveldestinations.co.uk and will also be available to Speed Chills customers

We booked through Speed Chills because they were members of ABTA so we knew our money was safe.
Travel Destinations are also ABTA bonded. We are also members of AITO and hold an ATOL license, so you can book with confidence through Travel Destinations.

For further information or to make a booking for Le Mans or any of the other Travel Destinations packages, please call Travel Destinations directly on +44 01707 329988.

www.traveldestinations.co.uk
www.lemansrace.com
www.speedchills.com
www.tickets-2-u.com

Le Mans tickets

Le Mans Tickets

Le Mans tickets

I seem to spend a lot of my life talking about tickets; whether it is plane tickets, ferry tickets, train tickets, football tickets or speeding tickets, as a whole, the word seems to crop up a lot. It seems most appropriate today to talk about Le Mans tickets!

Le Mans tickets are unusual in that the majority of the tickets are still purpose printed Le Mans tickets printed in an office in Le Mans & then dispatched around the world. In recent years, the ACO have also adopted the print at home tickets for members and people booking direct from the ACO website. I won’t say much about the print at home Le Mans tickets, other than to say check your toner/ink levels before you print as it is important the barcode is OK to scan.

Official Le Mans tickets are a little different. They are designed to fit in to lanyards or stick in the windscreen of cars. They are colour coded so that marshals & volunteers can direct cars in the right direction and so that barcodes can be easily scanned. However, be aware that these tickets are printed using a thermal process, so they need to be kept away from heat sources, so please don’t try to laminate your passes or leave them in the sunshine for long periods (a bit of a design floor for camping & parking passes, designed to be displayed in the windscreen).

Whichever Le Mans tickets you purchase it is important that you only get them from an authorized source. That is either the ACO direct or an official licensed Le Mans tickets agency such as at Travel Destinations. The ACO do not like Le Mans tickets bought via resale channels. It is against their terms & conditions and any Le Mans tickets found being sold like that will be voided immediately.

The most important ticket is the General Enclosure or General Entrance ticket. This allows a person to access the main parts of the Le Mans circuit. It is a pedestrian only ticket and each individual must present the ticket when going in and out of the main part of the circuit. Essentially the General Entrance ticket gives access to all the public areas around the circuit. This includes the grass banking areas from the Porsche Curves around to the Tertre Rouge corner, the concrete steps below the grandstands on the start-finish straight as well as the corners at Mulsanne & Arnage.

The General Entrance ticket gives you more than just viewing areas though. It allows you access to the fan zone & village, it enables you to access the funfair & attend the music concerts by the Dunlop Bridge each night from Wednesday. It also allows access to the museum during race week and gives you access to the “Navettes”, the circuit shuttles/trams that move people around the circuit. These Navettes are particularly important if you wish to visit Mulsanne and Arnage corners without having to move your car. The shuttle to Mulsanne (route 5) now departs and returns to the East entrance (near the tram terminal). You can also take the shuttle (route 3) from the Porsche Curves to Arnage corner. Route 4 also links the two far corners. For practice and qualifying your general entrance ticket allows you access to any of the grandstands (although not on race days!) and it also gets you access to the pit lane on Friday from 10am in the morning. So, it is a really important tool. Be careful with it though, as lost tickets cannot be replaced at the circuit. You will need to buy a new one!

In addition to your General Entrance ticket you can also choose to add a grandstand ticket. It is important to note that you still need the entrance ticket, as all the grandstands are within that restricted area. Each of the grandstands or Tribunes, has both a number and a name. For example, the Dunlop stand is also known as Tribune 5. Most of the grandstands are located along the start/finish lane, with grandstands 11 – 22 side by side opposite the pit building. Tribune 34 is above the garages in that same area. The only grandstands away from the start finish straight, are Tribunes 23 (on the Ford chicane) Tribunes 4 & 5, up by the Dunlop Bridge, and (when demand allows it) Tribunes 1 & 3 follow the Esses, beyond the Dunlop Bridge. Grandstand seats are a separate ticket to your General Entrance ticket, and will be for a specific seat in a specific stand from the Saturday morning until the end of the race on Sunday.


If you are planning on staying overnight at the circuit, then you will need a Le Mans camping ticket. It is not possible to erect a tent or park a motorhome in a designated car park. This entitles you and your vehicle to reside in one of the circuit campsites. These campsites are open from the weekend before the race, until the Monday after the race. The camping tickets vary in location and price. They also vary in size and facilities, but other than one campsite they all entitle you to 7m x 5m pitch. The campsites are colour coded in to 4 areas, and on arriving at the circuit, you should follow the coloured signs to your camping area. Essentially the colours are as follows:
Yellow: Beausejour, PZ54 (motorhomes only) Arnage and Mulsanne.
Green: Houx, Houx Annexe, Epinettes & Garage Vert
Red: Tertre Rouge & Expo
Blue: Maison Blanche, Blue-Nord & Blue Sud

If you are staying in one of the Travel Destinations private areas, then you will already know that our private campsite at Porsche Curves & our Event Tent glamping area are also in the yellow zone, whilst our Flexotel Village cabins are located in the green zone.

Le Mans ticketsThe camping pass will have your named campsite, a specific pitch (only if it is a numbered campsite) and there will be tent symbol in a coloured box. It is that colour that you should then follow to access the circuit. Your camping permit should also be displayed facing outward in your windscreen so that circuit staff, can see in which direction you should be heading.

Parking passes look similar to camping passes, with the exception that they have a large letter P on them and no camping symbol. They follow the same colour coding as the camping and passes should be displayed in the windscreen. In recent years the rules for car parking have changed & the ACO have introduced a number of free-parking areas around the circuit. These include the blue car park and its neighbour Heronierres, Acti-Sud and Raineries the other side of the airfield as well as well as M1 adjacent to the MM arena. These free parking areas don’t require permits and are allocated on a first come/first served basis. The other car parks require a permit and there is a charge. These include Blanc, Rotonde, Expo, Rouge & Vert. Only the parking Blanc area has numbered parking spaces. There is also now a charge for parking at Mulsanne and Arnage on race days (they are free for practice and qualifying).

There are further ticket options that you can add to make your Le Mans experience different. One of the tickets I often get asked about is the pit-walk. If you want to get in the pit lane on Wednesday before practice and then on Saturday before the race, you are going to need this ticket. At £650 or the equivalent in pounds, I would question its value. Remember that the pit lane is open for most of Friday for all with a general entrance ticket. Whilst the drivers autograph session is a lot earlier on Tuesday. So this limited access ticket is relatively expensive for what you get. However, some people still choose this ticket option.

The final addition would be to choose access to hospitality. This option is for the few not the many, but if you want a lounge with a view of the track, bar and food available 24/7, behind the scenes tour and private shuttles around the circuit then this is the ticket for you. Unless you get an invite from a friendly team or manufacturer, expect your bill to be upwards of £1000 though.

In the end it doesn’t matter what you pay and what tickets you get, just for the privilege of being at the circuit for the Le Mans 24 Hours you have to get one!

Written by Richard Webb

Driving to Le Mans

Driving to Le Mans

Part 2: Driving to Le Mans

The majority of people that visit Le Mans do so by car and we receive lots of questions every year asking about driving to Le Mans, what they need to take and what documents they need to bring. It can be daunting driving in a foreign country, particularly if you haven’t done it before, but in reality, it is fairly simple driving to Le Mans.

There are however, some things that you should bring with you & certain things that are unique to driving in France and driving to Le Mans. We covered passport and travel documents in the previous article, so here I will just concentrate on what is required for driving to Le Mans. The first is perhaps obvious but somehow easily overlooked and that is your driving licence. You need to be at least 18 and have a full valid driving licence (so not provisional) to drive in France. If you are planning to hire a car then in addition to your licence you should also arrange to either print or share your driver record via the DVLA (in the UK) as proof that you are not banned from driving. Now the big discussions over Brexit may have muddied the waters here, but for now at least, If driving from the UK, you do not currently require an International Drivers Permit to drive in France. Your UK licence is sufficient. However, residents in other countries should check their requirements through a local government source.

You should have your vehicle registration document (V5c) with you. In theory this shouldn’t be just a copy. This is to prove that you own the vehicle, should you be asked to do so. Similarly, and this is more common these days, if you are renting or leasing the vehicle, you should have a VE103 form, showing that you are entitled to take this vehicle abroad. This needs to be obtained via the leasing or rental company before driving to Le Mans.

All good so far then. You must be insured to drive your vehicle. In France the minimum is third-party cover. You should then have your motor insurance certificate with you & have the contact number for your insurer available should you need to contact them (often this isn’t on the certificate!). In recent months, there has been much talk about the need for Green Cards when bringing your car from the UK to Europe, however, for now at least, that isn’t necessary.

Driving to Le MansI hope that everyone is aware that you have to drive on the right in France, so in the limited time we have available here, I just want to highlight some of the other differences that you may come across driving to Le Mans. At some point you will probably need to refuel. Unleaded petrol (95 & 98 octane is readily available as is diesel (called Gazole), however you should be careful which pump you choose. “SP95-E10” is common, this is 95 octane unleaded with 10% ethanol. This is not suitable for all cars. Equally be careful of B8 biodiesel, this is normal diesel with up to 8% biodiesel. Again, this is not suitable for all cars. If you are in doubt you should check your car handbook, but ultimately, I would recommend using the standard fuels. Just as an aside foreign registered credit cards aren’t always accepted in automated petrol pumps, so it is worth seeking out a manned station, however,  some local petrol stations will be closed on a Sunday too.

Remember speed limits in France. Particularly when driving to Le Mans as the Gendarmes are aware a motor race is happening and that there are going to be a lot of high-performance cars around. Speed signs are in km/h. So in a built up area or village the speed limit is 50km/h (or roughly 30mph). Single carriageway roads away from buildings will likely be 80km/h (or roughly 50mph), whilst dual carriageways are 110km/h (or 68mph). On motorways the speeds vary, but 130kmh is the maximum which is about 80mph. On the spot fines (with a receipt) can be given by the local police, so you have been warned.

There are some compulsory items that you are required to carry or display whilst driving to Le Mans:
– A warning triangle to be displayed in advance of the vehicle should you breakdown or be forced to stop by the side of the road
– At least one, reflective jacket or vest (gilet Jaune) readily accessible in the vehicle (not in the boot) and this should be worn should the driver need to get out of the vehicle near to the carriageway. It is advised that you should have one per person in the vehicle should you all need to evacuate, but this isn’t currently the law in France.
– Although you may not be planning to drive at night, it is illegal to dazzle oncoming drivers with your headlights in France. This applies to rain, fog, tunnels or just cloudy conditions, so your headlights should be deflected or set for driving in France
– Finally, unless you have a European plate with a GB indicator, you should also display a GB sticker.
– Other items that are not compulsory but are recommended include a fire extinguisher & a first aid kit, which are both useful items to have anyway.

Two other things that you should be made aware of:
– Radar detectors are forbidden. You are not allowed to carry or even transport such a device. For cars with sat-nav, gps capabilities, then legally you are required to disable the fix speed camera identifying part of the device, usually via the points of interest function. Fines for not doing so can reach €1500!
– Breathalyzers: To cut a long story short, the French government brought in a law saying that it is compulsory to carry a breathalyzer certified by the French authorities (ie carrying a NF number). However, as of January 2013 (some time ago) they also introduced a law stating that no driver can be penalised for not having a breathalyzer. This is basically because there were not enough breathalyzers available. Officially yes it is a French law, however the fine for not complying has been postponed indefinitely.

Finally, French motorways often have tolls. These can often be paid by card as well as cash, but if you are driving on your own, it will often mean you have to run around the vehicle! If you want to avoid paying by cash or card, it is possible to arrange a tag account in advance on-line. You will need to arrange to pay by direct debit & allow time for the tag to be sent to you.

France has recently introduced low emission zones in certain cities. This means to drive in these areas, you will need to purchase a vignette/sticker for your windscreen. Currently this only affects areas of Paris, Lyon, Lille, Grenoble, Strasbourg, Toulouse and Marseille. Now generally this shouldn’t affect cars driving to Le Mans. However, if you are planning to extend your stay in France and are visiting any of those cities, then you should check requirements before you travel and be careful as there are 6 different types of sticker depending on the emissions of your vehicle.

Written by Richard Webb

Travel to Le Mans

Travelling to Le Mans

Part 1: International Travel

This year, Travel Destinations has guests travelling to Le Mans from all over the world. Whilst the majority will be coming from the UK, we will also have significant numbers travelling from the USA, Australia, Middle East, South Africa and elsewhere around Europe. As part of our introductory blogs, in association with Radio Le Mans, I thought it would be interesting to start by taking a general look at travelling to France and to Le Mans & things that you will need.

Let’s start with the basics & try and clear up a few myths. Unless you have a European Identity Card & already reside in mainland Europe then you are going to need a passport. Your passport needs to be valid for the duration of your stay in France. Travelling to Le Mans from certain countries you are also requested to have a passport valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure, but currently that is not the case if you are travelling on a UK passport. Every year we get contacted by people who have either forgotten their passports are just didn’t think they were required for travel in Europe, so it is always good to have your passport with you & check that it is in date before your travel. The current Brexit situation may have muddied the waters as far as duration is concerned but at present you just need a passport valid for the duration of your stay. If in doubt just check your country’s official government website which will have a section about travelling abroad.

The ongoing Brexit debate also brought up the subject of visas for travelling to Le Mans. Just to be clear, at present, nothing has changed, so visas are not required for UK citizens travelling to any EU countries including France. In fact, providing you are staying for a limited period only, visas are not required if you are travelling from the USA or Australia either. Currently visas are required to enter France if you are travelling from some African, South American and Far Eastern countries, but again I would always check with the official government website at least a month before travelling to ensure you have the correct documentation.

When ever I travel, the two first (& last) things I always check are passport and money. Generally everything else is replaceable but you can get anywhere if you have these. We have covered the passport, so let’s talk about money. The official currency for the whole of France is the Euro. Euros are readily available from your local currency exchange or bank, no matter what country you are in. France is not yet a cashless society, so I always recommend having a small amount of Euros available as well as a major recognised credit card. Money is most secure in its plastic form, so keep your card for payments of €30 or more. If you may require more cash, then a bank or debit card are best used for withdrawing Euros from an ATM. Don’t use your credit card for this as you will get charged. Before travelling to France it is worth letting your credit card provider know where you will be. There is nothing worse than filling your supermarket trolley, only to find your card is declined because it is viewed as an unusual transaction!

Travelling to Le Mans
Nothing should go wrong on a short visit to Le Mans, but let’s face it, certain things happen when you least expect it. That is why Travel Destinations always recommend that everyone travelling to Le Mans, from whichever country, should always have Travel Insurance cover. Now, many British & other European visitors may say that they don’t need insurance, because they have an EHIC card. For those not familiar with EHIC, this is the European Health Insurance Card, that entitles you to medical treatment throughout Europe. It should be noted that it doesn’t guarantee free treatment, but discounted treatments should you need it (some of which can be free). So, for example, in France a patient may be expected to pay for a consultation with a doctor, but 70% of that cost can be reimbursed by EHIC. Patients that stay in a hospital overnight, can expect to pay too! So, whilst EHIC compliments travel insurance, it shouldn’t be seen as replacing it. Travel Insurance not only covers you before you leave home, but it will also repatriate you in the worst-case scenario. In addition, it can cover delays, cancellation & belongings, so it is very important for everyone to have.

Security is a hot topic throughout the world, and travelling to France is really no different from travelling to anywhere in the western world. Recent protests by the yellow vest brigade (Gilets Jaune) shouldn’t affect travelling to Le Mans, but those staying in Paris before or after should be aware that protests do happen (usually at weekends) and we would recommend to just avoid the areas that they congregate. At Le Mans, most of the time common sense should prevail. Petty crime does happen at Le Mans, much as it does at any festival or event around the world. Take sensible precautions, like keeping money out of sight & secure. Don’t have all your documents and money together in one place. If you don’t need it all the time, then lock it away in your car or a secure place. Keep your ticket in a lanyard around your neck. Note that lost tickets cannot be replaced at the circuit! You will need to buy a new one!! If you do require an emergency service whilst in France, then the number to dial or save in your phone is 112.

So before travelling to Le Mans: Check you have your passport, your money & your tickets. Then don’t worry, bring common sense & sense of fun and you will have a great time!

Written by Richard Webb

Historic Motorsport

Historic motorsport on the rise

The Rise of Historic Motorsport

At a time when Formula 1 has witnessed a fall in audience numbers, and when the ground-breaking Formula E struggles to find a crowd, there is one form of motorsport that continues to grow in terms of spectator numbers and events. It is perhaps ironic then that these motorsport events focus on looking back at history, rather than forwards to the future. The growth in historic motorsport is not necessarily a new phenomenon, as it has been happening for many years, particularly in Europe, but now historic racing is attracting larger crowds and an international audience. The attraction is clear; historic motor racing appeals to the many not just the few.

Historic motorsport events are now being held all around Europe. Some are on existing circuits, whilst others utilize less well-known arenas. Some events feature full competitive racing, others concentrate on the display and uniqueness of the location, so it can be difficult to choose which event is best for you. Below we look at a selection of our favourites to show the differences across this growing motorsport sector.

Le Mans Classic; 3rd – 5th July 2020
Attracting crowds approaching 150,000 people, the Le Mans Classic has been a real success story for the organisers Peter Auto. Taking place every other year, the Le Mans Classic recreates the rich and varied history of Le Mans from 1923 right through to this century. To guarantee authenticity priority is given participants with cars that actually raced at Le Mans. For spectators there is much to see and do, with unique themed displays and car club areas covering large areas of the infield. Options are available for staying inside and outside the circuit, but we recommend you book early as the best options always sell out in advance.

Historic Motorsport
Le Mans Classic

Spa Classic; 17th – 19th May 2019
The little sister of the Le Mans Classic, the Spa Classic still attracts more than 30,000 spectators every year. The Spa-Francorchamps circuit has a rich and varied history which is reflected in the participating grids that include historic touring cars, endurance racers and single-seater Formula. In recent years the welcome addition of a Group C grid has added to the spectacular action on the track. Although spectators can’t stay on the circuit, there are plenty of options for hotels and camping in the local area, making the event very accessible.

Mille Miglia; 11th – 22nd May 2019
Attracting 450 of the finest vintage and classic cars in the world, along with their professional and celebrity drivers the legendary Mille Miglia recreates an open-road endurance race that originally took place from 1927 until 1957. Beginning and ending in the Italian city of Brescia, with Rome marking the half-way point, this 1000-mile event has become one of the must-see events on the historic motorsport calendar.

Historic Motorsport
Mille Miglia

Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or ; 6th – 10th June 2019
Originally held in the French town of Rouen back in 1964, this historic weekend of motorsport then moved to Montlhery, before finding its current home in Dijon in 2014. The Dijon-Prenois circuit was previously made famous by hosting the French Grand Prix between 1974 & 1988. This Peter Auto organised event features sixties endurance racers, historic touring cars, a whole grid of 2 litre Porsches as well as single seaters such as formula 2. There are car club displays away from the action on the track ensuring there is always something interesting to view.

Nurburgring Oldtimer Grand Prix; 8th – 12th August 2019
Around 600 cars will compete across 11 different grids across the weekend using a combination of the F1 circuit and famous Nordschelefe. Cars from pre-war through to end of the 1990s will be represented on track with manufacturers and clubs creating exclusive displays on the infield. Access is good for spectators with free grandstands, paddock and garage access throughout the weekend. There is a campsite adjacent to the track and a number of hotels in the local area making visiting this event simple and fun.

Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix; 5th – 9th September 2019
Nestled in the sand dunes of the Dutch coastline, this undulating circuit is perfect for hosting historic motorsport; It is challenging for the drivers and viewing opportunities are excellent for spectators. Expect to see grids of historic Formula 1, DTM, touring cars and historic world endurance championship challengers across the weekend. A relaxed paddock enables everyone to get close with cars and drivers alike. There are campsites and hotels within walking distance of the circuit making this event an easy introduction to historic motorsport.

Historic Motorsport
Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix

Circuit des Remparts, Angouleme, 12th – 17th September 2019
Each year the French town of Angouleme comes alive to the sounds of engines as both vintage and classic car racers descend on the tightest of street circuits. Bugattis and Porsches will line the paddocks alongside Aston Martins and Jaguars, giving a really international feel to the event. In addition to the street racing on Sunday there are competitions and events throughout the weekend as classic car owners bring their own vehicles to join in the event.

Spa Six Hours, 27th – 30th September 2019
Just as the leaves on the Ardennes forest begin to change, this weekend of historic racing shows off the Spa-Francorchamps circuit at its best. There are many differing grids across the weekend but the signature race is the six hours endurance race that begins in the afternoon and finishes after dark. Expect to see AC Cobras, Jaguar E-Types and Ford GT40s both on the track and in the garages and access is unrestricted for all spectators. Once again campsites and hotels are available close to the track for this event.

Historic motorsport
Spa Six Hours

These events, and many more, are available to book via Travel Destinations. Call us now on 01707 329988 to reserve your place.

Travel Destinations

New Brochure for 2019 Motorsport Events & Holidays

Travel Destinations are pleased to present their new brochure; Motorsport Events & Motoring Holidays for 2019/20. The new brochure includes five new events, giving you even more reasons to travel in 2019!BrochureAll the events featured inside the new brochure are on sale now, including old favourites such as Le Mans and the Spa Classic, but also new events such as the Mille Miglia, Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or and the fantastic Zandvoort Historic Grand Prix.

For those that are looking to test themselves or learn new skills, Travel Destinations have also added a fantastic ice-driving experience with a long weekend in Sweden. Spaces are strictly limited and will sell out, so we recommend early booking.

You can download a low-resolution of the new brochure here, or by clicking on the front cover above.  Alternatively please email your name and address to info@traveldestinations.co.uk and we will mail you a copy (UK addresses only).

All bookings can be made by calling the Travel Destinations team on 01707 329988. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

NEW 2018 Brochure Available Now

2017 has been a busy year. There has been a lot of events to fit in to our calendar & we hope you have been able to enjoy them with us. Incredibly, Travel Destinations have even more events planned for next year! 2018 promises to be even bigger and better than ever. Our new brochure is available now and you can download your copy here.

Travel Destinations
Travel Destinations brochure for 2018

2018 begins in Daytona, Florida with the Rolex 24 at Daytona. This is the start of the Weathertech Sportscar Championship and is your first chance to see new technology and international drivers take on the banking at this famous circuit. Our hotel on Daytona Beach is the perfect place to stay and enjoy this great event.

Continuing out travels in February, we visit Australia for the Bathurst 12 Hours. If you have never visited the Mount Panorama circuit before, then this is a must. We not only have downtown hotels and apartments available for this race, but we include 3 days hospitality so you can enjoy practice, qualifying and the race from the privileged position on the pit-lane roof.

We are back in Florida in March for the 12 Hours of Sebring.  This is America’s oldest and most prestigious sports car race. In 2019 Sebring will also host a round of the FIA World Endurance Championship “Super season”, but you can also visit in 2018 & stay in our lakeside condos, just a few minutes drive from the circuit.

12 Hours of Sebring
12 Hours of Sebring

Our European racing season begins at the Nurburgring 24 Hours in May. Around 200 GT & production cars taking on a combination of the F1 circuit and the famous Nordschleife has to be seen to be believed. We have a private, track-side camping area, especially for our customers to ensure that you won’t miss a thing.

May’s Spa Classic goes from strength to strength and the event now attracts more than 30,000 spectators each year. With a mixture of classic endurance racing, Group C racers and historic touring cars there is enough variety to entertain everyone. We have a selection of nearby hotels and camping available to accommodate everyone, and entertain all our customers in our hospitality suite overlooking Eau Rouge.

Spa Classic
Spa Classic

The Le Mans 24 Hours needs little introduction. Following the withdrawal of Audi and Porsche there is guaranteed to be a new name on the winner’s trophy. Toyota will be back, and this time with an F1 champion behind the wheel. They will be joined by a good number of privateer LMP1s adding to the fun. The ever competitive GTE Pro class sees the return of BMW to take on the might of Ferrari, Ford, Aston Martin, Corvette and Porsche so there a plenty of manufacturers present too. As always Travel Destinations will be offering on-circuit options including our exclusive private trackside campsite at Porsche Curves, our Glamping option (Event Tents) and our pop-up hotel (Flexotel).

The pinnacle of historic motorsport is July’s Le Mans Classic. It is unrivaled in its scale and history. The racing only features cars that once raced at Le Mans, from the 1920s through to the 1980s (now including Group C). If the on-track spectacle is not enough for you then the gathering of more than 8,000 classic cars on the Bugatti circuit may tempt you away. Much like the 24 Hours, Travel Destinations has private track-side camping, glamping and pop-up hotel rooms available at the circuit, as well as hotel rooms, camping and B&B options further afield.

Glamping at Le Mans Classic
Glamping at Le Mans Classic

Endurance racing also returns in July with the 24 Hours of Spa. Being track-side, watching as Audi, BMW, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Nissan & Bentley all speed through Eau Rouge through the day and the night is a joy to behold.  The racing is punctuated with a pop concert and fireworks display above the paddock at night as the cars continue around the track. We have both camping and hotel options for this event enabling you to enjoy the whole spectacle.

August sees the Nurburgring host the Oldtimers Grand Prix. This historic motor racing weekend, has a mixture of single-seater and sports cars compete around this historic circuit. Wandering the paddock is like going back in time as the mechanics work on this classic machinery. We have trackside camping or a 4 star hotel to choose from when you attend this great event.

September is a busy month for classic cars and historic motor racing. The Circuit des Remparts event in Angouleme (South West France) is quite unique. The Sunday of a long weekend of car events, sees a full day of historic racing around the walls of the old town. This tight street circuit is overshadowed by the town’s cathedral and spectators fill the stands at every turn; it is quite a sight and well-worth the drive down to see it all in person.

Circuit des Remparts, Angouleme
Circuit des Remparts, Angouleme

Mallorca classic week is organised by the island’s residents with a focus on classic cars both resident and visiting the island. With the emphasis on the social side, there are gatherings and displays around the island with competitions and scenic drives to some of the most beautiful parts of the Mallorca. It may seem a long way to go, but with ferries taking the strain the driving distances are shortened and you could participate by clocking up less than 1000 miles in your car but stay for two whole weeks.

The Spa Six Hours in September has always felt like a racers weekend that spectators have been allowed access to. There are few restrictions on access and teams are always relaxed and happy to chat. There are a variety of grids racing over the weekend, with the highlight being the classic endurance race on Saturday afternoon that continues in to the autumn night. If you like your GT40s, D-Type Jaguars and AC Cobras competing at speed, driven by skilled drivers then this event is perfect for you. We have a range of hotels and camping available within 10 minutes of the track, so you can enjoy it all in comfort.

You can secure your place at any of these events now. Reservations are open, but availability is limited, so please call Travel Destinations now, on 0844 873 0203.

Book now for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2018

Book now for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2018

Whilst Porsche and Aston Martin have been celebrating wins, and Toyota and Corvette have been dreaming of what might have been this year, Travel Destinations have been planning ahead, so you can now book for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2018. As an official travel and ticket agent for the Le Mans 24 Hours, Travel Destinations are in a unique position to be able to offer early bird prices for the 2018 race. All prices are now available on this website and bookings can be secured with a small deposit. You can call our reservations team now to secure all your tickets for Le Mans 2018.

Le Mans 24 HoursThe Le Mans 24 Hours may be just under a year away, but as most people know the most popular hotels, camping and grandstand tickets sell out quickly, so it is important to reserve your booking early. All our prices include travel from the UK, entrance tickets and your choice of accommodation for the Le Mans 24 Hours, however for international visitors it is also possible to book without the travel element. Just enquire at the time of booking for a revised price. All Travel Destinations exclusive on-circuit options sold out in 2017 so please ensure you reserve your place soon to avoid disappointment.

The Travel Destinations private trackside camping area, on the famous Porsche Curves was the first ever private campsite at the circuit. Ever since its inception it has set the standard for private and secure onsite camping at Le Mans. Not only does this campsite offer guests 24 hours security, fully serviced showers and toilets and a well stocked hospitality marquee, it is also the only campsite to offer exclusive access to its own private viewing bank.

Le Mans 24 Hours
Travel Destinations at Porsche Curves trackside camping

For those without their own tent, or for those looking for a little luxury at Le Mans, the Travel Destinations Event Tents are an ideal solution.Located just a short walk from our Porsche Curves campsite, the Event Tents offer large pre-erected bell tents, complete with carpet, mattresses and all bed linen. For the Le Mans 24 Hours, the Event Tents also benefit from 24 Hours security, fully serviced toilets and showers and their own hospitality marquee. Car parking is also available on-site for all guests.

Le Mans 24 Hours
Travel Destinations Event Tents at the Le Mans 24 Hours

For those not wanting to camp, the Travel Destinations Flexotel Village offers a private bedroom in the centre of the track. Exclusive to Travel Destinations this pop-up hotel offers lockable rooms with two beds and all bed linen. Standard rooms have separate shower and toilet blocks on-site, but for those that want their own bathroom then an upgrade to comfortel rooms is also possible. Set in their own secure paddock (not on grass) the Flexotel Village is just a short walk from the start/finish line, the Dunlop Bridge and the Tertre Rouge corner. There is parking for those arriving by car, and the location is ideal for international guests arriving by train and tram from Paris.

Le Mans 24 Hours
Travel Destinations Flexotel Village at the Le Mans 24 Hours

Of course, there are also thousands of camping pitches in the ACO circuit run campsites available as well. Although these areas offer only basic facilities & no security, they are always popular and most areas will sell out. Travel Destinations has the largest allocations of pitches in all circuit run campsites, particularly in the most popular areas of Maison Blanche, Houx and Tertre Rouge. Ask our experienced staff what campsite they would recommend if you are not sure.

Grandstand seats and Le Mans hospitality are also available and can be added to any of our Le Mans 24 Hours 2018 packages. These are ideal if you would like to get a better view of the action, or just want a different experience.

You can book for the Le Mans 24 Hours 2018 now by calling Travel Destinations on 0844 873 0203 or by emailing us via info@traveldestinations.co.uk with all your requirements. Travel Destinations are an ABTA and ATOL bonded tour operator so you can book now with confidence. 

Le Mans 2020

Le Mans Classic returns for 2018

Le Mans Classic returns for 2018

Le Mans Classic 2018Le Mans Classic
6th – 8th July 2018

After a year’s break the Le Mans Classic returns in 2018 for another weekend of motor racing nostalgia. As the Le Mans 24 Hours is the pinnacle for modern endurance racing, then the Le Mans Classic is the ultimate in historic motorsport. The Le Mans Classic brings together only cars that once raced during the Le Mans 24 Hours, back to their spiritual home for another performance in front of a huge crowd at Le Mans. And this isn’t a parade. This is proper racing on the full Le Mans circuit. Professional and amateur drivers going head to head, in machinery designed and prepared specifically for Le Mans.

Le Mans ClassicThere is a full 24 hours of racing. Even the traditional Le Mans start is recreated. However it would be impossible to race 1920s cars against those from the 1970s or 1980s, so the cars ares split into different grids depending on the era in which they originally raced. Traditionally the Le Mans Classic has comprised of six grids covering the years from 1923 through to 1979. For the Le Mans Classic 2018 there will also be an additional “guest grid” featuring the Group C cars that dominated at Le Mans during the 1980s. Each grid will appear on the circuit multiple times throughout the 24 hours, enabling spectators to see racing through dusk, evening and night, through dawn and back to day again.

This is why no other historic motorsport event can compete with the Le Mans Classic. Where else can you see a Jaguar D-Type glisten in the sunrise as it sweeps under the famous Dunlop Bridge? More than 120,000 spectators already agree, and expect that number to rise in 2018.

There is more to the Le Mans Classic than just the on-circuit action. This event has become a mecca for car clubs from around Europe. The infield is turned in to a classic and sports car car park for more than 8 thousand vehicles of all ages and manufacturers. This magnificent display is worth the entry fee alone. In addition there are anniversary displays, a classic car auction, memorabilia stores as well as food outlets and even a cinema, all with a vintage theme.

Le Mans Classic official ticket agentTravel Destinations is an official ticket agent for the Le Mans Classic. This puts us in the privileged position of being able to offer our customers the best options for travel, tickets and accommodation for the Le Mans Classic 2018. Travel Destinations has a number of exclusive options including private trackside camping, glamping and a pop-up hotel all on the famous Le Mans track, so you can’t stay any closer to all the action.
Travel Destinations has two different trackside campsites for the Le Mans Classic 2018. Both offer 24 hours security, fully serviced showers and toilets as well as a hospitality marquee serving food and drinks throughout the weekend. The difference is in locations and the view. Our Hunaudieres campsite is located on the inside of the Tertre Rouge corner, overlooked by the football stadium (the MM Arena). The campsite is surrounded by a wall, but there is a public viewing bank overlooking Tertre Rouge corner just outside the campsite entrance. Our Porsche Curves campsite is our traditional camping location for the Le Mans 24 Hours. This campsite has a unique and exclusive private viewing bank that overlooks the famous Porsche Curves. Both locations are hugely popular and have sold out in recent years, so booking early is recommended.

Le Mans Classic
Travel Destinations Event Tents at the Le Mans Classic

The Travel Destinations Event Tents are another very popular option. Located near to our Porsche Curves campsite, the Event Tents are our pre-erected glamping option for those not wishing to pitch their own tent. Each tent is 5 metres in diameter and coming fully carpeted, with mattresses and all bed linen, giving the perfect environment for camping at Le Mans. The Event Tents are erected in their own private campsite, with 24 hours security, fully serviced showers and toilets and a hospitality marquee. There is plenty of room for car parking too, enabling people to travel in their sports cars and park in a secure area in-sight of their tent. This option was another sell out for the last Le Mans Classic in 2016.

Le Mans Classic
Travel Destinations Flexotel Village at the Le Mans Classic

For those that don’t wish to camp, the Travel Destinations Flexotel Village is the perfect solution. We build this exclusive pop-up hotel in the centre of the circuit, to enable guests to have their own private bedroom within walking distance of the track. Each room can sleep two people in proper beds supplied with all bed linen. The Flexotel Village is located within its own private paddock (not on grass) with plenty of room for car parking. Guests can choose between a standard room or one with their own shower & toilet room. There are also separate shower and toilet blocks for guests and a hospitality marquee on-site. All guests at the Flexotel Village will also receive a full picnic basket for the Saturday of the Le Mans Classic.

Travel Destinations have a number of off-circuit options too, including hotel rooms, B&B properties and private camping areas all within a short drive of the Le Mans circuit.

Le Mans ClassicAll Travel Destinations offers include general entrance tickets as well as access to the Le Mans Classic paddock. Grandstand seats, circuit laps & other optional extras can also be added on request.

You can book your place at the Le Mans Classic NOW! Prices for all our travel & ticket options are available on this website and bookings can be secured with a small deposit. Please call our knowledgeable reservations team now on 0844 873 0203 to discuss the best options for you and to reserve your place the Le Mans Classic 2018.

Spa Classic

Spa Classic 2017: Another unmissable event

The Spa Classic 2017; You know you are arriving somewhere special when you are greeted at the gate by the sound of Group C endurance racers blasting through Eau Rouge, whilst Italian sports cars from the 1960s warm up in the paddock. Immediately your senses are teased by the sounds, smells and sights of historic motor racing at its best.

Spa Classic
Sixties Endurance

The Spa Classic has grown in just 7 years to become an unmissable part of the motorsport calendar. Spa Classic 2017, saw more than 20,000 spectators make the journey to the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit to witness some spectacular racing. They were rewarded by no less than 9 different grids competing around the stunning twists and turns of this historic track.

Spa Classic
Trofeo Nastro Rosso at the Spa Classic 2017

As you would expect from a circuit of Spa’s reputation, Friday was wet. The rooster tails behind the cars were big and proud. The drivers were really tested in challenging conditions. There is perhaps nothing more impressive than a skilled driver, fighting for control of a powerful sports car on a wet track. It was perhaps fortunate that Friday was only a day of practice and some preliminary qualifying sessions for all of the assembled grids. Other than the difficult driving conditions on the route down through Belgium, the damp weather wasn’t an issue for Travel Destinations customers that arrived early. Our reserved infield car parking allowed our customers to park their classic and sports cars in the F1 paddock, and our hospitality suite was open from midday, serving teas, coffees and biscuits ready for the weekend.

Spa Classic
Saturday morning arrivals at the Travel Destinations car park

Saturday dawned fresh and dry. A perfect day for racing. The early morning mist soon cleared revealing the beautiful circuit in all its glory. The circuit oozes history, so to have historic cars racing at Spa again is the perfect match.

Spectators & their cars were filing through the gates before 9am when the track action started again. To warm the growing crowd up, first on track were the GT1 sports cars. An impressive assembly of Ferraris (360s, F355, F40, 550, F430) Porsches (964 & 996) and Vipers (Chrysler and Dodge). These were swiftly followed by the first grid of Classic Endurance Racing cars featuring GT cars from 1966 – 1974, and prototypes from 1966 – 1971. And so, the morning progressed through Formula Vee, Group C and the beautiful Italian sports car of the Trofeo Nasto Rosso grid.

Spa Classic
GT1 Sports grid on track

With more than 350 customers including about 130 classic & sports cars travelling with Travel Destinations, the reserved F1 paddock car park, soon began filling up. A fantastic variety of vehicles, including MGs, Jaguars, Porsches, TVRs, Triumphs, Aston Martins and other exotica, all parked up making an impressive display. The Travel Destinations car park faced on to the Bonhams auction, and it was debateable who had the most expensive collection on the day.

Spa Classic
Travel Destinations’ infield customer car park

The Travel Destinations hospitality suite was a popular destination all weekend. Available only to Travel Destinations customers, the suite overlooks Eau Rouge & offered private viewing, seating, light refreshments and large TVs showing live timing & scoring during each race. The suite became a real social centre at the track, a meeting point for everyone and an information point including programmes, brochures and other event information.

Spa Classic
Travel Destinations’ customer hospitality suite

Saturday saw the largest numbers of Travel Destinations customer cars on track. One of the unique features of the Spa Classic is the ability to take your own classic or sports car on to the circuit for some non-competitive track time. These aren’t parade laps, and after the first lap behind a safety car, you can almost do what you want, but you do have to follow the circuits rules and obey the marshals’ flags. Some Travel Destinations customers took to the track on Friday afternoon, but the majority waited until Saturday and Sunday to test their skills on the circuit. These laps are always hotly anticipated by the participants and the big grins when they return to the paddock are all you really need to know.

Spa Classic
Travel Destinations customers enjoying the Spa Classic

As the sun dropped behind the trees and night began to fall, the racing continued. In fact, races for both the Sixties Endurance racers, and the Heritage Touring cars continued in the dark up until midnight. Historic racing at night creates a wonderful atmosphere. Headlights & brake lights illuminating the track around the La Source hairpin and the bus-stop chicane have to be seen with your own eyes to be appreciated fully. A beautiful sight.

Spa Classic
Heritage Touring Cup racing at night

If Saturday’s weather improved on Friday’s, then Sunday’s was better again. It is not often that sunscreen is passed around by people in the paddock, but it was on Sunday. Those at the track for 9am were treated to more sounds for the GT1 Sports club followed by an hour-long race by the 2nd grid from Classic Endurance Racing. By lunchtime the Italian sports cars (estimated value of about £1 million each) had returned to the track as well as the wonderfully raucous Group C cars.

Spa Classic 2017
Group C Racing at the Spa Classic 2017

Over a picnic lunch or dinner in the Maison de L’Eau Rouge more socializing took place, whilst further club circuit laps and VIPs were taken around the circuit. The afternoon brought a further chance to catch up with the single seater racers of Formula Vee and recently formed Euro F2 class. This grid comprises of Formula 2 cars that made their reputation in the late 1960s and in to the 1970s. At this time F2 was the only feeder series to F1 and that made it a very competitive class featuring some of the best drivers in the world. To see these cars returned to their former glory at Spa-Francorchamps was a real delight.

Spa Classic 2017
Formula Vee outside the Travel Destinations hospitality suite

As the Spa Classic 2017 event came to a close on Sunday evening many spectators were still milling around the various paddocks reluctant to return to their comfortable hotel and feel they had missed anything. The Spa Classic is that kind of event. There is something of interest in every paddock and car park, so that even during the races you are never quite sure where your attention should be.
The 2017 edition of the Spa Classic was a great success, attracting a record audience at the circuit over the weekend, despite the damp start.

Spa Classic
Euro F2 at the Spa Classic 2017

The Spa Classic will return in 2018 and you can be assured that Travel Destinations will once again be the official ticket agent offering the best travel, hotels, parking and hospitality available for the event. Prices for Spa Classic 2018 will be available soon, but you can register with us now to be the first to receive more details.

Written by Richard Webb
Photography by Kevin Osborne & Peter Auto

Tom Kristensen

Your chance to meet Mr. Le Mans!

Our friends at Race Retro have offered one lucky Travel Destinations customer the chance to win a meet and greet with endurance racer & Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen.

Race Retro

Race Retro celebrates the very best of international historic motorsport, showcasing every discipline including formula and circuit racing, rallying, hill climbs, touring cars, single marque series, motorcycling, sports and GT cars. From historic to vintage and classic to retro vehicles, it’s all covered at Race Retro. Cars and motorcycles, drivers, team managers, riders, mechanics, manufacturers and enthusiasts all come together ahead of the forthcoming season.

Tom will make his debut appearance at Race Retro, the international historic motorsport show, on Saturday 25th February at Stoneleigh Park, as part of the three-day events 15th anniversary ‘Super Show’ celebrations.

Tom Kristensen

Tom, who was inducted into the Motor Sport Hall of Fame in 2013, will appear on the Motor Sport Live Stage while at the show and have a private meet and great with one lucky Travel Destinations customer.

To be in with a chance of winning, book your tickets here or simply visit www.raceretro.com and book tickets for Saturday 25th February quoting RR17TK

T&C’s – Tickets must be booked before 20th February 2017 in order to be in with a chance of winning. Only tickets booked for Saturday 25th February 2017 will be eligible for the prize draw. If booking more than one ticket, the prize will be awarded to the individual who booked the ticket, not the whole group. No cash alternative to the prizes will be offered. The prize is not transferable. The lucky winner must be able to attend for the whole day on Saturday 25th February 2017. The winner will be chosen at random and notified by email and will have 24 hours to confirm receipt of their prize. If the prize has not been claimed after 24 hours the organisers reserve the right to re-draw the prize winner. The organiser reserves the right to change all or any of the elements of the prize at their soul discretion and no correspondence will be entered into.

Travel Destinations Brochure

New 2017 Travel Destinations Brochure

The Travel Destinations’ brochure for 2017/18 is available to download now. The new brochure includes events such as the Le Mans 24 Hours, Spa Classic, Nurburgring 24 Hours, Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring, Nurburgring Oldtimers Grand Prix, Bathurst 12 Hours, Spa 24 Hours & Circuit Des Remparts at Angouleme.

For those planning further ahead we have even included early booking offers for the Le Mans Classic in 2018.

Travel Destinations brochure
Click on the image above to get your digital copy of our brochure.

Our brochure will also be available to collect from our stands at the Classic Motor Show at the NEC in Birmingham (11th – 13th November), at the Autosport International Show also at the NEC in Birmingham (12th – 15th January) and at the London Classic Car Show at Excel, London (23rd – 26th February). Do come and say hello to our staff and collect your copy of our new brochure.
Classic Motor Show
London Classic Car Show

 

 

Spa Classic 2017

Spa Classic 2017

Spa ClassicSpa Classic 2017
19th – 21st May

Although the Le Mans Classic doesn’t return again until July 2018, you can still get your fix of classic car racing with annual Spa Classic event.

Spa Classic 2017

In May 2017, the famous Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium will host the 7th Spa Classic, an historic race weekend, that features a variety of grids including Group C cars, classic touring cars, Italian sports cars and sixties endurance racing. In addition to the on track action, classic car clubs from across Europe are invited to display their cars within the paddock areas, creating a show of beautiful cars and motoring history.

Travel Destinations have been looking after customers at every Spa Classic event since its inception. This has enabled us to become the official agency for this event giving us access to the best tickets and options available. In particular Travel Destinations invites all its customers arriving at Spa in classic or sports cars, to park in our private car parking area within the circuit, in pride of place, on the top level adjacent to the F1 garages. From this car parking area you can see across the paddocks to both the La Source hairpin and the hill at Eau Rouge.

Spa Classic 2017

All Travel Destinations customers are also invited to join us in our hospitality suite overlooking Eau Rouge for light refreshments throughout the weekend. From this first floor suite you can relax for a while, enjoy complimentary tea & coffee and still watch all the action. It is a great place to socialise with other guests and meet the Travel Destinations team.

All our Spa Classic offers include your choice of travel and accommodation. You can choose from the Eurotunnel, or the ferries from Dover or Hull. All the packages also include entrance tickets to the Spa Classic that also allows access to every paddock and grandstand. You are free to wander and view from wherever you like.

We have a choice of five different hotels and a campsite to stay at. All of the properties are within 15 minutes of the circuit and each of the options has been visited by Travel Destinations staff. We have been using all of them for a number of years and have many repeat guests, so they all come highly recommended. We have tried to offer something for every budget and taste, but please feel free to ask our staff for a recommendation when you call.

Spa Classic 2017

You can find out more about the Spa Classic and our exclusive offers on this website by clicking here. You can book your place at the Spa Classic now by calling us on 0844 873 0203. A deposit of £85.00 per person will be required at the time of booking.

The Spa Classic may still be the little sister to the Le Mans Classic, but she is catching up fast.

 

Spa Classic

Spa Classic 2016

Spa Classic 2016

A week after the FIA WEC 6 hours of Spa-Francorchamps it was the turn of the golden oldies of the world of endurance racing to take to the legendary Belgian circuit for the 6th Spa Classic. If the weather was a bit cooler than the weekend before, the action on the track was equally competitive and the spectacle was equally enthralling.

Spa-9

The spectators formed a guard of honour around the lines of historic cars about to go out onto the track, and everyone was able to take advantage of the relaxed nature of the Spa Classic to get up close to the drivers and their machinery.

The weekend provided people with the opportunity to relive some of the greatest events in the history of the Spa-Francorchamps 24 Hours in the touring car era, as well as the Spa 1000 km with prototypes and GTs covering the period 1952 (Aston Martin DB2) to 1993 (Peugeot 905). In all, four decades on this circuit marked by victories of emblematic models like the Ferrari 250 LM (1965), Ford GT40 (1968) and the Porsche 962 (1986), all of which were represented on the track this weekend. A total of some 216 racing cars divided up into six grids (Classic Endurance Racing 1 & 2, Group C Racing, the Heritage Touring Cup, Trofeo Nastro Rosso & Sixties’ Endurance) put on a nine-race action-packed show out on the track from Friday onwards, including one that felt absolutely magic on Saturday evening as night fell.

Spa Classic

Spectators, who were able to tear themselves away from the racing that continued nonstop out on the beautiful Belgian circuit, for a few minutes were able to experience musical and motoring entertainment both in and out of the paddocks, whilst children could have their first taste of driving pedal-powered karts round their own circuit, and then take on their parents at the controls of radio-controlled cars. Other forms of entertainment included jazz music and a unique DJ housed in VW van as well as many boutiques (scale models, clothes, bookshops, etc.).

One of the great assets of an event like the Spa Classic is the access all areas philosophy that allows spectators to wonder through the garages and paddocks, as well as access all of the grandstands and visit the Brasserie on top of the F1 building. The more adventurous also enjoyed a walk along the footpath that offers spectacular views around the whole circuit.

Spa Classic

Inside and outside the track car clubs gathered to add to the weekend display. Four different BMW clubs that had chosen Spa Classic to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the make, many owners of historic cars came to the Ardennes to enjoy the party and represented makes as diverse as Corvette, Datsun, Honda, MG, Porsche, Triumph and TVR. Enough to retrace the history of the motor car through 700 models ranging from the legendary Citroën Traction Avant to the incredible Lamborghini Miuras, Ferrari F40s and F50s.

Spa Classic

Guests booked with Travel Destinations enjoyed the Spa Classic more than most. Not only did they park their cars in pride of place, stretching the full length of the top level F1 paddock, but they also had access to the Travel Destinations hospitality lodge overlooking Eau Rouge, where they could enjoy their own pit stop with tea, coffee and biscuits without missing any of the action. Those with dreams of being racers themselves were also able to take their cars out on track to enjoy the twists and turns of Spa-Francorchamps first hand.

The Spa Classic event will be returning in May 2017 & Travel Destinations will once again be there in the middle of the action, enjoying this great event. If you are interested in joining us at the Spa Classic in 2017, please register your interest with us now, to be among the first to receive our special offers.Spa Classic

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)

FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring

Home win for Porsche

Porsche claimed a 1–2 victory ahead of fellow German rivals Audi in the 4th round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) held at the famous Nurburgring this weekend. A large crowd of more than 62,000 race fans across the weekend witnessed the No. 17 Porsche driven by Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley take the win ahead of their sister car and the No. 7 Audi.

Start of the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring

The Nurburgring’s 3 mile F1 circuit is relatively short and twisty compared to Le Mans, where these cars last went head to head, so traffic management was as much a key as straight line speed for all the prototype teams. At the start of the race the pole position Porsche (no. 18) with Neel Jani at the wheel took advantage of clean air to quickly build a 20 second lead at the front. The No. 17 Porsche pitted early with nose cone damage, that dropped them down the order, but they were quick to regain ground with Audi unable to capitalise.

Problems began for the leader on the 54th lap. A problem with an engine sensor caused the car to consume more fuel than officially allowed, so they were penalised with a series of stop and go penalties until the problem was sorted. Clearly it was not an easy problem to fix as 3 increasingly long penalties were awarded by race control, dropping the No. 18 Porsche down the field.

If evidence were needed that Toyota were a long way of the pace, even after the penalties the No. 18 Porsche rejoined in 4th place, behind the Audis and still ahead of the Toyotas. The battle was then on in the remaining hours for second place, with the two Audis being reeled in by the charging Porsche. Eventually the Audi’s could not defend their positions and with 45 minutes left on the clock Porsche regained their 1-2 al be it with the No. 17 car in the lead. This was how it finished with Porsche celebrating from the top 2 steps of the podium in front of their home crowd.

KCMGat the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburging

The LMP2 was dominated by the KCMG Oreca of Nick Tandy, Matt Howson and Richard Bradley. The started the race from pole and maintained that position throughout most of the race. A slow pit stop in the first half the race opened the door slightly for the 2 G-Drive Ligiers, but they couldn’t take advantage and eventually settled for second and third position in class.

GTE Pro field at the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring

There were lots of smiling faces on the Porsche fans at the Nurburgring as the German manufacturer secured another 1-2 in the GTE Pro class. The No. 91 car driven by Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz, claimed the win ahead of their No. 92 sister car. The 2 Porsches benefited from electrical troubles suffered by the championship leading AF Corse Ferrari (No. 51), that ground to a halt within 15 minutes of the start of the race. Although the car was recovered to the pits and did rejoin they were always laps down from the leaders. The sister Ferrari (No.71) did keep the fight going and despite some bodywork damage and a puncture managed to hold on and climbed the third spot on the podium.

SMP Racing Ferrari

The No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari managed to build on their Le Mans win with another victory in the GTE Am class at the Nurburgring. They were pushed all the way by the No. 98 Aston Martin that eventually finished only 30 seconds behind in second place. These two cars traded the lead between them as they worked through their different race strategies but they were always ahead of the rest of the field. The No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari claimed third spot, narrowly edging out the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche.

The FIA World Endurance Championship now moves away from Europe with the first stop being the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. That race will take place on the 19th September and we also expect the provisional 2016 calendar to be announced during the event.

Written by Richard Webb
Photography by Dailysportscar

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Audi survive late scare to win at Silverstone

Sunshine and gusting winds greeted fans arriving at Silverstone on Sunday for the first round of the FIA World Endurance Championship. After the new team line ups and the national anthems on the grid before the start it was down to business for all the teams eager to start the season on a positive note.

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Porsche had qualified on the front row and continued to show that pace as both cars pulled away from the chasing group. The opposite happened to the No. 7 Audi as Treluyer struggled to get the car off the line. Not only did he see the rest of the LMP1 grid disappear around the first corner, but he was then engulfed by the LMP2 runners as well. It could have been the surprise of the slow Audi that caused the new Strakka Racing Dome to immediately spin off in to the gravel, sending them to the very back.
Just six minutes in to the race the leading LMP1 cars were in traffic as they caught the back markers in the GTE field. The closing speeds were astonishing. The speed of the whole LMP1 grid was impressive throughout. The lap times were comparable with the middle of the F1 grid last year. Keeping in mind the weight of the cars, the fuel and the distance of the race, this was remarkable. Webber’s Porsche was particularly quick, pulling out a 10 second advantage on his team mate in second place. Behind them the battle between Audi and Toyota for third place saw them trading places in and out of Brooklands.

In the LMP2 field the KCMG car benefitted from a great start to take the lead in class, but within the first hour it was being chased down by the two orange and black G Drive Racing cars. Despite a valiant effort from Tandy at the wheel, he was passed on consecutive laps and the G Drive cars didn’t look back. The stricken Strakka Racing car, was recovering from the back and had a different view as it began to fight its way back through the congested field.
Aston Martin started at the front of the GTE Pro field and started well, initially holding off the challenge of Porsche, with Ferrari staying out of trouble and watching developments unfold in front of them. GTE Am was equally close with the sole Corvette getting ahead of the Porsche and the AF Corse Ferrari, with Aston Martins watching closely.

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

Things were to change beyond the first hour. The leading Porsche, with Webber at the wheel, was called to the pit lane and pushed back in to the garage. Unfortunately it was never to return, as a driveshaft failure curtailed their race, leaving a lone Porsche out front.
Audi’s double challenge was reduced shortly after Porsche. Following impact with a GTE Porsche at Becketts, the No. 8 Audi had to return to the garage for bodywork repairs. Time in the garage cost the car a lap, but the damage appeared a little more than cosmetic. The car never really recovered and continued to look unstable when it returned to the track. Their challenge was over.
At the front the battle was really just beginning. Over the period of more than an hour the remaining Audi and Porsche became locked in a tremendous battle. They were also briefly joined by the No. 1 Toyota as the pit stop strategy panned out. The lead constantly changed between the cars while Neel Jani and Marcel Fassler, expertly weaved their vehicles through the traffic. The Porsche was clearly able to pull away from the Audi along the straights, but it was quickly reeled in again by the Audi under passed under braking in to the corners. The battle continued for lap after lap, neither able to put any distance between themselves and their rival, despite different pit stop & tyre stinting strategies.

Eventually the No. 7 Audi managed to break the stranglehold and a gap appeared. The Porsche had to be careful as the chasing Toyotas double stinted the tyres bringing them back in to the mix. Toyota and Porsche both challenged the leader throughout the rest of the race, but neither could hold the lead for any length of time, and going in to the last hour the Audi continued to lead with a gap of almost 40 seconds.
The LMP2 race became a comfortable 1 -2 for the G-Drive Racing. Once they had passed the KCMG car they built a lead that could never be surpassed. The No. 26 car ahead of the sister Ligier. The battle behind them saw the fluorescent green Extreme Speed HPD car finish in the third podium spot, but they were later disqualified by the stewards for worn bodywork beneath the car. This meant a late promotion for the Strakka Racing Dome that had fought its way back from that initial spin at the first corner. A great effort from the home based team.

Audi survive late scare to take win at Silverstone

The GTE Pro race was more difficult to predict. The initial dominance of Aston Martin was undermined by a decision to pit under a full course yellow, setting their strategy off against the Porsche and Ferraris. The Manthey Porsche team looked strong but ultimately it was the experience of Bruni and Vilander that brought the AF Corse Ferrari home for the win.

Aston Martin had greater success in the GTE Am class, with the No. 98 car holding off the challenge of the Ferrari to win the class. The No. 50 Larbre Corvette could have mounted a challenge, but it sustained damage after a collision with an Audi and the resultant run across the gravel.

Audi survive late scare to win at Silverstone

Back at the front it was difficult to call a winner. Audi were ahead of Porsche who were in turn ahead of Toyota; a three way fight to the finish. The Audi built enough of a gap to enable them a splash and dash to the line, but the Porsche and Toyota were closing. Just as the Audi was coming in for that last stop, the stewards gave the Audi a stop/go penalty for overtaking squabbling GTE cars by taking all 4 wheels off the track. The Audi came back to the pitlane on their outlap and served the penalty to emerge just seconds ahead of the chasing Porsche. The gap now much reduced to just 8 seconds with 10 laps remaining.
In the last few laps the Toyota in third was catching the Porsche in second, who in turn was catching the leading Audi. The Porsche closed the gap to less than 8 seconds but just couldn’t catch the Audi. Fassler held on to give Audi the win and start the FIA WEC season on the top of the podium.
This was an incredible race, and sets up the next round at Spa perfectly. All three prototype challengers appear to have improved on last year’s model and there is clearly little to choose between them. This could be the best FIA World Endurance Championship season yet.

You can join us at the next 3 rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship. We have travel, tickets and camping options available for Spa-Francorchamps, Le Mans and the Nurburgring. Call us now on 0844 873 0203 to reserve your place!

Olly Jarvis looks for home advantage

Olly Jarvis looks for home advantage

Olly Jarvis looks for home advantage

This weekend sees the return of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with the Six Hours of Silverstone. Although Audi were victorious at Le Mans, they finished the 2014 FIA WEC behind Toyota. That experience is not something they wish to repeat in 2015.

Much has changed at Audi over the winter season, with a different car and different driver line-ups for 2015. British driver Oliver Jarvis (a friend of Travel Destinations) has effectively taken the seat of Audi hero Tom Kristensen, but says that he is not feeling the pressure before the first race of the season.

Olly Jarvis looks for home advantage

Silverstone is Olly Jarvis’ home circuit. Despite this, much is new in the opening round of the FIA World Endurance Championship WEC for the 31-year old professional racing driver.

He already knows the Audi R18 e-tron quattro, has contested five FIA WEC races, and has even mounted the podium at Le Mans. Nevertheless, everything will be different from April onwards. “Loïc Duval and Lucas di Grassi are my team mates for the first time and I contest a complete WEC season for Audi,” says Jarvis. “The benchmark for us are our team mates Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer in the number 7 Audi. The three of us want to be just as strong. We will have to complete a learning curve as a driver team. With this in mind, it’s a big advantage that we suit each other and have a similar way of working. During my preparation I work very closely with our race engineer Justin Taylor.”

Of all things, his home track is relatively new to the Briton. “I’ve only ever driven once on the current version of the track. I raced in the Blancpain Endurance Series here two years ago in the Audi R8 LMS ultra,” says Jarvis. “But it’s a big difference whether you drive here in a GT3 sportscar or now in a much faster LMP1 car. There are many fast corners that require a very committed driving style. Silverstone offers a real challenge as the first WEC race of the year.”

The opportunity to fight for a title in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro is also unusual. “Up until now, I had only driven in selected races. Now I have the entire WEC season on my calendar for the first time,” he states. “It’s important to start the season with a good result and to score as many points as possible. I still don’t know what to expect, but I’m confident after the WEC prologue at Le Castellet in March. Being able to contest the entire world championship means that a dream has come true for me.”

The anticipation for Oliver Jarvis’s home race increases daily. “Obviously my relatives and many friends will visit,” says the Briton. “My two team mates and I feel exceptionally well prepared. We see ourselves as a good, close team and want to have a successful weekend.” What exactly does this mean in facts and figures? “It would be fantastic to be on the podium.”
Following this weekend’s race at Silverstone, the FIA WEC moves on to Spa in Belgium, then Le Mans in France and the Nurburgring in Germany. If you would like to view the action live at any of these famous circuits, please call us now to book your travel and tickets.

Nissan win the Bathurst 12 Hours 2015

Nissan win another thriller at Bathurst

Nissan win another thriller at Bathurst

It is remarkable how many endurance races still come down to decisions made in the last few minutes of the race. Once again, the Mount Panorama circuit in Bathurst didn’t disappoint. The 12 Hours of Bathurst came down to a 4 way shoot out for the podium places, with Nissan and driver Katsumasa Chiyo emerging victorious.

In a 12 hours race like Bathurst, strategy, fuel and tyres are often hurriedly recalculated as safety cars and yellow flag waving marshals interrupt proceedings. This year’s Bathurst 12 Hours had 20 safety car periods leading to seven different manufacturers claiming a share of the lead throughout the race.

Nissan win the Bathurst 12 Hours 2015

 

With around an hour to go, there were 5 cars, each from a different manufacturer on the lead lap with desires on a win. Some of these teams had already rolled the dice and were running low on fuel or worn rubber, but couldn’t afford another stop.

Going in to the final hour the lead was held by Matt Bell in the Bentley, closely followed by pole sitter Laurens Vanthoor in his Audi. A minute back in third was Katumasa Chiyo in a Nissan, with a Mercedes in fourth ahead of the Craft-Bamboo Aston Martin.

Tension was already building when another stoppage was called, when David Brabham’s Bentley was shunted in to the wall at the Cutting. Brabham was taken to hospital, but fortunately was later released with just a couple of broken ribs. But the rest of the field continued around the circuit until with less than 15 minutes remaining the green flag was waved again.

Audi at the Bathurst 12 Hours

The battle at the front was now a three way tussle, with Vanthoor’s Audi trying to pass Bell’s Bentley & Chiyo close behind watching with interest. Vanthoor tried a few times to pass the Bentley but Bell managed to hold on, if only just.

Perhaps the battle between the top two was all engrossing as with just a couple of laps remaining a risky manoeuvre by Chiyo in the Nissan managed to claim second place from the Audi, and then almost immediately managed to pass the Bentley for the lead.
Going in to the final lap, Chiyo’s Nissan managed to pull clear of the chasing pair, who continued to fight right to the end, but they in turn were now being caught by the Aston-Martin that had newer tyres and was flying.

Aston Martin at the Bathurst 12 Hours

 

With seconds remaining Vanthoor managed to pass the Bentley & although the Aston then passed him, he managed to reclaim second (after some contact) to take second. With the Aston Martin finishing second, it was disappointment for Bell & Bentley as they narrowly missed the podium after a great drive.

In the end it was Nismo Nissan GT-R who were celebrating as they stood at the top of the podium. The Audi R8 LMS Ultra of Phoenix Racing was second, and it was the Aston Martin Vantage of Craft Bamboo Racing that finished third. The top seven finishers were from seven different manufactures indicating the variety and class of this amazing race.

Bentley at the Bathurst 12 Hours

Congratulations to Nissan who have set the bar high for the rest of the year, and congratulations to the team at Mount Panorama for hosting another memorable Bathurst 12 Hours.

The whole Bathurst 12 Hours, plus practice and qualifying was called by our friends at Radio Show limited; the team behind Radio Le Mans. You can join them at next year’s race through our exclusive hotel & hospitality option that includes your own personal behind the scenes tour with John Hindhaugh and the team. Prices for the 2016 bathurst 12 Hours package will be published soon, but you can register your interest now to ensure you are the first in line! Email us your contact details now on info@traveldestinations.co.uk to learn more.

Written by Richard Webb
Photography by Dailysportscar

Return of the Le Mans Classic

Return of the Le Mans Classic

Le Mans Classic returns in 2016

The Le Mans Classic will return in 2016. At a press conference in Paris last night, Peter Auto, the organisation behind the Le Mans Classic, confirmed the dates for the next Le Mans Classic. The 8th – 10th July 2016 will see the famous Le Mans circuit host the most anticipated motorsport retrospective event in Europe. 2016 will see the 8th running of this prestigious event.

Le Mans Classic 2016

More than 110,000 spectators watched the last running of the event in 2014, and it is anticpated that 2016 will see an increase in that number. The Le Mans Classic features cars that raced at Le Mans between 1923 and 1979 & a strict scrutineering process means that only past Le Mans entrants are able to compete.

Divided in to 6 grids the cars race throughout the traditional 24 hours, with all cars racing both in the day and at night. Despite the age of the machinery taking part, these are not demonstration laps. All cars will be raced to win and gain the top step on the podium.

Travel Destinations have been the largest travel, ticket and accommodation supplier since its inception. 2016 will be no different. We already have a number of our products on sale via this website, including our on circuit options for those wanting to stay close to the action.

Travel Destinations will have 2 private trackside camping areas for the Le Mans Classic in 2016. Our Hunaudieres campsite is located on the inside of the Tertre Rouge corner. Our Porsche Curves campsite is also trackside South of the start/finish straight.

For those not wanting to pitch their own tent, then our Event Tents will proved a more luxurious option. This glamping option provides large bell tents with carpets, mattresses and all bedding. With tables and chairs also in the tent you can arrive in your classic or sports car and not worry about space.

If camping is not your thing, then we also have our Fleoxtel Village in the centre of the circuit. These pop-up hotel style cabins, provide private lockable bedrooms right next to your car. With proper beds and all bedlinen in a convenient location this accommodation solution has always been popular.

Finally we also have our hotels and camping options off circuit so that those that wish to stay off circuit also have a number of options. Hotel rooms for the Le Mans Classic will always be in high demand so it is advisable to book early.

Most prices are already available on this website & our reservations are now open for the Le Mans Classic 2016. To reserve your place please call us on 0844 873 0203 (UK) or +44 1707 329988 (International).

The Le Mans Classic 2016 promises to be bigger and better than ever, so make sure you are there to be part of it!

Chip Ganassi celebrate again at Daytona

Chip Ganassi celebrates at Daytona again

Chip Ganassi Racing’s “Star Car” lived up to its billing in the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona. With a lineup of IndyCar’s Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan joined by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson, the No. 02 Target Ford EcoBoost/Riley prevailed in a hard-fought battle with Action Express Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing to win the opening round of the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

The race came down to a seven-minute, 30-second sprint to the finish, with Dixon holding off defending race winner Sebastien Bourdais by 2.267 seconds at the checkered flag.

The victory enabled McMurray to join A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti as the only drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and Rolex 24. Dixon won the Rolex 24 for the second time – winning in the Ganassi No. 02 in 2006 – while Kanaan and Larson joined McMurray in winning the event for the first time. It was Ganassi Racing’s sixth Rolex 24 triumph in 12 attempts.

“It takes a team of people, it takes a team of drivers,” car owner Chip Ganassi said. “I think the 01 car had a great team, as well. They had just as much of a shot.”

The race shaped up as a shootout between Dixon and Jordan Taylor. However, a miscalculation over the latter’s driving time brought the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP to the pits during the final caution. Ricky Taylor took over, served a penalty for pitting out of sequence and finished third, giving the team its third consecutive podium in the event.

Bourdais moved into second in the closing minutes but could not challenge Dixon, joining Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi in giving the 2014-winning No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP a second-place finish.

The latter half of the race was a four-car, back-and-forth battle among the eventual top-three finishers and the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley of Scott Pruett, Joey Hand, Charlie Kimball and Sage Karam throughout the final 12 hours. However, clutch problems with two hours, 30 minutes remaining dropped the No. 01 car from contention, ending Pruett’s bid to become the lone six-time overall winner of the Rolex 24.

Attrition thinned the Prototype field, with retirements including both Tequila Patrón ESM Honda HPD ARX entries and the two SpeedSource SKYACTIV Diesels, in addition to the Krohn Racing Ligier/Judd, DeltaWing DWC13, and Starworks Motorsport Dinan BMW/Riley.

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Takes PC Victory After CORE autosport Incident
Misfortune in the final hour of the race ended a dominant effort by CORE autosport in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class, allowing the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Cuttwood/Spyder Orafol ORECA FLM09 to win with drivers Tom Kimber-Smith, Mike Guasch, Andrew Novich and Andrew Palmer.

Second, one lap down, was the pole-winning No. 16 BAR1 Motorsports Autosport Designs/Top 1 Oil ORECA of Johnny Mowlem, Tom Papadopoulos, Tomy Drissi, Brian Alder and Martin Plowman. The No. 54 CORE autosport Composite Resources/Flex-Box ORECA FLM09 of Ben Keating, Colin Braun, James Gue and Mark Wilkins held a multi-lap lead for much of the event. With 20 minutes remaining, Braun had contact with a Prototype and spun.

He returned to the circuit, only to spin at the exit of the chicane after experiencing suspension failure. The car then hit the wall and caught fire. The car completed enough laps to finish third in the class.

Corvette on the top step of the podium
A 24-hour race came down to a seven-and-a-half minute sprint to the checkered flag in the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona with the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R beating the No. 25 BMW Z4 GTE from BMW Team RLL to the stripe by a mere 0.478 seconds. The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class win was Corvette Racing’s first class victory at the Rolex 24 since 2001.

It was a Corvette vs. BMW battle for much of the final quarter of the race with Antonio Garcia holding a comfortable lead in his Corvette over Dirk Werner’s BMW with 20 minutes remaining. That lead quickly evaporated, however, when Prototype Challenge (PC) class leader Colin Braun made contact with the wall coming out of the chicane on the backstretch forcing a full-course caution period. Werner closed the gap throughout the final six laps, but fell just short at the checkered flag with Garcia joining co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Ryan Briscoe in the victory.

“Every time you win here it’s very, very special,” Garcia said. “I’ve been chasing this victory since 2009, even if I won it back then. This is a very unique race. It’s the first race of the year, so it’s very difficult to be at 100 percent right away for the team and for the drivers. Everything ran perfect, and as Ryan (Briscoe) said, we just kept our nose clean, and I had the best car to fight on the last eight minutes of the race.”

Garcia won the Rolex 24 overall in 2009 for Brumos Racing. Corvette Racing did not compete at Daytona from 2002 through 2013 before joining the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for its inaugural 2014 season.

The No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R entry of Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Simon Pagenaud was in contention for the race win, but lost four laps after making contact with the No. 66 RG Racing BMW Dinan/Riley Prototype with three hours remaining and finished third.

No. 93 Viper Team Takes Emotional Victory in GT Daytona
The No. 93 TI Automotive/ViperExchange.com Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R and drivers Ben Keating, Al Carter, Dominik Farnbacher, Kuno Wittmer and Cameron Lawrence had the field covered for much of the Rolex 24 in the GT Daytona (GTD) class. They found a challenge from the No. 22 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen, Andrew Davis and Shane van Gisbergen — the two cars combined to lead the final 209 laps of the race — but Farnbacher led the last 49 circuits en route to a 7.588 second victory.

“For everybody in the room and the fans and everybody, we’re not just weekend warriors that are weekend hires,” Wittmer said. “We’re family; we’re more than that. We’ve worked together since 2012, and some of us before that. Yeah, unfortunately our program got pulled, but I think it’s the cooperation of Ben Keating and Bill Riley and some others that were able to retain us family, keep us together and get it going.”

Hollywood actor and avid sports car racer Patrick Dempsey rounded out the top three in the No. 58 Dempsey/Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America co-driven by Madison Snow, Jan Heylen and Philipp Eng. The third-place finish matched Dempsey’s best career finish in the Rolex 24.

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.

Book your Le Mans 2015 tickets now!

Book your Le Mans 2015 tickets now!

The noise of engines from this year’s Le Mans 24 hours has only just stopped ringing in our ears, but already we are planning for Le Mans 2015!

 

There are lots of alterations being planned for around the circuit between now and June 2015 so it very important that you make sure that you book your tickets and travel for Le Mans 2015 as early as possible.

 

The dates for Le Mans 2015 have been set. The race will take place on the 13th & 14th June 2015.

 

We are taking provisional bookings for Le Mans 2015 now! We can then reserve the tickets & camping or accommodation that you want, to ensure you are first in the queue for the Le Mans 24 Houes 2015. There will be nothing to pay until the autumn, when prices are confirmed, so there is nothing to lose!

 

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To register your interest; please call us on 0844 873 0203 or email us at info@traveldestinations.co.uk. Please state your name, address, telephone number & what tickets, travel and accommodation you would like. Details of our 2014 offers will be left on this website to give you an idea of cost. All offers can be done with or without channel crossings from the UK.

 

Travel Destinations is an ABTA And ATOL bonded tour operator and is the largest UK operator to Le Mans. We look after an international guest list. This year we have looked after customers from the USA, South Africa, Australia, Japan, China, Argentina, Denmark, Holland, Spain & of course thousands from all over the UK.

 

Travel Destinations is an official ticket agency for the ACO & the Le Mans 24 Hours. We are also a commercial partner with Radio Le Mans, so by booking with us you are not only supporting Radio Le Mans but you will get the chance to meet them as well.

 

Follow us on Twitter @lemansrace & @TravelDest and like us on Facebook.
You can call us on 0844 873 0203 from the UK or +44 1707 329988 from elsewhere around the world.

 

We look forward to you joining us at Le Mans 2015!

Le Mans Classic 2014 on Sale now

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Le Mans Classic
4th – 6th July 2014

 

The Le Mans Classic returns to our calendar for 2014. This biennial event is the highlight for fans of historic motorsport around the world. More than 100,000 spectators will be trackside to view the Le Mans veterans go head to head on this famous track again.
The Le Mans Classic is a must for all fans of motorsport and we have the widest choice of travel, ticket and accommodation offers to enable you to enjoy the 2014 to the fullest.

 

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Over the years, our private trackside campsite at Hunaudieres (the inside of the Tertre Rouge Corner) has become the favourite home to many car clubs and individuals. It allows everyone to enjoy camping at the circuit with the added bonus of 24 hours security and superior facilities. The viewing bank is just metres from your camping pitch with spectacular views of the cars entering the Tertre Rouge corner and the start of the Mulsanne Straight.
We also offer the ACO run on-circuit campsites at Maison Blanche and Blue Nord. These are circuit run campsites allowing people to camp close to the action with basic toilet & shower facilities provided.
The best alternative for th those not inclined to camp is our Flexotel Village. This pop-up hotel provides bedrooms with proper beds, matresses and all bed linen in the centre of the circuit. You can park next to your room in our private area with 24 hours security and make use of our fully serviced showers and toilets and our hospitality marquee. The Flexotel Village has the envious bonus of being just a five minute walk from the Le Mans Classic paddock.

 

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For those not concerned about staying on circuit then we also offer a selection of off circuit campsites as well as hotels just a short drive from the circuit.
As with all Le Mans Classic events we will have our own car parking area for classic and sports cars in the centre of the circuit and we will be able to provide a selection of grandstand seats and circuit track laps for people booked through us.
To book any of these options please call us now on 0844 873 0203. All bookings can be secured with a deposit & final balances will not be due until April 2014.

 

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Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club Ireland Tour 2013

For this year’s Jaguar Enthusiast Club tour of Ireland (it was our eighth tour organised by Travel Destinations to this wonderful country) we travelled to the North West of the country to the beautiful county of Donegal, known by the locals as the forgotten area of Ireland. Our hotel was the 5 star Loch Eske Castle Hotel located just on the outskirts of Donegal City.

 

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Most of our members stayed on the Saturday night in the hotels near our departure port of Holyhead and several of us decided to stop en route to visit the railway station on Anglesey with the longest name for a photo shoot at Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch!!!.

 

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Our morning departure from Holyhead left on time and we enjoyed one of the smoothest crossings that I have ever had across to Dublin and soon we were driving along almost traffic free roads to our hotel in Donegal and that evening we had our traditional get together and BBQ. Most of our 43 members and their cars crossed over from Holyhead but one of our members and his wife arrived by helicopter, his MK2 being delivered to the hotel on Monday morning.

 

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Included in our itinerary where three road runs, planned by Richard from Travel Destinations, these taking us to all the interesting places which included Glenveagh Castle located in the Glenveagh National Park and a very interesting tour of the Slieve League Cliffs which are said to be the highest marine cliffs in Europe. Our tours also include stops for tea and scones and interesting pubs for lunch. In fact one of our members complained to me that the only problem with our tours was it was all eating and drinking which I am sure included many pints of Guinness. Well we were in Ireland.

 

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Wednesday evening is always our gala dinner night and accompanied by traditional Irish music which gave many of our members the chance to let their hair down and dance the night away and we rounded off the evening with the dance Strip the Willow led by our dance instructor Pat Holgate.

 

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Earlier in the day we had all the cars paraded round the front of the hotel for a photo shoot and thanks go to the members for their patience while we arrange the cars in order, along with two members I was allowed to climb up to the top of one of the turrets to take some stunning pictures of the cars below.

 

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Our last day in Donegal was spent taking a circular route through the Blue Stack Mountains and visiting some of the stunning beaches in the area. All too soon it was time to say goodbye to the staff at the hotel who had made our visit so enjoyable and make our way back to Dublin to take the Ferry back to Holyhead.

 

Thanks to Richard and the team at Travel Destinations for a great tour. Next year our tour takes us to Druids Glenn in County Wicklow and we look forward to meeting all of our members on another trip to the Emerald Isle.
Simon Cronin
Tours Director
Jaguar Enthusiasts’ Club

Le Mans; So much more than 24 Hours

Le Mans is such a unique event. It is not just a race. In reality it is a week of events building up to the race itself. Whilst most people will miss the scrutineering that takes place in Le Mans town on the Sunday and Monday before the race, for teams and some spectators this will be when it all starts. It is one of the few times when each of the teams will gather together alongside their machinery providing an exclusive photo opportunity.

Tuesday is the lull before the storm at Le Mans, with the circuit eerily quiet, but the drivers’ autograph session in the paddock gives an opportunity for fans to meet their heroes.

Wednesday at Le Mans sees an increase in fan arrivals and it is the first time the cars take to the track during Le Mans week. Afternoon and evening practice gives fans their first glimpse of prototypes and GT cars doing what they do best. The atmosphere around the circuit visibly lifts with the engine noise around the circuit.

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Most people will arrive at the circuit during Thursday. Suddenly the numbers of tents on the campsites swell, and the spectators around the circuit quadruple as the cars take to the Le Mans circuit for afternoon and evening qualifying. This is when it gets serious out on the track. By the end of the night pole position will have been secured in all classes. The Le Mans 24 Hours will have truly begun.

There is no racing at Le Mans on the Friday of race week. Of course there will be more arrivals at the circuit increasing the numbers to more than 200,000 spectators, but there is also plenty to see and do. Friday has become known as “Mad Friday” as the large numbers of race fans entertain themselves in and around the campsites on circuit. Elsewhere on circuit the pit-lane is open for the first time and it will be difficult to move as thousands of spectators jostle for photographs in front of the garages. How much work is being undertaken in the garages depends on how successful qualifying was. Sometimes you can watch for hours as damage repair is rapidly undertaken in front of tens of thousands of interested eyes. Late Friday afternoon many of the crowds descend on Le Mans town for the traditional drivers’ parade. This carnival of marching bands & dancing majorettes includes each of the drivers being paraded through the streets of Le Mans in open top classic cars. Amazingly the drivers always appear relaxed, calm and willing to join in the party ahead of one of the greatest challenges of their life that awaits them the next day.

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Race day dawns on Saturday and whilst the 24 Hours doesn’t start until the afternoon there is plenty of action on the track before then. Invitational races and parades on the circuit are part of the build up including the annual “Le Mans Legends” race that features a particular era of cars that raced at Le Mans in years gone by. Despite the temptation to get some sleep before the 24 Hours it is always worth getting out of bed on Saturday morning.

And so the race begins. The crescendo of noise and expectation has been building for hours. The crowds are more than 20 deep in front of the grandstands on the start finish straight, the National anthems have played and now the green flag has been waved and they are off. Although this is ultimately an endurance race, it is also a sprint. The cars and their drivers will be racing flat out for the next 24 hours. If they can last until the end. It is a challenge for the spectators too. Where do you watch from and for how long? If you have booked a grandstand seat, then you may watch for an hour or so before wandering to Tertre Rouge of the Ford Chicane for a different perspective, returning to your seats to ease tired feet later in the race. It is also recommended to use the courtesy bus to get to the Mulsanne and Arnage corners. It is too far to walk and the traffic can be heavy, so let the bus take the strain. If you need a break from the racing, then up by the Dunlop Bridge pop and rock bands will be competing with the cars in decibel levels.

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By late evening the temperature will be dropping and so will the crowd numbers in the grandstands and around the rest of the circuit. People have started to drift away from trackside, as the smells of barbecues and grills tempt them away. Dusk shouldn’t be overlooked by those with cameras, the change in light can provide for some of the best pictures. Once full darkness has descended the race feels like it has entered a new stage. The lights from the fairground can be seen for miles and the views from the top of the big wheel are spectacular. Whilst some people will try to get some sleep in their tents at the circuit, others will try and stay up all night. Those that fail are often found the next morning, asleep on the grass at their favourite viewing spot.

Sleep is not an option for the teams, although the drivers may get a few hours to lie down whilst their team mates continue the fight. The same is happening in the media centre where journalists hunch over their computers as they write their continuous updates. Alongside them the Radio Le Mans team will keep broadcasting. They cover every minute of the race and what went before it. Their descriptions of the action and their hourly updates are followed avidly by both spectators and teams alike. They are the voice of the Le Mans 24 Hours.

 

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As the daylight returns over the horizon, the cool air and better visibility enables the cars to hit their peak speeds, providing the track is free from damp. Those spectators that got a few hours sleep are now clutching cups of coffee as they catch up on the night’s events. Some will awake to the good news that their favourite team are still in the chase. Others will be disappointed at the garage door being lowered on their hopes for another year. However, there is still a long way to go. Drivers often report of the smell of frying bacon as they manoeuvre through the Porsche Curves in the morning. A cooked breakfast will have to wait for those drivers in the cockpit.

The final few hours can be tense. In recent years the distance between first and second at the chequered flag has been small compared to the time on track and the distance travelled. In a few occasions the time of a pit stop has separated the winners from the runners up. Again the excitement builds as the last hour ticks slowly bar. Perhaps the longest hour of the race for the leading team. Finally as the clock ticks round to 3pm again the chequered flag is waved and the celebrations begin. Crowds flow on to the start finish straight as the remaining cars funnel back to the pit lane. Being part of the jubilant crowd as the winning team is crowned is something that will never be forgotten.

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And ever so quickly it is over. The hole that is left as the racing finishes is tangible. Spectators begin to return to pack up their tents, or catch up on that missed sleep. There will be a few after race parties happening on the infield campsites Sunday evening, but Le Mans itself will already be preparing for normality come Sunday night. Monday morning in Le Mans really feels like the morning after the weekend before. New friends say goodbye to new friends knowing that they will be meeting again, same time same place next year.

Le Mans is so much more than a 24 Hours race.

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Race day at Sebring

Race day at Sebring

At 9am on Saturday morning we found ourselves standing just over the pit wall on the track next to the Audis and Peugeots. It is Sebring tradition that before the race (which starts at 10:30am) all the cars are lined up along the grid and the public are allowed to wander amongst them and get up real close. Mechanics and support staff are present too, so you can ask questions and take all the photos that you want.

I must warn you though, the grid walk is popular and getting from car to car can be difficult in such tightly packed crowds. However it is well worth it. If you didn’t feel part of the Sebring 12 hours before, you really do now. I am not really one to name drop, but as I walked along the pit wall taking photos, I quite literally, bumped into Dr. Ullrich, the head of Audi Motorsport. Of course I shook his hand, explained that I was from the UK and wished him the best of British Luck. He was very relaxed and enjoying the atmosphere on the Sebring circuit too, so was happy to chat about Audi’s hopes for the season. The new R18 car is being tested at Sebring after the race and will be more than ready for the next round of the ILMC at Spa apparently. Peugeot you have been warned.

Fifteen minutes before the start the grid was cleared and we took up are viewing positions for the race proper. Don’t worry I am not going to bore you with detail about what happened, when it happened and whose fault it was here. I will leave that for others to do. I can tell you though, over the course of the next 12 hours, we were able to walk to all corners of the circuit and usually the viewing is unhindered by large fences and other obstacles.

Sebring has a great reputation as a circuit for race fans and I can understand why. We must have walked every inch of the 3.7 mile circuit (there are courtesy shuttles if you don’t want to walk) and taken decent photos of every car. My favourite section has to be from turn 6 right around to turn 13. A walkway, named “Sebring Boulevard” takes you between the campers and the track all around the area known as Green Park. Not only do you get unobstructed views of the race along this stretch, but you also get to see the best that the Sebring race fans can produce in the form of campsites and self made viewing platforms around the edge. Spectators around at turn 10 were treated to a row of intricate campsites set up over the last few days, including everything from 10 feet scaffold towers, to wild west style ranch complete with fish tank and chicken coop (?). Le Mans fans, the bar has been raised this year!