The ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest) has announced that the 2021 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours has been postponed for the second year running, from its traditional mid-June date to August 21-22.
The ACO has said that it has made this change as it hopes to be able to run the race in August with fans trackside. Further information about the ACO’s plans for fans and the event capacity are expected to be revealed in April.
Its statement reads: “The decision has been made early in the season to give competitors, partners and spectators as much visibility as possible and to maintain the current FIA WEC calendar. The dates of the other races and events to be held at the Le Mans Circuit remain unchanged at the present time. The ACO is working closely with the organisers of the various events that could be impacted by this change.”
Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest said: “Although it was a tough decision to make, it is the right one. Holding the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind closed doors for the second year running would be unthinkable.
“We are therefore doing all we can to avoid that happening and to give competitors a clear view of the whole season. We are working very hard to put on a safe event, with all the necessary health precautions in place. This year’s race promises to be another thriller as the new Hypercar class makes its debut.”
Anyone who has a booking with Travel Destinations for the 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours will be contacted individually in due course by email and phone to discuss options.For your peace of mind, we will not be collecting any balance payments at this time but we will be offering free transfers to August, the new dates in 2022, or a full refund for those that request it.
The Travel Destinations team would like to thank you for your patience, loyalty and understanding and we look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Both will ensure you see the best the event has to offer, with its popular Concours d’Elegance, international rally for fans to take part in with their own classic cars, unique atmosphere in the centre of town when the races begin, and selection of fine dining options at the smorgasbord of local restaurants.
But don’t just take our word for it, see what the MG Owners’ Club had to say about its experience in France with us by reading the article in the link below.
2020 is now in the books and the Travel Destinations office has now reopened for the new year. To our loyal customers, we wish all of you a happy and safe new year in 2021 and look forward to seeing you all soon.
Last year was incredibly challenging, but with it in the rear-view mirror we are now fully focused on the coming months and excited to restart doing what we do best: sending customers around the world for unforgettable motorsport and motoring holidays.
The new year is only a handful of days old and we are are already taking bookings for all of our planned events, though spaces are now very limited on many of them already.
Our refund guarantee policy is still in place for any holidays cancelled or postponed by the coronavirus. So you can book with confidence and start planning a motorsport holiday in 2021 and beyond by giving us a call.
If you have an existing booking for an event this year with us, then you can sit back and relax. We will contact you directly should there be any notable updates on the status of any events.
Our office is open, as usual, from 09:00 – 17:30 UK time, Monday to Friday. Call us on 01707 329988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to make a booking.
We will begin our rollout of Formula 1 tours with three major European races from next year’s 23-race calendar: the Austrian, Belgian and Dutch Grands Prix, before adding more events to our offering in the coming months.
All three races will include multiple travel, accommodation and ticketing options to suit everyone wishing to be trackside for the world’s premier motorsport championship next season.
“We are so excited to add Formula 1 to our growing list of motorsport offerings for customers in 2021,” said Andrew Melley, the Director of Travel Destinations. “With so much pent up demand for travelling, and Formula 1 visiting so many incredible circuits around the world, it makes sense for us to expand our offering to give our customers even more options for future holidays.
“We look forward to welcoming fans to some of the most well-attended and exciting motor races in the world from 2021 onwards.”
Packages to the Austrian, Belgian and Dutch Grands Prix are on sale now.
To make a booking or register your interest for one of the other races on the calendar, call Travel Destinations’ office on 01707 329988 or email email@example.com
All bookings are protected by Travel Destinations’ Refund Guarantee, so you can book with confidence!
Motorsport Tickets, which is part of Motorsport Network, the digital market leader in motorsport and automotive with a 56 million-strong monthly audience of global racing and automotive fans, has acquired Travel Destinations Ltd, the UK’s leading tour operator for sports car and historic motorsport events. The announcement broadens Motorsport Tickets’ reach in tickets and travel business, accelerating a defined specialism within the motorsport space.
Travel Destinations, established in 1996, is a specialist motorsport event accommodation solutions provider, including a breadth of historic races and club car tours. They provide the best accommodation solutions for their customers, delivering a variety of on-site camping and accommodation options. As an official ticket agent of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the only sports car tour operator to be a member of both ABTA and ATOL, they show their expertise in providing customers with unforgettable expert experiences and peace of mind throughout their international product offerings. Along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans, these offerings include: Nurburgring 24 hours, Rolex 24 at Daytona, Bathurst 12 Hour, Monaco Classic, and a breadth of Car Club tours for a variety of iconic brands including the MG Owners’ Club, Jaguar Enthusiasts and Morgan Sports Car Club.
Motorsport Tickets, is the Motorsport Network’s ticketing and experiences brand, created from the successful integration of leading ticket providers BookF1 (UK) and SportStadion (Holland). The strong customer base and the development of an all new in-house developed mobile first platform, gives it the strength to expand into different racing series and drive global expansion. The integration with Travel Destinations, is part of the network’s strategic vision to expand Motorsport Ticket into a truly global platform. Already in seven languages and five currencies, the new platform launching at the end of the year, will expand to accommodate fifteen languages as part of its first two-year roadmap, offering a fully immersive and seamless brand experience to an ever-broader customer base. This follows the successful expansion of Motorsport.com from a single language web platform to now a global leader in 15 languages.
Andrew Melley, Founder of Travel Destinations said “It’s great to be joining Motorsport Network. Their enthusiasm, passion and skill set across the automotive and motorsport sphere, aligns perfectly with what has been our driving principle of the business. The ability to leverage their extensive digital knowledge to open up the Travel Destinations’ product offering to a wider audience, the opportunity to bring new commercial partners into the fold and support the business with a complementary online service, is a once in a lifetime opportunity”.
Mehul Kapadia, Chief Operating Officer, Motorsport Network adds “Motorsport Tickets’ acquisition of Travel Destinations, brings their unique suite of products to our digital ticket platform, complementing our wider Formula 1 and MotoGP travel products already being offered. The focus now is on delivering this audience with these rich motorsport experiences. It also strengthens Motorsport Network’s overall presence across automotive and motorsport-based experiential products. This complements our acquisition of Canossa which organises annually over 300 premium events & experiences, and Duke Travel which is the Official Licensed Travel Partner of the Isle of Man TT Races. We’re excited by the future product road map we can forge together”.
Leading UK-based motorsport and motoring tour operator Travel Destinations is preparing for a busy year in 2021 with the release of its 2021/22 brochure. You can download a copy today (see below), or request a free physical edition today by either calling our office on 01707 329 988 or emailing your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The level of demand from customers eager to return to motorsport events around the world and travel across Europe by car as part of a group tour has been sky high. Travel Destinations’ biggest sellers, the Le Mans 24 Hours and Le Mans Classic are selling out fast. With so much pent up demand from this year’s postponed race meetings, certain campsites and accommodation options are already sold out for both events.
Beyond that Travel Destinations is taking daily bookings from customers wishing to attend other major race meetings in Europe such as the Nurburgring 24 Hours in June and Spa 24 Hours in July.
“It’s clear that this year’s challenges and restrictions are inspiring people to return to attending events and race meetings as soon as possible,” said Andrew Melley, the Director of Travel Destinations.
“Our customers have been brilliant and their loyalty has helped us a great deal through a tricky period. They know all their bookings are financially protected, and that any coronavirus cancelled bookings can be transferred or refunded, so they have confidence to commit to travelling when they give us a call.
“This means we have been able to plan ahead and are now looking forward to what we hope will be a memorable 2021, with so many unmissable events on our calendar coming together and thousands of bookings already made.”
So grab your copy of our 2021/22 brochure and start planning today! Let’s make 2021 an exciting and memorable year…
You can download a low-resolution of the new brochure below. Alternatively please email your name and address to email@example.com and we will mail you a copy (UK addresses only).
Apologies for not posting content on here recently, but rather than doing nothing for the last couple of months, all the Travel Destinations team have been working remotely and have been very busy trying to assist all our customers with their future travel plans.
All our events up until the end of August have now been postponed; either to dates in September & October or to similar dates in 2021. All events originally scheduled for September and October retain their positions in the calendar and whilst they continue to be reviewed by the relevant authorities, if the events can go ahead, we will be there!
The Travel Destinations team would like to say a genuinely big thank you to all our customers for your patience and understanding during what has been difficult times for everybody. Quite early on we decided that we should try, where possible, to contact all our customers individually to discuss their bookings and the best options available to them. This has been quite an undertaking and has taken time, so we are grateful for everyone bearing with us.
We are so pleased that in the majority of cases, customers have chosen to transfer their bookings forward to the revised event dates. Not only does this help us, but it also gives us all something to look forward to, which is really positive looking forward. Thank you.
Thankfully, as some lock-down restrictions are lifted, from this week, we are now able to return to our office. Initially this will be limited to a few staff at a time on a rota basis, whilst others will continue to work remotely. The phone has already started ringing, so we are now trying to answer as many calls as we can. You can reach us on our usual number +44 (0) 1707 329988, but if initially you can’t get through, you can still contact us via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will call you back as soon as we can.
All the new dates for our events have been confirmed on our websites www.traveldestinations.co.uk and www.lemansrace.com and we will continue to update these as further news is announced, so please do keep checking-in for future events.
Thank you again & we look forward to seeing you on your travels soon.
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 Showreturns 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.
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
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.
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!
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 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.”
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.
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
The 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!
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.
I 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
There 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.
Travel 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.
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.
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.
All 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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, 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.
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.
The Travel Destinations’ brochure for 2017/18is 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Mansand the Nurburgring. Call us now on 0844 873 0203 to reserve your place!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com to learn more.