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It’s race time in Le Mans!

It is finally time for motorsport’s most iconic race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 92nd edition of the world’s oldest race is about to kick off: it’s countdown time for 15th and 16th June. 24 hours on track preceded by a week of tests and parades that put the town of Le Mans at the centre of the motorsport world.

Some information about circuit, race and cars

The Le Mans circuit, created at the behest of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, was inaugurated on 18 September 1966 and named after Ettore Bugatti. It’s also known as the Circuit de la Sarthe. Over the years, it has undergone numerous changes in terms of layout to meet ever more demanding safety criteria. It is 4.185 km long, made up of 14 turns, 9 of which are right-hand and 5 left-hand, and to be driven clockwise.

Historically, cars of various types compete simultaneously in three different classes: the prototypes of the queen class called HYPERCAR – in this class coexist endothermic engine cars, LMH hybrid cars made entirely by manufacturers (FIA homologated) and LMdH cars made with common chassis and hybrid engines (made to race under FIA and IMSA regulations) – followed by the LMP2 prototype class, including cars with a common endothermic engine and chassis designed specifically for this race. The third class are production-derived cars called GTam.

The first edition was in 1923, and was only interrupted during the periods surrounding the two world wars that affected Europe in the 20th century. This year, the 92nd edition will be staged. Every year before the start, the cars are presented on the main square and run through the streets of the city in a parade.

24 hours of Le Mans
The start of the 1969 24h of Le Mans

Some statistics

A race full of twists and turns that, in almost one hundred years of history, has seen many drivers and teams battle it out. The wins record is held, for the drivers, by Tom Kristensen with 9 victories and for manufacturers by team Porsche with 19. Porsche, however, is missing a title since 2017; who knows if they will be able to become champion again this year.

Who are the possible winners?

Many cars, as many as 62 for 186 drivers, will be at the start of one of the most unpredictable races in motorsport. Ferrari is certainly ready and with a line-up that wants to repeat the success of last year’s edition, despite a somewhat subdued start to the season.
The two Porsches and Toyotas will certainly ignite the bagarre, but Peugeot is not to be underestimated as it takes to the track strong with new updates. All eyes are also on Valentino Rossi and Mich Schumacher who will be racing their first Le Mans.

3 movies to kill time

While waiting for the race and biding your time, you can start to breathe in the air of the 24-hour race by watching three cinematic masterpieces. The first is Steve McQueen’s ‘The 24 Hours of Le Mans’ set in the 1970 edition and featuring real race footage. Also very exciting is ‘Le Mans “66 – The Great Challenge’, which recalls the struggle between Ford and Ferrari. Finally, a very recent motivational film tracing the career, from gaming to the track, of Jann Mardenborough: ‘Gran Turismo – The Story of an Impossible Dream’.

In the meantime, happy Le Mans to all!

Ginevra Stanghellini

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