24 hours of what, you say?
24 hours of racing! That’s right, teams from some of the biggest names in autosport will have spent an entire day racing around the Circuit de la Sarthe at Le Mans in France on the 16-17th of June.
What’s a Circuit de la Sarthe?
The Circuit de la Sarthe is a race track that uses both private and public roads, spanning 13.5km and passing by the communities of Le Mans, Mulsanne and Arnage. First built in the 1920s, it has extended and been modified as Le Mans has become a centre for motorsport.
How does it work?
Organised by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, teams of various car classes attempt to cover as many laps of the Circuit de la Sarthe within a 24 hour span as possible, all the while battling weather and mechanical problems.
Each team must have at least three drivers per car, and they cannot drive for more than four hours within a six hour period. It has been known for teams to put in 5,000km over the course of the competition.
Prizes are awarded for each class, but the money received varies each year and is quite minimal - the prestige and endorsement deals that result for drivers are the real reward.
Who is participating?
Some teams that participated this year included Toyota Gazoo Racing, Porsche GT Team, BMW Team MTEK and Aston Martin Racing.
British drivers included Phil Hanson for United Autosports and Jenson Button, who raced for SMP Racing.
Fernando Alonso took home the glory for Toyota, along with his teammates Sebastian Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. Impressively, they did it in the only hybrid car competing in the race.
Anything else I should know?
Two things - Le Mans gave us the racing tradition of spraying the crowd with champagne from the winner’s podium. It dates back to 1967, when winning racer Dan Gurney, spotting journalists who had predicted a loss for him, took his bottle and drenched them.
Second, this can be a very dangerous race. In fact, one of the worst disasters in motoring history occurred there in 1955, when racer Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes Benz ploughed into the crowd, killing him and 54 others.
This incident led to massive changes in how races are run, and safety precautions on the track.
When is it next year?
It will be held during the 14 - 17th of June, 2019.
Got some relevant plates for me?
Yes - here’s some for wannabe entrants! Call us about getting yourself a personalised number plate today!