A record crowd of 96,000 baked in temperatures that reached 36 degrees Celsius, but were rewarded with a superb turnout of 460 cars and 1000 drivers. And 41 of them had competed in the main Le Mans 24 Hours race.
This year’s event celebrated the 40th anniversary of Porsche 917’s first overall win at Le Mans. To mark the event, Porsche displayed the victorious Richard Attwood/Hans Herrmann car, together with other Le Mans exotica from the Porsche Museum. Attwood was also reunited with the Gulf liveried 917 in which he finished second in 1971 race.
Sharing the car with 1983 Le Mans winner Vern Schuppan, the pair delighted the crowd as they battled with three Ferrari 512s for Grid 5 honours. Race one provided an easy victory for pole sitter and Le Mans Classic regular, Jean-Marc Luco, who shared his nimble Ligier JS3 with Jacques Nicolet. The Attwood/Schuppan 917 finished sixth out of 64 cars. Race two and three saw wins for the well-driven Lola T70 of Bernard Thuner. The Attwood/Schuppan 917 took a history-repeating second place finish in the final race – a fitting tribute to the 917 celebrations.
The Luco/Nicolet pairing were back out on pole in Grid six. This time they took all three wins in Luco’s fabulous ex-Jacky Ickx Porsche 936. Further down the field late ‘70s nostalgia continued, with a host of Porsche 935s, BMW M1s and Ferrari 512 BBLMs mixing it with the Chevrons and Lolas. Le Mans legend Henri Pescarolo, a veteran of 33 starts and four wins in the 24 Hour race, returned with an Inaltera. Alex Elliott debuted his stunning ex-Quester/Hezemans class winning BMW 3.0CSL.
Traditional Le Mans-style running starts awaited the drivers in Grid three for cars that raced in the period 1957-1961. There was a win for the Lotus 15 of Roger Wills/Joe Twyman in race one; Willi Balz and Frank Stippler’s Maserati Birdcage took victory’s in race two and three. Grid four saw the Ford GT40 of Christian Glaesel dominate the thunderous AC Cobras – Glaesel scored a perfect three wins.
Jaguar D-types bested the Maseratis and Ferraris in Grid two, while fans of the earliest cars witnessed fine battles from the Talbots, BMWs, Bentleys and Bugattis in the Grid one races.
BMW celebrated its links with Le Mans with a superb display from its collection of ‘Art Cars’.
Once again another deservedly successful Le Mans Classic.