The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the leading endurance test in the world of motor sport. Winning this race along with the Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500 means winning the Triple Crown .
The history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans has been held since 1923 and, from the very beginning, it had the aim of identifying which car was the most reliable. Since then it was suspended only in 1936 (for economic reasons) and during the Second World War.
In the early years the race lasted three consecutive days and the winner was the driver who covered the most kilometers in 72 hours.
Another aspect that has changed over time is the number of pilots. Previously, a single driver could run for 24 hours. Now, for safety reasons, each vehicle is piloted by three pilots.
This legendary race was always held on the La Sarthe circuit, but the original course for safety reasons has been modified and adapted to today’s cars.
The competition starts at 4pm and continues until the same time the following day. There are around 60 cars competing and each is driven by three drivers with eight-hour shifts. The winner is whoever runs the most kilometers in 24 hours.
The cars are divided into four categories:
- LMP1: the teams with the most powerful engines and the highest budget. They are cars created specifically for this race, therefore, they all have a better chance of winning. The pilots are professionals and have a great deal of experience in the world of motors.
- LMP2: like the LMP1, they are vehicles created specifically for this race, with the difference that they do not have the same power and that not all drivers are professionals.
- LM GTE pro: usually the category with the fewest participants. It is made up of cars from GT and the drivers are professionals.
- LM GTE am: As for the previous category, the vehicles come from the GT, with the difference that the drivers are amateurs.
This prestigious competition takes place on the La Sarthe circuit. It is a semi-permanent course of 13,629 meters located in the city of Le Mans. For this reason the race is called the 24 Hours of Le Mans and there are many people who do not know the name of the circuit.
The most famous points of the La Sarthe circuit are:
- The Hunaudières straight: it is the longest of the circuit, about 5 kilometers. Here cars reach speeds close to 400 km / h. Several accidents occurred in this part of the circuit, therefore, the organization decided to create two chicanes to reduce speed and try to limit the damage.
- The Dunlop bridge: it is one of the most famous points of the circuit and the one that on many occasions monopolizes most of the images of the race.
The dates of the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Traditionally the 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place in June. Only in 1956 and 1968 did they run respectively in July and September. The next edition, that of 2019, which will be number 87, will take place in June.
The best cars and drivers
Throughout history, Porche has been the car manufacturer that has won the most at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With 19 victories it surpasses Audi (13 wins) and Ferrari (9 wins).
Among the drivers stands out Tom Kristensen who has won nine times, six of which in six consecutive years (almost always with Audi). During the 86 editions many pilots participated including the Spaniards Antonio García, Marc Gené or Emilio de Villota.