Le Mans Classic set to be best yet

| 3 Jul 2012

A fantastic weekend is promised at this year’s Le Mans Classic (6-8 July) that celebrates its 10th anniversary with more than 400 cars expected to take part in the action-packed racing around La Sarthe.

American cars and drivers will take centre stage this year with cars such as the creation of the late-great Carroll Shelby – the AC Cobra – and the car tasked with beating Ferrari at its own game – Ford’s four-time Le Mans winning GT40, not to mention Chevrolet Corvettes en masse.

The 90,000-plus spectators will be treated to a feast of motor sport courtesy of six classes ranging from Grid 1 (1923-1939) – which includes 2-litre Aston Martins, 4.5-litre Bentleys, the full range of period Bugattis, Talbot 105s, MG Midgets and Morgan 4-4s – to Class 2, covering 1949-’56 and cars such as Jaguar C-types, Maseratis, Austin-Healeys and Triumph TR2s.

Exceedingly rare metal will make up the third group (1957-’61) with the 1961 Ferrari 250LM, a restored AC Bristol LM, an Alfa Romeo SZ Tronca, a Cooper Monaco, a Peerless GT and a Porsche 718 RSK in the line-up.

Meanwhile, a fitting tribute to Shelby will be on show when the fourth grid takes to the track with more than a 12 Cobras keeping Ford GT40s honest among a line-up that includes Ferrari 250 GTOs, the unique Aston Martin DP212 and various other greats from the 1962-’65 era.

The fifth class (1966-’71) includes several genuine ex-Le Mans racers such as the John Wyer Gulf Porsche 917 (second in ’71) that will take on its main rival of the time, the Ferrari 512M, and 1966’s third-placed Ford GT MKII.

The final (1972-’79) field will make another tribute to the stars and stripes with former NASCARs such as the Chevrolet Monza and Dodge charger sure to make their presence felt – though the front-runners are likely to be Porsche, Lola and Chevron sports-prototypes.

One of the highlights of the event is set to take place before racing gets underway when 23 Ferrari 250 GTOs take to the track to celebrate the model’s 50th Anniversary.

And anniversaries will be at the forefront of the weekend for the 160 clubs that will attend classic Le Mans, with the MGB celebrating its 50th anniversary, Morgan marking its 1962 Le Mans class win and Matra commemorating the 40th anniversary of its outright Le Mans victory by an MS 670 in the hands of Graham Hill and – guest of the club – Henri Pescarolo.

The prestigious Le Mans Heritage Club Concours will consist of 24 hand-picked machines from 1923-2012 – including the Cadillac ‘Le Monstre’ – which will all take part in a retrospective lap of honour.

The event will also celebrate 60 years of the La Sarthe paddock with a reproduction of the 1952 veue courtesy of the French Historic Vehicles Association.  Highlight for club fans will be the club parade – giving around 8000 owners the chance to take to the track for a lap of the famous circuit.

Saturday’s Artcurial Motorcars auction will offer exotic metal such as a Ferrari 275GTC, a Peugeot 905 GT Le Mans car and 2.4-litre Porsche S.

To find out more visit the Le Mans Classic website.

Action photos by Jeff Bloxham