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Fernando Alonso Lemans

24 Hours of Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the oldest and largest sports car races in the world. Along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500, it is one of the most famous races of the year. It attracts around 280,000 spectators and nearly 200 million people watch the race on television. This makes the 24 Hours of Le Mans the largest annual sporting event in Europe.

Located in the Sarthe department on the river of the same name, the circuit runs clockwise, partly on public roads. As of 2018, the circuit is 13.626 kilometers long and the winning car covers over 5,000 kilometers. The maximum speed is 350 km/h and the average speed is 220 km/h.

The history of Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans was held for the first time on May 26 and 27, 1923, on the public roads around Le Mans. From the beginning, the race was held annually, but in the original format, a prize was awarded to the car that accumulated the greatest distance over three consecutive editions. This format was abandoned in 1928.

On June 11, 1955, a serious accident occurred during the race when a race car crashed into the crowd, killing the driver and 82 spectators. It was the worst disaster in the history of motor sports.

Until 1970, the race was started with a Le Mans Start, where the drivers ran across the street to their cars after the starting signal. In 1970, this starting method was abolished for safety reasons, although the cars are still lined up in this way for the start of the race.

In the 2006 edition, a diesel-powered car, the Audi R10 LM1, won for the first time. In the 2012 edition, a diesel-hybrid car won for the first time, the Audi R18 E-tron quattro.

In 2020, the race was held in September and for the first time without spectators due to the Corona Pandemic. In 2021, the race was moved to August 21 and 22.

Porsche Pitlane Friday

Before the race begins

A total of about 60 cars will compete in various classes, each with three drivers. The cars are selected from a much larger number of entries. On the first Sunday in May, the teams invited by the organization have the opportunity to test on the track for one day. On the Monday and Tuesday before the race in June, all the cars are judged in a square in the city’s old town. Like the test in May, the judging attracts tens of thousands of spectators. The first practice session is held on Wednesday. This is followed by the first one-hour qualifying session, in which the top six in each class advance to the so-called hyper pole. The rest of the field will start from where they finished in Wednesday’s qualifying. This is followed by an evening practice session in the dark. On Thursday there are again 2 practice sessions, 1 of them in the evening. Between these 2 is the Hyperpole, of 30 minutes, in which each class fights for the pole position. As in the race, all classes will race at the same time in qualifying and practice. On Friday, a rest day, at the end of the afternoon all the drivers are driven through the city center in open classic cars. This parade attracts more than 60,000 spectators. After a warm-up on Saturday morning and many festivities on the grid, the 24 Hours of Le Mans traditionally starts at 3 pm.

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Garage 56

Concept cars designed to test new automotive technologies may be entered under the “Garage 56” banner. Such entries will be scored in the race results, but are not expected to be competitive, as their sole purpose is to demonstrate experimental features.

The program debuted in 2012 with the DeltaWing, an unusual rocket-shaped car created by All-American Racers and sponsored by Nissan. The DeltaWing concept showed promising performance at near LMP2 levels with fuel consumption of only 48%, but retired after a collision with an LMP1 car six hours into the race.

In 2013, Garage 56 was assigned the Swiss-designed GreenGT H2, a hydrogen-powered car that would be the first to compete at Le Mans without an internal combustion engine. However, the car was declared unfit by the team a few days before the race. In 2016, the H2 completed a demonstration lap at Le Mans.

The Nissan ZEOD RC, a hybrid electric car based on the design of the DeltaWing, took the Garage 56 slot in 2014. Despite an early retirement after just 23 minutes due to a transmission problem, the ZEOD RC achieved its goals: a top speed of 186 mph and the first-ever Le Mans lap with all-electric power at race speed.

Ferrari Hypercar Dunlop Curves