Le Mans Classic 2023
At the heart of the celebrations are six chronologically ordered grids that alternate on the track. Interwar cars will compete in grid one (1923-1939), while post-war comebackers will present themselves in grid two (1949-1956). The heroes of the late 1950s and early 1960s will form grids three (1957-1961) and four (1962-1965).
Grid 1 was won by the 1937 Talbot AV105 (Gareth Burnett/Michael Birch). Grid 2 was won by the 1954 Jaguar D-Type (Niklas and Lukas Halusa). A former Le Mans winner, Emanuele Pirro, won Grid 3 together with Hans Hugenzoltz in the 1959 Lister Jaguar Costin. Grid 4 was dominated by the Ford GT 40; in the end Diogo Ferrao had the better end for us a ’65 model. In Grid 5, you had to drive a Lola T 70 to be victorious. David and Olivier Hart did this with flying colours. Maxime Guenat had more luck with his 1976 Lola T 286 in Grid 6 than his opponent in the Toj. The Group C class was won by van Vercoutere and Ralf Kelleners in their Porsche 962 C from 1990. And Emmanuel Collard won the Endurance Racing Legends series in the 2006 Pescarolo C60.
The wild historical ride is rounded off by the performance explosion of the Porsche 917 category as well as GT heroes like the M1 and 911 Carrera RSR. The former belongs in grid five (1966-1971), the latter are at home in the sixth group (1972-1981). With short breaks, the groups drive through the entire night from Saturday to Sunday. For fans of modern racing companions, there is more fantastic photo and video material in the Group C and Endurance Racing Legends fields. Exhibitions, air shows and concerts will have the rest of the area bursting at the seams with blue, white and red.
The Le Mans Classic is, of course, devoted entirely to sports cars unlike other major historic meetings such as Goodwood, Silverstone or Laguna Seca. The main body of the meeting is what the French called the Plateau, the six groups for cars of defined periods, starting with 1923 to 1939. Each of the six groups race three times during the two days – once on Saturday, then in the night and again on Sunday. Most had an astounding grid of over seventy cars.
For readers not familiar with the format — and it is four years since the event last ran — the overall result is based on the aggregate time of all three approximately 45-minute races. Consistency is very definitely the key word, and indeed in one category the overall winner was someone who hadn’t actually finished first in any of the three qualifying races. Just to add to the fun you can you can nominate one, two, three or even four drivers.
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