«The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2015 Every input was pure reflex - things were coming at me everywhere I looked. For about 50 ...»
Each year the event is themed on a specific marque, former years have included Jaguar, Porsche, Lotus, Aston Martin, Healey, Ferrari, Morgan,Corvette and Guests of Honor have included Jan Lammers, Derek Bell, Sir Stirling Moss, Johnny Herbert, Paul Frère, Michael Salmon, Jean Bloxham and Yves Courage. Within the site there will be restaurants, bars, picnic areas, boutiques, an exhibition of the featured marque, plus models, photographs, ACO Ticket Office, an air conditioned cinema, free car wash, live music and lots more! The event, with free entrance and th parking, is held all day Friday 12 June 2015 from 9.00 am to 6.00 pm. Average figures for visitors are about 5,000 and classic and sports cars around 1000.
Saint Saturnin Classic British Welcome 2015 This year’s guest of honour is none other than Tom Kristensen, Mr Le Mans, with nine outright victories to his credit in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Theme 2015: MG MG is the most successful make of British Sports Car ever built. An affordable classic and adored by millions all over the world. 2015 will be 60 years since the launch of the stylish MGA, but as significantly for us, in June it will be 80 years since MG sent three cars to race at Le Mans. They finished 1, 2, 3 in their class, and all the drivers were Ladies. True British Spirit! It will also be 10 years since the MG-Lola won class LMP2 at Le Mans. So there is much to celebrate with this classic British marque, and a truly worthy choice of our theme for 2015.
Postal address: Association Saint Saturnin Classic British Welcome, Centre du Val de Vray- Rue de l’Eglise, F-72650 Saint Saturnin, France. GPS position: Latitude 48°03’42.09’’ N, Longitude 0°09’19.17’’ E Website www.classicbw.org.
67 The Club Arnage Guide to the 24 hours of Le Mans 2015 The automobile museum Just a short hop away from the main entrance of the track this museum is well worth a visit. It was founded in 1961; a new building was constructed in 1991 with app. 4.000 m² of exhibition space, a restaurant with about 100 places and a souvenir shop. There are about 200 cars on display, not surprisingly with a focus on former Le Mans participants but also some other interesting historic automobiles. Some people use a rainy day to visit it but it can be also very attractive on a very hot day; it’s air-conditioned and has proper toilets. Some examples of cars which are on display are: A Martini colored Porsche 917 Langheck from 1971, a Bentley Speed 8 from 2003, the 1924 winning Bentley 3 Litre, the 1974 winning Matra 670 B, a group C Mazda and a Silk Cut Jaguar. The museum has recently been refurbished – a report for the next edition of this guide is welcome!
Graham Hill, AKA ‘Mr. Motor Racing’ and ‘Mr. Monaco’, twice winner of the Formula One World Driver’s Championship (1962 and 1968), winner of the Indy 500 at his first attempt (1966), five-time winner of the Monaco Grand Prix (1963, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969), winner of the Le Mans 24 Hours (1972) and the only driver in racing history to have won the ‘Triple Crown of Motorsport’ (F1 championship, Indy 500 and Le Mans). A hero to racing enthusiasts and petrolheads everywhere.
But, while he was older than most drivers, still suffered to some extent after his Watkins Glen shunt and was regarded increasingly as a relic of a bygone age, the old lion still had one last roar left in him. He would prove his critics wrong where every serious driver longs to (on the track) and by winning a prestigious race (the Le Mans 24 Hours) when nobody really thought he had a chance in hell of winning and probably wouldn’t even finish.
Le Mans in 1972 was his last hurrah. He was sharing a Matra-Simca 670 V12 with French veteran Henri Pescarolo.
Le Mans 1972 would be the first of three consecutive outright wins for Matra (1972, 1973, 1974), Pescarolo’s first of four outright wins (1972, 1973, 1974, 1984), the first outright Le Mans win for a French team since 1950 (TalbotLago) and, of course, made Graham Hill the winner of racing’s only Triple Crown. Things had changed a little for the track since the 1971 race. The dangerouslyfast Maison Blanche section had been removed and replaced by the Porsche Curves and Ford Chicane. The entry rules for Le Mans had changed. Out were the big 5-litre monsters like the Porsche 917 and Ferrari 512 and in were 3-litre cars, many using the FordCosworth DFV engines that were dominating F1 at the time. The big opposition to Matra were Alfa-Romeo, fielding 3 of their TT3 cars.
Less serious opposition came from a plethora of Lolas and a single outdated, underpowered Porsche 908/L prepared by legendary Le Mans bigwig Reinhold Joest. Ferrari weren’t really interested in Le Mans that year, preferring to stick to the 1000-kilometre races that formed most of the ‘World Championship for Makes’ and didn’t field a factory team.
As the hours dragged by, day turned into night into day again and cars began dropping out through accidents and sheer attrition, Hill and Pescarolo took the lead. The Alfa challenge disappeared relatively early with mechanical breakdowns and the Porsche 908/L was never really in contention. Another 1950’s alumni, Jo Bonnier, set fastest lap with his Lola T290, lapping the Circuit de La Sarthe in 3:46.90 at an average speed of 134.532mph. By a truly bitter Irony Bonnier, one of Sir Jackie Stewart’s staunch allies in his campaign to improve racing safety, was killed in an accident involving Florian Vetsch and his privately-entered Ferrari GTB4 just before Indianapolis corner. Bonnier’s Lola somersaulted over the crash barriers into the trees and caught fire. Bonnier died instantly.
It would. At the finish the Hill/Pescarolo Matra was still out in front. Hill, ever the gentleman although he must have been burning to win his Triple Crown while at the wheel, was gracious enough to forgo this joy in favour of having Pescarolo, a French driver in a French car, provide the first outright win for a French team since father-and-son Louis and Jean-Louis Rosier took the chequered flag in their Talbot-Lago T26 GS in 1950. Hill and Pescarolo had survived 344 laps, covering 4691.343 kilometres at an average speed per lap of 195.472 kilometres an hour. Matra had their win, the Franch had their long-awaited glory and Hill had his Triple Crown. About the only people not popping copious amounts of champagne bottles were all those scribblers and talking heads who’d said he was past it and whom the old lion had just bitten soundly on their rumps. Even Lola, perennial also-rans in sportscar and endurance racing, had something to celebrate when their T290 entered by Kodak Pathe France became the first Lola to actually finish at Le Mans.
I’ve always admired Graham Hill. He was a great driver with a stellar record. He held Team Lotus together after the death of Jim Clark at Hockenheim in April, 1968. He drove some of the finest cars ever to grace road or racetrack.
He’s the only Triple-Crown winner in racing history. But, most of all, I admire him for Le mans 1972, when he showed the world that he wasn’t completely finished, did so at the toughest of races and, for anybody who dislikes journalists in general, put his media doubters firmly (and unanswerably) in their place.
Rest In Peace.
Public transport –trams, buses and taxis – works quite well in Le Mans. The former special bus services from the track to the town centre have been suspended; all traffic from the track to the city will be handled by the tram service instead.
The Tram This runs from Antares, inside the full circuit and quite close to Houx Annexe, and goes through Le Mans city centre, passing under the Mulsanne Straight and heading right past Carrefour on the way. A new tunnel takes passengers direct from Garage Vert on the Bugatti circuit, to the terminus. It passes close to the Tertre Rouge bar, but sadly there is no convenient stop nearby. The tram stops on the North side of the railway station, where a major interchange is being constructed. After arriving in the city centre – Place de la Republique - all trams continue on to Universite, which is on the west side of the city. Trams run fairly frequently, typically every 12 minutes to/from Antares. A more frequent service is promised during the race and at other peak times, including Friday afternoon and evening, for the Drivers’ Parade.
The trams tend to do quite well compared to cars in the traffic – which has been slowed down by numerous traffic light junctions to protect trams and cars from each other – so for sightseeing in Le Mans it has a lot to recommend it.
It is also excellent value for money, especially if you use the park and ride at Antares. Currently 3.65 euros will buy a day’s relatively secure parking, plus a return ticket to Le Mans each for as many occupants as there are in your car!
Using the tram for shopping at Carrefour is feasible, and wheeled luggage is allowed on board, but do not expect the tram to be empty when you board for the trip back to the circuit – the service is very popular with locals. If you use the tram, remember that on the return trip to the circuit you want a tram bound for Antares – NOT Espal, which is the other branch of the service, and terminates a long way from the circuit.
At Antares, the car park is barrier controlled, and on approaching the barrier to enter, the ticket seller in the big booth will offer you the bargain tickets quoted above. After parking, walk across to the tram station, where a tram will usually be waiting. After joining the tram you must “composte” your ticket. This has nothing to do with last week’s cabbage leaves, but requires you to enter your ticket in the machine near the door in the tram, which validates it. Do this every time you join a tram. When rejoining your car after the trip, the car park exit barrier will lift automatically when you approach.
If you elect not to use the park and ride, then ticket purchase takes place from a machine on the tram station platform – the same rules about validating tickets apply, of course. The tram line is UNIVERSITE – ANTARES, prices: 2,80 € for a return ticket, 4,00 € for a day pass and 12,00 € for 10 rides. Tickets are sold from automatic machines at stops, at Setram agencies and from the bus conductors.
th th Sunday 7 and Monday 8 June University to Antarès/Circuit des 24 Heures: From 1:30 pm – 7:00 pm: One tram every 15 minutes Antarès/Circuit des 24 Heures to University: From 1:30 pm – 7:00 pm: One tram every 15 minutes th th Wednesday 10 and Thursday 11 June (Practice Sessions)
University to Antarès/Circuit des 24 Heures Up until 10.00 pm : One tram every 10 minutes. After 10.00 pm:
One tram every 12 minutes. Last departure from University at 01.20 am
Antarès/Circuit des 24 Heures to University Up until 10:00 pm : One tram every 10 minutes. After 10:00 pm:
One tram every 12 minutes. Last tram from University at 01.00 am th Friday 12 June (Drivers Parade) University to Antarès/Circuit des 24 heures Up until 9.00 pm: One tram every 6 minutes. After 9.00 pm: One tram every 8 minutes. Last tram from University 02.12 am Antarès/Circuit 24 heures to University Up until 9.00 pm : One tram every 6 minutes. After 9.00 pm: One tram every 8 minutes Last departure from Antarès at 01.15 am th Saturday 13 June University to Antarès/Circuit des 24 heures. Up until 11.00 am : One tram every 13 minutes. Between 11.00 am and 4.00 pm: One tram every 7 minutes Between 4:00 pm and 4.00 am: One tram every 13 minutes Antares/Circuit des 24 heures to University: Up until 10.00 am: A tram every 13 minutes Between 10.00 am and 2.30 pm: A tram every 7 minutes Between 2.30 pm and 01.00 am: A tram every 13 minutes th Sunday 14 June University to Antarès/Circuit des 24 heures.: Between 04.00 am and 09.00 am : A tram every 35 minutes Between 09.00 am and 12.00 am : A tram every 13 minutes Between 12.00 am and 6.00 pm: A tram every 7 minutes Between 6:00 pm and 9.00 pm: A tram every 13 minutes Between 9.00 pm and 00.50 am: A tram every 35 minutes Antares/Circuit des 24 heures to University : Between 01.00 am and 03.00 am: A tram every 20 minutes Between 03.00 am and 08.00 am: A tram every 35 minutes Between 08.00 am and 10.30 am: A tram every 13 minutes Between 10.30 am and 5.30 pm: A tram every 7 minutes Between 5.30 pm and 8.30 pm: A tram every 13 minutes Between 8.30 pm and 11.50 pm: A tram every 35 minutes
Taxi's are usually waiting opposite the main entrance to the circuit near the museum fro customers. Permanent taxi ranks can be found at various points throughout Le Mans, e.g. Place de la République, Centre Hospitalier, Gare Nord et Sud, Sablons (Place du Marché) and at Pontlieue.
By bicycle If you can handle the transport, a bicycle is a nice thing to have. You can whizz from Tertre Rouge to Arnage village and Arnage corner via the Esses, the Village and points in between. That way you can see loads of action and get up to the shops for fresh bread on the Sunday morning. You will also have no traffic problems.
In 2010 there were bicycles for rent at the Antares Tram terminus for €10/day. Do note though, that after dark, a high visibility jacket is required by law. Failure to wear one can be punishable by a fine.
Navettes/Shuttle buses This A.C.O. service has increased over the years to provide free (to those with Enceinte Generale) transport around the circuit. These buses can be great way to get around the circuit but they have also become more chaotic with the bus-stop at Mulsanne corner becoming rather agitated after midnight due to buses arriving with few or no empty seats to take away folks waiting and buses after lunch on Sunday taking several hours to go nowhere in the traffic jams.
In 2010 the A.C.O implemented a new routing system with two navette routes. The Orange “A” route runs between the South Entrance (the tram terminus near Antares) and Beausejour with a stop at Technoparc. The Blue “B” route runs between the North Entrance and Arnage/Mulsanne viewing areas with a stop near the Porsche viewing area.
In 2010 the A route ran
On Wednesday and Thursday only trains 5 & 6 run, 15:00 to midnight. On Saturday all trains run 09:30 to 02:00 and on Sunday from 09:00 till 15:00.