Tuesday 14 June 2016

24 Hours of Le Mans 2016 - Things to do in raceweek

The Le Mans race week started of with scrutineering in the city centre on Sunday an Monday, today the pitlane will be open for the fans with an autograph session late in the afternoon. Race week at Le Mans is a lot more though than just the action on the track. We've selected a few of the biggest events which will take place in the next days and might be worth a visit if you've got some spare time ahead of you.

First of all we have 2 Club Arnage meetings at the track; the first one on Thursday, the second one on Saturday. Both will be at the Courbe bar in the inside of the circuit, at 9 pm. Want to see some of the Club Arnage forum and facebook members in person, meet some new people or just have a nice chat with a cold beer ? Join us on Thursday or Friday !

Tuesday June 14th

This morning, all 180 drivers gathered for the annual group shot.

Later this afternoon, as from 17h, the first autograph session of the week will take place in the pitlane. If you're already in the area, entrance is free for everyone with a GE ticket.

For the second year, the R'Hunaudières event will take place in the towncentre of Ruaudin. This event will be celebrating prestigious Italian cars and the French Alpine cars. The link with the Italian cars being the connection between Ruaudin and Italian town Uggiate Trevano.

50 to 60 Italian supercars are expected, which will be joined by an impressive display of Alpine cars. One of each model produced by Alpine is expected to be on the square before the town hall. There will also be several exhibitors and artists presenting their work in the town hall and food stalls all around the square.

Expect some Le Mans drivers stopping by after the parade in Le Mans centre, and a special guest who has raced Le Mans in a Ferrari and an Alpine.

The event will start at 16.00h and end at 23.00h with a concert.

Thursday June 16th

if you're not trackside for the Ferrari Festival and Road to Le Mans practice and qualifying on Thursday morning and afternoon, Arnage will be the place to be.

For the third year, "Arnage dans la course" will be organised in the centre of Arnage. For this edition, there will be a display of cars that have raced at Le Mans and several local and foreign car clubs. In 2016 the event will pay tribute to Jean Rondeau, local carmaker and driver who won the 24 Hours back in 1980 with a car he designed himself. Several of Rondeau's cars will be on display, with the Rondeau M 482 and M 379 as a highlight of the exhibition. Several members and mechanics of the Rondeau team will be in Arnage to present the cars on display.

Next to the Rondeau theme, several car clubs and enthousiasts are expected to bring several exceptional cars to the event. The British Aston Martin Club, the UK Jaguar Club, the Porsche experience centre and others will be among the exhibitors. No less than 150 cars are expected during the day.

From 09.00 to 12.00 and 14.00 to 17.00 cars will be on display on the town hall square. From 12.30 to 12.15 a parade of 100 cars will drive through the town.

Friday June 17th

From 10.00h to 20.00h the pitlane will be open for all ticket holders of a "general entry ticket". The ideal moment to get up close and personal with all cars and teams racing in the 24 Hours.

A classic in the Le Mans festivities, and something you should have done at least once when visiting Le Mans is the drivers parade in the centre of the town.

The 22nd edition of the Grande Parade des Pilotes will start at 17h30 and feature not only all 180 drivers taking part in the race, but also an exceptional array of supercars and attractions for the public. Harley Davidson will open the parade this year ahead of the supercars this year. Ahead of the pilotes the 24 Hours of Le Mans trophy will be presented to the public, followed by all drivers who will be driven around in historical cars.

Due to enhanced safety measures, the route of the parade has slightly changed compared to previous years. The new route of the parade can be downloaded here.  Expect a huge crowd on Friday afternoon, last year more than 150.000 fans made their way to the town centre. Leave the car behind and take the tram at Antares into to city !

The Classic British Welcome has been organised in the town of Sanit Saturnin since 2003 and since then ever become more and more popular. Every year on the Friday before the 24 Hours hundreds of classic cars fill the park in the village of Saint-Saturnin, just north of Le Mans. For the first time in its history, a French car maker will be honored.

After the official return of Alpine to endurance competition in 2013, and the presentation of a new Alpine road car a few months ago, the French car manufacturer will be the centre of attention at Saint Saturnin. Alpine has a rich history in endurance racing, racing in the typical French blue color. They started racing at Le Mans in the early sixties, and scored an overall victory in the 24 hours in 1978. Since their return to the LMP2 class in 2013, the Signature Alpine team won back to back titles in the ELMS in 2013 and 2014, and scored their maiden LMP2 win in the WEC last year in Shangai.

Special guests at Sint Saturnin this year will be Jean-Pierre Jaussaud, who won Le Mans in 1978 and 1980 and Mauro Bianchi who drove for Alpine at Le Mans in 1968.

Around the Mulsanne corner, the "Virage de Mulsanne" association celebrates the return of Ford to Le Mans with several activities on Friday. The event will take place in two stages, first at the Mulsanne corner from 9 am to 4 pm and later near the city starting at 7pm 'till 11 pm.

On the fifth edition of this event, an exhibition of several legendary and extraordinary cars will be on display at the Mulsanne corner. The organisers hope to have around 500 cars on display, some of which with a huge Le Mans heritage as the Ford GT40, Mustang, Shelby's ...

Several drivers will attend the event, already confirmed are Dindo Capello, Emmanuele Pirro and Le Mans native Jacky Haran. Don't be surprised if some of today's Ford factory drivers show up during the day too.

More info can be found on the website of the event (in English)

Kristof Vermeulen.