Monday 14 May 2018

Le Mans: Rafael Nadal race starter for the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Spanish tennis champion Rafael Nadal is to be the race starter for the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans on Saturday 16th June 2018. The phenomenal sportsman is a fitting ambassador for the iconic race. 

Nadal often visits France in June for the French Open at Roland-Garros in Paris, which he won for the tenth time last year. He will be back to defend his title on the clay courts of Paris, with the firm intention of adding another trophy to his cabinet.  This year though, he’ll be staying a little longer. The exceptional tennis player’s career is about to pursue a new avenue, as official race starter of the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans.

© Oscar Barrosa

At 3 p.m. on Saturday 16 June, the Spanish champion will have the distinguished honour of sending off the field of sixty participants in the world’s greatest endurance race.

Preceded by Giovanni Agnelli, Alain Delon, Jacky Ickx, Raymond Poulidor, Albert de Monaco, Jean-Martin Folz, Luca di Montezemolo, Jean Todt, Luc Besson, Don Panoz, Bill Ford, Brad Pitt, and Chase Carey to name but a few, as starter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rafael Nadal will be fulfilling a highly symbolic yet critical role.

Le Mans holds a special attraction for Spain this year. Among the drivers on the grid of the 24-hour classic is another famous Spanish sportsman, Fernando Alonso. Race starter in 2014, the two-time world Formula One champion is back as a competitor.

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, is overjoyed to play host to Rafael Nadal: “Because he is outstanding in his discipline, because he is talented, fair and combative and has followed an intelligent career path, Rafael Nadal upholds the values of endurance racing. For those reasons Nadal is an ideal race starter and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and the FIA World Endurance Championship are delighted to welcome such a champion to Le Mans. His aura will only add to the international reputation of the race.”

Rafael Nadal: “France has long been in the spotlight in the sporting world in June, with the French Open and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I know the French Open very well and I’m always proud to be there. It’s the most important tournament of my career. This year I will have the honour of giving the start of the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans, one of the world’s greatest motor races. I look forward to getting to know more about this spectacular sport, the drivers and everyone involved. We have in common a competitive spirit and a habit of seeking new challenges. That’s why I’m delighted to have this opportunity and I can assure you that when I wave that flag to start the race, it will be with the greatest pride and exhilaration.”