Friday 8 June 2018

Le Mans: Things to do in race week

Race week at Le Mans is approaching fast now, but it's not only the on track action that will keep you busy next week, also several events in the villages near the circuit.

Time for our yearly rundown of events in and around le Mans next week, in addition to scrutineering on Sunday and Monday and the pitwalk & driver's parade on Friday.

Autograph session (Tuesday June 12th)

A tradition for a few years now is the driver autograph session which is to be held on Tuesday afternoon.  At 17h00 the pitlane opens for the public for the 90 minute autograph session with all the drivers which will participate in the 24 hours.  It's also a great opportunity to watch the teams in their final preparations for the first practice and qualifying session on Wednesday.  Entry is free for all ticket holders.

In the morning the drivers and team managers' briefing will be held and the official group photo with all drivers will be taken at the start/finish line. 

Les R'Hunaudières at Ruaudin (Tuesday June 12th)

The R'Hunaudières is a recent event that started in 2015 but is surely worth a visit on Tuesday afternoon.  It is organised in the small town of Ruadin through which a part of the Hunaudières straight runs.  This year the Ford GT will be celebrated, as opposed to last year when Ford's adversaries Ferrari were payed tribute to. 

Guest of honor at the R'Hunadières will be Jacky Haran.  The French driver was very succesful in Formula Renault    Haran raced four times at Le Mans with Rondeau between 1978 and 1982, finishing second in 1981 with a Ford powered Rondeau M379C he shared with Jean-Louis Schlesser and Philippe Streiff.

A variety of activities will be on hand with exhibitions, movies, model cars, food & beverages, etc ... The festivities will start at 16h00 'till 23h00.  Ideal to stop over after the autograph session in the pitlane.

Arnage dans la course (Thursday June 14th)

The event in the centre of Arnage is now in it's fifth year, now celebrating "Porsche in the 24 Hours of Le Mans: from the 365 to the 919".  Along the centre of the town, at the Place de Mitterand" several activities will be organised.

An exhibition with several cars that actually ran in the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the centre of the acivities, displaying the history of Porsche at Le Mans.  Several historic racecars will be on site, including the #23 Porsche 917 that won the race in 1970.  The German manufacturer will also have it's new range of cars on display in the town. Not only Porsches will be on display, but also other vintage racecars, including the Ford GT, Cobra Daytona, Ferrari 250 GTO, Courage C70 and the Peugeot 905 amongst other surprises.

One of the main attractions is the annual parade through Arnage which will start at 12h30 in the rue Nationale.  This year there will also be several stands about the 24 Hours of Le Mans including model cars, books, photo's, paintings and a stand of the Porsche club Le Mans.  Also present will be Miss 24 Heures and Yves Courage who will talk about his Le Mans experiences with Porsche.

Place to be is the centre of Arnage, on Thursday June 14th from 9h to 17h.
More info:

Virage de Mulsanne (Friday June 15th)

The 2018 Virage de Mulsanne event will again be held on the Friday ahead of the race. this year's team is Corvette, who return for the 19th year in a row to the 24 hours. Cars will be displayed along the Mulsanne corner and the track heading on to Indianapolis.

The event starts at 9h00 and runs 'till 16h00.  Several drivers, current and former ones, are expected to pay a visit to Mulsanne between 10h00 and 15h00 as wel as Miss 24 Heures. Festivities continue later in the evening in the center of Mulsanne with another vehicle exhibition, a parade through town and a free concert.

More info:

Classic British Welcome (Friday June 15th)

If there's one event that doesn't need much introduction, it's the Classic British Welcome in Saint Saturnin.  The Classic British Welcome originated from a passion for Le Mans and the 24 hour race. It’s a fun, colourful car show to welcome visitors to Le Mans, held every year on the Friday before the 24 hour race. Over a thousand classic cars of all shapes and sizes, from all around the world, gather in Saint-Saturnin on the northern outskirts of Le Mans.

The theme of the 2018 Classic British Welcome is BMW, celebrating the return of the Bavarian marque to Le Mans. BMW debuted at Le Mans in 1939 with a 328, immediately winning its class. Their first - and so far only - overall win in the 24 Hours came in 1999 with the BMW V12 LMR of Joachim Winkelhock, Pierluigi Martini and Yannick Dalmas.  This year's Le Mans is very important for BMW, not only with their return to the GTE Class with the M8 GTE, but also with the official presentation of the M8 road car which will take place during raceweek. Several iconic BMW racecars will be on display during the day.

Special guest will be Dutch driver Jan Lammers, who's entering his 24th Le Mans this year.  Lammers' first race at the 24 Hours was in 1983, he won Le Mans 30 years ago in 1988 in the Jaguar XJR9 with Andy Wallace and Johnny Dumfries.

Entry is - as always - free for all, the festivities start at 9.00h.
More info at

Free access to the Museum (race weekend)

Access to the Museum next to the circuit is free for all general enclosure ticket holders on June 16th and 17th. Visitors can discover the temporary exhibition Blue & Orange; a team, a legend that retraces the incredible history of John Wyer. In just under two decades this team manager built a formidable race team which won the Le Mans 24 Hours on three occasions making his partner, the Gulf Oil Company and its famous blue and orange colours, a motor racing icon. 

Wyer was a visionary when it came to choosing drivers and he helped some of the greatest to victory including Lucien Bianchi, Pédro Rodriguez, Jackie Oliver, and Jacky Ickx who were responsible for his three successes in the Sarthe in 1968, 1969 and 1975. About the museum Throughout the year, the ACO’s Le Mans 24-Hours museum tells the story of the saga of the motor car in the Sarthe and the success of its international event through 120 vehicles. Bentley, Ferrari, Jaguar, Ford, Porsche, Matra, Audi, etc. all the great names are represented by their iconic models.

Kristof Vermeulen.