Sunday 8 July 2018

LE MANS CLASSIC 2018 - Jox Jottings' return to Le Mans

I wasn't able to get to the 2016 event but your team was well represented. So having missed a tat year I have to confess that I am being constantly being amazed this year. It is heaving with “Brits  On Tour” in an astonishing variety of machinery. I suspect there are no Morgans currently in UK, they are all here in France. As are all the TVRs, Porsche etc etc. However new French legislation that has just come in will cramp everybody’s style because they have lowered the speed limit on all two-lane highways to 80km/h (50mph) from 90km/h (56 mph). But maybe some of you found this out the hard way, it wasn’t widely publicised. 

Having parked the odd rally car untidily I am not sure 6 mph would have made much difference, but let’s see if it works. Their hope is it will reduce the alarmingly high fatality rate on French roads. It will remain in place for two years and then they will review the situation. But note they wont be changing any signage as far as we know. But this is still the place to dust off your classic and come on down.

The social demographic has changed a fair bit so now the original classic owners have been joined by modern Ferraris, Porsches and even the odd indecently quick Bentley or two. Until the police call a halt there has been a re-emergence of plenty of madness and tyre smoke in Arnage. We thought Les Gendarmes had put a stop to all this but so far they simply stand by and watch… very ‘unfrench’ !

Keeping up with the track action has been tricky to say the least, after all there are over a thousand drivers ( read that right!) and we reckon around 750 racing cars. Possibly reinforcing the status of the event there are no less than ten previous outright Le Mans winners here racing. Before you ask the list is as follows.. Werner, Mass, Lammers, Ortelli, Dumas, Bell, Larrousse, Duval, Pescarolo and Ludwig. 

One change, which might be for the better, is that the ACO now have a 25% share in Patrick Peter’s organisation. In the past Patrick Peter ( remember him from BPR...Barth, Peter, and Ratel ?) did an astounding job running the event maybe now it has out grown Peter’s team and some help was needed from The ACO).

Another aspect of this splendid event are “The Clubs”. These are the various owner’s clubs that occupy every nook and cranny around the circuit. It is an A-Z of classic manufacturers many of which you will know about others might need a voyage through Google. How about this lot.. Amicale DB (117 cars) Martin (70 cars) Rene Bonnet Matra Sport (89 cars) and Roland Pilain (114 cars). These are all put in the shade by Porsches which are everywhere and like Jaguar have a race of their own.

Some statistics are mind boggling , it isn’t everyday you find five Porsche 917 in one place at one time and out racing.. by that standard Ford GT40s seem pretty commonplace, we reckon there are 14 GT40s out there!! In the Group C race there were 12 Porsche 962 and a fantastic number of very evocative Silk Cut Jaguars . Remember the XJR-8-9-11-14 and the rest?

The race format for the main event. This massive entry is broken down into six grids or 'plateau'. These are based upon dates:-

Grid One 1923-1939
Grid Two 1949-1956
Grid Three 1957-1961
Grid Four 1962-1965
Grid Five 1966-1971
Grid Six 1972-1981

During the 24 hour period each Grid gets three 43 mins races …. somebody somewhere will know where the 43 min idea came from!! Many of the teams have two drivers but some heroes do it on their own. Everybody gets the chance to take on Le Circuit du Sarthe in the dark. We imagine this could be ‘challenging’ for the Grid One and Two cars because in those days headlights were in their infancy! At least in the olden days you didn’t have to find the 1st and 2nd chicanes.

If you want to check out lap-times etc look for

To use the immortal words of Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger “ I’ll be back”.. or maybe more relevant is his latest quote “ I may be old but I am not obsolete”...