17-18 JUNE 2017
WEC: LE MANS 24 HOURS
Circuit length: 8.469 miles (13.629km)
2016 LMP2 winners: Gustavo Menezes/Nicolas Lapierre/Stephane Richelmi (Alpine-Nissan)
- First held in 1923, the Le Mans 24 Hours is the world's oldest active sportscar race. Originally there was a plan to only declare a winner after three consecutive races over as many years, but this idea was eventually abandoned and winners were announced for individual races. The first victory went to Andre Lagache and Rene Leonard, engineers at French car manufacturer Chenard-Walcker.
- The original circuit, made up of public roads, was 17.261km (10.725 miles) long and went into the city of Le Mans itself. In 1932 the circuit was shortened through the bypassing of the city with a new section linking the pit straight to Tetre Rouge. The basic layout has remained largely the same since, albeit with numerous revisions for safety reasons.
- Speeds on the 3.7-mile Mulsanne Straight reached over 250mph during the 1980s, leading to the installation of two chicanes in 1990.
- Andre Lotterer holds the lap record on the current layout with a 3m17.475s set with Audi in 2015. The record on the smaller, permanent Bugatti Circuit is held by bike legend Valentino Rossi in the French MotoGP of the same year.
- Le Mans gained the Hollywood treatment when Steve McQueen's film of the same name was released in 1971.
ALEX'S TRACK VIEW
This is the big one. It's one of the biggest races in the world, up there with Monaco or the Indy 500. Every driver dreams of racing there, and that’s particularly true for me, as our family are huge sportscar enthusiasts, so I've been brought up with it. The circuit itself is a big challenge. There are sections on straight and wide public highways, but there are also difficult, fast turns like the Porsche Curves. To finish is a great achievement; to win would be something else.