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Best Moments In 24 Hours of Le Mans History - News

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world's oldest active endurance sports car race, has produced countless unforgettable moments since its inception in 1923. As we reflect on this year's race, which saw Miguel Molina, Antonio Fuoco and Nicklas Nielsen for AF Corse top the podium, we have decided to dive into the top six best moments that have defined the legacy of this prestigious event.

  • The Incredible Finish of 1955

The 1955 Le Mans race is remembered for both triumph and tragedy. While the race was marred by one of the worst disasters in motorsport history, with over 80 spectators losing their lives, it also saw an incredible display of resilience and sportsmanship. Mike Hawthorn, driving for Jaguar, battled fiercely with Mercedes' Juan Manuel Fangio. Hawthorn's win was overshadowed by the tragic events, but his determination and skill in such a harrowing race has gone down in history.

  • The 1966 Ford vs. Ferrari Battle

The 1966 Le Mans is perhaps the most famous edition of the race, immortalised in the film Ford v Ferrari. Ford's determination to dethrone Ferrari led to the development of the GT40 – a car which got its name because it was 40-inches tall and was specifically designed to conquer Le Mans and blow Ferrari out of the water. The race culminated in a dramatic and controversial finish, with Ford securing a historic 1-2-3 victory. This triumph not only marked Ford's first win at Le Mans but also signalled the end of Ferrari's dominance.

  • Porsche's First Overall Victory in 1970

Porsche's first overall victory in 1970 was a defining moment for the German car brand. After years of trying, Porsche finally clinched the top spot with the iconic 917K, driven by Hans Herrmann and Richard Attwood. The victory marked the beginning of Porsche's remarkable success at Le Mans, where they have since become the most successful manufacturer in the race's history.

  • Mazda's 1991 Rotary Engine Victory

In 1991, Mazda became the first, and to date the only, Japanese manufacturer to win Le Mans. The Mazda 787B, powered by a rotary engine, took the chequered flag with Johnny Herbert, Volker Weidler, and Bertrand Gachot behind the wheel. This victory was groundbreaking, showcasing the potential of rotary engines and marking a significant achievement for Mazda on the global stage.

  • Audi's Dominance Begins in 2000

Audi's dominance at Le Mans began with their first win in 2000. The Audi R8, driven by Tom Kristensen, Frank Biela, and Emanuele Pirro, set the stage for a new era of endurance racing. This victory was the first of many, as Audi went on to win 13 times in 15 years, solidifying their status as a powerhouse in endurance racing. Audi's innovative approach and technological advancements during this period reshaped the sport – as it did in 2006 when the R10 became the first diesel-powered race car in history to win.

  • The First Female Victory of Le Mans 2011

In 2011, Leena Gade became the first woman in Le Mans history to be the race engineer of a winning team, when Marcel Fassler, Andre Lotterer and Benoît Treluyer took their Audi R18 to victory. She repeated the feat in 2012 and again in 2014.

  • Honourable Mention: The 1969 Finish

No discussion of Le Mans' greatest moments would be complete without mentioning the 1969 race. Jackie Ickx famously protested the dangerous traditional Le Mans start by walking slowly to his car, yet went on to win the race in a nail-biting finish. Ickx's victory by just a few seconds over Hans Herrmann remains one of the closest finishes in Le Mans history, highlighting the intense competition and skill involved in this endurance race.

In summary, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is a race steeped in history, drama, and excitement. These top five moments are just a glimpse into the rich tapestry of stories that have unfolded on the Circuit de la Sarthe. From fierce rivalries and innovative engineering to displays of incredible courage and skill, Le Mans continues to captivate motorsport enthusiasts around the world. Each year, a new chapter is added, ensuring that the legend of Le Mans will endure for generations to come.

If all this Le Mans action has got you inspired, why not take a look at our incredible selection of Racing Car Driving Experiences and Race Tuition packages we have available to book right here on the TrackDays website?

Best Moments In 24 Hours of Le Mans History
18 June 2024
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