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And he used to be such a nice, quiet boy

The Le Mans 24 hour race is this weekend

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Le Mans 1

This weekend sees the pinnacle of endurance motor sports return to our lives.  The Le Mans race is upon us and looking forward to a good year.

So far in free practise it has been front runners Audi who have displayed the best time.  They are a hot favourite for another win this year.

54 cars are racing this year with 162 drivers in total.  Along with Audi, the other favourites include Aston Martin-Lola, Peugeot and Lamborghini.

The Le Mans race has run since 1923, with only a few breaks during the depression and during the second world war.  It has seen thrills and spills aplenty.  It has known triumph and tragedy.  And it has known death.

LE Mans 3
The rules of Le Mans are unique in motor sports, simply because the race itself is unique.  In the early days driver started the race standing on the pit wall away from their cars.  They used to run over to them, strap in, and take off.  Naturally few drivers bothered to strap in properly and, predictably, there were accidents.  So standing starts were introduced.  The ignition button found on some modern super cars were introduced during this period.

The race used to be won by driving the most distance on a set tank of fuel.  Later the rule was changed to run a set number of laps.

The Lola-Aston Martin Racer

The Lola-Aston Martin Racer

The town of Le Mans has held host to the event every year, although there has been many course changes.  Le Mans has no race track, the race is run on normal French tarmac roads that are back in regular use the next morning.

Le Mans 5

Le Mans has made it’s name on the big screen, attracting big names such as Steve McQueen in the film Le Mans.  The film was noted for it’s simple atmospherics and intense on-track action.  Along with Grand Prix, it became of the classic race movies.

Stay tuned this weekend on Eurosport or the Speed Channel

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Written by Nick Gilmartin

June 11, 2009 at 6:47 am

Posted in Motorsport

Tagged with , , ,

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