Le Mans Classic

Le Mans Classic 2010 : The legend is back, part 1

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As Le Mans Classic fifth edition is now very close, it is time to give a preview of the 2010 event. The entry list is here. As usual, the cars have been divided into six grids, with three races for each one.


Grid 1 : 1923-1939

Grid 2 : 1949-1956

Grid 3 : 1957-1961

Grid 4 : 1962-1965

Grid 5 : 1966-1971

Grid 6 : 1972-1979


68 cars have been selected for each grid, so 408 cars are in the final entry list, 55 cars being reserve cars. The cars must have raced – or must be a model of the same type- at Le Mans between 1923 and 1979. The winner of the Le Mans Classic event will not be however a car but a team, each one having a car in each grid (with the same race number).


The winning #65 team on the podium in 2008.

In 2008, the winning team had been the #65 Team, with drivers and cars as follows :


Grid 1 : Nigel Osmond-Smith/Neil Davies (Bentley 4,5l Tourer 1924)

Grid 2 : Jos Fernandes Sousa/Sam Stretton/Cecil Schumacher (Talbot Lago T26 1951)

Grid 3 : David Bennett/Chris Woodgate (Aston Martin DB3S 1956)

Grid 4 : Jo Bamford/Alain De Cadenet/Greg Fisken (Ferrari 275GTB 1965)

Grid 5 : Pascal Gaudard/Eric de Doncker (Chevrolet Corvette 1971)

Grid 6 : Richard Bryan (Chevron B36 1976)


Green flag for grid 1…

… where the 1931 Talbot 105 had been winning overall.

Grid 1 : 1923-1939


It would be too long to write a complete review of this first Le Mans era, for Pre-War cars. Just remember that, after the inaugural win of a Chenard & Walcker at Le Mans in 1923, with a 92,064 kmh speed average on a circuit of which the layout and the surface were far different from now, Bentley and the Bentley Boys won five times between 1925 and 1930 -Lorraine-Dietrich winning in the meantime in 1926 and 1927-. Then, Alfa Romeo won four times in row from 1931 to 1934. Lagonda claimed their only win in 1935. In 1936, the event was cancelled due to the strikes, while Bugatti was winner in 1937 and 1939, Delahaye in 1938.


So, this is an “oldies” field, some of them having an impressive size as a well a huge engine capacity, as the Bentleys, Invictas or Lagondas, while others are smaller like the Bugattis, all of them being very well prepared.


In this grid the Evelyne Heisé’s Simca 8 will be racing in the event for the second time in a row. Evelyne Heisé will be still partnered by the two-times Le Mans winner Jean-Pierre Jaussaud. In this grid, the rare 1932 Citroën C4 Roadster has not, of course, the output and the capacity of the Bentleys…


Eventful start for grid 2…

…where Pearson/Webb took the win with a C-type Jaguar.

Grid 2 : 1949-1956


After a long break due to the Second World War, the first post-war event was held in 1949. Luigi Chinetti -who was to found later on the famous North American Racing Team (NART) and who will be named Honoured Citizen of Le Mans- claimed his third win at Le Mans. Next year, Louis Rosier wrote a part of the Le Mans legend, winning the race behind the wheel of a Talbot Lago. He had been driving the car for twenty-three hours and a half, his son Jean-Louis turning a few laps only!! Jaguar took their first win in 1951, winning three other races in 1953, 1955 – a very sad memory indeed, with the dramatic accident of Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes and the death of more than 80 spectators- and 1956. Mercedes had won the 1952 event with a Mercedes 300SL, and Maurice/Trintignant/José Froilan Gonzales had been winners in 1954 behind the wheel of a Ferrari 375.



The non-specialist spectators will be more used to these post-war cars, Porsches, Ferraris, Jaguars, Maseratis, Aston Martins, Lancias. The Jags should be in the limelight with some strong line-ups : Gary Pearson/Carlos Monteverde (1955 D-type Jaguar), Gary Pickering (D-type Jaguar too), Chris and Alex Buncombe (1952 C-type)…


Two rare cars will be racing too : a 1951 4CV Renault -which had some spectacular offs in the previous Le Mans Classic editions- and a 1949 Skoda 1101.


Gary Pearson and Nigel Webb had been overall winners of the grid 2 in 2008, with a 1952 C-type Jaguar.


Pearson/Webb also won in grid 3 with a D-type.

Welcome back to the gorgeous 250 Berlinetta Ferraris.

Grid 3 : 1957-1961

1957 was still a Jaguar win, with the D-type driven by Ron Flockhart and Ivor Bueb, the second win in a row for Ecurie Ecosse and for the Scot Ron Flockhart. In 1958, the pairing Olivier Gendebien/ Phil Hill claimed the first of their three wins with a Ferrari 250TR. Belgian Olivier Gendebien was again winner in 1960, partnered by his fellow countryman Paul Frère. He was again on the top spot of the podium next year, with Phill Hill, who will be besides Formula One World Champion in 1961 too. In the meantime, Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori had given to Aston Martin its only Le Mans win so far, behind the wheel of a DBR1.


Four Ferraris 250 are entered in this grid 3 and only one D-type Jaguar. Ther will be too some Maseratis, Lister Jaguars – with strong line-ups : Nick Leventis/Greg Fisken or Carlos Monteverde/Gary Pearson-, Porsches, Lotus, Dino Ferraris…


Gary Pearson and Nigel Webb were also winners of the grid 3 two years ago, with a D-type Jaguar.



Claude Foubert


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