Out of the 82 entry forms received by the ACO for the 2009 24 Hours of LeMans, many of which are contenders for outright victory, as well as for honors in each category: 20 LM P1s, 12 LM P2s, 6 LM GT1s, 17 LM GT2s. This is a spectacle not to be missed - for many good reasons!
# 1 â€“ See Peugeot fulfill its dream: win Le Mans with the 908!
|Can Peugeot beat Audi this time?|
Peugeot came second in 2007 and 2008, and is after its first victory with a diesel engine after winning twice with a petrol-engined car in 1992 and 1993. It has the necessary resources: 3 LM P1 prototype 908 HDi FAPs entrusted to talented drivers: SĂ©bastien Bourdais, David Brabham, Marc GenĂ©, Christian Klien, Pedro Lamy, Nicolas Minassian, Franck Montagny, StĂ©phane Sarrazin and Alexander Wurz. For the first time, Peugeot Sport has asked a private outfit to run a fourth car. The team in question, Pescarolo Sport (see below), which is part of the Le Mans legend, has been very critical of diesels in the past. But will the 4-car Peugeot armada be enough to block Audiâ€™s and its other rivalsâ€™ road to victory?
# 2 â€“ See Audi equal Ferrari
Audi is innovating for 2009 with the R15 TDI whose shape is a real eye-opener, and which won first time out in the 2009 Sebring 12 Hours. The previous winning machine was the R10 and the R15 looks like a worthy successor. It has a longer wheelbase, a shorter engine with 10 cylinders instead of 12, and aerodynamics that have set tongues wagging! Audiâ€™s aim is to score its ninth victory equaling Ferrariâ€™s tally in the Sarthe. The three Audi Sport Team Joest R15s will be driven by Timo Bernard, Dindo Capello, Romain Dumas, Tom Kristensen, Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish, Alexandre Primat, Mike Rockenfeller and Marco Werner. The works cars will be backed up by two R10 TDIs entered by the private Kolles Team. Their aim will be to bar Peugeotâ€™s and othersâ€™ route to victory.
# 3 â€“ See the next chapter in Aston Martinâ€™s history at Le Mans
After winning in LM GT1 in 2007 and 2008, Aston Martin has moved up to the LM P1 prototype category with 3 new petrol-powered cars based around a Lola chassis. 007, 008 and 009 in the legendary blue and orange Gulf colors wonâ€™t go unnoticed, and the car won first time out in the Barcelona 1000kms in April, a race in which both Audi and Peugeot were absent. Le Mans, though, is five times longer and the power of the V12 Aston Martin engine must be backed up by bullet-proof reliability if the team is to have any hope of taking the fight to the diesels. This is a huge challenge for Aston Martin backed up by the makeâ€™s Le Mans history. Fifty years ago in 1959, Aston scored an unexpected double overcoming 4 Ferraris, which were the odds-on favorites.
# 4 â€“ Support Pescarolo Sportâ€™s challenge
This is the big surprise in LM P1. Pescarolo Sport is going to run a Peugeot 908 HDi FAP bearing the no. 17 under its own colors (green). Even if the diesel has never been a particular favorite of the teamâ€™s, nobody can contest the experience and the unlimited determination of Pescarolo Sport. This car will be fighting for Peugeot and will do its best to act as a buffer between the 3 works 908s and the Audis as well as the petrol-engined brigade. It is an awesome challenge for the record-holder of Le Mans participations, as Henri, despite his present from Peugeot, is also entering a Pescarolo-Judd (no.16) to beat the other petrol-engined cars â€“ and maybe a diesel or two!
# 5 â€“ Back the LM P1 challengers
To win at Le Mans you have to go the distance, stop as little as possible, not make any mistakes and believe in your chances. This is the case of the challengers who drive their own race without worrying about the battle between the works prototypes. Among them, apart from the 2 Courage-Orecas nos 10 and 11 heavily supported by the Japanese engineering company AIM, are the no.16 Pescarolo-Judd and the no.13 Lola (see below # 13), the 2 Ginetta-Judds nos 6 (LNT) and no.23 (Strakka Racing), the Creation-Judd (no.4) and the Courage-Judd (no.12) entered by the French team Signature Plus.
# 6 â€“ See Mazda take on Porsche
The LM P2 category boasts a superb field of 11 cars including 2 Porsche RS Spyders (no.5 for the Navi Team Goh and no.31 for the Team Essex). They emerged victorious in LM P2 last year and in 2009 they will take on 4 Mazda-powered cars backed up by the know-how of the AER engineering company: 2 Pescarolos (nos 24 and 35) entered by Oak Racing (ex- Saulnier Racing) and 2 coupes from RML and KSM (nos 39 and 25 respectively).
#7 â€“ Cheer on Senna in a Courage-Oreca
Bruno Senna, nephew of the great Ayrton Senna, and runner-up in the 2008 GP2 Series dreams of Formula 1. Like everybody else Hugues de Chaunac, the Oreca boss, knows this, but he wasnâ€™t prepared to leave such a talented driver hanging round twiddling his thumbs. Hence the presence of the Brazilian, in the no.10 Courage-Oreca. On his Sarthe debut he will share the car with in-house driver StĂ©phane Ortelli and Tiago Monteiro who has already raced twice at Le Mans.
# 8 â€“ Discover Formula Le Mans
For the first time in its history Formula Le Mans will race in a curtain raiser to the Le Mans 24 Hours. This single-make formula created by the ACO and Oreca will take to the track on Saturday 13th June at 10h30 for a 12-lap race.
# 9 â€“ Memories of the years ending in 9
The year 2009 will see the 77th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours with 9 anniversaries to celebrate: 70 years ago the last Bugatti victory, 60 years ago the revival of the 24 Hours after WWII and Ferrariâ€™s first victory, 50 years ago, Aston Martinâ€™s outright win, 40 years ago, Jacky Ickxâ€™s first success and the last Le Mans type start as well as the last victory by a Ford GT40, 20 years ago, Mercedes-Benzâ€™s last win and 10 year ago, BMWâ€™s one and only outright victory.
# 10 â€“ Be a Sebastien Bourdais fan
Heâ€™s the Sartheâ€™s blue-eyed boy who was born in the Tertre Rouge clinic 30 years ago. He is driving in the 2009 F1 World Championship for Toro Rosso and this will be his eighth Le Mans and his second in a Peugeot 908. Victory in the 24 Hours would be the fulfillment of a dream to share with his father (9 Le Mans 24 Hours to his name) and his fan club.
# 11 â€“ Count the number of Lolas in the race
The British constructor Lola has the highest number of prototypes at the start with eight. In LM P1, 3 Lola-Aston Martin Racing coupes and AMR Eastern Europe (007, 008 and 009) plus the B08/80 Speedy Racing Team Sebah (no. 13). In LM P2, 2 Judd-powered coupes (Racing Box SRL no. 30 and Speedy Racing Team Sebah no.33) plus 2 Mazda-engined coupes (RML no. 25) and KSM no. 39). This figure is beaten only by Ferrari with 10 F430 GTs in LM GT2.
# 12 â€“ A Lord at the wheel
Itâ€™s not everyday that a British Lord lives his passion for motor racing. The man in question is Lord Drayson, and he has entered the only V8 Aston Martin in LM GT2 (no. 87). He is the British minister for science and innovation and is making his Le Mans debut.
# 13 â€“ No. 13 at the start
This year, the car bearing the number 13 at the start will be the Speedy Racing Team Sebahâ€™s Lola-Aston Martin. The V12-powered car is out to do better than in 2008 when it finished in ninth place. Thanks to its lucky number?!
# 14 â€“ Get an autograph from Dr. Shepherd
Actor Patrick Dempsey (Dr Shepherd in the TV Series Greyâ€™s Anatomy), will be the star attraction at the start of this yearâ€™s 24 Hours. He will be at the wheel of a Ferrari F430 GT entered by the Advanced Engineering team (no. 81 in the colors of the Cardiac Surgery Foundation). He races regularly in the USA but will be a rookie at le Mans and must do the obligatory 10 laps on 10th June to add his name to the list of 277 drivers eligible to race in the 2009 event.
# 15 â€“ See a Lamborghini upset the applecart!
The no. 66 Aston Martin DBR9 entered by Jet Alliance will have a tough fight on its hands to repeat the makeâ€™s 2007 and 08 LM GT1 victories. It is up against the might of 4 Corvette C6.Rs, two entered by the works team (nos 63 and 64) backed by Luc Alphand Adventures 2 entries (nos 72 and 73). The Lamborghini Murcielago (no.68) entered by JLOC would like to be the first car of the make to be a classified finisher at Le Mans, and the team is hoping for a place among the front-runners in its category.
# 16 â€“ Bet on Porsche or Ferrari?
A full-scale no-holds-barred battle looks on the cards among the 17 cars in the LM GT2 category. There are 10 Ferrari F430 GTs up against 5 Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs (997) plus 1 Spyker C8 Laviolette and the singleton V8 Aston Martin entered by Drayson Racing. The honorary starter of the 77th Le Mans 24 Hours will support the Italian make as the person in question is Luca di Montezemolo, the Ferrari President, so nothing but victory will do for the Prancing Horse!
# 17 â€“ Be everywhere thanks to the 12 giant screens
The 12 giant screens erected around the circuit enable you to follow all the race action without leaving your seat â€“ a unique feature in the world on a circuit of this size.
# 18 â€“ Stroll around with a portable TV set
If you want to be your own TV director all you have to do is rent a portable Kangaroo TV set on site. Race images, on-board cameras, commentaries, classifications you will have it all at your fingertips!
# 19 â€“ Take advantage of the BeausĂ©jour facilities
2009 innovation: The BeausĂ©jour welcome zone has now got a raised spectator platform giving a perfect view of the track from the Courbe du Buisson to the Porsche corner. Access is by a path from the enclosure and the bank will be protected by standard FIA fencing.
# 20 â€“ The funfair
For an instant thrill, the funfair at Maison Blanche is not to be missed with its Big Wheel that offers an exceptional view of the race â€“ from 40 meters up!
# 21 â€“ Have a meal on the Welcome terrace before going to the concerts
The Welcome, inaugurated last year, is a huge restaurant open to the public with an exceptional view on the track at the pit exit. Comfort and ambience guaranteed! Not far from there on the other side of the track are the concerts â€“ and theyâ€™re free! Pepâ€™s and Pascale Picard on Wednesday, and Twisted Wheels, The Stranglers, and R. Jam Music, on Saturday (21h00, at the Dunlop footbridge).
# 22 â€“ Attend the German driversâ€™ autograph session
Thanks to the ticket twinning between the NĂĽrburgring 24 Hours and the Le Mans 24 Hours, a lot of entertainment will be laid on at Arnage on Friday 12th June between 11h00 and 16h00: exhibition of cars victorious in the Le Mans 24 Hours, autograph session with German drivers there for the race, parade in the town, Bavarian band etc.
# 23 â€“ Bring home loads of presents from the ACO Boutique
The ACO boutique is open 7 days a week in the 24 Hours â€“Circuit of the Sarthe museum. It has 190 m2 dedicated to the official Le Mans 24 Hours products. A must visit for presents (and buy one for yourself too!).
# 24 â€“ The pleasure of saying â€śWhat a race. I was there!â€ť
Wednesday 10th June 18h00 â€“ 24h00: Free practice, Le Mans 24 Hours
Thursday 11th June 19h00-21h00 â€“ 22h00 â€“ 24h00: qualifying practice for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Friday 12th June 18h00 â€“ 19h00 â€“Drivers Parade â€“ Le Mans town centre.
Saturday 13th June 09h00 â€“ 09h45: Warm up, 13h15 â€“ 13h45: herringbone line-up, 15h00: Start of the 77th Le Mans 24 Hours
Sunday 14th June 15h00, finish of the 77th Le Mans 24 Hours
The 2009 Le Mans 24-Hours ticket prices
|General enclosures weekend + race week
|General enclosures (Practice 1 day)
|General enclosures (Sunday only)
|Mulsanne, Arnage curves (week-end)
|Mulsanne, Arnage curves (Practice 1 day)
|Pitwalk race week + paddock access and pit lane (according to timetable)
-ACO member tariff: 2 to 6 tickets maximum according to the formula on presentation of a membership card.
-Group/Works Committee: From 20 people; No minimum for the Works Committees.
-Reduced price for the general enclosures: for 16/18-year-olds and students (on presentation of a current school card), job seekers (resident in France on presentation of the Assedic certificate for the month in question), handicapped people on presentation of an invalid card of 80% and well as for the person accompanying him/her.
Free for accompanied children (born after 14th June 1993).
Car park information, welcome zones and supplements for a place in the grandstands:
contact the ticket sales on 0 892 69 72 24 (0.34 euros per minute)
Fax: 00 33 (0) 2 43 84 47 13 â€“ e-mail
e-mail : email@example.com
Information and ticket prices on the website www.lemans.org