Japan to be honored at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
Following the tragedies that hit Japan this year, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest has decided to mobilize support for Japan at the 79th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Twenty years ago a Mazda won on the Le Mans circuit. A historic achievement that was both a first in the history of the event and remains a feat unrepeated since then. Despite many attempts by the largest Japanese automakers, the trophy 24 Hours of Le Mans has never returned to the Land of the Rising Sun.
To commemorate this success but also and especially to be with all the Japanese friends of the 24 hours; fans, drivers, technicians, builders ... struck by the terrible tragedy of last March, in a country where the race of La Sarthe is legendary, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest is mobilizing special support.
Firstly, on track on Thursday, 9th June at 18 h 40, will be the legendary Mazda 787 B, victorious in 1991 and restored for this purpose, will take the circuit of its great success, in the hands of American actor Patrick Dempsey. The special demonstration drive will be repeated on Saturday, June 11 at 12h30 with Johnny Herbert at the wheel.
To participate in the exhibition "Le Mans to the Future", Nissan have sent an especially outstanding machine to La Sarthe: the Leaf RC NISMO. This model is the competition version of the Leaf, Electric Vehicle elected European Car of the Year 2011. The Nissan will participate in two driving sessions on the circuit 24 Hours (June 9 to 21h15-21h35 and June 11 to 12h10-12h30).
Another special event will be the gift and the auction of the starting flag of the 79th Le Mans 24 Hours, signed by all drivers in the race. This is the tricolor flag that Jean Todt, President of the FIA, will start the race with on Saturday, June 11 at 15:00 hours. This very special flag will be handed to the Japanese Automobile Federation to be sold to the highest bidder, the profit from the sale to be donated to the Japanese Red Cross.
This flag bearing the autographs of all the participants in the race will also be showcased at the traditional photo of all the drivers gathered for the occasion, at 13h45 on Saturday morning, along with representatives of Mazda, Toyota and Nissan.
At 14h15, in a break from the traditional order of anthems played before the start, the ACO has decided that the Japanese anthem would be played just before the Marseillaise, then they will ask the public massed around the track to join in a vibrant minute of applause in memory of victims of earthquake and tsunami of last March.
Finally, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest will present the Spirit of Le Mans trophy on Thursday, June 9 at 10h00 to Professor Yoshimasa Hayashi from Tokai University. This award is presented by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest to a personality who has best served the spirit of Le Mans ".