The 2018 edition of Le Mans Classic has once again shattered previous records in terms of participation and attendance. At the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe, the organisers of the event, Peter Auto and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, as well as Richard Mille, its main partner, welcomed 135,000 spectators over the course of three days, over 700 classic cars in competition, 200 automobile clubs, 1,000 drivers— including 10 winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans—representing 30 different nations. An unquestionable success that has not stopped growing since its creation in 2002.
All the ingredients were present to ensure that this ultimate celebration of automobiles would be well-worthy of previous editions: radiant sunshine, 8,500 cars from 60 different brands, celebrations for the 70th anniversary of Porsche and the 40th anniversary of Alpine’s victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Artcurial Motorcars auction, the Le Mans Heritage Concours, which showcased 24 models that made history on this legendary track.
In addition to the traditional grids 1 through 6, and Group C, representing Le Mans racing cars from 1923 to 1993, the new Global Endurance Legends grid introduced a new era into Le Mans Classic, the GT1s and other LMP1s of the 1990s and 2000s. With this demonstration grid, the event now widens its retrospective view of the 24 Hours of Le Mans to 2016, with the famous Audi R8, Bentley Speed 8, Peugeot 908 HDI and more, such as the McLaren F1 and Maserati MC12.
Richard Mille took this opportunity to invite a number of friends and partners, such as Mike Flewitt, CEO of McLaren Automotive, the future Formula E driver, Felipe Massa, WRX driver Sébastien Loeb and football player Didier Drogba, who gave the start for Little Big Mans— the race for drivers in short pants—on Saturday at 3.30 pm. A hundred or so replicas of endurance vehicles promptly sprang into action on the straight before the stands as the public cheered them one.
Their adult colleagues took to the track at 4.00 pm, with Grid 1, reserved for pre-war vehicles (1923-1939) marking the official start of the 9th edition of Le Mans Classic. Sébastien Loeb and Felipe Massa together waved the French flag, signalling that man and machine were free to take on the Le Mans track. The grids would follow one another in lining up until the following afternoon at the same time.
Automobiles were the stars of the show, not only on the track, but in the paddocks and the Le Mans village. In one corner, the hammer of Artcurial Motorcars fell to close bidding on a Mercedes Roadster 300 SL at €3.1 million—a record price—elsewhere, at the DPPI boutique in the village, the public was invited to preview a new book, Car Racing 1965, volume 1, published by the Éditions Cercle d’Art and the agency DPPI Images. This handsome tome brings together a selection of photographs, captured on the road and track, from the famous agency’s unpublished archives.
Meanwhile, the Richard Mille side of things featured a new watch, the highly sporty RM 11-03 Le Mans Classic. This limited edition of 150 pieces in white ceramic is equipped with the RMAC3 automatic calibre that has a flyback chronograph that can literally flatten the on-track lap timers.
One and all are welcome to rediscover the ‘spirit of Le Mans’ in two years for the 2020 edition, which will be the 10th for one of the world’s largest historic automobile events!
Best of Show: Toyota 94 CV (ACO)
1st in Class 1923-1939: Adler Trumpf Rennlimousine (ADLER Real Estate AG)
1st in Class 1949-1960: Triumph TRS (Mike Otto)
1st in Class 1961-1971: Sunbeam Alpine (Justin Harrington)
1st in Class 1972-1981: Porsche 930 Turbo (Rolf Sigrist)
1st in Class 1982-1991: WM Peugeot P88 (Aventure Peugeot Citroën DS)
1st in Class 1992-2018: Toyota 94 CV (ACO) F.F.V.E. Prize: Tracta Gephi (ACO)
F.I.V.A Prize: Simca 8 (Pierre-Olivier Chazette)
Special ‘Prime Minister’ Prize: WM Peugeot P88 (Aventure Peugeot Citroën DS) Special Restoration Prize: Ford GT40 (Eric de Caumont)
Special Jury Prize: DB Coach Gignoux (Guillaume Waegemaker)
The Concours des Clubs also distributed a number of distinctions, awarding the following prizes:
1st Prize: Original Flat 4 Drivers Club (President: Rémi Dargegen)
2nd Prize: Amicale Tricyclecariste de France (President: Frédéric Viginier)
3rd Prize: Club ‘Qui n’en veut’ (President: Vincent Geslin)
Special F.F.V.E Prize: Historic Lotus Register (President: Charles Helps)