Road to Le Mans: Iconic moments part 3

Welcome to part three of our four-part series in which we cover our most iconic moments from the historic 24-hour race throughout its prestigious history.

When people mention Le Mans, they think of many things; fast cars, close racing, dramatic moments and of course, big crashes, of which there has been plenty in Le Mans illustrious history, but none more so than that of the 1999 crashes of the Mercedes Benz-CLR at the hands of Peter Dumbreck and Mark Webber.

The car had ‘flipped’ three times during the Le Mans 24 race weekend, once with Peter Dumbreck behind the wheel and twice with Mark Webber.

Whilst heading into famous Indianapolis corner, the car caught some air as it headed over a crest lifting the nose up in the air and sending the car into a somersault, and over the armco barrier by the side of the track.

The car ‘somersaulted’ in a rather ethereal way. Photo credit: Frédéric Le Floc’h / DPPI

It is believed that one of the main causes of the crash was the reduction of drag as Dumbreck was following the number 2 Toyota at the time. This is also thought to be the same for both of Mark Webber’s crashes.

Luckily, both drivers came away from the dramatic crashes relatively unscathed with Mark Webber later enjoying a rather successful career in Formula 1.
As a result of these unfortunate incidents, changes were subsequently made to the circuit which included softening the undulations to increase the safety given the car’s aero packages to increase their straight-line speed.

For me, this moment is iconic because it capsulates what Le Mans is all about. Fast cars racing at around 200mph with their lights ablaze as the sun begins to set. That for me is my favourite thing about Le Mans and is normally where the race really comes alive.

Whenever someone mentions Le Mans to me, I always think of a ‘flying’ Mercedes Benz-CLR. For me, it was one of the most iconic moments of Le Mans.

Predictions for 2018:

For me personally, it is hard to look past the two factory Toyota’s for the win in LMP1 and overall this year. It has another storming line up with the likes of Jenson Button joining former Formula 1 driver Vitaly Petrov and Mikhail Aleshin driving an SMP Racing ART, also the number 1 Rebellion car of Andre Lotterer, Neel Jani and Bruno Senna – whom are all very accomplished drivers. However, I believe that it will be the number 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing car driven by Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso, bringing him one step closer to that ‘Triple Crown’ he’s looking for who will get the win. I predict that their sister car will follow them home in second driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez. The number 1 car of Rebellion may run them close but I just feel that the factory Toyota team will be too strong for the privateer outfit over the course of the 24 hours.

The number 8 Toyota is one of the favourites for this year’s Le Mans

The battle in LMP2 is always fiercely competitive and I’m sure this year will be no difference. Even though they were only third quickest on the test day, I believe that consistency will be key to this year which is why I think that the 26 G-Drive Racing car will win driven by Jean-Eric Vergne, Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola. G-Drive have the experience of Le Mans and I think it will help lead them to victory.

G-Drive looks to have a strong driver’s line up for this year

In the GTE Pro category, I think the Ford Chip Ganassi Team of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell and Tony Kanaan will triumph. I feel they will be chased hard by the two Porsche 911 RSR’s of Gianmaria Bruni, Richard Lietz and Frederic Makowiecki in the number 91 and Michael Christensen, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor in the 92 car. The Aston Martin’s could be dark horse, but I just think that they are still getting used to the car.

Ford is a historic name in Le Mans with its GT, it will be looking to put its name in the History books again this year

In the GTE AM category, I’m going to go with experience over youth with Giancarlo Fisichella leading the Spirit of Race Ferrari Team to victory with his teammates Francesco Castellacci and Thomas Flohr.

Can ‘old school’ lead the ‘new school’?

By Jordan Hollands

Twitter: @Jayracemedia

Instagram: @Jayracemedia

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