On Sunday 30th June the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be well represented at Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille. As well as Bentley’s centenary and the Porsche 917’s 50th anniversary a large number of classes will include cars that have raced in the event.
Chantilly Arts & Elegance Richard Mille has a special relationship with the 24 Hours of Le Mans as underlined by the presence of ACO president Pierre Fillon on the jury. At the first staging there was a class devoted to pre-1976 mid-engined endurance cars with Ford GT40s, Ferrari 512Ss, Lola T70s etc. Since then each of the Concours d’Etat has included GTs and prototypes from all eras with, as a bonus, a Best of Show in 2017 for the Ferrari TR 58 victorious in the Sarthe in 1958. This year there will be a large number of cars present that have taken part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans including a Bentley Speed 6 (1930), a Frazer Nash Le Mans Coupé (1953), an Aston Martin DBR1 (1959), a Porsche 911 GT1 (1997) and many others. Spotlight on three amazing cars.
CLASS: THE POST-WAR RACING ASTON MARTINS CAR: ASTON MARTIN DB4 GT ZAGATO (1961) CHASSIS 0182R
This car is the fruit of collaboration between the English manufacturer and the Italian coachbuilder and it marked the beginning of a long partnership between Aston Martin and Zagato. Three of these cars raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and one will be on show at Chantilly.
Nineteen DB4 GT Zagatos were built and they are very much sought after because of their look and technical specification. Chassis 0182R, also known as “1VEV” (because of its registration plate) is particularly special because it raced on circuits like Le Mans, Goodwood, Monza and Montlhéry and because of the great drivers who sat behind the wheel including Roy Salvadori, Innes Ireland and Jim Clark! It is one of the two DP209s (lightened model) run by the Essex Racing Stable, a private team heavily supported by the factory at the time. In 1961, these two cars provided fireworks in the Grand Touring World Championship by battling with the Ferrari 250 GTOs. The Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato’s prestige and timeless beauty make it one of the most sought-after cars. In 2018, its sister car “2VEV” fetched more than 11 million euros when sold by Bonhams.
CLASS: THE PORSCHE 917s CAR: PORSCHE 917K81 (1981)
The Porsche 917s, victorious in the 1970 and 1971 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as the one that starred in the film Le Mans with Steve McQueen, are well known. Several original cars will be in competition at Chantilly as well as a replica, but it’s an exceptional one!
The Porsche 917 was already 12 years old when it came back to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1981! The Kremer brothers’ gamble was to attract attention in the media and also a sporting one as with its 570 bhp flat 12 the final evolution was capable of playing a leading role in the race, especially as it had the discreet help of the factory, which supplied the original plans and two engines. The “old” car was presented at the end of May but it was too new! It quickly showed its limits when it came to adapting to modern tyres; and the aero modifications made to the short-tailed bodywork were a disaster as it was unable to exceed 300 km/h on Les Hunaudières. It failed to make any impact in practice or in the race and was in ninth place in the third hour when it suffered rear bonnet problems. It scared its driver, Bob Wollek, who got angry with the sponsors and refused to continue the adventure which, in any case, ended at dusk with engine failure.
CLASS: ENDURANCE GTs FROM 1994 ONWARDS CAR: MCLAREN F1 GTR (1995) CHASSIS 02R
The McLaren F1 road-going project launched 30 years ago met with unexpected success on the circuits in symbolic colours (Gulf, Harrods, César). The livery on show in Chantilly only appeared once in a race in Japan.
The BPR Series launched by Jürgen Barth, Patrick Peter and Stéphane Ratel in 1994 met with immediate success. McLaren designed a racing version of its F1 GTR to compete against the Porsche 911 twin turbos and Ferrari F40 LMs. It was powered by the 6-litre V12 BMW engine and soon became the bogeyman as it won 10 of the 12 races in the championship. It also created a sensation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, because thanks to its well-balanced chassis it was able to exploit the wet conditions, which put the emphasis on handling rather than sheer power, to maximum effect winning the race and filling four of the first five places! Besides the rare exploit of beating all the prototypes, McLaren also achieved the feat of emerging victorious on its first outing in the 24 Hours. The car on display, which finished fourth at Le Mans, swapped its Gulf livery for one similar to that of the winning McLaren and won the Suzuka 1000 km in the hands of Bellm-Sala-Sekiya.