CELEBRATING THE LE MANS 24 HOURS RACE AT PALEXPO
The 84th Geneva International Motor Show, which runs from March 6-16, 2014 and will be welcoming some 700,000 visitors, will be presenting an exceptional exhibition this year. With the collaboration of the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest), who organizes the Le Mans 24 Hours Race, and sponsored by Rolex, the official timekeeper of the event, a special display will bring together 20 former Le Mans race cars which will trace the history of this greatest of all automobile races in the world.
These exceptional and historically important machines will be on loan from the Automobile Museum of the Sarthe, located at the Le Mans circuit, where private collections of former Le Mans race cars are kept, and will be presented to celebrate this historic endurance event, which will be run on June 14-15, 2014 for the 82nd time! The race remains the toughest test of automotive technologies for the future and will be particularly important this year as Porsche will return, utilising a completely new hybrid prototype race car, to join the traditional battle between Audi and Toyota for the overall win. Other all-electric or hydrogen-powered prototypes will be competing on the 13.6 kilometre circuit, to which more than 250,000 spectators will make the annual pilgrimage.
The top sporting event in the world!
Created in 1923 through initiative of the ACO, this premier long distance automobile race has become an event not to be missed, given its long history of monumental racing achievements – and also tragedies. It ranks with the Monaco Grand Prix, the Monte-Carlo rally, and the Indianapolis 500 as the top (and most challenging) motor races in the world. This mechanical marathon run in the Sarthe region has become almost mythical in terms of its evocative format running twice around the clock, and the intensity of the competition it generates has become legendary. In 2012, a survey by the prestigious American National Geographic Society placed the Le Mans 24 Hours Race at the top of all sporting events in the world, ahead of the Olympic Games and the Football World Cup.
Recalling the myth!
Practically none of the racing teams, manufacturers of automobiles and accessories, sponsors and, of course, race drivers can resist the attraction of a possible victory at Le Mans. It’s the race everyone wants to win. It is an exceptional opportunity that all the greats who have competed successfully at this fabulous voyage through time and written their names on the history of Le Mans will be celebrated again over an 1800 square metre display area in the new Hall 3 at Palexpo. From the Chenard & Walcker which won the first race in 1923 to the formidable Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro Hybrid, which won last year’s race, the display will pass through the unforgettable Bentley Speed Six, Ferrari 166MM, Jaguar (D-type and XJR9), Ford GT40, Matra 670, Porsche (917, 956 and GT1) and Peugeot (905 and 908), providing an eye-watering aesthetic experience as well as evoking a range of great memories and emotions.
Sauber Mercedes, Faessler – the winning Swiss!
Switzerland, which has seen no less than 141 of its drivers qualify to take part in the Le Mans race, 31 of whom have achieved victories in the diverse categories of eligible cars, has always had an important presence there. At the head of the list is the Sauber Mercedes C9, provided by the Museum at Hinwil, the headquarters of this constructor from Zurich, which allowed Mercedes to achieve a resounding 1st and 2nd finish at Le Mans in 1989, and to win two World Championships (drivers and constructors) in the same year. More recently, the Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro Hybrid was co-driven in 2012 by Marcel Faessler from the Canton of Schwytz, who was the first Swiss to win overall at Le Mans, (which he has achieved twice) and to be crowned World Sports Car Champion. An unforgettable and important anecdote and “first” the Rondeau M379B, which in 1980 was the first private constructor to win at Le Mans, having been being co-driven by its owner, Jean Rondeau, a resident of Le Mans. It was powered by an F1 spec Ford Cosworth V8 which was prepared at the workshops of the Swiss Heini Mader in Gland, Canton of Vaud. Finally, the1991 winning Mazda 787B will be there, the one and only time a car from Japan has won at Le Mans, in spite of herculean efforts by Toyota.
Discover the pictures of the 20 race cars that will be on display at Palexpo in the photo gallery
The 20 race cars in the exhibit:
- 1923: Chenard & Walcker Sport (Lagache-Léonard, 1st)
- 1929: Bentley Speed Six (Barnato-Birkin, 1st)
- 1933: Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 (Nuvolari-Sommer, 1st)
- 1937: Bugatti Typ 57 (Wimille-Benoist, 1st)
- 1949: Ferrari 166 MM (Chinetti-Mitchell Thompson, 1st)
- 1954: Jaguar Type D (Hamilton-Rolt, 2nd)
- 1958: Ferrari Testa Rossa (Gendebien-Hill, 1st)
- 1966: Ford GT40 MkII (Amon-McLaren, 1st)
- 1970: Porsche 917K (Attwood-Herrmann, 1st)
- 1974: Matra 670B (Larrousse-Pescarolo, 1st)
- 1978: Alpine Renault A442B Turbo (Jaussaud-Pironi, 1st)
- 1980: Rondeau M379B Ford (Jaussaud-Rondeau, 1st)
- 1989: Sauber Mercedes C9 (Dickens-Mass-Reuter, 1st)
- 1991: Mazda 787B (Gachot-Herbert-Weidler, 1st)
- 1991: Jaguar XJR9 (Boesel-Ferté-Jones, 2nd)
- 1992: Peugeot 905 (Blundell-Dalmas-Warwick, 1st)
- 1998: Porsche GT1 (Aïello-McNish-Ortelli, 1st)
- 2000: Audi R8 (Biella-Kristensen-Pirro, 1st)
- 2009: Peugeot 908 (Brabham-Gené-Wurz, 1st)
- 2013: Audi R18 E-Tron Quattro (Duval-Kristensen-McNish, 1st, Faessler-Lotterer-Tréluyer, 1st in 2012)