Writing a Le Mans legacy
If there was an obvious trend at Rétromobile in Paris last week, it was the increased prevalence of modern-era competition cars, be it those built for endurance racing or premier single-seater formulas. This 2000 Audi R8 was arguably one of the finest variations on the theme. In the capable hands of Allan McNish, Stéphane Ortelli and Laurent Aiello, chassis #405 achieved pole position, fastest lap and second overall at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2000. Not only was Audi’s one-two-three sweep at the French endurance classic that year a mighty accomplishment, but it was also indicative of the unrivalled success the marque would forge at La Sarthe in the following 14 years.
La Sarthe calling
One of two racing Porsche 993 GT2s exhibited by Historic Cars at Rétromobile this year, this example was ordered new from the Works by Estoril Racing, under whose banner it subsequently competed at Le Mans in 1998 and 1999. Driven by the father-son duo of Michel and Manuel Monteiro and Michel Maisonneuve, the striking Porsche 911 showed promise, but sadly retired on both occasions. More recently, the car has been fastidiously prepared to be a serious threat in the burgeoning Endurance Legends racing series. The chance for a keen historic driver to return this German warhorse to the Circuit de la Sarthe for this year’s Le Mans Classic is surely too good to pass up?
A bittersweet symphony
At the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1993, David Brabham, David Coulthard and John Nielsen valiantly drove this TWR-prepared Jaguar XJ220C to victory in the GT class. It was the last time a Jaguar topped the podium at Le Mans. Except for one small issue: after the confetti had fallen and champagne bottles been emptied, the car and its drivers were disqualified from the race because of a technical infringement relating to the catalytic converters. Following its ultimately ill-fated venture, this XJ220 was retired from active service and wound up in the possession of the Sultan of Brunei, though it escaped shortly afterwards, returning to the UK in 1999.
More than a skin-deep special edition
When a Team Oreca-fielded Dodge Viper GTS/R won the GT class at Le Mans in 1998, a Dodge dealer in Michigan commissioned two special Le Mans Editions of the road-going Viper, of which this car currently for sale in Italy is one. Visual changes included the livery inspired by the racing car, 18-inch BBS wheels and special embroidering on the seats. The tweaks were more effective below the surface – the 8-litre V10 was fitted with a raft of new bits and bobs including a Paxton supercharger, which resulted in 650HP and a staggering 900Nm of torque. All that power was kept in check with new Brembo brakes and an adjustable suspension system.
The last Ford to lead Le Mans
Did you know the Ford factory has only ever entered four models at Le Mans: the current GT, the Capri, the GT40 and the CC100? The car pictured is an example of the latter, an extremely quick Group C prototype developed with the help of Zakspeed and the esteemed designed Tony Southgate. Chassis #03 has the distinction of being the last Ford to lead Le Mans outright – in the 1982 running of the famous race, Manfred Winkelhock had control of the race until hour four, when clutch issues put paid to the realisation of the car’s great potential.
Photos: Fiskens, Historic Cars, Historic Classics, Top Marques Deluxe Car, Duncan Hamilton ROFGO