Le Mans Classic 2006 Review
It’s tempting to reel off a stream of superlatives for this event, but honestly, they all apply. Quite simply, the third running of the Le Mans Classic was an extraordinary experience, for everyone from your hard-core historic owner/driver (and even modern racer) to the newly initiated spectator coming along just for the ride.
You know the form – 6 grids of cars from 1923 up to 1979, each competing in 3 x 45 minute races, so with a few gaps to sweep up the unfortunate and a quick VIP sponsor lap, it really is 24 hours of action. And action there was aplenty throughout the grids which for the first time were running up to 72 cars, with results in each counting towards then overall grid winner on scratch and index of performance (French for mysterious handicap). All teams were made up of a car from each of the grids.
In Grid 1, the battle royal was between the Talbots and the Aston Martins for pre-war honours – 3 of each finishing in the top 10 with Richard Pilkington victorious in the Talbot T26 SS. Astons also featured in Grid 2, the McGlone equipé DB3S fastest in 6th place but the Ferrari 750 Monza of Craig Davis and Rick Hall was the glorious winner over the C Types of David Wenman/Julian Bronson and Nigel Webb.
Three Lotus 15s and two 11s dominated the top 10 in Grid 3 with Philip Walker claiming the top spot, but the real crowd pleasers were third placed Vincent Gaye literarily throwing the Ferrari 250 SWB into every corner and Tony Dron doing his usual stuff in the 246S Dino. A GT40 was the popular choice for Grid 4 with Ray Bellm powering to victory in his 3 races, besting all-comers in the end by 2 laps.
With recent front running experience in the ‘serious’ 24 hour event, Nick Minassian set a blistering pace along with Creation Racing boss Mike Jankowski in the Liger JS3 ahead of a stunning Porsche 917, Lola T70 and a hoard of Chevrons. The final grid for heavy-breathers 1972 to ’79 predictably drew numerous of Porsches with the 935 of Guittard and Ayari coming out in front of the Jean Ragnotti Alpine A 443.
Congratulations to Team 5 who turned in consistent finishes with a Talbot 105, 4 Porsches – 356, 356 GT, 904 and 910 and a Chevron B21 to scoop the top prize.
The only complaint heard all weekend (other than the scrutineers insisting that rear rain lights were removed from all cars in grid 2?!) was that it was impossible to take it all in. As the action on track for one race finishes and you wander off for another beer or a browse around the mostly-finished paddock village with its myriad of classic car related goodies, the identifiable even louder rumble of the next race with yet more exotic cars makes you rush back for more. It’s all too easy to focus on the big names and the wow-factor cars, dismissing the thousands of enthusiasts parked up on the Bugatti circuit and elsewhere with some very special cars indeed – great to see them all enjoying a classic event which now must surely be rated as the best.
Text: Jon Gross
Photos: Tim Scott www.fluidimages.co.uk - Strictly Copyright
Editor's Note: We are indebted to Jon Gross for his excellent report, and congratulate him, Chris Clegg and Martin McGlone, the owner of the Aston Martin DB3S they shared over the Le Mans Classic weekend, on their excellent 6th place overall in Grid 2.
Christie's Auction at the Le Mans Classic
On the Saturday morning Christie's conducted their regular Auction of Exceptional Motor Cars. Top seller was the Ex Works, Juan Manuel Fangio, Louis Rosier, Georges Grignard, 500 Miles of Rafaela Winning 1950 Talbot-Lago T26C, for EURO 1,100,250 to a South American Private Buyer. The rare 1967, Toyota 2000GT fetched EURO 176,250 and the Citroën DS Cabriolet, of the same year, reached EURO 141,000.
The next important Christie's motor cars sale will take place in Monterey on August 17th.
Please click HERE to see the full results.
Tim Scott of Fluid Images is a professional photographer based in London. As a lifelong classic car enthusiast and avid owner (currently a Porsche RS 2.7), he has spent the last two years chronicling the burgeoning classic car race and show scenes both here and in the USA.
A selection of these images can be seen at Tim's website www.fluidimages.co.uk or for the very latest images visit his portfolio on http://bonneville-speed-week.smugmug.com
Tim has recently invested in state-of-the-art printing facilities, and, in addition to commissions from private collectors and the trade, can provide enlargements up to 1 x 1.5 metres. Images can even be printed onto high-quality canvas and then stretched over a wooden frame, thereby creating a worthy addition to the walls of any discerning collector's motor house or study! Please see his dedicated website for more information.
ClassicInside - The Classic Driver Newsletter