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PistonHeads at Le Mans 2019 | Review

We watched the PH campsite fill up and the LMP1 cars file out at another jam-packed weekend

By Jack Mansfield / Friday, June 21, 2019

That's another year at Le Mans done and dusted, and what a weekend it was. As usual, the weekend's festivities began long before race day, with many heading down early to experience the full Le Mans package, with events like the fantastic Classic British Welcome taking centre stage on the Friday. As ever, our campsite provided its own entertainment - namely the opportunity to nose the amazing cars PHers brought down for the weekend - many liveried up from side skirt to carbon roof! A special round of applause to for those brave souls who opted to drive down in Caterham 7s.

Many opted for a quiet night on Thursday, although that meant avoiding the temptation to stay up and watch the qualifying. The next day we returned to the Classic British Welcome for our inaugural Friday Service - the best way to kick off the weekend. The turnout was tremendous (Ferrari 812 Superfasts, an Ariel Nomad, lots of 911s (new and old), Ford Mustangs; the list goes on and on) although the theme this year was Morgan, and there were certainly plenty in attendance. In the PH area we had a new Aston Martin Vantage, Alpine A110, Lotus Carlton and of course our Le Mans transport - a new Porsche 992 911 Carrera S and a VW California. No prizes for guessing which one gleaned all the admiring looks with camping such a prominent subject!

Practice and qualifying continued into the evening around the track, but to pull the punters away from that, we again hosted our PH Bleu Nord Pub Quiz with six rounds of trivia and picture questions. Congratulations to our two teams of winners, who won a guided mid-race tour of the Aston Martin garage, and even got to see pit stop. It's a once in a life time prize, and we hope you enjoyed it.

No-one needs reminding that Saturday is race day, although the German techno music at 7am is a bit of a giveaway. Naturally it's good to get into the circuit a few hours before the race begins at 3pm, so you can bag a good spot. Plus you'll get to see the Patrouille de France (French Red Arrows) perform a fly by, the French Marines abseil from a helicopter and there's even a man on a jet board flying around. Its all fantastic fun, and well worth battling the crowds.

The race - as you'll certainly know by now - provided the curious spectacle of Toyota going toe-to-toe with itself. Towards the end it seemed as though the #7 car was set for the win - until the final hour, that is when it had to limp back to the pits with a puncture, giving the #8 car the upper hand and ultimately handing Kazuki Nakajima (alongside Sebastian Buemi and Fernando Alonso) first place on the podium. Hard to imagine the gut wrenching disappointment of having 23 hours of hard work taken away - but second place overall is nothing to be sniffed at.

The real battles though were taking place in the GTE Pro class, with Porsche, Chevrolet and Ferrari all battling to be in the top five. The Corvette pushed hard, and was doing fantastically well in the early stages of the race. We were rooting for them, not only because of that thunderous sound track and the car's mean looks, but because it was the last year in Le Mans for the C7.R car. Unfortunately their attempts at dominating the race just wasn't meant to be; the first car to retire was #64, and just before 12:00 Jan Magnussen spun off at the Porsche Curves and crashed. This meant the battle was fought to a conclusion by the angrily loud Porsche and in comparison, extremely quiet Ferrari, with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE coming out as class winner in the end.

Then just like that, another 24 Hours of Le Mans was done. Once more it provided thrilling sportscar action from start to finish, more of which we can certainly expect in 2020. Next year holds special significance, too, as the final year of LMP1 racing - some accolade to return home with. And with that in mind, if you're already looking forward to next year's event, you can register your interest here with our events partner 1st Tickets. By registering you will receive information about the two private campsites and the proposed packages for 2020. You will also be given the opportunity to book your spaces in advance of the main PistonHeads launch.


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