Saturday, June 27, 2009

This year's Le Mans

A couple of significant things about the 2009 Le Mans 24-hour. Firstly, Peugeot at last has climbed over the top of Audi and finally won the event outright. And they did it in fine style too, taking the quinella. Secondly, David Brabham, who has been around Le Mans for what seems like forever, with class wins and an outright second to his credit, has finally made it to the top step of the podium where he belongs. Last year and the year before, David won the GT1 class for Aston Martin.This Aston Martin wasn't in it for long and neither was the Lamborghini.
However, this smart looking GTP version stuck around much longer. That car is on my wishlist I reckon. I imagine getting it out every day to go down to Mo's to pick up the bread.
The last time Audi's stranglehold on Le Mans was broken was in 2003, by Bentley with the Speed 8 (below), and that was a one-two as well. After that, they withdrew from racing, having achieved their objective, a sixth Le Mans win, the fifth being with the Speed 6 in 1930. There were two teams running the Bentleys that year, the Joest team and the "British" team. David was driving the "British" car, which experienced electrical problems and only came second. As I mentioned before, he didn't get the chance to go one better as they closed it all up after a short 3 year program.
Audi must get some credit in all this because this massive Bentley V8 (hence the Speed 8) was Audi derived.
This Bentley is a magnificent looking unit and I'm sure it gets at least a demo run at the Goodwood Speed Week either now or soon. In the past, Le Mans cars make it onto the road on occasion (e.g. Bentley 3-litre, four and a half and Speed Six, the Talbots, Ford GT40s etc.). I'm waiting for a Speed Eight to turn up on a classic rally. In a way that's not all that extraordinary when you think about that bloke throwing all that money at turning the extra Veskanda (or is that one just a "Kanda"?) into a road car.

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