This Gala evening bringing together the big Le Mans family took place in the prestigious Georges, the restaurant on the top floor of the National Centre for Art and Culture Georges Pompidou which enjoys a fantastic view looking out over the French capital. Some 300 people, drivers, partners, team members, media representatives and VIPs, met up on Friday 31st May in this specially decorated area in which among others were the cars having won the first race in 1923, the Chenard & Walcker, and the one that emerged victorious last year, the no. 1 Audi e-tron quattro.
The ACO President, Pierre Fillon, wished the race a happy anniversary surrounded by the some of the most important bosses in industry like Ferdinand Piëch, President of the Volkswagen Group’s Overseeing Committee, Jean-Dominique Sénart, President of the Michelin Management Group, Laurent-Eric Le Lay, TF1 General Advertising Manager, François Fillon, ex-Prime Minister, Jean-Marie Geveaux, President of the Sarthe General Council and Jean-Claude Boulard, Mayor of Le Mans, etc.
During the evening, after receiving the precious Vuitton case, specially made for the Le Mans 24 Hours Trophy, like those for the Football World Cuip and the Americas’ Cup, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest paid homage to the greatest drivers in the event, those having won the Le Mans 24 Hours four times or more since 1923. After a thought for Olivier Gendebien, victorious in 1958, 1960, 1961 and 1962 who passed away a few years back, and after congratulating Jacky Ickx “Mr. Le Mans’’ with six wins who excused himself as he is travelling in Africa, Président Fillon put a made-to-measure blazer created by Alain Figaret on the shoulders of Henri Pescarolo, Honorary President of the Le Mans 24-Hours Drivers’ Club with whom the ceremony was organized.
This symbolic jacket with its specific badge can be worn only by Members of the 90 Years’ Hall of Fame and also Henri Pescarolo and Yannick Dalmas, 4-time winners, Frank Biela, Emanuele Pirro and Derek Bell (5) and Tom Kristensen, the current recordman with eight wins.
During this Gala, which went on late into the night, the official Art Car of the 90th anniversary of the Le Mans 24 Hours, whose bodywork has been created by French sculptor Fernando Costa, could not be unveiled because of the ban imposed by the authorities of the Georges Pompidou Centre for reasons beyond the control of the ACO and the OAK Racing team.
This fantastic car will be presented with due pomp during the Le Mans 24-Hours test day 9th June at 13h00.
The countdown has now begun for the 2013 event.
The Test Day will take place on Sunday 9th June before scrutineering on 16-17 June, the two evenings’ practice/qualifying on 19-20 June and then the race itself on 22-23 June.
After the festivities on Friday, several others open to the public – exhibitions, recreation of part of the 1923 circuit, concerts, Parades, etc – will all glorify this anniversary, the highlight of the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Le Mans 24 Hours