24H LE MANS / The "24 Hours of Le Mans" and AF Corse
Created in 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is today the most famous and the oldest endurance race in the world. To become part of this legendary event it is necessary to be invited and only the most victorious teams in the world can receive the invitation.
250 million approximately of TV audience. About 150 international tv channels broadcast the race and it is possible watching live all the events. Almost 50 million web pages you visit 1.900.000 users linked to the official web site of the 24H over 200.000 spectators on the track in the days of the event. 1.700 journalist accredited for a total of over 700 newspapers
A legendary race
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since 1923 near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining mechanical damage to the car and manage the cars' consumables, primarily fuel, tyres and braking materials.
The endurance of the drivers is likewise tested as drivers frequently spend stints of over two hours behind the wheel before stopping in the pits and allowing a relief driver to take over the driving duties. Drivers then grab what food and rest as they can before returning to drive another stint. Today it is mandated that three drivers share each competing vehicle.
The race is organised by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) and runs on the Circuit de la Sarthe, a circuit containing a mix of closed public roads and specialist motor racing circuit that are meant not only to test a car and driver's ability to be quick, but also to last over a 24 hour period. The competing teams will race in groups called classes for cars of similar specification while at the same time competing for outright placing amongst all of the classes. Originally the race was held for cars as they were sold to the general public which were then called Sports Cars compared to the specialist racing cars used in Grands Prix.
The race is held near the height of the European summer in June (in 2012, on June 16th and 17th) leading at times to very hot weather conditions for the drivers, particularly in closed roof vehicles whose cabins can heat up to uncomfortably hot temperatures with generally poor ventilation; rain, however, is not uncommon.
The race begins in mid-afternoon, racing through the night and following morning before finishing at the same time the race started, the following day. Over the 24 hour period modern competitors will complete race distances well over 5000 kilometres. It is a distance over six times longer than the Indianapolis 500, or approximately 18 times longer than a Formula One Grand Prix.