The 24 Hours of Le Mans celebrates its 100th edition

This Saturday afternoon, June 10, the 24 Hours of Le Mans kicks off. A special edition, since the famous motor race celebrates its 100th anniversary. For a century, Ferrari, Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Jaguar have been fighting on track to win one of the ultimate events in motorsport. A look back at 100 years of racing history.

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The cars entered in the 24 Hours of Le Mans of the 2019 edition. AFP/Archives

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These images remain etched in the memory. Drivers rushing to their cars, parked on the cob. The sound of engines roaring. And who set off for 24 hours of a mad race.

Tertre Rouge, Mulsanne, Arnage, 13,626 km of legendary corners that have made Alfa Romeo, Bentley or Ferrari famous. And who have also seen terrible tragedies.


1955 was a tragedy, we heard at the time. As we passed in front of the stands, there was a collision between Macklin's Austin-Healey and Frenchman Levegh's Mercedes, which flew through the crowd at 230 km/h. The toll is heavy: 81 dead.


Departure at 16pm

But Le Mans continues to maintain the magic. In particular, thanks to a certain Enzo Ferrari, who chains victories. And to Steve McQueen, a lover of motor racing, who in 1971, played the role of a racing driver in Lee H. Katzin's film Le Mans and to whom is also dedicated a documentary on the event, Steve McQueen The Man & Le Mans in 2015.

Since then, the races have followed one another and so have the winners: the Belgian Jacky Ickx, the Spaniard Fernando Alonso, or the Dane Tom Kristensen, record holder of victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, nine in 18 participations between 1997 and 2014. On the manufacturer side, the twenty-first century marks the domination of Audi, Porsche and Toyota. But the trend could well reverse this year. For its return to competition, Ferrari took pole position for the first time in 50 years.

June 1955: Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio is at the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. His name will pass to posterity. Getty Images - El Grafico

The departure is given at 16h, Paris time.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 1965. Getty Images - Robert Riger

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