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MOTOREX Magazine 2013 100 EN

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  • Motorex
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  • December
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Report Photos: Vision

Report Photos: Vision Sport Agency/Morand Racing/Gachnang family/Wikipedia Natacha Gachnang (in the middle), currently the fastest woman in Switzerland, between Olivier Lombard (left) and Franck Mailleux, both of France. The anniversary race in Le Mans will again push driver and machine to their limits. ENDURANCE RACING: THE LEGEND OF LE MANS Dunlop footbridge Circuit Bugatti Tertre Rouge curve Hunaudières straight Generations of racers, a vast range of technological innovations, and unforgettable moments of triumph and tragedy have made the 24-hour race at Le Mans the world’s toughest endurance race. The legend proved irresistible to the Swiss Morand Racing team with Georges Gachnang (82) and his grandchildren Natacha (26) and Sébastien Buemi (25). Porsche curves Arnage curve Hunaudières straight Indianapolis curve Mulsanne curve With just 150,000 inhabitants, the city of Le Mans in the northwest of France has plenty to offer up to 300,000 visitors arriving on the weekend of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The sports car endurance race organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) is a hands-on racing event to experience and celebrate. A BENCHMARK SINCE 1923 The first 24 Hours of Le Mans race was held on May 26, 1923. The long-distance race originated in the idea of giving automakers an opportunity to prove their vehicles’ reliability and technical sophistication in a way the public could experience up close. For the first few years, only the drivers themselves were 10

Up to 20 people work for Morand Racing at Le Mans. Every detail is meticulously planned and is crucial to the team’s success. On May 26, 1923, 33 racers braved a severe hailstorm to take part in the first Grand Prix d’Endurance de 24 Heures – Coupe Rudge-Whitworth. Direct communication: Natacha and an engineer go over the final checkpoints. They remain in radio contact during the race itself. allowed to carry out repairs on their vehicles with onboard tools. Today the cars are repaired by mechanics in the pits. But should a vehicle break down on the track, the driver is not allowed to get outside help and is eliminated. The object of the race is to cover as many laps as possible within 24 hours. The worst catastrophe in motor racing history took place at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1955 when a Mercedes Silver Arrow caused a serious accident, killing the driver and another 83 people. In response, Switzerland instituted a total ban on circuit racing in 1956. OVERLAND AT 320 KPH The 13.5-kilometer racecourse is located south of the city. The endurance course runs along part of the permanent track called the Circuit Bugatti, but most of it consists of stretches normally used as public roads (see map on page 10). This gives the race a very special flavor. Nowadays the top speeds – up to 320 kph in the Morand Morgan’s case – are regularly reached on the Hunaudières straight. The speed record is held by Roger Dorchy, who hit 405 on this stretch in 1998 in his world championship Peugeot P88. MAGICAL ATTRACTION Le Mans has left tracks in Hollywood as well. Steve McQueen conceived, starred in and co-produced the racing film “Le Mans”, released in 1971. The film features a bitter duel between McQueen in a Porsche 917 and his German rival Siegfried Rauch in a Ferrari 512 S. Stars still take part in the “race of races” – examples include Patrick Dempsey of Grey’s motorex Magazine 100 I december 2013 11

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