For several editions now, the extended weekend of Le Mans Classic allows, in addition to the 6 regular grids gathering the cars that have marked the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans between 1923 and 1981, to welcome support races. First of all, two of the Series by Peter Auto grids: the Group C Racing and the Endurance Racing Legends, which almost deserve the name “Grids 7 & 8” as the cars that make them up have left their mark on the Le Mans history. The Porsche Classic Race Le Mans grid, bringing together the GT cars of the Zuffenhausen-based brand produced between 1965 and 1981, will be back for the third time in 2023. The final support grid will feature some 70 pre-war Bentleys in the Benjafield’s Le Mans Centenary Race, celebrating the double anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the first participation of a Bentley in the legendary event in 1923.
Group C Racing
It is an opportunity to see again what many consider to be the most successful and innovative endurance cars ever conceived, born of the imagination of some of the most brilliant minds motorsport has ever known.
The Group C’s main playground was of course the Circuit de la Sarthe track from 1982 to 1993, where Porsche 956s battled with Lancia LC2s, or Jaguar XJR12s with Sauber C11s. Alongside these great manufacturers, “artisans” such as Cougar, Dome, Rondeau, Spice or WM formed grids that were as spectacular as they were dense! The Group Cs were also the only cars that could approach the 400 km/h speed mark at Le Mans, until the introduction of the two chicanes on the Mulsanne straight in 1990. Abandoned in the early 90s, the Group C Racing era is still considered as the real Golden Age of Endurance racing for most specialists of the discipline. To the delight of purists, this line-up will be featured at Le Mans Classic in 2023 in 2 races, including a new 30-minute sprint race at sunrise on Sunday morning.
Endurance Racing Legends
The most modern cars of Le Mans Classic are to be found in the Endurance Racing Legends (ERL). This category includes cars that are particularly popular with young spectators: the GTs and prototypes of the 1990s and 2000s.
This new era succeeds the Group C and brings the GT category back into play. Several major manufacturers returned to Le Mans in the second half of the 1990s. Nissan, Porsche, Mercedes, Toyota, or McLaren and their GT1 models were all the rage on the track, taking advantage of the favourable regulations. The change in regulations from 1999 onwards shifted the balance back towards the prototypes. The Audi R8 LMPs began their rich history at Le Mans, followed by the Bentley Speed 8s.
The rise of the Endurance Racing Legends is a real nod to Peter Auto, as the organiser has made a significant contribution to the history of these cars on the circuits, both in the 1990s with the BPR (Barth-Peter-Ratel) and in the 2000s with the Le Mans Series.
Porsche Classic Race Le Mans
Porsche France and Peter Auto are bringing together an exceptional line-up of historic Porsches in a race held on the great Le Mans circuit, where the German manufacturer holds the record of 19 24 Hours victories.
The race features more than 70 cars, ranging from the first 911s (1965), whose race versions were still very close to production models, to the latest 935s (1981), whose most powerful versions were close to or even exceeded 800 hp.
Benjafield’s Bentley Race Le Mans
The beautiful history and victories of Bentley at Le Mans by the 1920s, this is what the new exceptional line-up created in association with the Benjafield’s Racing Club*, will allow us to relive on the occasion of this centenary edition.
More than sixty Bentley Boys of today, at the wheel of the cars driven by the pre-war Bentleys (3 Litre Sport, 4.5L Tourer and Speed-Six), will be there to remind us that they were the most famous cars of the early 20th century, and that Bentley was one of the most famous car manufacturers.
*Benjafield’s Racing Club is named after one of the original Bentley Boys, who won the 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans in a Bentley 3-litre Supersport. Dr Dudley Benjy Benjafield is also the founder of the exclusive BRDC (British Racing Drivers Club).