Le Mans 24 Hours – a lap with Derek Bell in a Porsche 956

3 months to go but there’s already a frisson of excitement in the air as race team plans for the Le Mans 24 Heures 2010 are finalised.

If you haven’t booked your accommodation by now you may have left it too late – we’ve been booked for the whole Le Mans 24 Hrs week since June last year!

The video above is a little throwback to 1983 and the legendary Derek Bell in a howling Porsche 956. This was the first year I went to Le Mans and led to an addiction for the noise and the smell of fuel and barbecued merguez sausages that lasts to this day.

In this race, 3137 miles/5048 kms were completed in the 24 hours by the winning team, also in a 956, of Vern Schuppan (AUS)/Al Holbert (USA)/Hurley Haywood (USA).

Bell (GB) and his teammate Jacky Ickx (B) finished just behind in second, with Michael and Mario Andretti (USA) and Philippe Alliot (F) in third.

The Porsche 956 was such a dominant force that year that the top 8 places went to this car.

In recent years the Audis have been the cars to beat – here’s a night lap taken from the 2008 race, onboard with Jacques Villeneuve in the Peugeot 908 as he overtakes the #2 Audi to take the lead at 4.00am. on the Sunday:

The #2 Audi went on to win, ahead of Peugeots in second and third places.

The Le Mans Motor museum next to the circuit is open all year round and features many superb Le Mans competition cars.

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