My only sadness as I head south (or, I should say, Sarthe) this year is that so far as I can see, the entry list is peopled by entirely sensible cars, all of which on paper at least appear to have a chance of performing credibly within their class. This is clearly an error on behalf of the organisers and I’m glad to see they’re already in the process of correcting it by allowing next year a car to take part powered entirely by vegetation. I should however in passing mention the reason there is an perfectly plausible car in the famed ‘Garage 56’ this year is that one of its drivers will be the first quadriplegic ever to take part in the race. If you’ve not yet heard of Frederic Sausset and his determination to race at sportscar’s top level despite losing all four limbs to aggressive septicaemia four years ago, he is very much worth a Google.
But in the absence of any mad cars this year, I’m here to celebrate just some of those that have come before. Le Mans has always been a natural magnet for truly creative engineers because, unlike in Formula 1, the rulebook is as thin and theirs is thick. Even in LMP1 today, your car can be front, rear or four wheel drive, powered by petrol or diesel, front, mid or rear engined, with or without hybrid assistance. Like in the fine old days of Group C when you just got given an amount of fuel and told to get on with it, today you are provided with an amount of energy (which is not the same thing) and told to make the most effective, efficient racer you can.
So here and in descending order are my five favourites among Le Mans’s many truly mad motors.