5 Minute Read

The Le Mans 24 Hours: What you need to know

Posted by - Paul Garlick on 8 May 2024
Categories: In the News, Road Trip Inspiration

It’s the big racing event of the year with more than 250,000 spectators making the annual pilgrimage to this small French city every June. Let Windrush tell you all you need to know about this spectacular event – and how you can beat the crowds to get there!

A century of racing tradition

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The Le Man 24 hour race has been a highlight in the racing calendar for over a century, with the first race taking place on 26 and 27 May 1923. Then, the entry list featured 33 cars and marques such as Lorraine-Dietrich, Bentley, Chenard & Walcker, Delage and Bugatti, with all contenders setting off together.

Today, it’s a different story. A massive 62-car field has been announced in the provisional entry list, with a number of former F1 drivers to boot – amongst them, F1 World Champion Jenson Button, and Mick Shumacher, who is making his Le Mans debut for Alpine.

When is the 24 hours of Le Mans 2024?

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The 10-day long 24 Hours of Le Mans extravaganza kicks off on Friday 7th June and Saturday 8th June, with the start of the scrutineering sessions. These technical and administrative checks take place at Place de la République in central Le Mans and are one of the highlights of the Le Mans experience.

The race itself begins at 1600 hours on Saturday 16th June, finishing, you guessed it, 24 hours later at 1600 hours on Sunday 17th June.

If you’re there for the full 10-day experience, take the chance to watch the Fun Cup races on the preceding days, wander around the Manufacturer’s Village and enjoy everything on offer in the Fan Zones. Try to build some time in to explore the Musée des 24 Heures du Mans, and not just because entry is included in your ticket price. For car enthusiasts, this is your Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory!

On Friday 15th June, as the anticipation begins to build, don’t miss the chance to walk – or ride – the famous circuit, before bagging your spot to watch the drivers’ parade through the city from 1600 hours. 

Where is the 24 hour Le Mans race & how to get there?

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Few road networks must be as well-travelled by Brits as the sections of autoroute between Calais and Le Mans, with tens of thousands making it down to enjoy the action. Here are our tried and tested routes:

Ferry or Eurotunnel to Calais

The tried and tested combination of a Eurotunnel hop from Folkestone to Calais typically costs about £200 for a trip of under five days, or double that if you opt for a Flexi ticket, which gives you more freedom with timings and lets you stock up on cake in the Flexi lounge.

Depending on your regard for French speed limits it’ll typically take 5-6 hours to get from Calais to Le Mans, with a stop or two on the way for a leg-stretch, fill-up, and a croque monsieur. You can go via Rouen or Paris; neither is perfect, but Rouen feels less like taking your life in your hands (and gives you the option of swinging by the old Rouen-les-Essarts circuit layout). If you’ve got all day to burn, there’s always the option of avoiding the autoroutes altogether and charging through the countryside, which is slower but infinitely less boring, and a 50-60mph cruise is easier on the car too if you’re driving down in something older.

View the Calais-Le Mans route here

 

Ferry to Cherbourg or Le Havre

Getting the ferry to Cherbourg or Le Havre is another option that’ll cut down on some drive time and tends to be a touch cheaper, but you’re beholden to conditions in the Channel on your crossing days; even France in June is no guarantee of perfect weather these days.

View the Cherbourg-Le Mans route here

From Cherbourg, the journey will take around 3 hours, while the Le Havre route is a fraction quicker at around two and a half hours.

View the Le Havre-Le Mans route here

Need to know when driving in France

Whichever route you choose, be aware of the basics. Crossing the border isn’t yet too much of a pain on a British passport, but you’ll need to carry some essential items in your car for travelling in France: a warning triangle, reflective vest, and a breathalyser kit, plus a UK sticker on your car and, given Le Mans is introducing a low-emission zone in 2025, a Crit’Air sticker – and some areas may have restrictions for certain older vehicles.

Where to stay in Le Mans?

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You can of course pitch a tent, but take your chances as to whether you’ll be woken up at 3am by half of Denmark starting an impromptu rave, or by drunken Brits in a diesel 3 Series attempting to do donuts. It’s all part of the fun but if if pitching your own tent sounds like too much hard work, the likes of Travel Destinations, a travel company that specialises in Le Mans packages, offers stages above this too.

There are also packages for glamping in large tents with proper beds, on-site hospitality and ablutions, to pop-up villages where you get your own trailer with an en-suite and air conditioning, and even a parking space for your car outside. Their prices span £650 per person to £2500 per person, which include tickets and a channel crossing as well as the accommodation and facilities.

There’s also the AirBnB option for an even more comfortable experience. At the time of writing, there are one-bedroom places for as little as £57 within walking distance of the circuit, and larger two- and three-bedroom places in the region of £200 a night – while the centre of Le Mans itself is full of hotels and has great transport connections (including a tram) between the city and the circuit.

Enjoy the experience without the stress

The ultimate supercar storage facility

If you want to experience all the thrills of the Le Mans 24 race without the stress of driving there yourself, we have the solution. We can arrange for your car to be shipped from our car storage facilities in London and the Cotswolds and deliver it to you at the circuit. This gives you the freedom of having your own four wheels for the duration of your stay, and when you’re ready to fly home, we’ll make all the arrangements to bring your car home safely too. Just get in touch with us to discuss your request – whatever you ask, we do our best to make sure the answer is always yes!

Get in touch
Call Cotswolds +44 (0) 1451 821 008
Call London +44 (0) 207 458 4418
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    Whether you’re following the Basque coastline or stocking your cellar at the ancient wine towns of the Loire Valley, a European road trip has never felt so appealing. At Windrush Car Storage, your vehicle will always be ready to roll when wanderlust strikes, with mechanics primed and paperwork up to date. But nobody is immune to Brexit legislation, and driving on the continent now demands more than a passport in the glovebox (although you’ll need that too). Here’s your essential checklist of documents and safety kit. Essential Documents Travelling with a full and valid driving licence goes without saying, but that doesn’t necessarily give you carte blanche. Depending on the countries you visit, the length of your stay – and whether you hold a photocard or paper licence – you might also need an International Driving Permit (IDP). It’s an unwelcome but painless bit of admin, easily picked up from the Post Office. Your V5C logbook certificate, plus travel and vehicle insurance documents, should all be to hand, along with a green card to prove you’re insured to drive abroad. Keep a wallet of personal documents, too, including passport, National Insurance details and healthcare paperwork. Obviously, road tax, MOT and European breakdown cover are all essential: just ask Windrush if you’d like us to maintain these as part of our long term car storage service. Finally, don’t overlook the little things. The trusty GB sticker is still mandatory unless it appears on your numberplate, while the Crit’Air windscreen badge demanded in certain French cities only costs around 3 Euros – but carries an on-the-spot fine of £117 if the gendarmerie catch you without one.       Essential Equipment Your paperwork might be present and correct, but you’ll also need to travel with the required safety equipment. To stay regulations-compliant, bring one reflective jacket per car occupant: this should be stowed within the vehicle’s cabin (not the boot) and worn before you leave the vehicle on a motorway, to avoid a fine of up to 750 Euros. A warning triangle is compulsory, too, as are beam deflectors and a first aid kit (in France, Germany and Austria). While not required by law, you’d be well-advised to arm yourself for the unexpected, bringing a portable fire extinguisher, spare bulbs, engine oil and washer fluid – plus a petrol can for that long walk to the station d’essence. Come home to Windrush Car Storage When you return from your European road trip – having scratched your itch for adventure and stocked your boot with vintage Bordeaux – Windrush will be ready to welcome you home. Sit back with friends and tell your stories from the road, as the Windrush team puts your vehicle through our renowned twelve-step induction programme and into our long term car storage. To discover more about Windrush’s secure car storage, get in touch.
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    Read Article
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