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24 key dates for the 24 Hours

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- 24 Heures du Mans 2012

Photo : D.R. - ACO/Nikon

The 80th Le Mans 24 Hours is an opportunity to revisit a great sporting heritage. Today, a selection of 24 important dates in the automotive saga of La Sarthe.

1923: First Le Mans 24 Hours, held on 26th and 27th May
1924: The 24 Hours of Le Mans held in mid-June, that has remained traditional date.
1930: British driver Woolf Barnato is the first triple winner of 24 Hours.
1931: Alfa Romeo, the first Italian manufacturer to win at Le Mans.
1939: Victory of Jean-Pierre Wimille and Pierre Veyron (Bugatti), before a ten year break due to World War II.
1949: Return of 24 hours, and the first Ferrari victory.
1952: Mercedes, the first German manufacturer to win the 24 Hours.
1962: Belgian Olivier Gendebien, holds new record for victories with four wins.
1966: Ford ended the domination of Ferrari, who had won nine times since 1949, and undefeated from 1960 to 1965.
1968: 24 Hours of Le Mans rescheduled to September 29 and 30 following the events of May Winners: Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi (Ford GT40).
1970: First victory for Porsche at Le Mans.
1971: Now deemed too dangerous, the legendary start, where divers ran to their cars, is replaced by the start procedure, still in force today.
1982: Belgian Jacky Ickx brings to six the record for most wins in the 24 Hours.
1988: WM Peugeot #51 establishes a speed record of 405 km/h in the Mulsanne Straight.
1990: Introduction of two chicanes on the Mulsanne Straight.
1991: Mazda became the first (and only to date) Japanese manufacturer to win Le Mans.
1992: Peugeot's first victory. Two other successes would follow in 1993 and 2009.
1997: The sixteenth Porsche win, a record in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
1999: Last appearance of the French driver Henri Pescarolo. Four-time winner (1972-73-74-84), with 34 starts, he still holds the record for participations in 24 Hours.
2000: The first of ten victories for Audi.
2006: Audi score the first victory of a diesel engine in the 24 Hours.
2008: Eighth win of Danish driver Tom Kristensen, who has held the record for victories since 2005.
2010: In the 24 Hours build-up, a parade called "Le Mans to the Future" is dedicated to cars using alternative energies.
2011: Federation Internationale Automobile and the Automobile Club de l'Ouest for Announce the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, including the Le Mans 24 Hours.

In the video clip below is the 1949 Le Mans 24 Hours, and the first victory for Ferrari in La Sarthe: the #22 166 MM of Luigi Chinetti (seen right after finish, who drove for 22 of the 24 hours!) and Lord Selsdon (commentary in French).

La 80th Le Mans 24 hours will be on the 16th and 17th June 2012. Click here for tickets and Here for the entry list of the Le Mans 24 hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship. Click here for the official 80th anniversary video and here for the 2012 TV advert.

Jean-Philippe Doret

Photo: 24 HOURS CIRCUIT (Le Mans), LE MANS 24 HOURS, 6 & 7 June 1998. Driving the 911 GT1, Laurent Aiello, Allan McNish and Stéphane Ortelli scored the sixteenth Porsche win at Le Mans. The record still stands, awaiting the return of German carmaker planned for 2014.

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24 Heures du Mans 2012 : Opening of the ticket office on November 7th

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