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Little Classics News: 15 June 2015

GT40 Domination for 2015 Le Mans Legend Race

GT40 at Le Mans

Ford grabbed the limelight in the Le Mans Legend, as a pair of GT40s that competed at La Sarthe in the 1960s finished first and second.

Bernard Thuner, a veteran of three Le Mans 24 Hours races, was dominant in Claude Nahum’s GT40, Nahum having bowed out of sharing the car in the race subsequent to a spin in Thursday’s qualifying. The 1994 Swiss Touring Car Champion only lost the lead temporarily during the pitstop phase, while Andrew Smith and James Cottingham ensured there were two Fords on the podium.

The GT40s were a new and very welcome addition to the biannual support race, after the regulations were extended to cover iconic machinery from 1949-1968, allowing the more modern classic racers to take part.

Thuner streaked away from pole in his GT40, which competed in the 24-hour race in 1968 in the hands of Mike Salmon and Eric Lidell, while Ferrao maintained a watching brief.

Le Mans Legends 2015 start

Further back there was drama for Smith as he spun at Indianapolis and lost a host of places. Also losing out at the start was Richard Meins’ GT40 as Sylvain Stepak’s Alpine A220 got the jump off the line.

It was a troublesome start for Barrie Williams in the Mini Marcos GT as he spun the bright yellow machine into the Indianapolis gravel. By the time he was given a helping hand out, he had dropped to the very rear of the field.

Over the next few laps, the GT40s streaked away at the front while Smith, in the ex-Scuderia Bear GT40 which was punted out of the ’66 Le Mans 24 Hours during qualifying, quickly made up for his error, surging up the order to claim second place at the second Mulsanne chicane on the penultimate lap.

Ludovic Caron in a Shelby Cobra made a cheeky late lunge out of the final corner to steal second across the line, but the Stewards later relegated him back to third as safety car conditions still prevailed after oil on the track - giving the GT40s one-two. Caron claimed Class 4 honours for larger-engined 1960-68 cars, and third overall.

There were other GT40s in the top six as well, as Meins claimed fifth and Philip Walker/Miles Griffiths’ machine took sixth, while an AC Cobra was fourth in the hands of David Hart – up from ninth at the start.

Class 1 for over 2000cc 1949-54 cars was won by John Young in JD Classics’ bronze Jaguar C-type, while Class 2 for similarly-engined slightly newer machinery was topped by Clive Joy and Jarrah Venables’ pale blue D-type.

The Class 3 win for under 2000cc 1955-59 cars went to Dion Kremer in the Lotus 17 Prototype and Class 5 (for 1960-65 under 2000cc entries) was won by Afschin Fatemi in his Porsche 904/6.

The immense heat of the early Saturday sunshine took its toll on many of the cars, including some of the Le Mans veterans. Holly Mason-Franchitti/Charles Knill-Jones’ Alfa Romeo TZ1 from 1964 was among those to suffer and didn’t complete the first lap.


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