The Circuit de la Sarthe, commonly known as Le Mans, is one of the most iconic motorsport venues in the world. Located in Le Mans, France, the circuit is best known for hosting the annual 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, which is one of the most prestigious races in motorsport. The circuit is 13.626 km long and features a combination of fast straights, challenging corners, and varying elevations.
The Le Mans circuit layout has undergone many changes throughout its history, but the current layout is largely unchanged since 1972. The circuit comprises a combination of public roads and a purpose-built racetrack. The track is split into two sections, the Circuit de la Sarthe and the Bugatti Circuit.
The Circuit de la Sarthe is the longer section of the track, measuring 13.629 km in length. The track is a mix of public roads and a purpose-built section that includes the famous Mulsanne straight, which is over 6 km long, and the high-speed Porsche Curves. The Mulsanne straight is where cars reach their highest speeds, with some of the fastest cars in the world hitting speeds of over 350 km/h.
The Bugatti Circuit is a shorter, purpose-built section of the track, measuring 4.185 km in length. The Bugatti Circuit is used for smaller events and testing, and it is also used during the 24 Hours of Le Mans race as the pit and paddock area. The circuit features a mix of high-speed and technical corners, including the Dunlop Esses and the chicane at the end of the straight.
One of the most iconic corners on the Le Mans circuit is the Dunlop Esses, which is a sequence of fast, sweeping corners that require precision and skill to navigate. The Dunlop Esses lead into the Tertre Rouge corner, which is a slow corner that requires drivers to brake heavily before accelerating onto the Mulsanne straight. The Porsche Curves are another challenging section of the track, featuring a series of tight, high-speed corners that require precision and concentration.
The Le Mans circuit has a rich history, dating back to 1923 when the first 24 Hours of Le Mans race was held. The race has since become one of the most prestigious events in motorsport, attracting the best drivers and teams from around the world. The race is known for its unique format, which requires teams to race for 24 hours straight, with drivers taking turns behind the wheel.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans race is held in June each year and attracts over 250,000 spectators to the circuit. The race is divided into several classes, including prototypes, GT cars, and touring cars, each with their own set of regulations. The race is a true test of endurance, with drivers and teams battling not only each other but also the grueling conditions of the circuit, including extreme temperatures, rain, and darkness.
The Le Mans circuit has undergone several modifications over the years to improve safety and meet the evolving needs of motorsport. The most recent modification was in 2018 when the track was extended by 150 meters at the end of the Porsche Curves. The extension was designed to improve safety by reducing the speed of cars before they enter the pit lane.
The Le Mans circuit is not only known for its famous endurance race but also for hosting other major racing events. The circuit has played host to the World Endurance Championship, the European Le Mans Series, and the Le Mans Classic. The Le Mans Classic is a biennial event that features historic racing cars from the 1920s to the 1970s, and it is a popular event for motorsport enthusiasts and vintage car collectors.