Report by Marco Zanello and photos by Giacomo Zanello
The Le Mans Legend 2011 historic race was held 11 June at Circuit de la Sarthe in France on the morning of the modern 24 Hours of Le Mans. A grid of 61 cars lined up for the 45-minute race.
Among the numerous events supporting the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Le Mans Legend that has taken place for some years in a high-speed race for historic cars and created by Motor Racing Legends and ACO. Le Mans Legend doesn’t concern an organisation settled on some entry criteria, but from year to year the organisation deems what cars are allowed to run, provided they are models which have entered the 24 Hours race in the past. Previous editions have featured the most rudimentary vintage cars from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s up to those mythical figures called Group C that livened up the Endurance eras between the end of the eighties and early nineties.
Le Mans Legend 2011 was reserved to the vintage cars built from 1949 to 1965, among them some fantastic Jaguars, Types C and D, included the winner of tragic Le Mans 1955, the Aston Martin DBR1, the Porsches RS60 and RS61, the latter entered by a rust less Sir Stirling Moss and a number of Ferraris 206P, 250LM and 246S. Moreover, on the track the specialists of these categories had some famous co-drivers of the same calibre as David Piper, the winner of this race in 2001 but in difficulty in the present edition with a very special Ferrari Prototype 365P2, Emanuele Pirro, with Roger Wills co-driver at the wheel of a Lotus 15 and as said before, Stirling Moss in this case with Jan Nuthall.
On Thursday during the qualifying hour, pole went to Alex Buncombe at the wheel of Lister Knobby ahead of the twin car driven by Jon Minshaw, to the AC Cobra driven by Oliver Bryant-Graheme Bryante and the yellow Ferrari 250LM driven by Carlos Monteverde, the former winner in 2009.
At the start, while first four drivers are repeatedly controlling each other, the Bizzarrini 5300 Competizione driven by Joe Twyman and Roger Wills took the lead of the race, a position which wasn’t lost to the obliged pit-stop, even managing to take a certain lead over the rivals. Buncombe in the Lister Knobby started a fight both thrilling and dangerous, given that on the second lap they are also overtaken by Oliver Bryant and Monteverde, who managed to not let the Bizzarrini team slip out of their hands.
The race was decided after the pit-stops, as the Bizzarrini unable to find its previous speed. This gave an opening to the Ferrari driven by Monteverde, which took the lead of the race and kept it until the end. Behind Ferrari, Buncombe arrived second, while third place was gained by Jon Minshaw, who on the final lap got the better of the Bizzarrini. It’s worth highlighting Monteverde’s and Buncombe’s class wins, respectively among Sports Racing Cars 1959-1965, over 2000 cc, and among Sports Racing Cars 1954-1958 and above all the win of Nuthall in the class reserved for Sports Racing Cars 1958-1965, up to 2000 cc. As previously announced, Nuthall’s co-driver Moss announced his intention to retire from motor racing competition.
Race organiser Duncan Wiltshire of Motor Racing Legends, said, “We must of course pay tribute to Sir Stirling Moss, who brought his own Porsche RS 61 to race it for the very first time, and then decided during qualifying that this would, instead, be his own, very last competitive event. It can be no easy thing to make such a decision, and we applaud the wisdom and strength of mind he showed in leaving the race itself to co-driver Ian Nuthall, thus ending – on his own terms – an incredibly long and illustrious career.”
“In the years to come, we look forward to seeing plenty more of Stirling, who is as much a part of the motorsport world when he’s off the track as he is when behind the wheel of a car in flat-out racing action,” continued Hamilton.
Le Mans Legend 2011 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture)