2017 was an emotional and thrilling year, with plenty of epic battles and twists of fate on the track. Before heading into 2018 in just a couple of days, relive one last time the highlights of what transpired at the Le Mans circuits throughout the year.
As many as 22 events took place throughout the year 2017 on all the tracks of Le Mans, including the 24 Hours circuit, the Bugatti circuit and the Karting circuit. Here's a review of several key races!
The 40th edition of the 24 Hours Moto
The first race that kicked off 2017 took place April 15th and 16th with the 40th edition of the 24 Hours Moto. At the end of a tremendous race, the #94 Yamaha of GMT94 Yamaha managed by Christophe Guyot, claimed the top step on the podium in front of 74,500 spectators in attendance at the second round of the Endurance World Championship (FIM EWC). The Japanese motorcycle was driven by David Checa, Niccolo Canepa and Frenchman Mike Di Meglio, world 125 cm3 champion in 2008. Yamaha won the race for the fourth time and the French team pursued its successful momentum, winning a world champion title at the end of the season.
The French Motorcycle Grand Prix, a flood of records
One month later, the French Motorcycle Grand Prix took place May 19-21, 2017. A huge crowd of 105,020 spectators came out the day of the race, and 204,222 spectators attended the entire event, making the French Grand Prix the second biggest event of the 2017 MotoGP season!
These records can in part be explained by a championship season that lived up to every hype and by the stunning performances of local favorite Johann Zarco. The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 driver reached the second step on the MotoGP podium with his #5 Yamaha YZR-M1, just behind official Yamaha driver Maverick Vinales and ahead of Dani Pedrosa (Honda). Indeed, 2017 was a lucky year for Yamaha.
That fifth round of the MotoGP World Championship was also marked by something quite extraordinary. Shortly after the start for the Moto 3s, about a dozen drivers fell at the Chapelle turn due to oil slicks left on the track, causing the race to be stopped.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans and Porsche's third victory
After the motorcycles, the cars hit the 24 Hours of Le Mans track in June as has been the custom for decades. In the wake of a Test Day dominated by Toyota, the race took place on June 17th and 18th. The first major shock happened on Thursday during the qualifying sessions when Kamui Kobayashi, at the wheel of the #7 Toyota TS050 HYBRID clocked a time of 3"14''791 (at an average of 251.882 km/h), the fastest pole position in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (on this configuration of the circuit).
Just a few days later, twists and surprises set the tempo for the 85th edition! Between Toyota's troubles, the winning climb of the #2 Porsche 919 Hybrid (driven by Timo Bernhard, Earl Bamber and Brendon Hartley), the sister car's setbacks (#1), two LMP2s on the overall podium (both Jackie Chan DC Racing cars) and an insane final lap between the #63 Corvette C7.R and the #97 Aston Martin Vantage battling for the top spot in LMGTE Pro, there wasn't a boring moment in 24 hours. The 258,500 spectators in attendance at the third round of the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) got their fill that's for sure!
The 24 Hours for Trucks, a safe bet
After a successful 24 Hours Karting, one of the main events of the year was the 24 Hours for Trucks on September 23rd and 24th. 55,100 spectators showed up all around the circuit to attend the French Trucks Cup and the British Truck Challenge. The most spectacular race proved to be the FIA European Truck Racing Championship. Adam Lacko, winner of one of the four rounds, left Le Mans leading a championship he would go on to win a few weeks later.
Now for 2018...
As many as 24 events are on the 2018 calendar, two more than in 2017, including the 24 Hours Moto (April 21st and 22nd), the French Motorcycle Grand Prix (May 18-20), the 24 Hours for Trucks and the 24 Hours Karting which will take place the same weekend (September 29th and 30th). As for cars, the 86th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will take place June 16th and 17th, and 2018 will be a year for the biennial Le Mans Classic July 6-8 with as headliners the famous Group C cars. All the races at the Le Mans circuits are must-sees in 2018! Join the 500,000 people who attended various events this year, come to Le Mans!