The Michelin Le Mans Cup is for GT3 and LM P3 cars, LM P3 being the entry-level prototype class introduced by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest in 2015. The series is held alongside the European Le Mans Series (May–October) with the Road to Le Mans round on the weekend of the 24 Hours of Le Mans the second round of the 2017 season.
All Michelin Le Mans Cup competitors are automatically eligible to compete in Road to Le Mans. The remaining places are allocated by the ACO selection committee and priority is given to teams competing in the European Le Mans Series, the Asian Le Mans Series, the Asian Le Mans Sprint Cup and IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.
Last year, the first Road to Le Mans was a 42-car race on the 13.629-km Circuit des 24 Heures. DC Racing’s Thomas Laurent and Alexandre Cougnaud won the race in the #85 Ligier JS P3. Christian England and 1990 Le Mans winner Martin Brundle took pole position with United Autosport’s #2 Ligier JS P3. The team will be competing in the LM P2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.
This year Road to Le Mans will be split in two with a total of 46 entrants. The one-hour practice sessions are scheduled on Wednesday 14 June and the Thursday qualifying sessions that determine the place on the grid will last 20 minutes each.
The first of the 55-minute race will be on Thursday 15 at 17:30, the other on Saturday 17 June at 11:30, just a few hours before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Each driver in the two-person crew must take the wheel for at least 20 minutes. The rules require at least one pit stop of a minimum duration. The rest of the time will be spent sampling the delights of one of the most revered circuits on earth.
The Porsche Carrera Cup is the ultimate one-make series. This competition enjoys worldwide success and features one of the brand’s most famous cars, the Porsche 911, in its GT3 Cup version.
Following in the footsteps of the German series, the Porsche Carrera Cup began in France in 1987 and there are now more than ten GT3 Cup Challenges and nine Carrera Cup competitions throughout the world. The Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup remains one of the best-known thanks to its status as support race for Formula One Grands Prix.
There are three separate classes in the Porsche Carrera Cup: a general one for all drivers, a specific one for gentleman drivers (B drivers only) and one for young talent (under 26-year-olds taking part in their first full Porsche Carrera Cup season).
The competition is a feeder series, designed to reveal the stars of tomorrow. Successful driver Anthony Beltoise was champion in 2005, 2006 and 2007 while 2009 winner Renaud Derlot is now sporting manager of Panis-Barthez Compétition in the European Le Mans Series. Patrick Pilet is another driver who started out in the Porsche Carrera Cup; Frédéric Makowiecki and Kévin Estre did the same and went on to become Porsche factory drivers. The series is an excellent training ground for B drivers too: Raymond Narac was a Porsche Cup competitor and won the LM GTE Am class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2013.
In 2014, when the Porsche Carrera Cup France was held at Le Mans for the first time, 61 cars took to the track before a crowd of 260,000. Frenchman Kévin Estre claimed pole position and Briton Ben Barker won the day. This year, the race will count towards the championship.
It will be run before the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, on Saturday 17 June, after the warm-up. For many drivers, it will be the first opportunity to race at one of the most famous tracks in the world, the 13.629-km Circuit des 24 Heures du Mans. The first twenty drivers to sign up for the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup season will automatically be entered. The other forty spaces on the grid will be filled by competitors from other Porsche Carrera Cup competitions in the UK, Benelux and beyond. The race itself lasts 45 minutes and there will be a 90-minute practice and qualifying session.