24 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1): five stories for one race number
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24 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1): five stories for one race number

Race number coveted by all 24 Hours of Le Mans competitors, the 24 has had many lives since the first edition of the Le Mans race.

 

With these five stories (among others!), a tribute to two Belgian drivers. Jean Blaton (also known as "Beurlys") and Gérard Langlois von Ophem achieved the best result for the 24 in La Sarthe with the second place of the 1963 edition, at the wheel of a legendary car: the Ferrari 250 GTO.

1923 – The 24 was at the start of the very first 24 Hours of Le Mans, at the time called "Speed and Endurance Grand Prix." Fifth at the finish, Philippe de Marne and Jean Martin (Bignan 11 HP Commercial) completed 112 laps, or  1,933 kilometers.

1968 – Henri Pescarolo wrote one of the most amazing chapters of his career during a rainy night of the 1968 24 Hours…at the wheel of a car with broken windshield wipers! Second place was in sight when the No. 24 Matra MS 630 that he shared with Johnny Servoz-Gavin was forced to retire three hours from the finish. But Pescarolo's feat held all of France in suspense…

1990 – Double premiere for the number 24: on the 24 Hours circuit modified by the addition of two chicanes at the Mulsanne Straight, Nissan was the first Japanese manufacturer to clinch the pole position at Le Mans, thanks to the Brit Mark Blundell (Nissan R 90 CK).

1998-2008 – In thirty participations at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Japanese driver Yojiro Terada carried the 24 eight times from 1998 to 2008, with as best result a 13th place in 2006, at the wheel of the Lola B05/40 shared with William (Bill) Binnie and Allen Timpany.

2014 – Eight years after his second place finish as a driver with Pescarolo Sport, nine-time Rally World Champion Sébastien Loeb returned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, this time as a team owner. Given the number 24, his Oreca 03 - Nissan finished fourth in the LM P2 class (eighth overall), with at the wheel Vincent Capillaire, Jan Charouz and René Rast.

Jean-Philippe Doret / ACO - Translation by Nikki Ehrhardt / ACO

Photo: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), CIRCUIT DES 24 HEURES, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, SATURDAY JUNE 14 2014, RACE. For his first entry at the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a team owner, Sébastien Loeb received the number 24 for his Oreca 03 - Nissan.