Every year, the Place des Jacobins, excluded when it was undergoing renovations, serves as the starting point of the Drivers' Parade, one of the highlights of Le Mans week for fans who gather all along the path of the cars on parade carrying each driver line-up participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The vintage cars used to reach starting point through the Wilbur Wright tunnel (one of the two Wright brothers, aviation pioneers who came and did flight demonstrations at the Hunaudières raceway in 1908), with many spectators looking on from above, the drivers got in the habit of getting out of their cars before the tunnel to finish on foot and sign autographs and take photos.
The situation posed some safety concerns, so the path was changed to avoid the famous tunnel, as explained by Thierry Hamon, President of Classic Automotive in charge of organizing the event - during the presentation of the route for 2016 - and crowning Jürgen Barth as guest of honour of the Grand Drivers' Parade.
Barth, whose father Edgar was also a driver, has 13 participations with Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The German driver, whose family fled former East Germany, won at Le Mans in 1977 at the wheel of a 936/77 with Jacky Ickx and Hurley Haywood after starting out in motorsports as an engineer.
The 22nd edition of the Grand Drivers' Parade will take place June 17, 2016 the day before the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Cécile Bonardel / ACO - Translation by Nikki Ehrhardt / ACO
PHOTO: LE MANS (SARTHE, FRANCE), PLACE DES JACOBINS, 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, FRIDAY JUNE 12 2015, DRIVERS' PARADE. Timo Bernhard, Mark Webber and Brendon Hartley representing Porsche at the Grand Drivers' Parade in 2015.