From Detroit to Le Mans

From Detroit to Le Mans

Detroit motor show. The first major international auto show of the year offers an opportunity to recall that General Motors, Chrysler and Ford, all based in Detroit, have been significant participants of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


We saw Cadillac (GM) and Chrysler prototypes at the start-line of the 24 Hours just ten years ago. Since then the big three US automakers have been especially active in the GT classes.

In 1994, Chrysler was the great pioneer of the return of beautiful American sportscars to La Sarthe with the Viper. It made the top 10 in the 24 hours in 1996 and had two consecutive victories in LM GTS in 1999 and 2000, thanks to the French team Oreca, Olivier Beretta, Karl Wendlinger and Dominique Dupuy.

The year 2000 also marked the entry of the yellow and black Corvettes by Gary Pratt. The following year they started an impressive run of six wins in LM GT1 and LM GTS in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2009.

In 2010, the factory Corvettes moved to LM GT2, but Ford made a comeback in LM GT1. The Ford GT team developed by Martin Bartek and his team, entered by his team Matech, and the Belgian Marc VDS Racing who revived memories of the victories of the legendary Ford victories of 1966, 67, 68 and 1969. After an impressive triple in LM GT1 at the 1000 km of Spa, the three Fords failed to finish the 24 Hours 2010, but showed a great potential. We see, the odyssey of Detroit at Le Mans is far from over...

Jean-Philippe Doret

Photo: 24 HOURS OF LE MANS, 12 & 13 June 2010. The second Ford GT Team Matech (#61) was driven by an all female crew: Cyndie Allemann, Rahel Frey and Natacha Gachnang.