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SEE | Some of the fastest-ever speeds reached at the 24 Hour of Le Mans

2020-01-10 07:00

Robin Classen

Image: Supplied

The 24 Hour of Le Mans endurance race has seen many iconic moments over the years.

Whether it was the lows of Peter Dumbreck's violet crash when his Mercedes-Benz CLR went airbourne in 1999 or Mazda becoming the first Japanese manufacturer to win the race in 1991. There have been plenty of moments.

Breaking the speed barrier

The emphasis here is about the famed Circuit de la Sarthe where the race takes place but more specifically, the 6km-long Mulsanne straight where car and driver gets pushed to the limit.

READ | Ford pays homage to 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours with celebration liveries

Prior to 1990, it was just a long stretch of road where drivers could go all out but ever since the start of the 90's, it has seen the inclusion of two chicanes, named the Forza and Michelin, that test man and machine even further. It is here where skill, concentration and engineering become vital components in attaining the mind-blowing speeds.

                                                                          Image: Supplied

These sub 1 000kg race-bred cars build up speeds in excess of 300km/h and then have to be hard on the brakes for the upcoming 'kinks' - and this for a full 24 hours.

Record breakers

Porsche has won the event a record-breaking 19 times while the driver to win it the most is Denmark's Tom Kristensen with 9 wins, the last of which took place in 2013.

                                                                                Image: Supplied

On the subject of records, the Mulsanne straight has seen some blistering speeds reached since the 24 Hour of Le Mans endurance race was born in 1923. 

The fastest-ever top speed recorded on the Mulsanne straight was 405km/h by Roger Dorchy in a WM Peugeot P88, but that was in 1988 when the chicanes weren't introduced yet. Unless the chicanes are removed, there is no way that the record will be broken.

Here are some of the fastest-ever speeds reached at the 24 Hour of Le Mans race since the chicanes have been introduced:

1. Peugeot 905 - 351km/h

2. Peugeot 908 HDi FAP - 347km/h

3. Peugeot 908 - 342.9km/h 

4. Audi R18 - 336.4km/h

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