Every year the British influx to Le Mans swells, and in response to public demand we have compiled this guide to the circuit and to the race. This will be the first time that Mercedes, Aston Martin and Jaguar have met at the Sarthe since 1955, and we interview leading figures from all three teams, look back at Aston’s 1959 victory and assess this year’s contenders. But we start with circuit information, and how to obtain tickets to the hardest race of them all.
There are two basic types of ticket-access at Le Mans, both of which can be purchased on arrival.
Enceintes des Virages (about £12) and Enceintes Generales (about £25) are both valid for the whole week’s activities. The former will only allow you into the enclosures at Terte Rouge, Mulsanne and Arnage, so unless you are really short of cash it would be better to purchase the more expensive pass, which will allow you into every public enclosure — and also the paddock and pits balcony after two hours of the race.
There may still be a limited number of seats available in the tribunes (which are only valid during the race itself), and if you do obtain these you must also have an Enceintes Generales pass. The best stands for views of the pit-lane are Citroen and Jaguar, both of which are likely to be sold out now, but all the tribunes offer good views of the start/finish area and will at least guarantee a seat and some shade if you get tired and hot.
To check availability it would be best at this stage to contact the Service de Location offices by phone. If you don’t speak French, get a friend who does to ring for you, or you may end up with the wrong tickets!
The ACO can also be contacted by fax or telex. Payment will be required immediately by International Money Order or in French Francs by registered post. The Service de Location will also sell you any reserved parking spaces that are still available.
Be sure to specify that you wish to collect your tribune tickets on arrival at the circuit, or they will be posted to your home address and may arrive too late. During race week all tickets can be collected from the “Welcome” bungalow outside the main gates.
Even if you can only afford the most basic admission, don’t despair, because Le Mans is still the world’s finest spectator circuit and all enclosures will give excellent viewing opportunities.
One important tip though: enclosures are controlled by the use of a “pass-out” system. When you leave any enclosure to go into one of a lower category you must obtain a pass-out ticket and keep it; when you wish to return to that enclosure you will have to surrender the pass-out and show the appropriate entrance ticket as well — if either is missing you won’t get back in.