Le Mans Classic 2022 - Patrick Peter reviews the 10th edition
Did you have any fears after Covid postponed twice this tenth edition?
When we announced the postponement to 2021 in 2020, 95% of the competitors had asked us to keep their entries and postpone them. And the majority of spectators did the same. But at the time, we did not know if it would last three months or longer. Unfortunately, we had to postpone again to 2022. It was not easy to manage because, in the meantime, somes cars were sold, people had problems, etc. And that's without counting those who wanted to enter as a participant. We had to say no to many of them. But in the end we ended up with 700 cars in the races and, in terms of ticketing, we received over 200,000 spectators.
In 2018, there were 195,000. And we are not sure we want to welcome many more because the charm of Le Mans Classic is also to go in the paddocks, to be able to discuss with the collectors... This is one of the reasons why we wanted to expand geographically on the circuit. We are trying to put more and more interesting things towards the karting, to decongest the area behind the pit building.
So we guess that you are happy right ?
We are very happy because as you all know, the automobile is not greatly appreciated in our beautiful country. All the politicians would like to see people travel with public transports or a bicycle, which they don't do themselves. But we still have to go in the right direction in terms of ecology, and as we have no intention of transforming our cars into electric cars, we have done tests by putting synthetic fuel in four cars from different eras (article to come).
Some spectators complained about the early closing of the paddocks before the races...
We had two or three failures that made us late and maybe the people in charge of the paddocks were not informed as they should have been (which led to the closure of several paddocks at the same time). Maybe we should have left them open later... But this event had not been organized for four years and, in four years, some reflexes are lost. But already, between Friday and Saturday, I saw some improvement. That's the problem with an event of this size.
The 11th edition will take place in 2023. Should we expect a change of periodicity?
We have no intention to organize Le Mans Classic every year. And one of the reasons is that we have an agreement with the shopkeepers of the Hunaudières, who are forced to close their stores. As we have not organized anything in 2020 and 2021 and 2023 is the year of the centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 2023 will be an exception. The idea is to close (the road) at the beginning of the 24 Hours and to reopen it at the end of Le Mans Classic with, between the two events, various exhibitions around the history of Le Mans.
And this allows to alternate with other events...
There will indeed be a Chantilly Arts & Elegance this year, but the 12th edition of Le Mans Classic will only take place in 2025 (the two events will not be organized in the same year). Moreover, until now, Le Mans Classic was held in the same year as the historic Monaco Grand Prix, which made it difficult for some competitors.
Is the Endurance Racing Legends to attract a younger audience?
The idea is to broaden the audience. We have to show cars that made people dream when they were kids. Those who were 15 years old in 2000 are 35 today. Little Big Mans, for its part, allows families with their children to come.
Will you keep the same support races in 2023?
There will be some changes, but Group C will still be there. These are the cars that have written one of the most beautiful pages in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and there is no question of doing without them.
Why did you only let the Mazda 787B do one lap before each Group C race?
The problem with a lap like that is that it's a bit long. But mostly, I think there was one too many parades.