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2022 Le Mans Classic
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Having been postponed twice, in 2020 and again in 2021, the tenth Le Mans Classic finally took place during the first weekend of July in 2022. The anniversary edition carried on where the event left off in 2018. One of the hallmark events of the Peter Auto organisation, the 2022 Le Mans Classic offered the spectators non-stop action for the better part of three days straight. As always, the action was both on and off the Circuit de la Sarthe. We focused on the on-track activities, which consisted of four support races and then the actual 24 Hours of Le Mans celebration with six grids running through the night with three races for each grid. For the rest of the 200,000 visitoers, there were also the displays of many marque clubs, an Artcurial auction and a complete village with shops to visit.
The result of a busy weekend, with very little sleep, is this grid-by-grid, 190-shot gallery.

Group C
One of the more popular support races was for Group C. An absolute highlight of the weekend was that running ahead of each of the three Group C sessions was the 1991 Le Mans winning Mazda 787B with Masanori Sekiya behind the wheel. Another Japanese racing legend that actually took part of the race was Kazuki Nakajima, driving the Toyota 85C his father Satoru had raced at Le Mans in 1985. Other interesting machines in the packed grid were a pair of Peugeot 905s, no fewer than six V12-engined Jaguars and the first Porsche 956 customer car.
Showcasing he has not lost any of his remarkable skill was season German racer Ralf Kelleners as he placed the Porsche 962C he shared with Yvan Vercoutere on pole position for the race with a 2.6 seconds margin over the rest. The race itself was quite eventful with a great battle in the closing stages between Christophe d'Ansembourg and Olivier Galant in their respective Jaguars. The former eventually got the edge with his XJR-14. As it turned out, it was a Jaguar 1-2-3 as the race was won by Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen sharing an XJR-9.

Endurance Racing Legends
A relatively recent addition to the historic racing scene is the Endurance Racing Legends group for 1990s and 2000s, sports prototypes and GT racing. In 2018, these cars were already part of the show but with high-speed demonstration runs only. A near capacity field lined up for the opportunity to race around the full Le Mans circuit in 2022. The grid was not just impressive in numbers but also in quality. Among the entries were two early 2000s Bentleys, an Audi R8, a selection of Vipers and one of the Prodrive Ferraris. In qualifying, it was Christian Gläsel in the ex-Dyson Racing MG-Lola EX257 who was fastest of all. In a true David versus Goliath battle, he kept Shaun Lynn from pole position even though his Bentley had twice the number of cylinders, turbos and cubic capacity. The race was messy from the start procedure, which resulted in an additional formation lap. The final result was affected by several penalties but eventually, it was Shaun Lynn who was declared the well deserved winner. Second was for the other Bentley with 'Mr John of B.' and Soheil Ayari at the wheel. Mike Newton was third in the very MG-Lola he had raced at Le Mans in period.

Cars of particular interest
With the ever increasing values of historic racing cars and the booming market for continuation cars built to the correct specifications, seeing the most precious of machines raced becomes increasingly rare. Fortunately, there are still owners who are keen to exercise their very valuable machinery. One great example was American Rob Kauffman, who brought over the very Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 that was driven to victory at Le Mans in 1934. Appropriately painted blue, it was driven to that win by Frenchman Philippe Etancelin and Paris-based American Luigi Chinetti. Among the other great cars that were part of the six grids were a very early Jaguar D-Type, a Porsche 917 K, a turbine-engined Howmet and the very rare Ferrari 312 P. In the sixth and final grid there were several Porsche 935s, including the penultimate and very last customers cars built by the factory. Of a slightly later vintage were a pair of fire-belching 935 K3s, which put up a great show with the BMW M1 Procars in the same grid.

The races
Although the races were not quite 24 Hours, it took a mix of speed, reliability and luck to do well in each of the six fields. For each group there were three races of just over 40 minutes, with one run in complete darkness. The result in Plateau 1 was a great example that a little bit of everything was required. Duncan Pittaway and Tim Dutton took the scratch win in their Bugatti Type 35 even though it was far from the fastest car in the field. In Plateau 4 however, it took a considerable amount of grit for Diogo Ferrao to overcome issues during qualifying. He had to start from the back with his GT40 and then spent the next three race chasing the leaders down. The Portuguese racer won, beating Ford CEO Jim Farley in another GT40. Some of the best racing was in Plateau 5 between several Lola T70s and the exceptionally well driven Ferrari 312 P. Eventually, it was Nick Sleep, who won with his T70 after some of his rivals were served with penalties. Perhaps the biggest heartbreak came in Plateau 6 where Patrice Lafargue had dominated with his V8-engined Lola, only for his Cosworth DFV to loose a cylinder in the final race. That elevated Ludovic Caron, normally often the victim of bad luck himself, to clinch a win with his Chevron B31.

Final thoughts
With over 750 race cars on track, there were many more stories to be told from the biggest Le Mans Classic yet. For those not keen on getting any sleep, there was something to see from the 9:30 am on Friday right through to 4 pm on Sunday afternoon when the final race received the chequered flag. We did our best to capture as much of the spectacle as possible with the very best 190 shots making it into our exclusive gallery. There is relatively little time to recover as the Le Mans Classic will be back in 2023 as part of the 24 Hours of Le Mans centenary celebrations. If this edition is anything to go by, next year certainly can not be missed.

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