Powered by
  • WheelsWheels
  • 4X4 Australia4X4 Australia
  • Street MachineStreet Machine
  • Trade Unique CarsTrade Unique Cars

Five greatest Le Mans onboard videos

By Scott Newman, 10 Jun 2015 Features

Five greatest Le Mans onboard videos

A lap of Le Mans through the ages, from the 1950s to today

This weekend arguably the world's most famous motor race, the Le Mans 24 Hour, will take place once again at the legendary Circuit de la Sarthe.
It'll be a flat-out battle between Audi, Porsche, Toyota and Nissan as sports car racing once again enters a golden age.
To get you in the mood, we've dug up five of the greatest onboard laps over six decades for your viewing pleasure.
1956 - Mike Hawthorn, Jaguar D-Type
We begin our journey in 1956, at a very quaint looking Le Mans. No kerbs, no grandstands, little in the way of protection for drivers or spectators - and this is the upgraded version after the horrific 1955 tragedy.
Hawthorn calmly makes his way around the course in his D-Type, commentating and making disparaging remarks about French cyclists as he goes. He would eventually finish sixth, the race won by Ninian Sanderson and Ron Flockhart in another Jaguar D-Type.
1977 - Jurgen Barth/Jacky Ickx, Porsche 936 Spyder
It's not often a car sounds fast, but with 400kW pushing just 740kg, you can audibly hear just how frighteningly rapid the Porsche 936 Spyder is as it hammers around Le Mans. It's only two decades on from Hawthorn's lap, but the difference in speed is light years.
With a top speed of 360km/h, the 936 blasts past 911 RSR GT cars like they are standing still, with Barth/Ickx (it's unclear who the driver actually is) fighting stabs of oversteer exiting slow corners. The pair, along with American Hurley Haywood, would go on to win the 1977 race by 11 laps! If you speak German, you'll get even more out of this!
1983 - Derek Bell, Porsche 956
Arguably the most famous Le Mans video of them all. One of the race's most successful drivers (Derek Bell - five wins) in one of the race's most successful cars (Porsche 956 - four straight wins from 1982-85, followed by another two for the 962 in 1986-87).
Engine screaming, wastegates chattering, scenery a fluid blur, this is onboard footage at its very best. How any car or driver could sustain this level of pace is beyond us.
1990 - Mark Blundell, Nissan R90CK
Possibly the most balls-out qualifying lap of all time. A faulty wastegate on the Nissan's twin-turbo V8 was leading to it overboosting; the team called for Blundell to abandon his lap and pit, but with almost limitless power at his disposal (estimated around 820kW) he went for it, blitzing the field to record the first Le Mans pole for a Japanese manufacturer.
2014 - Andre Lotterer, Audi R18 e-tron quattro
And now to the modern age. Gone are the screaming engines of old, replaced by, in the case of the Audi R18 e-tron, a whisper-quiet diesel overlaid with the other-worldly whines of electric motors.
The speeds, however, are greater than ever and at no point is this more visible than at nigh. Driving flat-out through the dark is Le Mans' greatest challenge and a true testament to the skill of the incredible drivers that are able to maintain barely diminished pace all through the night.

Get your free weekly report from the world of fast cars - subscribe to the MOTOR newsletter!