Track feature: Circuit de la Sarthe

Track feature: Circuit de la Sarthe


Have a closer look at one of the most prestigious tracks of the racing world.

Circuit de la Sarthe, Circuit de 24 Heures du Mans or simply Le Mans: There are many names for what is arguably the most famous and notorious endurance track in the world. The home of the 24H Le Mans has also been the stage for many other events since its debut in 1923. Especially the digital version is quite popular these days. Several esports events like the official 24H Le Mans Virtual, iRacing Le Mans 24H and the Porsche Tag Heuer Esports Supercup left rubber on the tarmac of Le Mans’ roads over the past two weekends alone.

Circuit de la Sarthe
Image Source: Pinterest

Country roads, take me to glory

The track actually consists of country roads which are blocked on racing days, leading the drivers from Le Mans to Mulsanne and back. Those are extended with parts that have been specifically build for racing purposes. One of them is the Dunlop Curve, right at the beginning of the track. Just behind Dunlop, the track splits into the 24H Circuit and the much smaller Bugatti Circuit (in grey), which was added in 1965. In contrast to the original course, the Bugatti Circuit was explicitly designed for racing.

Since the 70s there is also the even smaller Maison Blanche Circuit on the outside of the 24H track. The circuit doesn’t host official racing events though. Originally built as a school and track day facility, nowadays it serves as a Porsche Experience Center.

Ever evolving, ever changing

When the Circuit de la Sarthe opened in 1923, it had not much in common with the track it is today. The layout almost looked like a slice of pizza. Due to many drivers falling victim to the high overall speed of the track, it underwent a lot of changes over time.

Circuit de la Sarthe opened in 1923
Image Source: iRacing

Today the Circuit de la Sarthe inherits many chicanes and sharp corners that force pilots to push the brakes and focus. The biggest changes were made in 1932 when the triangle shape was rebuilt to its current form. In 1972 the final straight was renewed, with the addition of the Porsche curves plus the advanced Ford chicanes.

In 1990 the famous Mulsanne straight received two new chicanes, which is the last big change until today. However, every now and then, smaller changes have been applied. The Dunlop Curve, for example, was updated multiple times with minor changes until it reached the form we know today.

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