A highlight of this year’s Le Mans Legend, the historic support race at the Le Mans 24 Hours, will be Stirling very first race at the wheel of his own 1961 Porsche RS 61.
Stirling bought the car back in March 2010 and entered it at Laguna Seca last August – only for the gearbox to seize on the warm-up lap. As a result, Stirling spun off and was hit by a Lotus that came off at the same corner, causing substantial damage to the Porsche’s front end but thankfully not to Stirling. The car was shipped to UK Porsche specialist Maxted-Page & Prill for repair, and will be seen back out on track – for its first ever race with Stirling at the wheel – in the Le Mans Legend on Saturday 11th June 2011, a few hours before the start of the modern 24 Hours.
The Le Mans Legend is a regular fixture at the world’s greatest endurance race. It is a historic support race featuring Le Mans-type cars – many of them with genuine Le Mans history – from a selected era of the race’s history. For 2011, the chosen era is 1949-65, and the race has become so popular with entrants, as well as the hundreds of thousands of spectators who flock to Le Mans, that the 61 places on the grid were snapped up soon after entries opened – with a bulging Reserves list, too.
From the Ferraris (250LM, 246S, 365 PS) and Listers (Knobbly and Costin) likely to dominate the front of the grid, right back to the earlier, smaller-engined cars such as Frazer Nash and even a 1500cc HRG, a spectacular and diverse array of historic racing cars will take to the world-famous 8.5-mile track for the Le Mans Legend.
To ensure battles for victory right the way through the field, the entries are split into classes, and Stirling – sharing the 45-minute race with co-driver Ian Nuthall – is in the class for sports-racing cars from 1959-65, with engines of no more than 2 litres. This puts his Porsche RS 61 up against a Porsche RS 60, Ferrari 206P, Lotus 15 – and a 2-litre, 6-cylinder Porsche 904-6 prototype, one of just six built, of which only four survive.
“Despite the incredible provenance and value of the cars entered, the Le Mans Legend is a fiercely fought race and none of Stirling’s opponents will be hanging back,” commented Duncan Wiltshire of Motor Racing Legends, which organises the Le Mans Legend. “There’s no doubt that Stirling will have quite a fight on his hands; but then, he’s used to that. In fact, he positively thrives on it.”
The 61 cars in the 2011 Le Mans Legend will take to the track at 10am on Saturday 11 June, shortly before the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours. For more details of the race, see www.motorracinglegends.com
- Stirling Moss | Images © Ned Lawler