Le Mans, along with the Monaco Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500, are the most prestigious events in racing. Together, they make up the Triple Crown of Motorsports, drawing massive crowds and television viewers from across Europe and the rest of the world.
While there’s nothing easy about the other two events, there’s little doubt that the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the most demanding. It’s a full day of sheer hell, with a team of drivers often travelling more than 3,000 miles while dealing with ever-changing track conditions, fatigue, and a combination of rain and oppressive heat.
Le Mans betting is a mixture of fun, potential profit, and utter chaos. While choosing the winner of a standard sporting event is difficult enough, it’s even more challenging when drivers have to switch out and vehicles are forced to travel six times the total length of the Indy 500.
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2016 Le Mans Race
The 84th annual 24 Hours of Le Mans is scheduled to take place from June 15th to June 19th, 2016. As always, the event will be held on the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.
This year should be even wilder than before, as the construction of additional garage complexes has allowed the field to be expanded to 60. The previous number was 56, so I’ll be interested to see how unleashing four more cars onto the track impacts the overall event.
I’m always fascinated by the Garage 56 entry, which is reserved for cars displayed cutting-edge technology. This slot wasn’t filled last year, but 2016 will see quadruple amputee Frederic Sausset driving a modified Morgan LMP2. While Sausset and his co-drivers are certain to be long shots to win, I imagine they’ll be a big favorite with French bettors and anyone who loves a good underdog story.
The battle between Porsche and Audi is also a continuing storyline that bettors should follow. Porsche has the most overall wins of any carmaker, and 2015 saw them capture their first title since 1998. They have two cars in the LMP1 class this year, with another seven sprinkled throughout other divisions. Audi only has two cars in the race, both in the LMP1 class, and my current favorite to win has to be the #7 car driven by Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer, and Marcel Fassler.
Betting Options for Le Mans
In this section, we’ll take a look at some of the more popular wagering options for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. These differ from one sportsbook to another, so gamblers are urged to shop around and find the options that best suit their needs.
- Futures – This type of wager is offered on events taking place in the future (usually several months or a year in advance). Since fewer details are available when the bet is placed, the potential payout is much greater. The most common option is to pick the outright winner of Le Mans long before the actual field of competitors is announced.
- Outright Winner – Usually offered a few weeks before the race, this wager requires bettors to choose the overall winner of the event (or winner of a specific class).
- Top Three Finish – If the chosen car finishes in the top three, then the bettor receives a payout.
- Head to Head Matchup – Two cars are pitted against one another, and it’s the job of the bettor to predict which one finishes higher in the standings.
- Prop Bets – A proposition bet doesn’t deal with the specific winner, so oddsmakers have a lot of latitude when it comes to creating them. Dozens of these are often available before the event. Some examples include the over/under on the total number of laps completed by a car, the over/under on the total distance travelled by a car during the race, and the automaker responsible for building the winning vehicle.
- Live Betting – This style of wager allows bettors to risk money while the race is actually underway. Live wagers have grown in popularity in recent years, as they heighten excitement and require the ability to make adjustments according to on-track events.
What is the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
Le Mans is held annually in June, and it’s the premier name in endurance racing. Taking place near the French town of Le Mans, it’s been around since 1923.
The objective is to complete the most laps within a 24-hour period. In order to be listed among the final standings, a car must be able to cross the finish line when the day-long time limit expires.
The race takes place on a combination of a permanent track and closed public roads. Currently, the course measures 13.629 km (8.5 miles).
In the early decades of the race, a car could be piloted by one driver for the duration of the event. This practice was eventually banned for safety reasons, and current teams are required to run with three drivers taking turns (with a four hour limit per turn).
Now that you know some of the basic details about the race, let’s look at a few interesting and unusual facts about the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Whether you’re a European viewer or a racing enthusiast from across the pond, throwing out a couple of these should make you seem like a longtime fan.
- The Mulsanne Straight is a 6 km (3.7 mile) section of the racing circuit. The highest speed achieved there is 251 mph.
- Winners of major sporting events often spray champagne to celebrate. The first to do this was American Le Mans winner Dan Gurney in 1967.
- Danish driver Tom Kristensen has the most le Mans wins with nine. Seven of these victories have come while driving an Audi car.
- While numerous fatalities have occurred over the years, the most lethal accident took place in 1955. The car of French driver Pierre Levegh flew into the air, struck a retaining wall, and exploded into pieces. The combination of fire and projectiles killed Levegh and 83 fans, as well as injuring another 100.
- Porsche cars have finished both first and second in four races. This occurred in 1971, 1987, 1998, and 2015.
- Porsche cars also hold the record for the most wins by a constructor. From 1970 to 2015, they’ve claimed victory on 17 occasions.
- During its history, the race has been cancelled 10 times. The first came in 1936 due to a labor strike caused by the great depression, while 1940 through 1948 were because of the Second World War.
- France’s Henri Pescarolo holds the record for the most starts in the event, racing 33 consecutive times from 1966 to 1999. During that period, he won the event four times.
- The French tricolor flag is dropped to signify the start of the race. Like most auto racing events, a checkered flag is waved at the conclusion.
- Perhaps the most accurate depiction of the event took place in the 1971 film titled Le Mans. The lead role was played by Steve McQueen, who was himself an avid racer (once winning the three-liter class at the 12 Hours of Sebring).