Le Mans, France - The 2023 Le Mans Classic marked a spectacular tribute to a century of endurance racing. This extraordinary event celebrated 100 years of endurance 24-hour racing at the iconic Le Mans circuit. With 800 historic racing cars and 1,000 skilled drivers, it attracted a record-breaking crowd of 235,000 fans.
Ecurie Bertelli were proud to be a part of this amazing event paying homage to the pre-war Feltham team's storied legacy at Le Mans. Our team, featuring four remarkable vehicles - the 1930 Team Car LM4, 1935 Ulster, and two Speed Models - was further bolstered by the impressive Le Mans 24-hour-winning duo of Daren Turner and Richard Bradley. The mechanics, a team of four, meticulously cared for these racing machines throughout the event.
The Le Mans circuit, nearly 14 kilometres long with five long straights, demanded prolonged full-throttle action. Cars from 1923 to the late 1970s were divided into six grids. Each pre-war classic car covered nearly 600 miles at race speed over the weekend, spanning qualifying, night practice, and three 45-minute races. Speed, handling, and reliability were key.
In a grid of 84 cars from 1923 to 1939, smaller Aston-Martins qualified admirably. The Ulster secured 7th place, the Monoposto Speed Model 9th, LM4 13th, and the Speed Model 17th. Friday's free night practice prepared drivers for the nocturnal challenge.
Honouring Le Mans tradition, Saturday at 4 pm marked the commencement of racing, with drivers participating in the iconic Le Mans-style start, running across the track to their waiting cars. The first race showcased a stellar performance by all Ecurie Bertelli Astons, with all but LM4 advancing through the ranks, securing impressive finishes of 4th, 5th, 8th, and 18th places, respectively. The Ecurie Bertelli team efficiently conducted post-race checks and refuelling for the cars, with notable repairs including a gearbox change for the Bradley Ulster, accomplished in a swift 45 minutes, and exhaust mountings replacement for LM4.
In the second race, the Bradley Ulster surged as high as 3rd place overall before a battery failure led to an unfortunate retirement near the session's end. Nevertheless, the Ulster managed to secure 22nd place despite the setback. The rest of the Ecurie Bertelli team continued to impress, with the Speed Models finishing in 5th and 9th positions and LM4 advancing to 12th place. Some much-needed assistance came from Heinz Stamm, who kindly lent a replacement gearbox top for the Blakemore/Armstrong Speed Model after the original, dating back 87 years, had cracked. Regrettably, Heinz's replica Speed Model hadn’t made it through qualifying.
After refuelling and limited sleep, drivers returned at 07:50 for the final race. LM4 emerged as the undeniable champion of the Index of Performance, securing victory with a commanding lead of 7 minutes. The Index of Performance is a handicap system based on the age and engine size of the cars and, in period, was the most important of results. Additionally, the Skipworth/Dean Speed Model earned recognition, finishing 3rd in the Index of Performance. Overall, the Ecurie Bertelli team achieved remarkable results with the Speed Models securing 5th and 6th places, LM4 taking 13th place and the Bradley Ulster finishing 48th. This outstanding performance meant outpacing renowned competitors such as Alfa Romeos, Bentleys, and Bugattis in a vast and highly competitive field.
As the roar of racing engines faded through the historic Le Mans circuit, participants and fans alike eagerly anticipate the next instalment of this extraordinary event, scheduled for 2025.
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