Colin-on-Cars – SA racers take on Le Mans Classic

Three South African racers will be part of what is billed as ‘the world’s biggest retro motor race’ – the Le Mans Classic 2023 that takes place on the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France, from June 29 to July 2. 

South Africans Jaki Scheckter, Paolo Cavalieri and Maurizio Bianco will count among the 1 000 drivers to take to the circuit in this legendary classic endurance event.

The team, representing Pablo Clark Racing, will be driving a 1971 Ferrari 365GTB/4 Group IV Competizione (Daytona).

Le Mans Classic will feature cars dating back 100 years, to 1923, up to 1981. The PCR-entered Daytona will race in the fifth category for cars built between 1966 and 1971.

According to Scheckter, the team will go straight to qualifying to determine the grid for race 1.

“Le Mans Classic works a little bit differently from what we know today,” he explains. “Each grid/plateau race starts roughly every hour and has three sub-one-hour race sessions over the 24-hour period.”

Sheckter has not driven the circuit before.

“If you think piloting a 50-year-old car in excess of 250 km/h without practice sounds daunting, you’d be right!” says Scheckter. “Fortunately, though, technology is the salvation of the day.”

Thanks to a simulator at the Pablo Clark workshop, which has been bootstrapped with a classic wooden Ferrari wheel and gated gearbox to its right, the drivers have been able to replicate what awaits them in a few days’ time.

“It’s not just a video game,” says Scheckter. “The Asseto Corsa program that runs the simulations has the Daytona topping 280 km/h down the Mulsanne Straight before reaching the chicanes – a fact confirmed by drivers who have taken the same Ferrari around the circuit.”

This high-end simulator is the exact same one on offer for attendees of the Pablo Clark Racing Pit Crew Challenge.

Cavalieri and Bianco will also drive a 1964 Jaguar E-Type 3.8 litre straight-six in a separate class at the event. The Jag will go up against early 60s stalwarts in grid 4, which includes Shelby Cobras as the main opposition alongside Ferrari’s last overall Le Mans victor – the sleek 250 LM.

This isn’t Pablo Clark’s first international racing event (the team previously competed successfully in the ICGT 9 Hour at Kyalami, and Bianco has raced at Le Mans before), but it will certainly strike a chord with lovers of classics.

“What better opportunity to show the world who Pablo Clark Racing is, while giving the skillset of team members in their arsenal the opportunity to enjoy the event, marking its important centenary?” says Scheckter. “Just as the Daytona managed in the GT class in its heyday, we trust it will dominate against opposition from GM and their Corvette, Ford, Porsche and De Tomaso at the end of the month.”  

Keep an eye out for the PCR team in the epic 24-hour race, which is set to draw 8 500 club cars and more than 200 000 spectators!

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