The Historic Grand Prix in early September will be the event to notice that the circuit’s spectacular upgrades won’t just benefit Formula 1. For the first time, Masters Historic Racing is bringing the Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends to the Historic Grand Prix, the series for prototypes and GTs that competed at Le Mans from 1995 to 2015 – and they will be able to properly stretch their legs on the upgraded circuit!
So how historic are they? That’s the question many people have asked since the first race run by the Masters Endurance Legends at Spa in 2017. Motorsport fans reunited with the finest LMPs and GTs from one of the true heyday eras of Le Mans will soon forget that question, though, as let’s face it – with the sight of the current hybrid LMP1 spaceships still locked inside your head, you’ll soon be nostalgic for the open prototypes and roaring GT1s from the late nineties, and even the diesel cars from Peugeot and Audi or the screaming GT2s from Ferrari and Porsche from the beginning of this century. True, it’s all recent memory, and yet they seem legendary already…
The Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends is a relatively new historic series welcoming all prototypes and GTs that competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours and related championships between 1995 and 2015 – a fact that leaves room for variation wider than many people think. After all, during this period, LMP1s, LMP900s, SR1s, LMP2s, LMP675s, SR2s, GT1s and GT2s weren’t just racing at Le Mans, but also in the FIA Sports Car Championship, the FIA Sports Racing World Cup, the International Sports Racing Series, the Le Mans Endurance Series, the Le Mans Series, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the American Le Mans Series and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship – all precursors to the current FIA World Endurance Championship, the European Le Mans Series and the IMSA WeatherTech Championship, and all with regulations that evolved into the current LMP1, LMP2 and GTE classes.
Recent Le Mans winners such as the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP may still be top of mind, but it starts to feel longer ago when realising that Jos Verstappen was among the drivers racing the Lola-Aston Martin DBR1/2 with its screaming V12. The same goes for the Porsche RS Spyder with which Verstappen Sr together with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Peter van Merksteijn won the LMP2 class at Le Mans in 2008. Prototype constructors such as Creation, Courage and Pilbeam are now a mere shadow in our memory. And who remembers all the cars from the ALMS days, such as Dyson Racing’s Lola-Mazda B12/60 or Honda’s HPD ARX-03a? Or an obscure car like the Nasamax-Judd DM139, which in turn was based on the Reynard 2KQ?
There’s room for modern legends too, like the Ferrari 333SP, as well as all kinds of GT2s – from the Chrysler Viper GTS-R to the Ferrari 458 GTE and the Porsche 997 GT3 RSR. For many, the GT1s from a few decades ago are the ‘real’ GTs – and among those to be enjoyed include the Aston Martin DBR9, the Ferrari 550 Maranello and the Maserati MC12. All these cars have made appearances at the Masters Endurance Legends in recent years and may also appear at the Historic Grand Prix in September.
It’s all because of Zandvoort’s upgrade to current Formula 1 standards that the circuit’s safety standards are now up to speed with these relatively modern cars. The fact means that for the first time Masters Historic Racing will bring all its five grids to the Historic Grand Prix. In addition to the FIA Masters Formula One Championship, the FIA Masters Sports Car Championship, the Masters Gentlemen Drivers and the Masters Pre-66 Touring Cars, the Aston Martin Masters Endurance Legends will be happy to take full advantage of the new banked corners of the circuit.