One of sports car’s driving legends and a two-time Formula One World Champion are getting honored in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, as well as a key team figure who’ll be participating in this year’s running of the June endurance classic.
That would be Allan McNish, Fernando Alonso and Doug Fehan respectively, who are three of the biggest names from Audi, Ferrari and Corvette.
McNish – the Scottish terrier who won three times overall at Le Mans, including last year – retired in the offseason and for his first Le Mans out of the cockpit in more than a dozen years, will serve as Grand Marshal.
Meanwhile Alonso will start the race, the 82nd running of the event, at its normal start time of 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 14.
This year’s Le Mans falls on an off weekend between the Canadian and Austrian Grands Prix. So Alonso will be the first active driver in race history to wave the green flag; there have been F1 drivers who have competed in Le Mans the same year, most recently Sebastien Bourdais in 2009.
Alonso is there to help support his current F1 employer – Ferrari – which with more than a dozen F458 Italias split in GTE Pro and GTE Am this year is the most popular manufacturer on this year’s grid.
Might it be a future portending of Ferrari’s own LMP1 plans? Possibly; there have been rumors to that degree over the last several months.
The official release from the ACO described the Alonso confirmation thusly: “It is an immense honour for the Automobile Club de l’Ouest that this great champion, recently described by the Ferrari President, Luca di Montezemolo, as the greatest driver in the world, has accepted this invitation. Alonso is a true motor racing fan and although he has never taken part in the Le Mans 24 Hours, he is very interested in the greatest endurance race in the world.”
As for Fehan, of Corvette Racing in GTE Pro, he’ll be awarded the Spirit of Le Mans on Friday evening 13th June by President Pierre Fillon, a prize given by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest to all those who have served the spirit of Le Mans.