2023 Salon Privé: Pride of the Manceau
The transition between summer and autumn in Britain is heralded by three world-class festivals of the automobile. The first of these is Salon Privé, now held in the sumptuous grounds of Blenheim Palace, situated to the north of Oxford. In common with many such events in 2023, Salon Privé paid tribute to the centenary of the Le Mans 24 Hours. Here is John Brooks’ take on this aspect.
Leading the charge was the familiar colour combination of Rothmans Porsche, specifically Porsche 962 #004. In the hands of Jochen Mass this car took pole position at Le Mans in 1986 and subsequently enjoyed a successful career with Joest Racing.
The one that got away…. The demise of Group C forced Tom Walkinshaw and Jaguar to consider other options at La Sarthe, the resurrection of GT racing in 1993 opened the door to competing with this Jaguar XJ220C. Driven by David Brabham, John Nielsen and David Coulthard it took class honours only to be thwarted in a row with the ACO over the use, or not, of a catalytic converter.
One of the centerpieces of Salon Privé in 2023 was The Yellow Collection… a collection of rarities with a similar hue. This Porsche Carrera RSR competed in the 1974 race, driven by Richard Bond, Hughes de Fierlant and ‘Beurlys’ (Jean Blaton), but retired late in the race.
Richard Lloyd Racing
Richard Lloyd Racing was one of the prominent competitors in the Group C era with Porsche 956s and 962s developed by Nigel Stroud. 962 – #200 was raced at Le Mans in 1989 by Derek Bell, James Weaver and Tiff Needell but did not finish.
The flourishing GT scene in the ’90s was underpinned by the Porsche 993 GT2 R which provided the majority of the competitors in the class. This example, #393091, bought by French lawyer, Jean-François Véroux, was entered at Le Mans in 1995. Veroux and his teammates, Eric van de Vyver and Didier Ortion, mastered the difficult conditions to finish 16th overall, the second Porsche home.
This Ferrari 458 GT, chassis #F142 GT*2826* was built by Michelotto for the 2011 season and was one of two cars entered by the works team, AF Corse. Ferrari allocated their prime driver pairing of Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni to share the 458 GT and they were joined by Toni Vilander for Le Mans.
In the final quarter of the race, the battle came down to the surviving Corvette and this 458 GT, with the latter’s performance hampered with electronic gremlins, which reduced power and caused clutch issues. In the final two hours the American GT passed their Italian opponents to snatch victory with a margin of just two-and-a-half minutes after 24 hours of combat.
1965 was destined to be the year that Ford conquered Le Mans, at least that was the script, but the 24 Hours has a reputation for derailing such prophecies and ’65 was no exception. This Belgian Ferrari 250 LM, driven by Pierre Dumay and Gustave Gosselin, was heading for victory on Sunday morning till a late puncture caused considerable damage, forcing the pair to settle for second.
At Salon Privé there is a wide selection of goods and services that represent the finer things in life. Halfscalecars brings out the inner child in all of us who fancy themselves as Steve McQueen or Hans Herrmann, driving a Porsche 917 flat out down Les Hunaudières. The 917 Junior, described by Top Gear as ‘The best toy car ever built’, is a faithful recreation of the iconic 917 with a small petrol engine, a dream come true for children of all ages.
French Grand Prix
The final car with a La Sarthe connection predates the first 24 Hours held in 1923 by 17 years. The first ever Grand Prix was held on 26th and 27th June 1906 on a circuit to the east of Le Mans. It was won by Ferenc Szisz in a Renault, a sister car to the elderly racer on show at Salon Privé. That Renault crossed the Atlantic to contest the Vanderbilt Cup held in October.
Here is the list with the 2023 Concours winners.