A race of heightened emotion and breath-taking performances, the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will forever be remembered as one of the most extraordinary contests at the mythical Circuit de la
Sarthe. This afternoon at 4.00 p.m. local time, the No. 51 Ferrari AF Corse achieved glory in front of a remarkable 325,000 spectators. From Saturday 10–Sunday 11 June, the champions etched their names into motor sport history and claimed a first victory for the Italian team since 1965.
To mark this important occasion, record nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and Rolex Testimonee Tom Kristensen presented the winning drivers with a specially engraved Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona as they celebrated on the podium with the centenary trophy. Reflecting on his role as Grand Marshal, Kristensen says: “Standing here alongside the winners of this milestone edition was a big moment for me. My experience of the 24 Hours of Le Mans means I have even more respect for what these drivers and teams have achieved over 24 hours. After all, it is this race that brought me into the Rolex family, and because of that Le Mans feels even more like home to me.”
Extreme track conditions led to a tumultuous opening few hours of the event and an electric atmosphere, with the lead changing continuously and the Hypercar class finely poised. As night fell the race settled into a rhythm and an intense contest emerged between the defending champions No. 8 Toyota Gazoo Racing and the No. 51 Ferrari AF Corse, with the Italian marque going on to seal an historic victory. Against the odds, the No. 34 Inter Europol Competition triumphed in the LMP2 category, while the No. 33 Corvette Racing prevailed in the LMGTE Am class.
Professional racers and enthusiastic amateur drivers from all corners of the motor sport world took to the grid across the three classes, alongside the Garage 56 entry – the first of its kind to ever complete the twice-around-the-clock race. The 2009 FIA Formula 1® Drivers’ World Champion and Rolex Testimonee Jenson Button co- piloted this innovative car alongside NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson and sportscar specialist Mike Rockenfeller, demonstrating incredible durability and perseverance throughout. Speaking afterwards, an exhilarated Button says: “The 24 Hours of Le Mans is always special but to be competing in the 100th anniversary was exceptional. What a race – it threw everything at us and came down to the smallest margins. For us to be as competitive as we were is incredible and it’s very emotional
for everyone involved.”
First held in 1923, the world’s most prestigious endurance race has tested human and technical performance to its limits over the century. As the Official Timepiece of the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001, Rolex champions the commitment around the clock which has made this race and its conquerors legends of motor sport. Testament to the Swiss watchmaker’s enduring support of motoring excellence, Rolex unveiled an Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona to honour the 24 Hours of Le Mans centenary at Circuit de la Sarthe.
Kristensen adds: “When we see this unique Rolex Daytona, we see 100 years of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in one chronograph. It represents the dedication and teamwork, which makes me feel part of something greater. Ultimately, what brings us to these racetracks has remained the same throughout generations – passion, persistence, performance, perfect lap times and perfect timing. Le Mans started before me and it is something that will live forever.”
ROLEX AND MOTOR SPORT
Rolex’s close ties with motor sport date back to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s World Land Speed Record successes in the 1930s, when he became the first driver to break the 300 mph barrier (483 km/h) at the wheel of his car, Bluebird. Since then, Rolex’s presence in motor racing has grown steadily, its support extending to revered endurance events such as the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 2013, Rolex became associated with Formula 1®, the pinnacle of motor sport, having supported Rolex Testimonee Sir Jackie Stewart since 1968. The three-time FIA Formula 1® Drivers’ World Champion has been joined by fellow high achievers from the world of motor sport: Tom Kristensen, the record nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Mark Webber, the multiple Formula 1® race winner and 2015 FIA World Endurance Champion, and Jenson Button, the 2009 FIA Formula 1® Drivers’ World Champion. Most recently, Jamie Chadwick, Indy NXT driver, three-time W Series Champion and the sport’s most exciting young female talent, became part of the Rolex family. The brand also has a global appreciation for classic automotive events steeped in elegance, and tradition, including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the Goodwood Revival.