The annual 24 hours of Le Mans is probably the greatest sports-car endurance race in the world. Usually taking place on the second weekend of June, it sees some of the greatest names and marques in motor sport slugging it out for victory.
This year, a group of South African racing enthusiasts will be joining the action. Bailey Sports Racing Cars, based in Boksburg and known for their Ford GT40 and Porsche 917 historic replicas, will be travelling to the Circuit de la Sarthe in France to promote their LMP2 racing car to aspirant team owners and potential sponsors.
Designed, built and developed in South Africa, the Bailey LMP2 is an advanced turnkey endurance racer that can be entered at Le Mans and other motor sport events. The company’s technical director, Greg Bailey, said the car would be on display at the circuit’s ACO Espace Privilege Club, a hospitality area frequented by industry players and sponsors.
The LMP2 has been painted in the colours of the SA flag and will mark the first time that a South African-built racing car will make an appearance at De la Sarthe. Said Bailey: “We are extremely excited about exhibiting at Le Mans. After all the production hurdles, just getting it there is an achievement. We would prefer it if we were actually on the track racing, but hopefully this exposure will help get us out there in 2013.”
He said motor sport at that level was very expensive and the only way of putting the car on the grid would be to land a sizeable sponsorship deal. But even if they do not succeed, the exercise would prove SA was capable of producing world-class racing machinery. Said Bailey: “Regardless of whether we attract the sponsorship, it gives us a great stage on which to demonstrate our skills and know-how.”
Sporting a carbon-fibre monocoque chassis and powered by a five-litre V8 engine, the Bailey LMP2 is aimed at privateer outfits competing in the Le Mans Prototype 2 category, a “stepping-stone” class governed by strict cost criteria.