Our magazine for the 2021 Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD is now available for digital download. This month, we take a look back at the previous editions of the Hankook 24H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD, revisit one of the most dramatic race finales in 24H SERIES history, and speak with one of our latest teams to sign up for the full season. All that and more in this month’s magazine.
Next weekend, the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook makes a welcome return to Circuit Paul Ricard for round three of the 2021 season.
Located in La Castellet in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of southern France, Circuit Paul Ricard was commissioned by its namesake – pastis magnate Paul Ricard – in 1969, with both four-time Le Mans winner Henri Pescarolo and Grand Prix winner Jean-Pierre Beltoise signed on as consultants. Opened on 19 April 1970, the circuit went on to secure the rights to host the Formula 1 French Grand Prix just one year later over the aging Circuit de Charade and Rouen-Les-Essarts, and would host the French GP 14 times across the next two decades. The 500cc Grand Prix de France was also a popular (if intermittent) fixture at Circuit Paul Ricard between 1973 and 1999 before the event later found a permanent home at Le Mans in 2000.
Every great Grand Prix venue endures its fair share of controversy however, and the tragic passing of two-time Grand Prix winner Elio de Angelis at Paul Ricard during a mid-season test for Brabham in 1986 contributed heavily to F1’s relocation to Magny-Cours for 1991. A lack of investment for the once considered ‘most modern motorsport facility’ would, ironically, end up costing the circuit dearly.
Despite this, and after being sold to Excelis – a conglomerate then-owned by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone – in the late ‘90s, the newly renamed Paul Ricard High Tech Test Track was rebuilt, renovated or repurposed as an advanced testing facility during the early 2000s, eventually leading to its FIA homologation being returned in 2006. The now renamed Circuit Paul Ricard was courting racing series just three years later, with the European Le Mans Series and the World Touring Car Championship among the more high-profile returnees to Le Castellet before F1’s eventual ‘homecoming’ in 2018. Prior to that, a two-month refurbishment took place, including more than 10,000 tons of asphalt being used to resurface the entire track and pitlane, as well as updates to the pit and paddock complex.
Between 2015 and 2017, the Hankook 24H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD, organized by CREVENTIC, was another annual fixture on the French circuit’s calendar. Don’t let that three-year heritage fool you though: as we revisit with the help of Herberth Motorsport’s Robert Renauer, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing’s Stefan Tanner and CP Racing’s Joe Foster, CREVENTIC’s endurance event at Paul Ricard has featured its fair share of drama.
This month, we also catch up with two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and Rutronik ambassador Manuel Reuter, who discusses Rutronik Racing’s maiden CREVENTIC outing at Mugello as well as the team’s ambitions ahead of its first full 24H SERIES campaign on p19. What else happened at Mugello? You can check out the previous round’s highlights HERE and the thoughts of radiolemans.com’s Joe Bradley.
Former Overall GT Teams’ champion Scuderia Praha made its return to the 24H SERIES at Mugello, and we caught up with team leader Josef Kral for his memories on one of the series’ closest finishes ever. Oh, and if you want to know why Mathieu Detry enjoys street circuits and what ‘Northproof’ means to former Overall TCE Drivers’ champion Kari-Pekka Laaksonen, you can check out their respective Under the Lid Q&As.
Before the racing gets underway, we’d like to thank our legion of fans around the world, our competitors, our sponsors and partners, everyone in race control, all of the marshals, and the management and staff at Circuit Paul Ricard for making an event four years in the making a reality.