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Larrousse, Pouyanne, France Receive Le Mans Honorary Titles

This year’s 24H Le Mans starter, Grand Marshal and Spirit of Le Mans recipient named…

Image: ACO

The ACO has named the honorary starter, Grand Marshal and Spirit of Le Mans recipient for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanne will wave the 62-car field off for the start of the race on June 11, while two-time Le Mans winner Gerard Larrousse will serve as Grand Marshal.

Furthermore, IMSA and NASCAR chairman Jim France has been named as the latest recipient of the Spirit of Le Mans accolade.

Pouyanne’s race starter role coincides with the introduction of the TotalEnergies Excellium Racing 100 renewable fuel, which will be used by all cars on the Le Mans grid.

The bioethanol-based fuel, which is produced using wine residue, has already been used in the early rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series seasons.

“It is an honor to be starter of the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Pouyanne.

“As a partner of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, TotalEnergies is proud to supply the field with a 100 percent renewable fuel for the first time in the history of the race.

“It is our contribution to the ACO’s commitment to sustainable development. It is also in line with our strategy to help our customers and partners negotiate change.”

The Grand Marshal for the 90th Le Mans edition, Larrousse, won Le Mans with Matra in 1973 and 1974, on both occasions with Henri Pescarolo as his co-driver.

The Frenchman also finished second with Porsche in 1969 and 1970. In the years after his final Le Mans outing in 1974, he co-founded an eponymous Formula 1 team.

Five-time Le Mans winner Derek Bell was last year’s Grand Marshal, following on from fellow five-time winner Emanuele Pirro in 2020 and three-time winner Hurley Haywood in 2019.

“I am very honored to have been chosen to be Grand Marshal,” said Larrousse, who turns 81 today.

“The 24 Hours of Le Mans have marked my whole life and thanks to the ACO I will be at the heart of the event. I can’t wait to start in the opening car for a race that will probably be exceptional given the richness of the field.”

The Spirit of Le Mans trophy is presented to people who have made significant contributions to the endurance racing discipline.

According to the ACO, the award salutes those who “uphold the values of enduring racing by their commitment, team spirit and competitive drive”.

The recognition of France reflects the prototype racing convergence achieved between the ACO and IMSA, hallmarked by the creation of the LMDh formula.

In a show of unity between the two organizations, it was announced in January that the first chicane on the Mulsanne Straight will be renamed the Daytona Chicane, while the Bus Stop at Daytona International Speedway has been christened the Le Mans Chicane. 

“I take tremendous pride in the relationship we have built with the ACO over the past decade,” said France.

“IMSA and the ACO are the caretakers of professional endurance sports car racing all over the world, and together we have developed a platform for an incredibly bright future.

“I am deeply humbled and honored to be selected by close friend, Pierre Fillon, and the ACO Board of Directors to receive the prestigious ‘Spirit of Le Mans’ Trophy this year.

“Joining the list of so many respected previous recipients is something that I and my family will forever cherish.”

ACO President Fillon commented: “I am honored to play host to Patrick Pouyanne, Gerard Larrousse and Jim France and grateful for their contribution to this year’s event.

“With a new fuel, a milestone victory and a historic partnership, the three men embody the sense of innovation, of history, the winning attitude and team spirit that characterize the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“This year, we are particularly looking forward to welcoming the many thousands of fans to enjoy the event with no restriction on numbers.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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