The fictional Vaillante race team could make its return to the real-life 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2023 as part of a new association with FFSA French GT outfit Mirage Racing.
Endurance-info reports that Mirage Racing and Jean-Louis Dauger, the brand director of Vaillante and its fictional driver Michel Vaillant, have joined forces for a three-year race program that carries the aim of securing an entry into the centennial edition of Le Mans.
The 2023 race also coincides with the 100th birthday of Jean Graton who created the original Michel Vaillant comic book character.
Vaillante last appeared on the Le Mans grid in 2017, as part of Rebellion Racing’s two-car entry with Oreca 07 Gibsons competing under the Vaillante Rebellion banner.
Mirage Racing’s partnership with the Vaillante brand is set to start next year with an LMP3 program in either the European Le Mans Series or the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
Mirage currently runs Alpine A110 GT4s in the FFSA French GT Championship and finished third in the Pro-Am standings of the recently-concluded 2020 season.
The Toulouse-based team, which is managed by Guillaume Bruot and Frederic de Brabant, has no affiliation to the Mirage cars that raced at Le Mans from the late 1960s to the 1980s.
De Brabant is also the head of a production company that directed a documentary about the Michel Vaillant character during the 2017 Le Mans event.
He said that the “objective” is to be at Le Mans with a Vaillante-Mirage entry in 2023, while Dauger commented that “there is a desire to go even further” with the Vaillante brand after its collaboration with Rebellion Racing three years ago.
“We want to tell a story over three years”, said de Brabant, who is expected to keep running Alpines in FFSA GT alongside Mirage’s planned move up to the LMP3 class.
“Putting Mirage Racing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans would be something exceptional and I really want to experience that. I already have a history with Michel Vaillant and Le Mans following the documentary made in 2017.”
This latest project could lead to the fourth instance of a Vaillante car racing at Le Mans.
In 1997 a Courage C41 driven by Marc Goossens, Didier Cottaz and Jerome Policand finished fourth overall with a Vaillante livery, while in 2002 a DAMS-run Lola carried Vaillante branding for the purpose of filming action shots for the film Michel Vaillant.
The 2017 project with Rebellion concluded with Bruno Senna and Julien Canal winning the FIA World Endurance Championship LMP2 title in a Vaillante-liveried Oreca.