The ACO turned up the excitement levels for next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans even further last week by revealing some aerial shots of the brand-new Arnage complex. WEC-Magazin has been on the road to find out exactly what kind of views await spectators from the new enclosure.
Arnage and Indianapolis are two names that are synonymous with the Circuit de la Sarthe. Ever since the race was first run in 1923, spectators have flocked to the complex to watch the cars screaming down from Mulsanne, taking the slightly banked left-hander at Indianapolis, dabbing the throttle before slowing for the tight right-hander at Arnage, the slowest point on the circuit.
For spectators, this back section of the track has barely changed over the years – with the steep embankments and makeshift staircases not exactly providing the best access for fans with limited mobility.
Last year, the city of Le Mans announced major roadworks at the site of Arnage corner, which is, in normal operation, a major accident black spot. With the new piece of road running straight through the old Arnage spectator area, this gave the ACO the chance to restructure the Arnage/Indianapolis complex and bring it in line with modern access requirements.
Far from decreasing the size of the viewing area, or even removing it completely, the ACO have decided to shift the spectator enclosure from the short run on the outside of Arnage to the exit of the fast right-hander before Indianapolis.
This brand-new spectator area will give fans a fantastic opportunity to watch the cars at maximum speed as they sweep down the forested section of track between Mulsanne and Indianapolis – the scene of many incidents over the years, including Loic Duval’s shunt in the #2 Audi last year.
The loss of the Arnage enclosure certainly removes some of the circuit’s character, as well as the chance to see glowing brake disks and flaming exhausts as the cars make their way down to the Porsche Curves. But the new area will give fans a brand-new opportunity to see LMP and GTE cars at the absolute limit.
Images: WEC-Magazin (David Tunnicliffe / local reporter)