Plan Ahead: Motor Racing - Le Mans 24-hour race

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The Independent Online
THE Le Mans 24-hour race is undergoing change, though the size and the quality of this year's entry will continue to make it one of the world's greatest motor races. With the demise of the World Sportscar Championship, the mighty group C prototypes will race at the French circuit for the last time. Next year the field will comprise GT cars.

Peugeot, who won last year, are favoured for overall victory, but in the the new GT category, which makes up more than half the entry, Jaguar XJ220s, Porsche Carreras and Lotus Esprit Sports are among the cars to grace the 13km circuit.

Several tour operators specialise in trips to Le Mans. Admission is not included in the tour prices. The Leicester company, Page and Moy, offers several coach packages, starting at pounds 69 per person and which can include stopovers in Paris, Rouen or Angers. The flight package from London Heathrow to Paris, transferring by coach costs pounds 179. Direct flights to Le Mans, the airfield is adjacent to the track, from East Midlands and Southampton airports cost pounds 329.

Airtrack Services Ltd provides flights from Gatwick to Le Mans at pounds 279, a two-night package from Stansted to Tours for pounds 399 and a three-night trip, which includes one night in Paris, for pounds 457. The operator's coach trip with three-nights hotel costs pounds 279. Airtrack has introduced an extra facility this year, Le Club, which is a restaurant and bar. Membership is pounds 20 and at least one meal has to be booked over the weekend. The hospitality option costs pounds 99.

Motor Racing International, of Sandwich, offers packages to Le Mans by coach, air or self-drive. Nationwide departures by coach start at pounds 79, direct flights from Luton cost from pounds 279 and self-drive tours, from pounds 74, feature ferry crossings, hotel or camping accommodation and reserved parking. Free admission to Motor Racing's trackside hospitality facility is included in any package.

Just Ticket, of Dover, also cater to the motorist, supplying tickets, reserved parking at pounds 24 per car and campsites from pounds 29.

Le Mans 24-hour race, 19-20 June.

Automobile Club de L'Ouest, Circuit de la Farthe, 72040 Le Mans, France (Tel: 010 33 43402424).

General admission: pounds 41. Covered grandstands: pounds 67 to pounds 106 (inclusive of entry).

Airtrack Services Ltd, 16-17 Windsor Street, Uxbridge UB8 1AB (Tel: 0895-270921). Page and Moy Ltd 136-140 London Road, Leicester LE2 1EN (Tel 0533-524344). Motor Racing International, Golden Key Building, 15 Market Street, Sandwich, Kent, CT13 9DA (Tel: 0304-612424). Just Ticket and Motoring Limited, 1 Charterhouse, Camden Crescent, Dover CT16 1LE (Tel: 0304-228866).

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