Jaguar's motorsports involvement dates back to its earliest days some 75 years ago. The 24 Hours of Le Mans has been part of that story since 1951 when a C-Type won the big enduro its very first time out. Jaguar is returning to the French classic this year with a factory entry for the first time since the Tom Walkinshaw built XJR-14 prototypes of the early 1990s.
This year, instead of seeking overall victory with a prototype, Jaguar is aiming for top honors in GT2 with a production-derived XKR built by Lansing, MI based Rocketsports Racing. The JaguarRSR XKR GT2 ran some practice laps at the Petit Le Mans last fall before its competition debut in the ALMS finale at Laguna Seca. RSR owner Paul Gentilozzi will share seat time with Scott Pruett and Marc Goossens in the 24 hour race. The XKR will also be running the full American Le Mans Series season this year starting at the 12 hours of Sebring next month.
Photos copyright Jaguar / ©2009 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.
JAGUAR RETURNS TO LE MANS
The year 2010 marks 75 years of the Jaguar name on both road and race cars. As a continuation of this great heritage, Jaguar can confirm it will return to the famed Le Mans 24 hours. With a total of seven wins between 1951 and 1990, Jaguar is the single most successful British make in the race's history. Jaguar will return to Le Mans this year lining up on the starting grid on 12th June 2010 with an XKR GT2 run by JaguarRSR.
Paul Gentilozzi, Principal Partner, JaguarRSR commented: "We are delighted the ACO has granted us entry in the prestigious 24 hours of Le Mans. It is a race that is held dearly in the hearts of motorsport fans across the world and for Jaguar to be racing again is something special.
"We are fortunate to bring an international line up of the world's finest driving talent including Scott Pruett and Marc Goossens as our drivers for this race."
Gentilozzi, who will drive the JaguarRSR XKR GT2 in the 2010 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) added: "Spirits will be high around Jaguar's return to Le Mans but we must remember the incredibly high level of competition - a podium place in our category will not fall into our hands. That said, I can guarantee 100 per cent commitment from JaguarRSR and urge fans of Jaguar and Britain's racing heritage to support the team whole heartedly."
C.J. O'Donnell, Global Marketing Director of Jaguar Cars said: "Motorsport has always been important to the Jaguar brand. Our domination of Le Mans in the 1950s was a foundation on which the company was developed. It was twenty years ago that Jaguar last won Le Mans with a TWR Jaguar Sport entry driven by John Nielsen, Price Cobb and Martin Brundle. Returning to Le Mans will reignite excitement for the marque across the globe, all the more poignant in our 75th year.
"With the introduction of the new XK, XF and XJ, the Jaguar brand has advanced cutting-edge technology, stunning design and our 'R' performance driving experience. We now return to motorsport to demonstrate this achievement and the prowess of the Jaguar XKR."
In 1951, the C-type won Le Mans at its first attempt, with a further victory in 1953. The D-type took Le Mans wins in 1955, 1956 and 1957 while this racing success was followed in 1988 with the Jaguar XJR-9LM, a V12-powered Group C car. Another outright victory would follow in 1990 with the Jaguar XJR-12.
Details of Jaguar's wins at Le Mans 24-hours:
Race No.: 20
Drivers: Peter Walker, Peter Whitehead
Notes (distance and average speeds rounded off to nearest whole figure): First Jaguar win; 2244 miles, 93 mph
Race No.: 18
Drivers: Tony Rolt, Duncan Hamilton
Notes (distance and average speeds rounded off to nearest whole figure): Second Jaguar win; 2540 miles, 106 mph
Race No.: 6
Drivers: Mike Hawthorn, Ivor Bueb
Notes (distance and average speeds rounded off to nearest whole figure): Third Jaguar win; 2570 miles, 107 mph
Race No.: 4
Drivers: Ron Flockhart, Ninian Sanderson
Notes (distance and average speeds rounded off to nearest whole figure): Ecurie Ecosse entry; fourth Jaguar win; 2507 miles, 104 mph
Race No.: 3
Drivers: Ron Flockhart, Ivor Bueb
Notes (distance and average speeds rounded off to nearest whole figure): Ecurie Ecosse entry; fifth Jaguar win; 2732 miles, 114 mph
Race No.: 2
Drivers: Jan Lammers, Johnny Dumfries, Andy Wallace
Notes (distance and average speeds rounded off to nearest whole figure): TWR Jaguar Sport entry; sixth Jaguar win; 394 laps, 3313 miles, 138 mph
Race No.: 3
Drivers: John Nielsen, Price Cobb, Martin Brundle
Notes (distance and average speeds rounded off to nearest whole figure): TWR Jaguar Sport entry; seventh Jaguar win; 359 laps, 3034 miles, 127 mph