Time stands still at JMB. A regular at Le Mans in the 1990s and 2000s, the Paul Ricard-based racing team has rebranded itself JMB Classic to race cars from the same period — some still with the team after decades, others owned by gentleman racers — in championships for classic cars.
We met the team during the first shakedown of the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 class winner, the ex-Van Merksteijn Motorsport Porsche RS Spyder. Emmanuel Collard was one of the drivers behind the wheel to test the car, gaining evermore experience and kilometers. However, this Porsche held no secrets anymore for Collard who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans’ LMP2 class in 2009 with Team Essex in another Porsche RS Spyder. The race programme for the successful RS Spyder is still to be defined, but it should make some appearances this year in the Master Endurance Legends championship including at Silverstone.
JMB Classic also brought two rarities to this track day. The first one is a road-legal Mclaren F1 GTR (chassis 05R), still wearing the mesmerising art-car livery created by French sculptor César that it raced to 13th place in the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans with.
Another Porsche was present in the form of 1997 dream car, the factory-ran Porsche 911 GT1 (chassis 005) raced by Emmanuel Collard himself at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
We took the opportunity to talk a bit more about activities of JMB Classic with Remy Bouresche, the son of team founder Jean Michel Bouresche.
“We offer all the services that a car collector needs: Car storage, preparation for track days and races, transport and technical support at all European circuits and sometimes in the USA as well. We also help car collectors to locate a car that they want to buy using the network we have been built up during the JMB Racing years. With our network of former mechanics and engineers we often are able to find very rare spare parts. We also assist collectors in selling their cars if they want to sell them.”
JMB Classic is one of only a few teams worldwide to have such experience with race cars from the 90s and 2000s.
“All of JMB Classic’s technical staff has experience with JMB Racing, the successful team from 1995 to 2010 that won 15 international titles and participated 12 times in the mythical 24 Hours of Le Mans. We have a real legitimacy working on these cars, as we used to race 24-hour races with professional drivers pushing the cars to the limit. Nowadays, historic races last 45 minutes with gentleman drivers so it’s more of a formality for our mechanics.”
After the first iteration of the JMB team came to an end a few years ago, they are now solely focusing on historic cars. It’s a strategy that has brought big success.
“Modern racing is very different for us: We had to find sponsors or gentleman drivers to pay the cost of a season. Economically, there is a real growth market for historic races. Like the cars, our staff has also aged 20 years, it has no longer the same determination to sleep only four hours per night for one week in Le Mans, for example. They are much more fulfilled racing with historic cars.
“Since the creation of the Masters Endurance Legends and Global Endurance Legends by Peter Auto, we have a significant demand from some collectors who until last year were only doing private track days. Now, they have the possibilities to feel the adrenaline of qualifying and race starts at the most beautiful tracks in Europe and the USA.
“Today, we house and run approximately 60 cars: LMP1, LMP2, GT1, GT2. In my opinion, these cars are already classics, and we have the privilege to work on the most beautiful endurance cars from this time period. Like today, when we bring an ex-factory Porsche 911 GT1, the fastest 911 ever at Le Mans circuit. This car was 4 seconds faster than the current GTE Porsche. For me, this is clearly a museum piece. The Mclaren F1 GTR, chassis 05R, symbolises too this golden area for GT. These GT1s are faster than any GT in the past 20 years and they are extremely rare, in my view we should already consider them as classics.”
Photos by Erwan Seite.
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