Porsche Wins 24 Hours Of Le Mans 2015 And Chopard Presents Superfast Chrono Porsche 919 Jacky Ickx Edition
Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele loves Porsche.
Now I know that is an easy statement because, really, who doesn’t love Porsche?
But Scheufele really loves Porsche. He even told me, “Porsche is all about passion.”
Chopard’s connection to the automobile world was born of the passion Scheufele and his father share for vintage automobiles, which explains why brand is involved in many motorsports and motor-sporting events, such the iconic Mille Miglia in which Scheufele regularly competes along with Belgian racing legend Jacky Ickx. Last year, the pair drove the thousand mile-long race in a 1956 Porsche 550 Spyder Roadster (please read Snapshots From The 2014 Mille Miglia).
The 24 Hours of Le Mans
“This (Le Mans) is one of the reasons we chose the Porsche partnership, which began in 2014,” Scheufele revealed. “Because of this race: Le Mans is a classic event. This is the essence of what motor racing is about. It’s more than an average track race; this is about strategy, endurance, and technology.”
A little-known fact is that when the race began 1923, it was called the Grand Prix of Speed and Endurance and the participating cars retained part of their original road-legal equipment.
Today, the cars in all classes have evolved into prototypes and road GTs modified especially for competition on the thirteen-kilometer track. Maximum speeds here run in the 340 km/h range, which means that the average time for the thirteen-kilometer lap is around 3.2 minutes despite the sinuous track’s 38 turns.
The classes that race are the “professional” category LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1); LMP2 (Le Mans Prototype 2); LM GTE Pro (Le Mans Grand Tourisme Endurance Professional); and LM GTE Am (Le Mans Grand Tourisme Endurance Amateur). You can find all the information on these categories at www.24h-lemans.com.
“I find it much more interesting than watching a Formula 1 race these days,” Scheufele reiterated several times over the course of the race weekend. And after having the opportunity to see this year’s exciting race for myself as a guest of Chopard, I wholeheartedly agree.
Porsche at Le Mans
Few automobile brands have such a legendary history with Le Mans as Porsche, which forged a significant part of its own mythos at the grueling 24-hour endurance race.
Porsche first took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1951. During its run at Le Mans, it has won the most races of any manufacturer in history: 16 wins between 1970 and 1998, with a seventeenth now added on June 14, 2015. Porsche also holds the record for the most consecutive wins: seven from 1981 through 1987.
That first victory came in 1970, the same year that scenes from Steve McQueen’s cult film Le Mans were shot on location during the race (it was released the following year). Porsche played a large role in the film.
Jacky Ickx (Scheufele’s partner in the Mille Miglia) was the most successful driver for Porsche at Le Mans. Ickx and Porsche won Le Mans in 1976, 1977, and 1981 with a Porsche 936 as well as in 1982 with Ickx at the wheel of a Porsche 956. Ickx has won Le Mans six times, making him the second most successful driver in Le Mans history behind Tom Kristensen, who has nine victories there, the most recent in 2013.
Porsche was absent from the 24 hours of Le Mans race for 16 years until it returned last year with a revamped hybrid car appropriately called the Porsche 919 Hybrid. After the “warm-up” year 2014, in which Porsche fared less well, this year’s Le Mans race was one of the most highly anticipated in the history of the event and certainly the most highly anticipated event in the FIA World Endurance Championship season.
Since 2014, Chopard has been the Official Timing Partner for Porsche Motorsport. Two of Porsche’s drivers, Mark Webber and Romain Dumas, are official Chopard ambassadors.
For the 2015 edition of Le Mans, Dumas teamed up with Neel Jani and Marc Lieb to pilot the Porsche 919 Hybrid (car number 18), which started from the pole position of the historic race thanks to a record qualifying round, which saw the three Porsche 919s placed one, two, and three. Car number 18 managed finishing the race in fifth position in the top LMP1 class.
The race was actually won by the number 19 Porsche 919 Hybrid piloted by Tick Tandy and first-time Le Mans drivers Earl Bamber and Nico Hülkenberg. They were just ahead of the Porsche 919 Hybrid bearing the number 17 piloted by Webber, Brendon Hartley, and Timo Bernhard.
The paths of Porsche and Chopard also meet in the story of another legend: longstanding Chopard ambassador Jacky Ickx, who entered the automotive history books thanks to wins achieved in several motorsport disciplines including Formula 1, endurance, and rally.
Jacky Ickx, nicknamed “Mr. Le Mans,” has been a good friend of Scheufele’s since 1988, and an official Chopard ambassador since the late 1990s when the brand first suggested a watch with his name on it.
In 1989 Scheufele and Ickx first drove the Mille Miglia together. “We got to know each other there,” Scheufele laughed. “He turned up and said, ‘Well, I have no intention of driving. You’re driving; I’m going to watch the scenery’.”
That particular week spent touring the Italian countryside in an historic vehicle turned out well. “My driving must have been okay, he fell asleep after half the Mille Miglia,” laughed Scheufele as he remembered.
“The connection between Chopard and Porsche was also made thanks to my friend Jacky,” Scheufele confirmed. “And my passion for Porsche,” he added with a smile. “Above and beyond that, both companies feel this connection is right and good.”
The Superfast Chrono Porsche 919 Jacky Ickx Edition
Not only was Jacky Ickx was on hand at the Le Mans racetrack to introduce the latest Chopard model bearing his name, but Chopard’s other two ambassadors Mark Webber and Romain Dumas also joined the unveiling for a short few minutes.
The reason for their brief appearance was that they were actually driving the Le Mans race at the time, which had been on for two hours already at this point! In case you are wondering how this was possible, the 24 hours that the race lasts is divided between three drivers per car and Porsche had three cars in the race. So Webber and Dumas were both “at rest” at the time. Nonetheless, they could not stay long, so they made the best of the brief amount of time at their disposal.Eventual winner Nico Hülkenberg dropped by the introduction of the Superfast Chrono Porsche 919 Jacky Ickx Edition (here in conversation with Chopard co-president Karl-Friedrich Scheufele)
German superstar driver Nico Hülkenberg also stopped by the Porsche hospitality for the introduction and to try the watch co-designed by Ickx. The Superfast line was chosen as the base thanks to its virile case design and generous size suggesting power. The base reference takes a lot of its design cues from the racing world: vertical lines brushed into the dial evoking cooling fins and racing engines, for one. The rev counter and speedometer look of the dial and bezel, for another. And, of course, there is the wheel logo engraved into the rubber-molded crown, as well as the grooves on the side of the case reiterating the cooling fins on high performance racing engines.
“We are one of the rare watch brands with a genuine connection to cars,” Scheufele sums up the ultra-successful weekend – and indeed Chopard’s successful career in the auto-inspired watch niche. “Not every brand can say that.”
Quick Facts Superfast Chrono Porsche 919 Jacky Ickx Edition
Case: 45 x 15.08 mm, stainless steel, case back stamped with Jacky Ickx’s signature
Movement: in-house automatic Chopard Caliber 03.05-M (Fleurier Ebauches) with official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification and 60 hours power reserve
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date, flyback chronograph
Limitation: 100 pieces