2016 PREVIEW PRESS RELEASE
Geneva, Friday 15 April 2016 – The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world’s oldest and greatest endurance race, representing the pinnacle of passion, prestige and precision. As the Official Timepiece for the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 2001, Rolex continues to support this iconic race, reflecting the brand’s long-term commitment to motor sport more widely.
At its inception in 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans was suitably called the “Grand Prix of Speed and Endurance”. Since then, this gruelling race, combining public roads with race track, has called on drivers to continuously reinvent perfection as they prepare and compete, blending performance and durability over 24 hours of racing and more than 5,000 kilometres (3,106 miles). It is this incessant quest for excellence and the drive to defy the limits that binds Rolex and endurance racing at the 13.629-kilometre (8.47-mile) Circuit de la Sarthe so closely together.
Over the years, the race cars have evolved into prototypes and road GTs, with new hybrid technology integration and competition modifications. The purpose, however, remains the same: to travel the furthest in 24 hours. This means the cars’ speed and reliability is tested to the extreme, while the drivers and teams are pushed up to and beyond their limits. When this year’s countdown starts at 15.00 on Saturday 18 June, the drivers and teams will begin their quest to take the chequered flag on Sunday 19 June at 15.00, and to win the most coveted award in motor sport, the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch. With a rich motor sport heritage, the ‘Rolex Daytona’ is now regarded as the ultimate racing driver’s watch, with drivers at both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 At Daytona® aiming to win this prestigious prize each year.
RACE AGAINST TIME
Offering an exciting combination of heritage, endurance and speed, the 24 Hours of Le Mans attracts more than 250,000 impassioned motor sport spectators, history buffs and thrill-seekers from around the globe, all eager to experience the festival-like atmosphere and the scintillating track action. Throughout its history, Le Mans has witnessed many great battles: split second finishes, dramatic mechanical failures and race-changing weather. Preparation for all eventualities is fundamental, experience to make the correct split second decision, invaluable; a race against time on this scale requires the teams and drivers to function like clockwork.
ROLEX AND ENDURANCE RACING
Rolex's close ties with motor sport reach back to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s World Land Speed Record successes in the 1930s, when he became the first driver to break the 300 mph barrier, at Bonneville Salt Flats. Since then, Rolex has partnered with iconic classic events steeped in tradition, such as the Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the Goodwood Revival; the leading motor sport series, Formula 1®; and renowned endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 At Daytona®. More recently the Swiss watchmaker has increased its presence in endurance racing, becoming the Official Timepiece of the World Endurance Championship. These ongoing and developing relationships have enabled the brand to form an esteemed relationship with Rolex Testimonee and nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, Tom Kristensen.
Explaining just how tough the 24 Hours of Le Mans is, Tom Kristensen said: “The challenge of Le Mans is unique. The first Le Mans race in 1923 was raced entirely on public roads; today’s race is still on public roads with more or less the same demanding layout: you cover 13.629 kilometres every lap, travelling at high speeds throughout the day and night. That, combined with the race’s rich history, makes it one of the ultimate events on the motor sport calendar.
“The race demands a cocktail of determination, grit and team spirit. In a way, it is quite simple – you just have to drive the furthest in 24 hours, but if you appreciate the distance you cover, how many situations, overtakes, breaking points and intense moments you experience, you realize how many stories both the drivers and cars have to tell when they cross that finish line. There is no question that the race winners earn their Rolex watch out there.”
Rolex, the leading brand of the swiss watch industry, is headquartered in Geneva and enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as superlative chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces all the essential components of its watches in-house, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities as well as philanthropic programmes.
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