The 2023 Le Mans 24 Hours: a century of innovation

A legendary race and the biggest car event in the world, the Le Mans 24 Hours celebrates its centenary on 10 and 11 June 2023. It's sure to get the adrenalin pumping on the circuit and the thousands of spectators in the stands roaring with emotion! A great sporting and popular festival, the Le Mans 24 Hours has also been a formidable accelerator of innovation since 1923, all the more so as the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, creator and organiser of the event, is now operating in a sustainable fashion. Carbon footprint, green tickets, hydrogen-powered prototype, zero waste, soft mobility and responsible catering... By multiplying its initiatives and commitments, the 24 Hours of Le Mans stays in the race!

Carbon neutrality in sight

Taking responsibility and making a commitment. In 2022, Le Mans 24 Hours presented its carbon footprint for the first time (36,000 tonnes of CO2 in 2019) and set itself an ambitious target: to become carbon neutral as soon as possible. Called 'Race to 2030', the approach involves reducing emissions by 30% and offsetting the remaining 70%. To achieve this by 2030, the organiser of the race, Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), has identified possible areas for reduction and turned the heat up.

Renewable fuel

Since their 90th edition in 2022, the Le Mans 24 Hours have already chosen to introduce a 100% renewable fuel, Excellium Racing 100, produced from bioethanol, was solely obtained from wine-growing residues from French agriculture. Its use considerably reduces the carbon impact of on-track activities. Fuel and tyres now account for just 1.4% of the carbon footprint, compared with 2.5% previously. Simultaneously, manufacturers are working on reducing the carbon content of tyres. A tyre incorporating 53% bio-sourced materials has been developed. It is currently being tested on the H24 prototype.

A prototype for the future

Since 2018, the ACO and GreenGT, a company specialising in electric-hydrogen technologies and sustainable mobility, have been working on the creation of an electric-hydrogen prototype, christened H24. The new-generation car should be capable of winning the Le Mans 24 Hours without any CO2 emissions. The tests are promising. On the Le Mans circuit, H24 has already set a speed record on the famous Hunaudières straight, exceeding 290 kph while emitting nothing but vapourised water! At the 2023 event, the public will be made more aware of the potential of hydrogen, including for public transport, lorries, trains and aircraft, thanks to a wide range of activities: hydrogen-powered vehicles, educational and entertaining content and reception areas powered by this energy source. Just to prove that, 100 years on, the 24 Hours has lost none of its pioneering spirit!

Cars and trees

With the aim of capturing more than 25,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2030, the Le Mans 24 Hours and the ACO are developing an ambitious carbon contribution programme. It goes hand in hand with the reforestation of the Bugatti Circuit, which hosts the race, and the expansion of green spaces. More than 550 trees have already been replanted since 2017. And there's more to come.

Green tickets

Raising spectators' awareness of sustainable development by rewarding their responsible behaviour: for the second year running, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest is offering the "Green Ticket" in 2023. This low-carbon ticket offers a 10% reduction on the entry fee to people travelling to the circuit using environmentally-friendly modes of transport (hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric vehicles, train, etc.), an offer that is unique in the world for an event of this scale. In 2022, 2,040 ticket holders collected their "Green Ticket" from the Green Experience 0 emissions kiosk and enjoyed the benefits offered in the 24 Hours museum shop.

A sustainable circuit

The 24 Heures du Mans and the ACO have been awarded 2-star environmental accreditation by the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile for their efforts. They are aiming for 3 stars in 2023. In 2022, the 24 Heures du Mans also became a signatory to the 15 Eco-responsible Commitments charter of the French Ministry of Sport and WWF France (External link) . The Bugatti circuit is also ranked 4th in the Sustainable Circuits Index, which evaluates the sustainable performance of more than 100 circuits around the world. It received a rating of 3 cups (out of a possible 4).

Responsible and socially responsible catering

Local sourcing, reducing the use of disposable containers, combating food waste and recycling bio-waste. The race to save the planet also involves initiatives of this kind. As early as 2010, the Le Mans 24 Hours was a forerunner in the elimination of plastic cups, replacing them with Ecocups, which avoided the production of nearly 40 tonnes of single-use plastic, a volume of 2,900 m3 in 12 years. The ACO was also awarded the "Canette d'Or" trophy in 2021, in the sustainable event category, for its operation to collect and recycle cans during the 24 Hours. On the catering side, the organisers are giving priority to the Ecotable label among their catering partners, as well as to the use of local producers. Finally, since 2019, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest has entered into a partnership with Restos du Coeur, donating to the charity any foodstuffs not consumed during the races. The same approach has been taken with the association Pain contre la Faim (Bread against Hunger).

Getting to Le Mans, in the Pays de la Loire region