Entrant in three 24 Hours of Le Mans races, LMP2 pole-sitter in the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans
A Works Courage Compétition entry in the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans
Winner of the 2003 Le Mans 1,000-kilometre race in the LMP675 category
Contested the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Le Mans Endurance Series seasons
Raced at Le Mans dressed in the immortal Gulf Oil livery
Perhaps the most outwardly obvious collector car market shift in recent years is the explosion in interest for modern-era endurance racing cars, no doubt catalysed by the emergence of several high-profile historic motorsport series for which they’re eligible, both in Europe and across the pond in America.
We have welcomed this insatiable appetite for history and provenance, which allows us to flex our muscles both in terms of sourcing great cars for our clients and adding value by way of thorough and meticulous research, preparation and presentation. The key questions for our clients are ‘What did it do?’ and ‘What can I do with it?’, and while the global pool of these younger sports-racing cars is far from empty, finding examples which tick all the boxes is already becoming increasingly difficult.
In our experience, Le Mans history is the greatest value driver. A period résumé featuring the world-famous 24-hour war of attrition is extremely desirable. Suffice to say, when we were able to locate and negotiate the sale of this 2002 Courage C60 LMP2 – a veteran of three 24 Hours of Le Mans races – our client was understandably very satisfied.
An endurance staple which enjoyed much success between 1982 and 2007, Yves Courage’s eponymous outfit produced this C60, chassis number six, in 2002, when it was fitted with a Peugeot V6 engine. Immediately upgraded to C65-spec and racing under the Works Courage Compétition banner in the LMP675 category, the car contested two races in 2003, both of which were staged at Le Mans.
In the big one, the ‘24 Hours’ in June, a transmission issue thwarted proceedings. But in the shorter 1,000km race in November, a dress rehearsal for the inaugural Le Mans Endurance Season poised to kick off in 2004, the car faired very well, winning the LMP675 class and finishing fourth overall in the hands of Wim Eyckmans, Roman Rusinov and Enrico Muscioni.
Ahead of the following year’s roster, chassis six was sold to Paul Belmondo Racing, the outfit founded and operated by the son of the French acting giant and national treasure Jean-Paul Belmondo. Now under turbocharged four-cylinder AER (Advanced Engine Research) Ford power, this Courage competed at Monza, Le Mans, Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps, helping to secure the team fifth in the LMP2 Teams Championship.
For Paul Belmondo Racing, the 2005 Le Mans Endurance Series kicked off in March with a glitzy launch event in Paris to reveal a raft of new team sponsors, including historical heavy hitters Gulf Oil, Coca-Cola and Xbox. In addition to Jean-Paul Belmondo himself, the French music legend Johnny Hallyday also joined for the occasion, certainly adding an air of glamour and importance.
The calendar was bolstered with the addition of a race at Istanbul Park in Turkey, though the highlight of this C65’s year came at Le Mans, its third time at the French endurance classic. Paul Belmondo, Didier Andre and Rick Sutherland managed to stick the car on the LMP2 pole position – that was good enough for 12th overall and ahead of two LMP1 cars.
Belmondo entered this chassis in just three further Le Mans Endurance Series rounds in 2006 before selling it on to Andusio & Benvenuto in Italy. This Courage, a veteran of European endurance racing, was subsequently raced by Giuseppe Chiminelli and the ex-Formula 1 star Jerome d’Ambrosio in the 6 Ore di Vallelunga, where they sadly could not convert the overall pole position, settling for a nonetheless impressive fourth at the checkered flag.
This Courage C65 was sold to its third and final private owner in 2009, who carefully stored the car in his workshop until we were able to prise it from his possession in February of 2021. If we know anything about chassis six’s next owner, it’s that we can all expect to see this special Le Mans prototype competing once again. Who knows – perhaps it’ll be afforded the chance to return to the hallowed asphalt of Le Mans…
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