The Circuit des 24 Heures, also known as Circuit de la Sarthe, located near Le Mans, France, is a semi-permanent race course most famous as the venue for the 24 Hours of Le Mans auto race. The track uses local roads that remain open to the public most of the year. The circuit, in its present configuration, is 13.629 km (8.469 mi) long, making it one of the longest circuits in the world.
Le Mans is a race where up to 85% of the time is spent on full throttle, meaning immense stress on engine and drivetrain components. However, the times spent reaching maximum speed also mean tremendous wear on the brakes and suspension as cars must slow from over 200 mph (322 km/h) to around 65 mph (105 km/h) for the end of Mulsanne in a short distance. Downforce in the era of Group C cars helped braking to some degree but presently cars are tending towards low downforce to seek higher speeds in the face of power limiting regulations.
The track, which basically was a triangle from Le Mans down south to Mulsanne, northwest to Arnage, and back north to Le Mans, has undergone many modifications over the years, with CIRCUIT N° 14 being in use since 2007. Even with the modifications put in place over the years, the Sarthe circuit is still known for being very fast; with average speeds of 145+ mph (233 km/h) being achieved by the prototypes.