Endurance races

The test of time

Rolex, a long-term partner

For a century, endurance racing has been one of the ultimate automotive challenges. Year after year, it has reflected the technical advances of the time. Rolex partners the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the three races that have shaped the legend of the discipline and its drivers: the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Rolex also supports Tom Kristensen, an iconic figure in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a competition he won a record nine times.

24 Hours of Le Mans
A century-old legend

Inaugurated in 1923, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France is the oldest endurance competition in the world. It is also one of the most prestigious. The objective is to cover the greatest distance in the allotted time of 86,400 seconds.

Le Mans

The 24 Hours of Le Mans puts the reliability of the cars and the physical and mental strength of the teams of drivers to the test. They take turns at the wheel, driving the car for the 24-hour duration of the race. Every champion, including those that excel in speed-based competitions, dreams of one day taking on the ultimate endurance challenge posed by this legendary race. Sir Jackie Stewart, a major figure in Formula 1®, participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965.

A celebration of Endurance

A celebration of endurance

On 10 and 11 June 2023, the 91st edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans marks the centenary of this race, which has celebrated endurance and motor sport excellence since 1923. This unique sporting event was established to contribute to the technical development and the growth of the automotive market.

That first event 100 years ago was contested by 33 teams, each consisting of two drivers. In 2023, 62 cars and 186 drivers will share the track at Circuit de la Sarthe. It is an opportunity for many of the largest manufacturers and private teams to showcase their technological expertise.

You carry a win at Le Mans with you forever. When I think about the history of the race and Rolex’s commitment to motor sport, I feel very proud, but also humbled.

Tom Kristensen
Tom Kristensen

Tom Kristensen
“Mr Le Mans”

With nine victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Tom Kristensen is the most successful driver in the race’s history. A brilliant competitor from his early karting days, he tried his hand at Formula 3 before developing a passion for endurance racing. With no experience of the car he was entrusted with, the Danish driver triumphed at his first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997. He went on to reign supreme in the race from 2000 to 2005 and won two further titles in 2008 and 2013. In 18 participations, Kristensen finished on the podium 15 times. His track record also includes a World Endurance Championship title in 2013 and six wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Kristensen has been a Rolex Testimonee since 2010, and in 2023 serves as the ambassador for the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Daytona race

Rolex 24 At DAYTONA
A highlight in Florida

Every year, a major new page in the history of motor sport is written at Daytona. It is here that the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, one of the most famous endurance races, is held. At the 5.73-kilometre (3.56 miles) Daytona International Speedway, the greatest endurance drivers and teams compete for 24 hours.

Only the hardiest temperaments and the most accomplished mechanical and technical performances can prevail. Rankings are based on the distance covered in 24 hours.

Rolex has supported what was then called the Daytona 3-Hour Continental since its inception in 1962. The brand, which has been the competition’s Title Sponsor since 1992, presents the winners with a Rolex Cosmograph Daytona.

Although the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA is not part of the WEC, it is one of the three most demanding races on the endurance calendar, along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach
The birthplace of speed

Daytona Beach became a fabled location for the conquest of speed in the early 20th century. It was the stage for the exploits of the greatest champions, including Sir Malcolm Campbell, who set land speed records there. Daytona Beach later hosted competitions. NASCAR (National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing) held its first race there in 1948, and the nearby Daytona International Speedway was subsequently built. Opened in 1959 and supported by Rolex since its inception, it has become the home of motor racing in the United States.

At Daytona, everything revolves around the watch. If you win a trophy, it stays on a shelf. Money goes in the bank. But if you win a Rolex with the word “winner” engraved on the back, you wear it every day.

Scott Pruett
Scott Pruett

Scott Pruett
The king of Daytona

Over a distinguished career spanning four decades, Scott Pruett built one of the most impressive records in the history of endurance racing, and motor sport generally. The Californian driver won the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA five times (1994, 2007, 2008, 2011 and 2013). He also won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2014 and the GTS class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2001. Pruett was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 2017.

12 Hours of Sebring

12 Hours of Sebring
Performance under pressure

Established in 1952, the 12 Hours of Sebring has a reputation for being one of the most challenging endurance races in the world. With its uneven and bumpy surface, Sebring International Raceway is a true test of car reliability. It is here, in March, that many competitors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans come to test the mechanical strength of their machines. Rolex is the Official Timepiece of the 12 Hours of Sebring.

12 Hours of Sebring

FIA World Endurance Championship
Endurance over time

Since 2016, Rolex has been the Official Timepiece of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). This competition comprises six to nine events, depending on the year, and includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans (France). Other races regularly included on the schedule are: the 1,000 Miles of Sebring (United States), the 6 Hours of Portimão (Portugal), the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps (Belgium), the 6 Hours of Monza (Italy), the 6 Hours of Fuji (Japan) and the 8 Hours of Bahrain.

While the times and rules may differ, each event requires the same tenacity, commitment and mechanical reliability. And each is part of the same quest for excellence, both for the drivers and the technical teams.

Mark Webber

Mark Webber
From Formula 1® to endurance racing

In his 12 seasons as a Formula 1® competitor, Mark Webber achieved an impressive record of nine wins and 42 podiums over 215 Grand Prix races. Closely monitored by his mentor Sir Jackie Stewart, the Australian driver finished third in the F1 World Drivers’ Championship on three occasions.

Webber moved into endurance racing in 2014 with the same determination, and enjoyed further success the following year, winning the FIA Endurance World Championship title. Webber has been a Rolex Testimonee since 2017.

Reality of the future

Facing the reality of the future

Speed, performance and endurance are constant technological challenges for car manufacturers. Combining speed and safety over long distances, whatever the race conditions, demands the very best of engineering in order to achieve the most suitable developments.

Another major challenge for the future of motor sport is the quest for energy efficiency. Manufacturers use endurance competitions to test innovative responses. Since 2022, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship have adopted a fully certified sustainable biofuel.

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest, organizer of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a partner of Rolex, is committed to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 through the Race to 2030 programme and is running the Mission H24 project. Its ambition is to create a category reserved for hydrogen-electric powered prototypes at Le Mans by 2025.