Back in the 1960s dyed-in-the-wool race fans would regularly pile into Brands Hatch to watch the prime home international of the year. And it wasn’t an F1 race either.

No, the legendary BOAC 1000kms endurance race pitted works teams from Ferrari and Porsche against each other and a horde of their privateers made up the supporting cast. No matter that the day inevitably ended with dusk falling over the glutinous public car parks and half the paying customers bogged down to their axles, this was one of the greatest races on the calendar.

Watching as international sports car racing donned its best clothes for this year’s classic 24-hour Le Mans marathon seemed to offer an instant flash-back across the decades to the days when endurance racing would stand toe-to-toe with F1 in the credibility stakes.