Today – Thursday – 23 cars will go after the fastest time possible at the 24 Hours of Le Mans circuit to establishes the final grid order for the 89th running of the world’s most famous endurance motor racing event.
During the 30-minute Hyperpole, competitors – the top six in each class except Hypercar with only five entrants – will push their cars to the limit on a much less crowded track than during Thursday’s practice sessions which Toyota dominated.
Ahead of the qualifying shootout-style, organisers are upbeat about the shootout concept: “It is expected to be a stunning show that spectators will be able to enjoy for the first time on-site!”
The big question going into the session is: Who can stop Toyota from claiming the first Le Mans pole position of the Hypercar era?
The stage is also set for epic qualifying contests in the LMP2 class and both GT classes, where margins are incredibly tight between pedigreed teams with evenly matched machinery in the hands of the best endurance drivers in the world.
Also worth noting there are 17 drivers with Formula 1 experience on duty this weekend at Le Mans, they are: Kamui Kobayashi, Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima, Brendon Hartley, Juan Pablo Montoya, Giancarlo Fisichella, Gianmaria Bruni, Stoffel Vandoorne, Anthony Davidson, Giedo van der Garde, Robert Kubica, Jan Magnussen, Kevin Magnussen, Will Stevens and Felipe Nasr.
Competitors in every class will take part in the Hyperpole. Toyota clocked a top time of 3:26.279 thanks to Kamui Kobayashi. Alpine trail slightly while Glickenhaus 007 LMHs appear hungry for a great showing. The battles will rage fiercely even though pole position does not carry much weight in endurance racing, it does a certain prestige and of course pride.
#7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid | TOYOTA GAZOO Racing | Mike Conway – Kamui Kobayashi – José María López
# 8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid | TOYOTA GAZOO Racing | Sébastien Buemi – Kazuki Nakajima – Brendon Hartley
#36 Alpine A480-Gibson | Alpine Elf Matmut | André Negrão – Nicolas Lapierre – Matthieu Vaxivière
#708 Glickenhaus 007 LMH | Glickenhaus Racing USA | Luís Felipe Derani – Franck Mailleux – Olivier Pla
#709 Glickenhaus 007 LMH | Glickenhaus Racing | Ryan Briscoe – Richard Westbrook – Romain Dumas
Major players in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and European Le Mans Series (ELMS) will take the track for the Hyperpole. Belgian outfit Team WRT, for example, making its debut this year in prototypes, already has two wins in the ELMS. The United Autosports team, a top contender in the LMP2 class, is the only participant to place two cars in the Hyperpole. French outfit Panis Racing, winner at Monza in the ELMS, as well as G-Drive Racing and JOTA will also fight for the pole. Who will prove to be the fastest?
#23 ORECA 07-Gibson | United Autosports | Paul di Resta – Alex Lynn – Wayne Boyd
#26 Aurus 01- Gibson | G-Drive Racing | Roman Rusinov – Franco Colapinto – Nyck de Vries
#28 ORECA 07-Gibson Pro/Am | JOTA | Sean Gelael – Stoffel Vandoorne – Tom Blomqvist
#32 ORECA 07-Gibson | United Autosports | Nicolas Jamin – Jonathan Aberdein – Manuel Maldonado
#41 ORECA 07-Gibson | Team WRT | Robert Kubica – Louis Delétraz – Yifei Ye
#65 ORECA 07-Gibson | Panis Racing | Julien Canal – Will Stevens – James Allen
Three Porsche 911 RSR-19s will take on two Ferrari 488 GTE Evos and one Corvette C8.R during the Hyperpole in this class. AF Corse’s two Ferraris and the #92 official Porsche all qualified in under 3:47 per lap. Can they do even better?
#51 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO | AF Corse | Alessandro Pier Guidi – James Calado – Côme Ledogar
#52 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO | AF Corse | Daniel Serra – Miguel Molina – Sam Bird
#64 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R | Corvette Racing | Tommy Milner – Nicholas Tandy – Alexander Sims
#72 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Hub Auto Racing | Dries Vanthoor – Alvaro Parente – Maxime Martin
#91 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Porsche GT Team | Gianmaria Bruni – Richard Lietz – Frederic Makowiecki
#92 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Porsche GT Team | Kévin Estre – Neel Jani – Michael Christensen
As in LMGTE Pro, Porsche has the strength in numbers advantage on the two Ferraris. But, Aston Martin will have something to say with the #33 Vantage AMR. Scoring pole position in the class is a good start in the quest for victory.
#33 Aston Martin Vantage AMR | TF Sport | Ben Keating – Dylan Pereira – Felipe Fraga
#47 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO | Cetilar Racing | Roberto Lacorte – Giorgio Sernagiotto – Antonio Fuoco
#71 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO | Inception Racing | Brendan Iribe – Ollie Millroy – Ben Barnicoat
#86 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Gr Racing | Michael Wainwright – Benjamin Barker – Tom Gamble
#88 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Dempsey-Proton Racing | Julien Andlauer – Dominique Bastien – Lance Arnold
24 Hours of Le Mans 2021 Stats Attack
Thirty-three WEC entries will be competing at the 89th edition of Le Mans, and to celebrate the occasion – below are ten fun facts about the WEC’s most prestigious event on its calendar. Alex Harrison @WECData provides the information:
This year’s Le Mans will occur in August for the first time ever! It is scheduled on the 21st/22nd of a month for only the third time in history, with the 1930 and 1958 editions also falling on these days.
62 cars are set to participate at Le Man. If all 62 start, it will be a new Le Mans record for the most starters, exceeding 2019’s current record of 61.
12 Porsche 911 RSR-19 on this year’s Le Mans entry list is the most for the marque in the WEC era, and two cars more than their 10 entries in 2020. Eight different teams representing five countries are set to run the car in France.
The United Kingdom is the most represented nation on the 2021 Le Mans grid, with 31 British drivers set to participate. They include two in Hypercar, 15 in LMP2, 3 in GTE Pro and 11 in GTE Am.
In 2019, Kessel Racing’s Michelle Gatting, Manuela Gostner and Rahel Frey became the 24th all-female crew in history to start the great race. Gatting and Frey return in 2021, as full-season WEC entrants with Iron Lynx, joined this time by debutant Sarah Bovy.
Eight cars feature in GTE Pro, the same total as in 2020. All eight cars include a driver who has scored a Le Mans outright or class win in the WEC era. Serra, Bamber and Bruni have all won twice since 2012, whilst 12 other drivers have one win. Garcia also has three wins prior to 2012.
TF Sport’s GTE Am victory at Le Mans 2020 was the 30th in class by a British-flagged team.
In 2018, Signatech Alpine’s No. 36 defended its victory from the previous year to seal the WEC LMP2 titles for the season. It was the perfect location to seal Oreca’s 40th win in class – the eighth under the ‘Alpine’ banner.
Toyota claimed its third Le Mans win in a row by the No. 8 TS050 Hybrid in 2020. The Japanese marque became only the second in race history to both end and begin a decade with victory, after Bentley achieved this winning from 1927 through 1930.
Of the 17 drivers to have won #LeMans24 outright in the WEC era, eight are racing in 2021 – Duval, Bamber, Tandy, Dumas, Jani, Hartley, Buemi and Nakajima.
How to watch the race?
French TV channel La Chaîne L’Equipe is now the new free to air french broadcaster for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The race will be broadcast live on La Chaîne L’Equipe starting at 13:30 on Saturday 21 August until 18:45, then again from 21:10 to 02:00. Coverage will continue on Sunday from 06:00 to 17:30.
The whole race will also be broadcast live on Eurosport France. On Wednesday 18 August, Qualifying will be on from 18:45 to 20:10 and Free Practice 2 will be shown from 21:50 to 00:10. On Thursday 19 August, viewers will be able to watch Free Practice 3 from 13:50 to 17:10, Hyperpole from 20:50 to 21:45 and Free Practice 4 from 21:45 to 00:10. On Saturday 21 August, the warm-up will be televised from 09:15 to 10:00. There will then be live coverage of the entire 24-hour race.
International coverage will be provided on Eurosport Pan Europe, RTL Nitro in Germany, as well as by TV2 Denmark, Viasat, RTBF Belgium, Viasat, RTL Netherlands and RTL Luxembourg, among others. Further afield, see Fox Latin for South America, Motortrend for the whole race in the USA, and Velocity and Discovery in Canada. Full coverage via J Sports in Japan and Tencent in China, as well as Sky New-Zealand in the Pacific. The PanAfrique will be provided by SuperSport. More than 196 countries and territories will broadcast the race!
The FIA World Endurance Championship app brings fans exactly what they want to their iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The free app is great for staying in the loop and has all the latest news about FIA WEC, rankings, circuits, the teams, drivers, times, schedules, photos, videos, interviews, highlights, race results and social media coverage throughout the championship.
For an upgraded FIA WEC experience, fans can buy the Premium Season Pack available inside the app. Premium users can watch FIA WEC races live, see exclusive content filmed by onboard cameras, customise functions, and follow their favourite drivers and teams. They also enjoy access to full replays of every race.
Everything on the official FIA WEC® app is available in both English and French. The menu is in French, English, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Arabic.
Follow live timing for lap times and rankings at the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans as they happen here>>>