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le mans 2024 bmw action

Stage is set for the best ever 2024 Le Mans 24 Hour ever

le mans 2024 bmw action

With no less than 23 premier Hypercar class entries and the usual 63-car grid filled, the 2024 24 Hour of Le Mans promises to be the most competitive race in its 101-year history, this weekend.

You may expect this year to be a straight fight between reigning 6-time World Endurance World Champions Toyota Gazoo Racing, and 2023 Centennial Le Mans winners Ferrari. But the three races so far this season suggest a far more competitive 24 Hour this year.

Yes, Toyota stole an improbable second round championship win from Ferrari at Imola, but that’s just part of the picture. Looking at those perceived favourites, they certainly do seem a fair bet. There’s little to choose between the two Gazoo Toyota GR010 Hybrid entries, with the number 8 Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Nyck de Vries, and Number 7 trio Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Ryo Hirakawa looking very good in a superbly drilled team.

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Ferrari on the other hand, must overcome its 2024 vices of poor tactics and failing to even meet minimum weight, to impress. But then the AF Corse team did win Le Mans 2023 with 51 crew Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, and Antonio Giovanazzi back for more this year.

The other two Ferrari 499P Hypercar teams are Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen in the other red number 50. And Robert Kubica, Robert Shwartzman and Yifei Ye in the yellow 83.

Favourite Porsche’s Shoe on Other Foot

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Minnows last year, Porsche’s Le Mans shoe is on the other foot for 2024. The World Endurance Championship leading Porsche’s 963 Hybrid appears to be the car to beat leading up to the big race. There’s a literal army of 963 Hybrids chasing Porsche’s record 20th overall Le Mans win this year, with no less than six entered. And headed by a trio of factory Penske Motorsport cars.

Log leaders Kévin Estre, André Lotterer and Laurens Vanthoor line up in the number 6 car, backed by regular teammates, Daytona 24 winner Matt Campbell, Michael Christensen and Frédéric Makowiecki in the 5. US IMSA crew, Campbell’s Daytona 24 winning co-driver Felipe Nasr, Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy drive the additional third, number 4 Penske car.

Porsche also has three privateer 963s steered by most capable crews. Hertz Team JOTA trio Will Stevens, Norman Nato and Callum Ilott won the Spa 6 Hour last time out. Teammates, former Formula F1 World Champion Jenson Button, Oliver Rasmussen and Philip Hanson drive a second golden Porsche. And Neel Jani, Harry Tincknell and Julien Andlauer will be at the helm of Proton’s sixth 963.

Cadillacs Thunder a Shiver Down the Spine

Behind the name Cadillac Racing is renowned American team Chip Ganassi Racing. le mans

But there’s more. Far more. Out of the US, Cadillac’s trio of V-Series.Rs are the crowd favourites. They thunder a monster V8 shiver down the spine with Former F1 driver Sébastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande and ex Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, backed by Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Indy star Alex Palou in two factory machines. Crack privateer crew Luis Felipe Derani, Jack Aitken and Felipe Drugovich drive the third Whelen Caddy.

Also back for another shot at a first Le Mans win of its third era, Peugeot has a pair of reworked 9X8 hybrids out for Jean-Eric Vergne, Mikkel Jensen and Nico Müller, and Stoffel Vandoorne, F1 analyst Paul di Resta and Loïc Duval. If management pressure’s not enough, Peugeot has a French revolution on its hands too. Renault-Alpine is back. With Nicolas Lapierre, Mick Schumacher and Matthieu Vaxivière, and Paul-Loup Chatin, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi in two A424 Hybrids.

BMW makes a Le Mans return with a pair of WRT-run M Hybrid V8s chasing victory a quarter-century on from its last win in ’99. One for DTM champion Sheldon van der Linde, Robin Frijns and René Rast, and another driven by Dries Vanthoor, Raffaele Marciello and Marco Wittmann. And Lamborghini makes its top class Le Mans debut with a pair of Iron Lynx SC63s for Romain Grosjean, Andrea Caldarelli and Matteo Cairoli, and Mirko Bortolotti, Daniil Kvyat and Edoardo Mortara.

Le Mans: Time Will Tell. 24 Hours, to be Precise!

24 Heures du Mans – Le programme du mercredi 12 juin 2024

Le Mans would not be Le Mans without an underdog. Carl Wattana Bennett, Jean-Karl Vernay and Antonio Serravalle should be this year’s Hypercar lackeys in the exotic Italian Isotta Fraschini Tipo6-C Hybrid. Will they repeat Glickenhaus’ giant-killing 2024 antics? Time will tell. 24 Hours, to be precise!

The Isotta will likely have a bigger job staving off the pack of sixteen LMP2 Oreca 07 Gibsons that no longer race in the WEC. These wailing prototypes still have a Le Mans reprieve and bring another interesting angle to the race. They will also have your memory recalling their gearchange pops for days after the race.

Among the more prominent LMP2 entries, United Autosport’s Ben Keating, Filipe Albuquerque and Ben Hanley, and Oliver Jarvis, Bijoy Garg and Nolan Siegel take on Vector Sport’s Ryan Cullen, Patrick Pilet and Stéphane Richelmi. Also watch for AO by TF crew Louis Delétraz, PJ Hyett and Alex Quinn, Nielsen’s Fabio Scherer, David Heinemeier Hansson and Kyffin Simpson, and Crowdstrike trio George Kurtz ,Colin Braun and Nicky Katsburg.

Valentino Rossi is Racing at Le Mans ‘24

Valentino Rossi is Racing at Le Mans ‘24

The big news in the GT ranks, besides the class running to new LM GT3 spec for the first time, is MotoGP god Valentino Rossi racing at Le Mans alongside Ahmad Al Harthy and Maxime Martin in a BMW M4 LM GT3. Darren Leung, Sean Gelael and Augusto Farfus drive a second BMW and there’s a quartet of new Ferrari 296 GT3s at Le Mans for the first time too.

Lamborghini Huracan crews include Claudio Schiavoni, Matteo Cressoni and Franck Perera, and the Iron Dames, Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Doriane Pin. There’s no NASCAR racing this year, but there certainly is a Yankee GT slant, with a pair of Corvette Z06 LMGT3 Rs. One driven by Tom Van Rompuy Rui Andrade and Charlie Eastwood. They face two new Ford Mustangs with Christian Ried, Ben Tuck and Christopher Mies among their drivers.

DTM leader Kelvin van der Linde shares one of two Lexus RC F LMGT3s with Arnold Robin and Timur Boguslavskiy. British interest comes in the form of a pair of McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evos and the regular Le Mans Aston Martin Vantage fleet. Like in the Hypercars, all of the LM GT3s first need to beat the on-form Porsche 911 GT3 Rs, with Manthey crew Yasser Shahin, Morris Schuring and Richard Lietz notable amongst those crews.

With practice on Wednesday and qualifying Thursday the 13th, the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hour starts at 16h00 Saturday 15 June. Already a sellout with over 350,000 fans expected to converge on Le Mans, the race will be televised live in most countries. Live streaming is also available via fiawec.tv.

2024 Le Mans 24 Hours Information

(Report from Michele Lupini at Le Mans)

Road to Le Mans Toyota Gazoo WEC