With Round 4 of the World Endurance Championship nearby, Last Lap takes a look through the confirmed 24 Hours of Le Mans entry list.
The next race in the Season 9 schedule is the most famed and historic endurance sportscar race dating back to 1923.
For the 89th edition on 21/22 August, 62 entries across four/five categories are set to take on the challenge of the event.
After seeing the vastness of this list, its notable names, and diverse range of nationalities, Last Lap thought it would take a look at the line-ups of teams and drivers in each class.
The FIA WEC features four full-time classes: Hypercar, LMP2, LM-GTE Pro, and LM-GTE-Am. Additionally, the Innovative Car will take part from Le Mans’ 56th garage.
Hypercar – 5 entries
For the ninth consecutive year, Toyota will race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the top tier category albeit with two of their new GR010 Hybrid Le Mans Hypercars.
And it has been since 2015 when the WEC had a new competitor in the top category, which was Nissan in LMP1(H).
Glickenhaus Racing have done two races so far, recently bringing both of their 007 LMHs to Monza and showing better untapped pace.
They will look to assert more of the promising pace they managed to show in the #709 whilst managing the brake cooling will be important with Le Mans’ heavy braking zones that follow its long straights.
Amongst their seven driver line-up, it will be Gustavo Menezes out of the seat in the race but will take part on the Test Day. Seeing that he is heading into the direction of a Peugeot Hypercar program next year, he will continue to prepare with the French marque until then.
This duel commitment not only puts him out of the Glickenhaus, but he holds a test/reserve role in the American racing team who are making their Le Mans debut this year.
Unlike Toyota and Glickenhaus, their package dates back to 2019 which means that it is much more established and developed, having driven at Le Mans.
Although, the Alpine squad have only been familiar with it since they got the car at the beginning of this year.
The ACO pinpointed the BoP measures to an almost perfect level, but as the 6 Hours of Monza clearly demonstrated, reliability is a factor just as important to race pace.
LMP2 – 25 entries
The most competitive category at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans is the LMP2 class, featuring a plethora of famed names and entries from within the WEC paddock and indeed sports car championships around the world.
There are also 10 Pro/Am sub-class entries, five of them racing in the WEC full-time. And only the #74 Team Racing India Eurasia squad are bringing a Ligier JSP217 after the #44 ARC Bratislava team decided to switch to an Oreca chassis post-Monza.
It would be unnecessary to talk about all 75 drivers, but there are a series of notable names and teams taking part.
Starting with the reigning winners, United Autosports, they have three entries: the WEC #22 Oreca, #23 Oreca, and the #32 ELMS Oreca.
Also worth a mention, they have five means of invitations to the race as reigning winners, LMP2 champions in the ELMS, 2nd place in the ELMS standings, LMP3 ELMS champions, and LMP3 champions in the Asian LMS.
But to explain why there are three cars, the regulations state that you can have a maximum of two cars under one team license thus the #22 represents the Zak Brown and Richard Dean partnership in the WEC.
They will have several Le Mans debutants from their arsenal of sportscar racing drivers. One of whom is Fabio Scherer, who succeeded Paul Di Resta’s seat in the #22 and has claimed two victories in the two races he has done so far.
Naturally, the priority for him was to acclimatise with the car, in which he said was not the hardest of tasks, in addition to getting to know his teammates – in which he said him and reigning winners Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque all operate “on the same wavelength” as far as car setup feedback.
An impressive start so far to the endurance racing discipline will be put to the test ahead of his most extensive motor racing challenge yet.
The #32 Oreca 07 Gibson is a new entry from United Autosports USA featuring a talented drivers line-up of recent London E-Prix winner Alex Lynn, reigning Le Mans winner in LMP2 Paul Di Resta, and Asian LMS champion Manuel Maldonado.
United’s ideal fairytale finish will be a 1-2-3 finish on the LMP2 podium, but the competitive nature of the class means they will encounter a tough challenge to take a consecutive win. Lynn drove last year in the GTE-Pro class for Aston Martin Racing, but debuted at Le Mans in 2017 with a G-Drive Racing LMP2 Oreca machine.
It may have been only 20 laps long for his Le Mans debut race, but his signature ability to extract the most out of a car will be put into show as he has done in the likes of Formula E.
Another noted driver line-up would be the #49 Le Mans only entry of Shashi-High Class Racing featuring a Danish trio: Anders Fjordbach, Jan Magnussen and Kevin Magnussen.
The former F1 driver has made an impressive start to his sportscar career since his debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona.
He will be one to look out for as he teams up with his father and his 20 plus years of sportscar experience; not to mention his five GT Le Mans wins and nine podiums.
Risi Competizione, best renowned for their Ferrari GT success in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, are going to drive in LMP2 for the first time since driving LMPs in the early 2000s.
They struggled at Monza despite showing promise by finishing third-to-last in LMP2, only ahead of the underperforming #44 ARC Bratislava (now former) Ligier and the #38 JOTA who were having their own mechanical issues.
LM-GTE Pro – 8 entries
In the works GTE category, we have three manufacturers plus WeatherTech Racing and Hub Auto Racing teams who each bring a Porsche 911 RSR.
Porsche and Ferrari have already battled hard so far into the WEC this year with each of their packages coping best at different circuits, and most recently the Italian squad surrendering in a battle to the win after they needed to pit a lap before the end for fuel.
Needless to say, justice will be on AF Corse’s agenda to win like they did most recently in 2019.
Equally, Porsche will look to keep their championship lead plus redeem what was a difficult and underwhelming Le Mans 24 Hours last year.
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Their 911 RSR GTE looks to had strong pace at Monza in preparation for Le Mans, with also Neel Jani back in a Porsche at the French classic since he won his LMP1 World Championship and Le Mans titles in 2016.
Corvette Racing will finally be able to debut their C8R after missing their first ever Le Mans last year since the birth of their program in 1999.
At the team’s first WEC entry outside the USA, the #63 Corvette performed smoothly but not competitively enough on pace alone to challenge for the win. However, it drove much stronger with more experience and a Daytona 24 win since the Lone Star Le Mans in 2020, when it debuted into the WEC.
LM-GTE Am – 23 entries
As WEC fans are all too familiar with, the GTE-Am category is one of the most exciting classes with drivers unafraid to race each other to the end; quite literally at Monza.
Reigning winners TF Sport are back with two Aston Martin Vantage GTEs, and will be looking to turn around their underwhelming luck so far this year.
Most notably, Ben Keating will be racing in his seventh consecutive Le Mans in a seventh different car.
He has not tasted a victory after 168 hours of racing here, but the Texan will be a driver to watch amongst the #33’s line-up; especially if they opt for him during Hyperpole qualifying (granted they qualify into it) since his most consistent performances this season have been on his one-lap flat-out pace.
Inception Racing are a notable outfit in GT racing and are best known for their McLaren GT3 presences. However this time, the Yorkshire-based team will debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans following their third place in the Asian LMS GT Championship Standings.
They were meant to debut at the 6 Hours of Monza, but a crash in FP2 put an end to their Ferrari 488 GTE’s efforts that weekend.
So instead, their drivers are making their ultimate debut into Le Mans and will look to fight for a strong finish; the latter being the main target for them – that is after the 24 Hours of Spa.
He is no stranger to endurance racing having already done GT WC Europe Endurance Cup outings so far for Iron Lynx at Monza and Paul Ricard, and will race in the 24 Hours of Spa, his first 24-hour endurance race.
Such experience will come handy for Le Mans when he will be part of a three-car Iron Lynx Ferrari entry with nine drivers.
Ferrari’s Le Mans Hypercar project is two years away from seeing any race action, but it is likely that the young Briton can build up his experience, potentially sighting one of those seats in red.
Speaking of Iron Lynx, the #85 Iron Dames are back as the all-female crew compete for a Le Mans win. They finished last year’s race ninth in-class, a strong performance from the team to replicate a ninth place in ’19.
Sarah Bovy will be looking to impress further on her Le Mans debut after the 6 Hours of Monza which saw the team’s efforts and race pace unaided by the various FCY and Safety Car periods.
It was a category he debuted into the WEC back in 2013 but this time it’s with the AMR NorthWest outfit. Expect him to be one of the notables thanks to his GTE experience and an unfulfilled hunger for a Le Mans win.
The TF Sport-backed D’station Racing team are making their Le Mans debut with all three rounds of Season 9 representing their sole WEC experience. It was a tough start at the Prologue when their car suffered damage in a crash, but have managed to make the storylines in the class with their recent performances.
Most notably, their team director Tomonobu Fujii has shown clear progress with his learning on the AMR Vantage GTE after a relentless charge at Portimao was diminished due to continuous front lock-ups.
At Monza, he showed more understanding of his machinery and put on a fight to the end against Augusto Farfus, who will not be taking part at Le Mans due to ETCR commitments.
It was the first time a triple-digit numbered car finished on the WEC podium and Le Mans will put the team through their paces.
Innovative Car – #84 Association SRT41
Garage 56 returns to the light at Le Mans after a five-year absence.
In a modified Oreca 07-Gibson, disabled drivers Takuma Aoki, Nigel Bailly and François Hériau will be looking to take on this endurance classic.
As part of the ‘Un Volant Pour Tous’ (A Wheel for All) scheme, the team intended to take on last year’s race but were instead part of the 15 entries that pulled out, naturally due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Team Owner and quadruple amputee Frederic Sausset said he immediately submitted an application to the ACO for the following Le Mans, which is in less than a month’s time.
As far as what to expect from the team, it has to be said they are running their own race and getting to the end of Le Mans will be their ultimate goal.
They will integrate themselves amongst the LMP2 category seeing their entry is a modified version of the Oreca 07 which the majority of LMP2 teams are using.
Bailly explained the modifications made to the Oreca 07 Gibson earlier in the year.
“There is an accelerator behind the wheel and a lever we press to brake. There is a trigger on the lever that allows us to downshift.
“It is a similar system to the one used by Alessandro Zanardi at the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“During braking phases, Takuma [Aoki] and I will have one hand on the wheel. Our forearms will be put to the test, but the system developed by Oreca is nonetheless comfortable.”
The #84 recently had its two race outings in the European Le Mans Series’ 4 Hours of Barcelona and 4 Hours of Le Castellet.
Previously, Bailly drove in Sausset’s Ligier JS P320 entry during the 2019 Road to Le Mans. He recounted it as stressful with little margin for error in the Michelin Le Mans Cup environment, but he was positively reflective on his first driven miles at the Le Mans circuit.
And he will get to relive the sensations during the main event on 21/22 August.
The full list of teams and drivers set to race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans can be seen here.
Editor’s Note: Seven driver line-ups have been changed since publication of this article, including the #74 Racing Team India Eurasia which was down to travel restrictions (James Winslow, John Corbett and Tom Cloet).
Below is a list of the recent changes (12/08/21):
- #46, Robert Foley replacing Maxwell Root
- #84, Matthieu Lahaye replacing Francois Heriau
- #99 Harry Ticknell, Florian Latorre and Inthraphuvasak Latorre replacing Patrick Long, Gian Luca Giraudi and Felipe Laser
- #52, Sam Bird replacing Davide Rigon
- #17, Thomas Laurent replacing Kyle Tilley (announced 17 August)