24h Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans – The Hypercar class is a hit among manufacturers
The Hypercar class, the new premier league of endurance racing, is drawing some of the world’s biggest carmakers. Ten manufacturers have already signed up to compete from 2023, heralding a golden age for the discipline.
First introduced in 2021, the Hypercar class will see more manufacturers join the fray in the years to come. Carmakers are queueing up to enter this new class because it offers the chance to compete and chase overall victory in both the FIA WEC World Endurance Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and to line up for some classic races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Competitors can opt for a LMH or a LMDh prototype and, one after the other, they are revealing a series of remarkably sleek and clearly identifiable racing machines.
Here is the list of marques that will form the glittering line-up from 2023, as the 24 Hours of the Le Mans marks its centenary.
Acura is already involved in endurance racing, competing in the DPi class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and will now pursue its campaign in the Hypercar class, having signed up to the LMDh regulations. The manufacturer has won driver, team and manufacturer titles in the United States over the last two years and is keen to continue its winning ways.
The French marque is the latest addition to the Hypercar grid to date. Backed by Signatech, Alpine has gone from strength to strength since its endurance racing comeback in 2013. First, it triumphed in the European Le Mans Series, taking the driver and team titles in 2013 and 2014. Then came FIA WEC success with two world titles (2016 and 2019) and three victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in LMP2 (2016, 2018 and 2019). The team also earned a spot on the overall podium at the last 24 Hours of Le Mans. Alpine is thus continuing its ascent with a Hypercar entry in 2024. The manufacturer has opted to comply with LMDh regulations and will again benefit from Signatech’s expertise and synergy with the Alpine F1 Team.
The German marque holds the distance record at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and has won the French classic 13 times. It will return to endurance racing in 2023. To design the successor to its R18, Audi will comply with LMDh regulations and has selected Multimatic (one of the four authorised chassis suppliers) to provide the basis for its future Hypercar. It will compete it in both the FIA WEC and IMSA. Audi hopes to have its car ready for the track next year, with deployment completed in the first quarter. There will then be an intensive test programme over 2022 and the car is poised to make its race debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2023.
BMW, winner of the 1999 24 Hours of Le Mans, announced its Hypercar entry last June. The manufacturer will field two LMDh cars built on a Dallara chassis in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The first test car will be built in Italy with the BMW M Motorsport engineers working closely with a team of Dallara engineers dedicated to the BMW project. It will be launched on the Varano circuit next year.
The American manufacturer, which has taken part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times, will field a LMDh prototype in 2023, having selected Dallara to design its new car. Their partnership has already given birth to the Cadillac DPi-VR, which won the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2017 and 2018. The programme will be run with the Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) and Action Express Racing (AXR) teams. The car will make its debut at the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona before coming to the 24 Hours of Le Mans centenary race in 2023.
This is the comeback we’ve been waiting for since 1973! The Prancing Horse will join forces with AF Corse to field a LMH prototype. The team will compete under the name “Ferrari – AF Corse” to pursue a series of wins that began in FIA GT in 2006 with the F430 GT2. Ferrari, endurance and the 24 Hours of Le Mans share a long and glorious history. The Maranello-based carmaker has taken overall victory at the French classic nine times, its last win dating back to 1965 after an epic showdown with Ford.
This American specialist carmaker, founded by film producer and buinsessman James Glickenhaus, joined the Hypercar class this year, fielding two 007 LMH prototypes. For their first outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the two cars put in an incredible performance, finishing fourth and fifth overall. The 007 LMH demonstrated undeniable potential and could easily chase victory in the years to come.
The French marque, which has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans three times (1992, 1993 and 2009), is eagerly awaited in the Hypercar class with its 9X8. With its flowing lines and the absence of a rear wing, this LMH prototype marks the start of a new era in motor racing and endurance. Two Peugeot 9X9s will compete in the FIA WEC. Drivers Paul Di Resta, Loïc Duval, Mikkel Jensen, Kevin Magnussen, Gustavo Menezes, James Rossiter and Jean-Eric Vergne will share driving duties for the French outfit.
The most successful manufacturer in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans officially announced its comeback in December 2020. From 2023, Porsche will field two cars in FIA WEC and another two in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. American outfit Team Penske will be closely involved in developing these LMDh prototypes. “Our intention is to support and shape the new era with our LMDh prototypes,” states Dr. Michael Steiner, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche. “Not only will we be keeping our fingers crossed for the four factory cars we have in total, but also for our customer teams. The new Hypercar will also be entered as a customer car in both series as early as the 2023 season. These partner teams will be given our full support. Whatever insights we gain from our factory effort will also be shared with them.”
The Japanese manufacturer will go down in history for triumphantly clinching the first win of the Hypercar era at the 89th 24 Hours of Le Mans with the #8 GR010 Hybrid driven by Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López. In 2023, when most manufacturers will be joining the class for the first time, Toyota will be able to draw on the experience gained in both Hypercar and LMP1 since 2012.
Remember the 67th 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1999, when there were six manufacturers on the starting grid (Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Nissan, Panoz and Chrysler)? For the centenary race in 2023, there will be no fewer than 10 marques present. Will you be there too?