Ferrari AF Corse has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary Trophy! The Italian manufacturer, making its return to the premier league of endurance racing after a fifty-year absence, has secured its tenth outright victory in the French classic – its first since 1965. Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado have claimed their first outright win to go with their LMGTE Pro triumph of 2019. This is the first Le Mans podium for Antonio Giovinazzi in his second appearance.
The one hundredth anniversary of the world’s greatest endurance race certainly lived up to its billing. Bumper crowds were treated to fascinating battles in every class with the outcome up in the air until the final stages.
The #51 Ferrari 499P Hypercar saw off the challenge mounted by the #8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid. The first 12 hours saw the lead change hands numerous times. Many of the 16 Hypercars on the starting grid led at some point during the opening stages, affected by two heavy rain showers. Following a spate of accidents and race incidents, the second half of the race turned into a tense two-horse race, with the #2 Cadillac V-Series.R hovering in the background.
A splendid quadruple stint by Brendon Hartley kept the pressure on the three Ferrari AF Corse drivers – Pier Guidi, Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi – in turn. Unfortunately, Hartley’s teammate Ryō Hirakawa spun off into the barrier at Arnage with less than two hours to go. Despite a rapid two-minute repair, the gap to the leader stretched to over three minutes. Sébastien Buemi, the third member of the #8 line-up, will have to wait to secure a fifth outright Le Mans win that would elevate him to third place in the all-time rankings alongside Derek Bell, Emanuele Pirro and Frank Biela.
The Cadillac Racing Hypercars finished in third and fourth places after a solid, consistent race. The #2 Cadillac V-Series.R clinched the final podium spot for Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook.
The #50 Ferrari 499P that started the race in pole position finished in fifth place. Hyperpole winner Antonio Fuoco also produced the fastest in-lap race with a time of 3:26.984 on lap 306.
The #708 and #709 Glickenhaus 007s finished sixth and seventh respectively despite a fright for the #709 crew with 20 minutes to go when Franck Mailleux hit the barrier at the Daytona Chicane. Jim Glickenhaus can be proud of his team’s performance.
The #93 Peugeot 9X8 was eighth and the #5 Porsche 963 of Porsche Penske Motorsport ninth.
Alexis GOURE (ACO)
The LMP2 class also produced an enthralling head-to-head since daybreak between the #34 Oreca 07-Gibson fielded by Inter Europol Competition and the #41 Oreca 07-Gibson of Team WRT. Swiss driver Fabio Scherer held off fellow countryman Louis Delétraz to clinch victory for the Polish team. A memorable weekend for Polish sport after the French Open win yesterday for Iga Swiatek! Rookie Scherer shared driving duties with Pole Jakub Smiechowski and Spaniard Albert Costa. Former race winner Neel Jani brought home the #30 Duqueine Team Oreca to round out the podium. JOTA, looking for a second successive class win, figured strongly in the early stages but fell away as the race went on. IDEC Sport mounted a challenge too, but its final charge was halted by a puncture with less than two hours left on the clock.
Alexis GOURE (ACO)
For its final hurrah, the LMGTE Am class was as exciting as ever. Numerous cars swapped the lead almost lap by lap. A ‘gang of four’ consisting of the #33 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R, the Iron Dames’ #85 Porsche 911 RSR-19, the #25 ORT by TF Aston Martin Vantage AM and the #86 GR Racing Porsche played out the final act. At the chequered flag, Corvette clinched a hard-fought win ahead of the TF Sport-backed Aston Martin and the Porsche 911 RSR-19 of GR Racing. Sadly, the all-female Iron Dames team, who had been in the top three for most of the day, missed out on a historic podium spot.
Seasoned American endurance racer Ben Keating secured his second straight LMGTE Am win after his success last year in the Aston Martin of TF Sport. This was his first appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Chevrolet Corvette. This extremely intense class victory is therefore a proud moment for the man who sells the brand in his Texas dealerships.
"It's tough for an old man’s heart!"
Ben Keating, driver, #33 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R
Alexis GOURE (ACO)
The Garage 56 NASCAR Cup-inspired Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 accomplished everything the Hendricks Motorsports team set out to achieve… and then some! They not only got to the end of the 24 hours, despite a late gearbox problem that caused some heartache, they also challenged the LMGTE Am leaders for much of the race. Congratulations to the team behind the project!
JONATHAN BICHE (ACO)
#51 Ferrari 499P | Ferrari AF Corse | Alessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi | 342 laps
#8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid | Toyota Gazoo Racing | Sébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/ Ryō Hirakawa | +1:21.273
#2 Cadillac V-Series.R | Cadillac Racing | Earl Bamber/Alex Lynn/Richard Westbrook | 341 laps
#34 Oreca 07-Gibson | Inter Europol Competition | Jakub Smiechowski/Albert Costa/Fabio Scherer | 328 laps (10th overall)
#30 Oreca 07-Gibson | Duqueine Team | Neel Jani/René Binder/Nicolas Pino | 327 laps
LMGTE Am podium
#33 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R | Corvette Racing | Nicky Catsburg/Ben Keating/Nicolas Varrone – 313 laps
#25 Aston Martin Vantage AMR | ORT by TF | Ahmad Al Harthy/Michael Dinan/Charlie Eastwood – 312 laps
#86 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | GR Racing | Michael Wainwright/Benjamin Barker/Ricardo Pera – 1:21.594
#24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 | Hendrick Motorsports | Jimmie Johnson/Mike Rockenfeller/Jenson Button – 285 laps (39th overall)
#14 Oreca 07-Gibson | Nielsen Racing | Rodrigo Sales/Mathias Beche/Ben Hanley – 18 laps
#13 Oreca 07-Gibson | Tower Motorsports | Ricky Taylor/René Rast/Steven Thomas – 19 laps
#21 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO | AF Corse | Simon Mann/Julien Piguet/Ulysse de Pauw – 21 laps
#55 Aston Martin Vantage AMR | GMB Motorsport | Gustav Birch/Marco Sørensen/Jens Reno Møller – 21 laps
#60 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Iron Lynx | Claudio Schiavoni/Matteo Cressoni/Alessio Picariello – 28 laps
#16 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Proton Competition | Ryan Hardwick/Zacharie Robichon/Jan Heylen – 28 laps
#83 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO | Richard Mille AF Corse | Luis Perez Companc/Alessio Rovera/Lilou Wadoux – 33 laps
#72 Aston Martin Vantage AMR | TF Sport | Arnold Robin/Maxime Robin/Valentin Hasse-Clot – 58 laps
#75 Porsche 963 | Porsche Penske Motorsport | Felipe Nasr/Mathieu Jaminet/Nick Tandy – 84 laps
#923 Oreca 07-Gibson | Racing Team Turkey | Salih Yoluc/Tom Gamble/Dries Vanthoor – 87 laps
#66 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO | JMW Motorsport | Thomas Neubauer/Louis Prette/Giacomo Petrobelli – 89 laps
#7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid | Toyota Gazoo Racing | Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/José María López – 103 laps
#63 Oreca 07-Gibson | Prema Racing | Doriane Pin/Daniil Kyvat/Mirko Bortolotti – 113 laps
#32 Oreca 07-Gibson | inter Europol Competition | Mark Kvamme/Jan Magnussen/Anders Fjordbach – 117 laps
#77 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Dempsey-Proton Racing | Christian Ried/Mikkel Pedersen/Julien Andlauer – 118 laps
#47 Oreca 07-Gibson | COOL Racing | Reshad de Gérus/Vladislav Lomko/Simon Pagenaud – 158 laps
#777 Aston Martin Vantage AMR | D’Station Racing | Satoshi Hoshino/Casper Stevenson/Tomonobu Fujii – 163 laps
#4 Vanwall Vandervell 680 | Floyd Vanwall Racing Team | Tom Dillman/Esteban Guerrieri/Tristan Vautier – 165 laps
#88 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Proton Competition | Harry Tincknell/Donald Yount/Jonas Ried – 170 laps
#80 Oreca 07-Gibson | AF Corse | François Perrodo/Ben Barnicaot/Norman Nato – 183 laps
#911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 | Proton Competition | Michael Fassbender/Martin Rump/Richard Lietz – 246 laps
#57 Ferrari 488 GTE EVO | Kessel Racing | Takeshi Kimura/Scott Huffaker/Daniel Serra – 254 laps
In the rearview mirror
Le Mans wouldn’t be Le Mans without Ferrari, and Ferrari would not be Ferrari without Le Mans. The love affair began in 1949, when the Italian make claimed victory at first attempt. As the decades rolled by, the prancing horse collected trophies, amassing nine overall victories, including six on the trot (1960-1965), improving the distance record three times in the process. In 1962, Belgian Olivier Gendebien broke the record for the number of Le Mans victories, which was not exceeded until 1981. In 1965, Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt ran an admirable race, clawing back after a mechanical issue early on.
Ferrari’s historic win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Centenary might well have been scuppered by an electronic issue. Fortunately for the Italian manufacturer, a close-knit team and a trio of determined drivers saved the day.
Motor racing fans in France will continue to enjoy full coverage of the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans following a two year extension deal with French broadcaster, l’Équipe.
Porsche Penske Motorsport has its sights set on victory at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans (12-16 June). Kévin Estre promises fans that they will see a much improved Porsche 963 in 2024 as a result of the team’s current hard work behind the scenes.
The grid for the 2024 ELMS will feature a total of 43 cars, the largest ever field of LMP2s for the leading continental endurance championship. Over half of the grid, 22 in total, will be entries in the two LMP2 classes, the largest gathering of LMP2 cars outside of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.