24h Le Mans
Happy Thanksgiving! American teams at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans
In honor of Thanksgiving, here's a look back at the fate of four American teams who took the start in this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Of the 59 entrants at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, four teams were American: Eurointernational (#11 Ligier JS P217-Gibson), DragonSpeed USA (#21 and #27 ORECA 07-Gibsons), Risi Competizione (#82 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo) and WeatherTech Racing (#63 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo). On Thursday 26 November, Thanksgiving will be celebrated in the U.S. In honor of the holiday, let's take a closer look at these four American teams who competed in the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Eurointernational (#11 Ligier JS P217-Gibson)
Eurointernational made its return to the race after taking the start back in 1995 with a Ferrari 333 SP. The team earned its invitation to the 2020 24 Hours after winning the LMP3 title in the 2019 European Le Mans Series. The #11 Ligier JS P217-Gibson decorated in all blue was shared by French drivers Adrien Tambay and Erick Maris and the Belgian Christophe d’Ansembourg. In the wake of qualifying in 27th position with a time of 3:33.747, the team managed by Antonio Ferrari was the first forced to retire, with an electric problem. Since then, Eurointernational has placed fourth in the LMP3 class in the 2020 European Le Mans Series.
DragonSpeed USA (#21 and #27 ORECA 07-Gibson)
This 88th running of the race was DragonSpeed USA's fourth consecutive participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to fielding the #21 ORECA 07-Gibson the team runs in the European Le Mans Series, the American outfit also entered the #27. The #21 was entrusted to Timothé Buret, Memo Rojas and former Formula 1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya, and the #27 to Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman and Renger van der Zande. After qualifying in 21st and 16th positions respectively, only the #27 crossed the finish line, in 12th place in the LMP2 class. The #21 encountered lighting troubles and was forced to retire before the 200th lap of the race.
DragonSpeed USA recently confirmed next season's participation in LMP2 in the FIA World Endurance Championship with an ORECA 07-Gibson driven by Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman and Juan Pablo Montoya.
Risi Competizione (#82 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo)
Giuseppe Risi's team gave a nod to French culture via the livery of its Ferrari 488 GTE Evo fielded in the LMGTE Pro class this year. The design was inspired by the embroidered suits of members of the Académie Française, an institution founded in 1635 by Richelieu intended to standardize and perfect the French language. The livery was created as part of a workshop of 16 students from different fields of the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et Métiers d'Art (ENSAAMA Olivier de Serres) in Paris. As a cherry on top, the car was shared by three French drivers: Sébastien Bourdais, Olivier Pla and Jules Gounon. Thirty-seventh on the starting grid, the American team managed to climb to third position in its class by mid-race, but a shock absorber failure dashed its dreams of reaching the podium. Still, the #82 Ferrari finished fourth in LMGTE Pro.
WeatherTech Racing (#63 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo)
This year marked Los Angeles-based WeatherTech Racing's second participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The #63 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo was entered in the LMGTE Am class and driven by Cooper MacNeil, Jeffrey Segal and veteran driver Toni Vilander (12 participations). Thirty-sixth at the start, the car's race was stalled by the breakage of a shock absorber then an incident following contact with the #29 ORECA 7-Gibson, causing the team to retire from the race.
As these four teams were representing the stars and stripes at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans, 11 American drivers were as well. One in LMP1, four in LMP2, two in LMGTE Pro and four in LMGTE Am.
A fan favorite, the Corvette Racing team was unable to take part in the race due to the global health crisis, having competed at Le Mans without fail from 2000 to 2019. However, Doug Fehan's team (recent title-winners in the GTLM class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship) hopes to field the new Corvette C8.R in the 24 Hours soon.
The 2021 FIA WEC season will kick off with preseason testing at the Sebring circuit on 13-14 March 2021. Then the teams will hit the track for the 1000 Miles of Sebring on the 19th.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of the American teams, drivers and fans of the 24 Hours of Le Mans!