Le Mans 24 Hour - Preview
This could be one of the most open Le Mans 24 Hours in the past 20 years as Porsche, Audi and Toyota all appear to have a realistic chance of victory in what will be the 84th running of the event this weekend.
This year's Le Mans 24 Hours will equal the record for the biggest entry list ever, with 60 cars on the grid for what is undoubtedly the world's most famous sports car race. The grid has been expanded by four cars over 2015, thanks to the new garages recently completed at the end of the pit lane. This mirrors the 60-car grids that were run in the early days, most recently in 1955. The race is about much more than the battle for outright honours at the front of the field, however. Ford is back on the 50th anniversary of the first of its Le Mans victories in the 1960s bidding for victory in an ever more competitive GTE Pro field and no fewer than 23 cars will line up in the ultra-competitive LMP2 class on the expanded 60-car grid.
As previously announced, Porsche and Audi have trimmed their entries from three cars each to two in the top LMP1 hybrid class. Porsche will run the numbers 1 and 2 on its cars this year, in deference to its World Endurance Championship title of last year. Toyota shows no change as they previously ran only two cars. Swiss based team Rebellion Racing will also run two cars with the Austrian ByKolles Racing Team fielding a privateer LMP1 entry.
In LMP2, there is a huge 23-car entry, coupled with 14 cars each in LMGTE Pro and Am. Ford was pleased to announce that all four of its factory Ford GTs have been accepted on to the grid, on the 50th anniversary of the manufacturer's famous victory over Ferrari in 1966. Ford then went on to win the event outright for four consecutive years. "This is a big deal for Ford, we're dealing with 50 years of heritage," said Ford's Dave Pericak. "It means the world to us."
Sir Chris Hoy has said he will fulfil a lifelong dream by competing in the Le Mans 24 Hour race. The six-time Olympic cycling champion will take part in the prestigious endurance race which was first run in 1923 and takes place overnight on 18-19 June. Hoy will drive a Nissan-powered Ligier JS P2 chassis at Le Mans' Circuit de la Sarthe in the LMP2 class, along with two team-mates.
Hoy, who first raced with Nissan in 2014 after his retirement from cycling, said: "I remember getting a Scalextric track when I was five or six. One of the cars had headlights on it. I remember asking my Dad why and he said: 'That's for the Le Mans 24 Hour race - they race through the night!'"
Words copyright MJP Media
Pictures copyright MJP Media / Formula Photographie
Published 14 June 2016