24 Hours of Le Mans – A fabulous field !

Today, Thursday 2nd February, live from Le Mans the Automobile Club de l’Ouest unveiled in exclusivity in an innovative interactive format on the internet the list of the 60 cars invited to take part in the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours. The 85th race promises a thrilling duel between Porsche and Toyota in LM P1.

The ACO launched the 2017 endurance season in a totally new conference format. More than 75 000 web spectators followed the unveiling of the lists of entries for the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), the FIA World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC) and the Le Mans 24 Hours. Above all, surfers were able to interact live in the studio through their comments and questions posted via the social networks.

On 17th June 60 cars will be at the start of the 85th Le Mans 24 Hours, the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, and the high point of the world motor racing calendar. They will be split up into four categories: 6 LM P1s (Le Mans Prototype 1), 25 LM P2s (Le Mans Prototype 2), 13 LM GTE Pros and 16 LM GTE Am.

In the blue-riband LM P1 category, Japanese giant Toyota has stacked all the odds in its favour by entering three TS050-Hybrids to counter the attacks of its German rival, Porsche, take its revenge on 2016, emerge victorious from this duel and score that long-awaited victory in the Sarthe. But Porsche is gunning for a hat trick with its 919s to bring the mythical Le Mans 24-Hours trophy back to Stuttgart for good, and rack up the 19th win in the race in its history. Completing the LM P1 field is the non-hybrid Enso CLM P1/01 entered by ByKolles Racing team with former F1 ace Robert Kubica as the lead driver.

2017 looks like being the year of the LM P2 due to a record field of 25 new cars! A new set of technical regulations came into force on 1st January 2017 and these prototypes all have improved performances, capped costs and a quality service linked to the fact that they all have the same engine. The aim is to ensure long-term success for this category destined for private teams, young chargers and gentlemen drivers thanks to a reduction in costs and stability in the regulations. The work is already paying off in the first year! The on-track spectacle will be guaranteed thanks to these very quick machines in the baby prototype category. Oreca has a numerical advantage with no fewer than 15 cars: 13 Oreca 07s and two Alpine A470s developed by the Signes-based constructor. Then comes Ligier with six JS P217s, Dallara with 3 P217s and Riley with a single MK30. In compliance with the new regulations all the cars will be powered by the Gibson engine. Quality and quantity are the two watchwords in a category that is rapidly expanding on the international scene. Signatech Alpine Matmut will have its work cut out to retain its title in the 24 Hours. There is a nod to the new Michel Vaillant comic book, which is being published in the near future, as the two Oreca 07-Gibsons entered by Rebellion Racing bear the name Vaillante Rebellion in homage to the famous cartoon hero, Michel Vaillant.

 In LM GTE Pro the new Porsche 911 RSR, two of which have been entered by the eponymous Stuttgart firm, looks like it will pose a serious threat. Corvette Racing-GM, AF Corse and Aston Martin will also bring along two cars each so they will be fighting on a level playing field. Ford is again doing everything in its power to repeat its victory in the Sarthe with an impressive armada of four cars! In addition, 2017 has got off to a great confidence-boosting start for the American make with a win in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. American team Risi Competizione will complete this high-quality field. Remember that this year the teams entered in the FIA WEC will be battling for the World Endurance Championship GT Manufacturers title.

As laid down in the regulations, only cars over one year old are eligible to compete in the LM GTE Am category, thus the Ferrari 488, which appeared in 2016, will race in the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time in this class. JMW Motorsport has entered an older Ferrari 458 so the Italian firm provides 50% of the field with a total of eight cars. For the moment the only woman driver in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours is to be found in LM GTE Am with Christina Nielsen from Denmark who, in 2016, became the first woman to win a title in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship!

Thus the field for the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours breaks down as follows: 31 prototypes and 29 GTs proving once again the incredible attraction exercised by this event with 39 teams representing 16 different nationalities from the four corners of the world expected in the Sarthe in June.

On the reserve list are two teams, one in the LM P2 category and the other in LM GTE Am. They will be allowed into the race in case of withdrawal of another entrant in keeping with the order on the list. During this press conference Mark Webber was named Grand Marshall of the 85th Le Mans 24 Hours following in the footsteps of Henri Pescarolo, Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen and Alexander Wurz.

The ACO used the web conference to announce some innovations for this year’s event, in particular the Race Pavilion, which helps people to follow the race in a real race control ambience, gain a greater understanding of what’s going on and miss nothing of the spectacle unfolding on the track. Other surprises are being prepared and will be announced in the near future.

This innovative web conference launched the 2017 endurance season, which looks like being a real cracker. The first step on the road to the 85th Le Mans 24 Hours on 17-18 June has already been taken!

2017 Entry list 

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “Endurance is in very good health and the 2017 season looks full of promise. Today, we discovered the three great entry lists for the ELMS, the FIA WEC and of course the Le Mans 24 Hours. The on-track spectacle will be absolutely fantastic with duels among top-class drivers and all-out rivalry between the competitors. All the ingredients that make up the ADN of endurance have been combined for 2017. The field for the Le Mans 24 Hours is particularly rich with 16 nationalities from the four corners of the world and a host of teams, most of which race in our continental series in Europe, the United States and Asia thanks to the Asian Le Mans Series, which has really taken off! It is all proof of the success of the endurance pyramid so dear to the ACO. The 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours promise us a great spectacle on the track as well as a week’s festivities to be enjoyed to the full!

Vincent Beaumesnil, Sport Manager of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “Once again this year the field entered for the Le Mans 24 Hours is an exceptional one. Thirty-one prototypes and 29 GTs will be at the start on 17th June. In the blue-riband category there will be a duel which, I’m sure, will mark the history of the race as so many others did in the past. This year the Le Mans 24-Hours entry is an exceptional one. There are 31 prototypes and the field in LM P2 is a really impressive one with 25 cars, a record in terms of numbers. We’re very happy with this success that’s been made possible by an innovative set of regulations and very quick cars. Porsche with its new GT will get involved in the battle with the other four manufacturers in LM GTE Pro. And LM GTE Am devoted to gentlemen drivers has attracted 16 cars. From a sportsmanlike point of view the 85th Le Mans 24 Hours look like providing a race packed with excitement.