The day began much earlier, however, and the thousands spectators gathered at the circuit had plenty of track action to enjoy in the run-up to 16:00 when John Elkann waved the French flag to signal the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The Porsche Sprint Challenge France kicked off this morning’s programme at 09:00 when the event’s 56 competitors gathered on the grid for their only race of the weekend. Twenty-year-old Lilou Wadoux-Ducellier from Northern France took victory in the 45-minute showdown after dominating every session of the Challenge.
Then an event that motorsport fans had been eagerly awaiting – Endurance Racing Legends and its field of GT and prototypes from the 1990s and 2000s on track for a second race from 10:15 to 11:00. Proof, if needed, that the 24 Hours of Le Mans has timeless appeal.
At 11:30, the 61 competitors in the 24 Hours of Le Mans notched up their first laps of the day during the Warm-Up. This final 15-minute practice session is a chance for the teams to make any last-minute checks and tweaks to their cars according to the day’s weather conditions.
Shortly after that, at 12:15, the second Road to Le Mans race got underway. This race, the final curtain-raiser to the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans, is the fourth round of the 2021 Michelin Le Mans Cup.
At 13:45, the grid formation began. Not long afterwards, at 14:10, Alpine treated the crowd to a parade of its cars including a Formula 1 machine driven by two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Fernando Alonso, joined on track by F1 teammate Esteban Ocon, winner of the recent Hungarian Grand Prix.
With the start of the race fast approaching, several familiar faces were spotted among the 61 competitors on the starting grid including French Olympic champions Maxime Pauty, Charlotte Lembach, Margaux Pinot, Sarah Léonie Cysique and Romane Dicko.
At 15:42, the H24, the new hydrogen prototype developed by H24Racing, completed a lap of honour. It was driven by Stéphane Richelmi, who spoke about the plans to field a hydrogen-powered car at the 2025 24 Hours of Le Mans: “For me, hydrogen racing is here and now, ready to drive the future. This lap will be a demonstration. Just imagine – with MissionH24, we’re exploring a new arena for competition. We’re developing the future of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and of motoring.”
Then, finally, it was 16:00 and time to unleash the competitors in the world’s greatest endurance event for a thrilling 24 hours of racing!