2011 Le Mans 24 Hours and ILMC: A new era dawns!
The 79th Le Mans 24-Hours race has attracted a fabulous field. The most prestigious makes and the most talented drivers will all gather on the 24-Hours circuit to do battle. Thanks to their presence, the ACO will organize the blue riband motor race of the 2011 season.
Motor car manufacturers love Le Mans and vice versa! Audi, the reigning winner, Peugeot, Aston Martin, BMW, Ferrari, Porsche, Corvette and the prestigious Lotus name, back with works cars, without forgetting the return and considerable backing from Japanese engineers from Honda, Nissan and Toyota for some of the best teams, will give enthusiasts the opportunity to experience an event quite unlike any other because of its diversity and the overall quality of its field. These entries from works teams or privateers confirm the exceptional character of the Sarthe classic, which, since 1923, has always epitomized the values of endurance - sporting and technological fair play - thanks to the unceasing efforts and on-going passion of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.
Jean-Claude Plassart, the President of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest: "Once again the field assembled for the 79th event is of exceptional quality. The Sports Management Committee received 71 entries for 56 places on the grid. It again had to make hard choices due to the great interest and overall quality of the candidates. But above all, we're delighted to see how many major manufacturers from the world of the motor car industry, have put their trust in the ACO to provide them with the best possible theatre in which to showcase their sporting involvement."
The selection procedure for the entries chosen for the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hours went through several stages in several major events.
At the end of the 2010 season, which finished on 7th November after the Zhuhai 1000 kms (CHN), the names of the eighteen entrants invited were already known due their 2010 results in the Le Mans 24 Hours, (4 invitations), the ILMC Championship (3 invitations), the ALMS (2 invitations) and the LMS (4 invitations), the Petit Le Mans (3 invitations) and the Michelin Green X Challenge classification (2 invitations).
On 20th December 2010, at the same time as the publication of the Le Mans 24-Hours technical regulations, entries opened for all teams that wanted to send in a form to the Automobile Club de l'Ouest.
By 19th January 2011 at midnight, the final deadline for entries, the ACO had received 71 entry forms. It was a slight drop in quantity in relation to the previous year, which can be explained by the reshuffling of the categories to harmonize the field with the suppression of the GT1s (13 entries in 2010).
On the evening of 25th January 2011, the Selection Committee consisting of eight members met in the presence of the President Jean-Claude Plassart and Vincent Beaumesnil, the Sports Manager, to draw up the list of 56 cars and 10 reserves.
The list was finalized on 28th January 2011 and published on 9th February.
Vincent Beaumesnil (ACO Sports Manager): "This field is without doubt one of the best in the history of the Le Mans 24 Hours because of its homogeneity and the overall quality of the entries. This can be explained by two factors. The first one is that all the teams entered for Le Mans are also entered in the different competitions run under the Le Mans label, the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, as well as the American Le Mans Series and the Le Mans Series. So it's a question of top-quality teams that have a lot of experience in endurance racing. The second one is the quality of the list of drivers. There are many former winners as well as guys who've shown their talent in Formula 1. Finally, I'd like to underline the fact that the new Le Mans 24-Hours regulations (published on 20th December, they can be consulted on-line at the following address: www.lemans.org), are a big success as proved by the large number of new cars on the entry list."
Please note that two lists of reserves, each made up of five cars, have been drawn up, one in LM P and the other in GTE. Withdrawals after 1st February will be replaced category by category -- a GTE by a GTE and an LM P by an LM P.