The Le Mans 24 Hours, the blue riband event in long-distance racing, enjoy special status in the context of the FIA World Endurance Championship of which it is the third round: double points will be awarded compared to the other races on the calendar. Thus, the event on 22-23 June is a particularly important one for the drivers, the full list of whom is published today.
Remember that for the teams, entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours takes place in two stages: they had until 16th January to send in their entry form for the race and nominate one driver. On 15th May at the latest they had to inform the Automobile Club de l’Ouest of the driver line-ups consisting of three names. After the usual checks the ACO is publishing today, 21st May, the list of drivers selected.
Note that there are only 165 names for 56 cars out of 168 possible places. Ferrari will announce in the near future the name of the driver who will back up Fisichella and Bruni in the no. 51 458 Italia, and GreenGT will officialise the two who will team up with Christian Pescatori before the end of May.
This fantastic list contains 10 former outright winners who will be at the start, the oldest being Christophe Bouchut (victorious in 1993 in a Peugeot 905). He will drive one of the two LM P2 Lotuses, and the most recent, Tréluyer-Fässler-Lotterer, winners in 2011 and 2013, will be aiming for a hat trick!
In addition to the three Audi drivers all the other 2012 winners are back to defend their crown whether together or separately. The victorious LM P2 winning crew has been broken up. Tom Kimber-Smith is in the no. 41 Zytek-Nissan entered by Greaves Motorsport. Ryan Dalziel will be racing in LM GTE Pro in one of the works Vipers and Vicente Potolicchio will be at the wheel of the no. 81 Ferrari 458 Italia.
Victorious in LM GTE Pro at Le Mans last year, Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni will again share the works no. 51 Ferrari F458 Italia. Toni Vilander, who was with them in 2012, will be driving the no. 71 Ferrari. The third driver who will back up Fisichella and Bruni will be announced shortly.
In LM GTE Am, Patrick Bornhauser and Julien Canal, first in 2011 and 2012, will again team up in the no. 50 Corvette and will have Ricky Taylor as team-mate, not Pedro Lamy who is one of the Aston Martin works driver.
The return of ex-F1 aces to Le Mans continues! Last year Nick Heidfeld, came back after his 1999 debut, while Buemi and Chandhok had their first taste of Le Mans. Bruno Senna (Aston Martin) has returned to tackle the daunting Sarthe circuit again while Kamui Kobayashi (Ferrari) will have his maiden 24-Hours outing.
This year there will be two woman drivers on the grid: Keiko Ihara from Japan in the Lola LM P2 entered by the Gulf Racing Middle East team that competed in the event in 2012, and Natacha Gachnang (no. 43 Morgan Judd) from Switzerland who raced in the 24 Hours in 2010 (Ford GT). For the Gachnangs Le Mans is a family affair as her cousin Sébastien Buemi will be one of the works Toyota drivers, and their grand-father, Georges Gachnang, raced in the event in 1960.
And as always, Le Mans has its fair share of talented gentlemen drivers like Patrick Bornhauser, Tracy Krohn and Jacques Nicolet who do battle all year round in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Then there is American actor Patrick Dempsey, entered in the American Le Mans Series; he will share a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR with fellow-countrymen Joe Foster and Michael Avenatti.
The vast majority of entrants will take part in the test day on Sunday 9th June, the general rehearsal for the Le Mans 24 Hours. It is obligatory for new cars and for teams and drivers that have never raced in the Le Mans 24 Hours before, or who are on the list of those who haven’t taken part in official practice since the 2008 race
After that, they will go through scrutineering and admin. checks on 16-17 June, then official qualifying practice on 19-20 June before the high point of the week - the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours on Saturday 22nd June at 15h00.
Le Mans 24 Hours