The overall winners of the 2012 June classic in Le Mans, France, heads the list of the teams who received invitations from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) for the 90th Anniversary of the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Thirteen teams from across the globe have earned the sought after first selection. The first four were due to their class victories in the 2012 race on the La Sarthe circuit, while the other nine were selected from three series: World Endurance Championship (WEC), European Le Mans Series (ELMS), and the American Le Mans Series (ALMS).
The Michelin Green X Challenge winners in the WEC were sent invitations, as were the champions of the five classes in the ELMS. Adding to the count were four second-place finishers in the ELMS title fight. The final three from the ALMS were designated by the American-based series.
Audi Sport Team Joest heads up the list with two invitations as they were the winners at Le Mans this year, and to top it off they are the WEC champions. Since it was the same #1 Audi R18 e-tron Quattro with drivers Marcel Fässler, Andre Lotterer, and Benoit Tréluyer that took both LMP1 honors, Audi’s second automatic selection is for taking the Michelin Green X Challenge for the WEC Prototype teams.
Topping the list for LMP2 was the American team who took on the challenge at the historic La Sarthe circuit. The #44 Starworks Motorsports HPD ARX-03b Honda took their first-ever win at Le Mans thanks to their stellar driver lineup of Enzo Potolicchio, Ryan Dalziel, and Tom Kimber-Smith.
LMP2’s championship ELMS team, Thiriet by TDS Racing, received an invite as did one their main rivals , OAK Racing. The season finale for the European series ended on American soil in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. For the ALMS, two of their P2 competitors also have an invitation: 2012 champion team Level 5 Motorsports and Conquest Racing. The season long battle between the two teams was extremely close in every race. The ALMS designated their choices for the 2013 automatic selection.
The AF Corse Ferrari team in GTE Pro received two automatically selected invitations. The first one was for taking the GTE Pro victory at Le Mans 24 hours, and their second one is for earning the GTE Michelin Green X Challenge award during the season long WEC inaugural contest.
Also receiving good news in the GTE Pro class of the ELMS was the championship team, JMW Motorsport. Taking the second place honors that clinched them an invite was JBM Racing. The team designated by ALMS in the same category was Extreme Speed Motorsports.
In GTE Am at Le Mans, the winning team on the La Sarthe circuit was Larbre Competition, and they are on the automatic list. The other two GT3 Am teams came from the ELMS with champion winners IMSA Performance Matmut, and landing their third invitation was AF Corse.
The ELMS LM Prototype Challenge winning team, Boutsen Ginion Racing, has also received their invitation.
The actual total of cars that were granted the automatic invitations today add up to 16. The grid for the start on June 22nd for the 2013 historic race will be 55 cars. The 90th running or the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the third round on the WEC calendar next year.
Of course the teams listed will need to officially file their entry. They also must enter one of four series in 2013. Many already contest the WEC, ELMS and ALMS; however any of the teams that received the special invitation now have a fourth series to choose from with the startup next year of the Asian Le Mans Series (ALMS).
On January 31, 2013, the complete list of entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be announced in Paris, France.