Friday’s reveal of the Le Mans 24 Hours entry list – streamed live on Motorsport.com – sets the stage for the world’s greatest sportscar race, says Charles Bradley.
It’s one of the most-anticipated moments of the year: the press conference that announces the entry list for the Le Mans 24 Hours and all full-time entries for the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series.
All will be revealed in Paris this Friday, February 5 at 14:30 French time (13:30 GMT) – and via a new deal with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the WEC, you can watch the press conference right here on Motorsport.com.
The hour-long show will answer some burning questions, and the rumour mill has been working overtime in the past few weeks. My jungle drums have told me to expect some surprises…
Over the years we’ve become accustomed to 55 cars at Le Mans – plus an extra with its innovative ‘Garage 56’ scheme.
But how many cars will be on the grid in total? We know Le Mans is in the process of building four extra garages at the end of the pitlane – does this mean the grid will expand? If so, by how many cars – two perhaps? Four?
In LMP1, we know that Porsche and Audi have both cut their entries to two cars each – but that move has simply opened up extra berths for the true essence of sportscars to shine: namely, the sheer variety of the grid.
I understand we’re going to find a huge array of LMP2 cars on the entry list, and they are going to provide an epic dimension to this race.
Think about it: The Porsche-Audi-Toyota triumvirate fighting for overall honours (and with less of them, the prospect of mechanical reliability risks are more critical than ever), plus the privateer LMP1s, a likely stronger-than-ever LMP2 field (thanks to an incredibly strong ELMS) and then the rammed GT classes which will be packed with supercars as usual.
The $1966,000 question
I say $1966,000, rather than $64,000, because of the significance of the number. Of course, 1966 was the year that Ford beat the might of Ferrari with its iconic GT40.
It was a race that has helped shape Le Mans folklore, and this year there will be echoes of that illustrious past – 50 years on.
Ford returns with its ultra-cool GT model, but just how many of these full-factory red, white and blue cars will be see on the grid? Will both full-time WEC entries really be joined by their IMSA cousins, to have four cars going head-to-head with the works Ferraris, Corvettes, Porsches and Aston Martins?
Find out on Motorsport.com...
Might we get the most varied and interesting Le Mans grid in years? Maybe even the biggest and best ever?
I don’t have all the answers. In fact, there’s only one way to find out.
Watch the press conference live on Motorsport.com this Friday, February 5 at 14:30 French time (13:30 GMT).