Only 11 months have passed since the last 24 Hours of Le Mans but, thanks to yet more calendar disruption, the world’s most famous 24-hour race is back — and there’s some major changes.
2021 marks the debut of a new top class at Le Mans for the first time in nearly 20 years — arguably 30. The LMP1 cars that have been the lead category in one form or another since 1994 have gone, and the Le Mans Hypercars will take their place.
It’s been a controversial class before it even takes the Tricolore this weekend, with numerous tweaks to the rules to appease some brands and entice others, and despite early promise there’ll only be five cars from three brands showing up on the grid this time round.
Toyota comes in as defending triple champion, but with its new GR010 taking to this circuit for the first time. It’s not exactly unproven though, as one or other car has taken every win in the 2021 FIA WEC so far, three from three. The #7 car is also on pole position — ahead of the sister machine — with Kamui Kobayashi setting his fourth pole lap, and his third in a row.
Alpine is bringing its sole A480 to the event, and it’s one of the more debatable machines. Permitted under one of the regulation changes, the A480 is essentially a reworked LMP1 Rebellion R13, which is itself based on the Oreca 07, previously raced by Alpine as the A470 LMP2.
Newcomers Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus know how to run a 24 hour race, as veterans of the N24 with the SCG003. However Le Mans is an entirely different beast and the SCG007 has only had two outings so far — and the only LMH retirement of the season.
The other major change for 2021 is the return of Chevrolet, and the first ever mid-engined Corvette. Based on the C8, the C8.R will compete in LMGTE Pro after the brand’s absence in 2020, to resume its battle with Porsche and Ferrari.
Of course LMP2 looks set to be its usual competitive self, albeit slowed to account for the slower LMH cars, with 25 entries in total. That includes last year’s winning car, the #22 United Autosports machine, albeit with the winning driver line-up split; Paul di Resta will race the #23 instead.
In total, 61 cars will take to the grid — including the special entry from SRT41 featuring a full line-up of drivers with disabilities piloting an adapted Oreca 07 LMP2 — following the withdrawal of the #17 IDEC Sport LMP2 with collision damage.
The race will get underway on August 21 at 1600 local time (1400UTC; convert to your local time here). For this year the official race starter is John Elkann, the chairman of Ferrari which has announced its intention to join the Hypercar class in 2023.
You can follow the race here on GTPlanet in our discussion thread, and with the important information below.
- FIA WEC App Official live stream – outside USA only (€9.99)
- Motortrend App Official live stream – USA only
- Alpine A480 LMH live on-board cameras
- Toyota GR010 #7 and GR010 #8 LMH live on-board cameras
- SCG007 #709 LMH live on-board cameras
- Corvette Racing #63 LM GTE Pro live on-board cameras
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