Like the halcyon days! The Le Mans 24-Hours event is in rude good health and doesn’t mind admitting it! The ACO has received 82 entry requests for the 2009 race. Despite the quality of all these candidatures only 55 cars will line up on the starting grid. For the ACO this figure is cause for joy, and it is also a reward for the club, which has fought hard against all odds to impose its technical choices, so that the greatest endurance race in the world remains faithful to the Le Mans spirit. 82 entry forms have been sent to the ACO!
This is a remarkable number that has swept away the fears that hang over motor racing due to the current economic crisis. Once again, the Le Mans passion is stronger than ever, and the host of competitors wanting to have their names associated with the myth is living proof of this.
82 entries, it’s almost the same as in 2008 (88 requests) and better than 2007 (76)! The most remarkable fact is that these 82 requests are all of an exceptionally high level in terms of quality and variety. They could all start the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours were it not for the fact that the regulations limit the number to 55.
And it has to be stressed that the top prototype categories, LM P1 and LM P2, represent more than 50% of the entries with a total of 44 cars!
In addition to the 15 entrants that confirmed their automatic invitations at the start of January, the remainder will be selected from among 67 cars. Without letting the cat out of the bag it must be said that the 2009 field is a very international one with competitors representing 17 different nationalities in addition to 20 cars entered by French teams.
As for the clash of the Titans, it will take place between Audi and Peugeot in LM P1 with the Oreca-Courage and Pescarolo petrol-engined LM P1s waiting to pounce on any mistakes by the diesel-powered cars. They will be backed up by the new prototype Aston Martins, whose entry has come out of the blue as the famous British company is determined to shine at Le Mans, and celebrate its one and only outright victory in 1959.
The ACO Selection Committee, as it does each year, will get down to work so that the beauty of the sport, the level playing field in the race, faithfulness and determination among other qualities are rewarded by an invitation to practice for the Le Mans 24 Hours on 10th and 11th June. From a regulations point of view 55 cars will be selected (plus 8 reserves until 21st May).
This list, worthy of the halcyon days of Le Mans, will be announced at a press conference in Paris at the end of February.Not long to go now!