Ferrari wins Le Mans 24hr

Ferrari wins Le Mans 24hr

Ferrari secured an 11th 24 Hours of Le Mans win, the second in a row for the 499P after the Centenary success. Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen in the #50 499P add their name to the annals of the French endurance classic alongside those of last year's victors Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi.

 

After a race heavily affected by rain that upset many a plan, Ferrari came out on top once again. Let's take a look back at the highlights of this unprecedented vintage that saw 23 hypercars face off. 

 

THE 499P, A LEGEND IN THE MAKING

After storming to victory in last year’s Centenary race, Ferrari was obviously on many observers’ list of potential winners of the 92nd 24 Hours of Le Mans. It was a surprise to no-one that the 499P was always well placed among the frontrunners. The fact that, for much of the race, the red factory cars played second fiddle to the yellow private entry shared by Robert Kubica/Robert Shwartzman/Yifei Ye was much less expected.

 

From the off, the #50 and #51 factory cars set the pace. Nicklas Nielsen, in the #50, seized the lead from Porsche Penske Motorsport’s Laurens Vanthoor in the polesitting #6 Porsche 963. Antonio Giovinazzi (#51 Ferrari 499P) followed suit and overtook the Belgian. The pair of factory Ferrari 499Ps were top of the pile after just 13 minutes. At the same time a little further back, Robert Kubica (#83 Ferrari 499P) had started the race in an equally determined manner to climb to fifth place from a starting position of 12th.

 

The tifosi’s dreams of total domination by the Prancing Horses were, however, washed away when the capricious weather began to interfere.

 

As the first drops of rain began to fall from the slate-grey skies around 17:40, the teams had to decide quickly on their strategy. Several hypercars – such as the #51 Ferrari, the #4 Porsche and the #7 Toyota – switched to wet-weather tyres very early. André Lotterer, who had already relieved Laurens Vanthoor, opted for the same choice for the #6 Porsche 963. It proved to be the wrong option. This was when Kubica came into his own. The #83 499P was the only one to be shod in soft slicks. As the track dried, Robert Shwartzman took over from Kubica and took off. His lead steadily increased, lap after lap.

 

La 499P #83 se montre dès le début de l'épreuve, et émerge comme la Ferrari de référence.La 963 #6 emmène le peloton.La 499P #83 se montre dès le début de l'épreuve, et émerge comme la Ferrari de référence.La 963 #6 emmène le peloton.La 499P #83 se montre dès le début de l'épreuve, et émerge comme la Ferrari de référence.La 963 #6 emmène le peloton.

 


Saturday evening threw another spanner in the works. The rain returned just before ten o’clock and a series of pit stops ensued. Once again, AF Corse picked the right strategy for the #83. It switched quickly to wet-weather Michelins – like the #5 Porsche 963 – and in the persistent rain, the #83 Ferrari began to lap 30 seconds quicker than its slick-shod rivals. However, at 22:37, drama struck. Kubica came flying up behind the #15 BMW M Hybrid V8 driven by Dries Vanthoor. The Belgian had no intention of being overtaken as staying on the lead lap could prove decisive should the Safety Cars be called to action. The inevitable collision sent the German hypercar into the barrier. Vanthoor clambered out, his race over. The stewards found Kubica guilty of shunting his opponent and inflicted a 30-second penalty to be served at the following pit stop. The punishment, served at 00:30, pushed the yellow Ferrari down the standings. It was not to be seen again at the very top of the list. When Yifei Ye pulled up in the pits, smoke billowing from beneath the car, the #83 Ferrari 499P’s game was over.

 

The long wait

At that point, a three-way battle between Porsche Penske Motorsport, Toyota Gazoo Racing and Ferrari AF Corse was taking shape.

 

The single Isotta Fraschini entry put in a fine début but was unable to rival the class leaders. The Lamborghini SC63s showed great reliability, but were a long way behind. BMW was never in a position to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the V12 LMR’s win in the best possible way. The #15 M Hybrid V8 was eliminated by a collision with the #83 Ferrari 499P. The #20 was off the pace from the outset, with several technical issues.

 

Home hopes were dashed on Saturday evening when both Alpine A424s suffered engine failure and Peugeot dropped out of the lead lap after less than three hours of the race.

 

Of the dozen hypercars on the lead lap at midnight, it was the #8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid shared by the Toyota Gazoo Racing trio of Sébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa that would head the field through the night. All the official timing sheets from 01:00 to 09:00 showed the Japanese machine on top. Would Toyota lay the foundations for a solid win overnight, in keeping with the pure tradition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans? No. Timing sheets do not tell the whole story. They do not reveal the unpredictability of this 2024 vintage.

 

The Ferrari-Porsche-Toyota trio spent the night watching each other’s every move. But watch is all they could do. They could neither act nor fight. Le Mans at night is often magical, but this year, it was just appallingly wet. Race Control brought out the Safety Cars once again and kept them in operation for almost four-and-a-half hours. Le Mans was on hold but the release was to be all the tastier.

 

The drivers were like caged lions, waiting to be released so they could hunt down their prey. No overtaking, no attacks. Discipline was the order of the night. It was all about saving fuel and avoiding mistakes on track and in the pits. Some drivers chatted with their team to beat the monotony. Others appreciated the calm, albeit temporary. The sprint resumed.

 

With four hours to go, it was still anyone's game.The #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid in the dark of night.With four hours to go, it was still anyone's game.The #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid in the dark of night.With four hours to go, it was still anyone's game.The #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid in the dark of night.


The final shootout

Seven hours from the end, 11 cars were still on the lead lap and could still entertain hopes of victory. The rain ceased, the battle was intense in this lead group, with skirmish after skirmish.

 

Not all manufacturers were up to the fight. Cadillac lost two cars. An oil leak on the #3 Cadillac V-Series.R (Sébastien Bourdais/Renger van der Zande/Scott Dixon) and a spectacular accident for Pipo Derani in the #311 Cadillac V-Series.R.

 

Porsche suffered too. Felipe Nasr in the #4 963 hit the tyre wall at Indianapolis. The #5 and #6 963 were up with the pace but appeared uncomfortable. The drivers couldn’t raise their game to chip off the tenths that make all the difference. 

 

The pace picked up at midday. Antonio Fuoco’s 46th lap had long been the fastest in 3:29.208. But at 12:15, Alex Palou (#2 Cadillac V-Series.R, Cadillac Racing) stunned the crowd: 3:28.938 on lap 253, before Kamui Kobayashi (#7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid) eclipsed it on the following lap (3:28.756).

 

The rain returned for a final flourish just before 14:00. A few spots turned into heavier drizzle in the first sector, from the home straight to the Daytona chicane. Some crack under the pressure. Brendon Hartley drove off at Mulsanne Corner with the #8 Toyota GR010 Hybrid after a nudge by Alessandro Pier Guidi (#51 Ferrari 499P). A Ferrari one-two was on the cards. Finally, the #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid of José María López/Kamui Kobayashi/Nyck de Vries split the red-robed Ferraris. A gap of just 14.221 seconds at the chequered flag!

 

UNITED AUTOSPORTS RETURNS TO WINNING WAYS
LMP2 was wide open as several teams staked their territory in an unpredictable mêlée over the course of the 24 hours. At the start of the race, Hyperpole victor Louis Delétraz led the pack in the AO by TF #14 Oreca 07-Gibson. But as time ticked on and his co-drivers took over, the pecking order switched. As the teams tweaked their strategies, the Vector Sport #10 (Ryan Cullen/Patrick Pilet/Stéphane Richelmi) and the AF Corse #183 (François Perrodo/Ben Barnicoat/Nicolas Varrone) moved into the lead.

 

With a previous Le Mans win comfortably under his belt, Ben Keating experienced a rocky first relay and went off several times. He was part of a high-profile lineup with teammates Filipe Albuquerque and Ben Hanley.

 

On Sunday, the Inter Europol Competition #34 and Cool Racing #37 each had their moment in the limelight, but at the chequered flag, United Autosports took the honours for the first time since 2020.

 

United Autosports's last win was in 2020.Inter Europol Competition followed up their 2023 win with second place this year.IDEC Sport reached the chequered flag of this particularly tough race.United Autosports's last win was in 2020.Inter Europol Competition followed up their 2023 win with second place this year.IDEC Sport reached the chequered flag of this particularly tough race.United Autosports's last win was in 2020.Inter Europol Competition followed up their 2023 win with second place this year.IDEC Sport reached the chequered flag of this particularly tough race.


PORSCHE CLAIMS THE INAUGURAL LMGT3 WIN
It was nigh on impossible to predict the outcome of this new class with nine manufacturers lining up LMGT3-regulation cars on the grid on Saturday. Many of them topped the tables at some point during the race. After its last victory at Le Mans in 1995, secured in rainy conditions, McLaren returned to repeat history. They started off strong in class pole position with the Inception Racing #70 720S LMGT3 Evo2 driven by Brendan Iribe/Ollie Millroy/Frederik Schandorff, but the car finished in 13th place. The United Autosports #59 and #95 – numbered as a nod to McLaren’s past victories – fared no better.

 

Lexus was very much in the spotlight, with the Akkodis ASP Team’s #78 and #87 RC F LMGT3s. It was an encouraging first for the oldest GT3 on the grid, which is due to be replaced in 2026.

 

We had high hopes for Valentino Rossi to pull it out the bag in the #46 BMW M4 GT3. The multiple Moto GP champion led the race, aided by Maxime Martin’s sterling early contribution. But Ahmad Al Harthy lost control of the car on the pit exit, causing damage that prevented it from continuing. The #31 is the only survivor from the WRT clan.

 

The Ford Mustangs made a remarkable début, with Proton Competition getting the best out of a car that they’re still getting to grips with. We can expect to see them return for the win.

 

The Iron Dames were impressively consistent, with occasional forays to the top spot. But it was Porsche that truly left its mark on this 92nd race. The symbolically numbered #92 held its own throughout the race but encountered gearbox problems. The Manthey EMA #91 Porsche 911 took over, with Yasser Shahin/Morris Schuring/Richard Lietz behind the wheel. They set an impressive pace and successfully shook off the opposition, putting all but the BMW #31 M4 GT3 back a lap.

 

Manthey EMA is the first team to taste victory in LMGT3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.Team WRT leaves Le Mans with a podium. A satisfactory début with the BMW M4 GT3, despite the retirement of the #46 car.With its American styling and raucous roar, the Mustang GT3 delighted spectators.Manthey EMA is the first team to taste victory in LMGT3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.Team WRT leaves Le Mans with a podium. A satisfactory début with the BMW M4 GT3, despite the retirement of the #46 car.With its American styling and raucous roar, the Mustang GT3 delighted spectators.Manthey EMA is the first team to taste victory in LMGT3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.Team WRT leaves Le Mans with a podium. A satisfactory début with the BMW M4 GT3, despite the retirement of the #46 car.With its American styling and raucous roar, the Mustang GT3 delighted spectators.


OVERALL TOP 5
1. #50 Ferrari 499P | Ferrari AF Corse | Antonio Fuoco/Miguel Molina/Nicklas Nielsen | 311 laps
2. #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid | Toyota Gazoo Racing | José María López/Kamui Kobayashi/Nyck de Vries | +14.221
3. #51 Ferrari 499P | Ferrari AF Corse | Alessandro Pier Guidi/James Calado/Antonio Giovinazzi | +36.730
4. #6 Porsche 963 | Porsche Penske Motorsport | Kévin Estre/André Lotterer/Laurens Vanthoor | +37.897
5. #8 Toyota GR010-Hybrid | Toyota Gazoo Racing | Sébastien Buemi/Brendon Hartley/Ryo Hirakawa | +1:02.824

OTHER CLASS WINNERS
LMP2 – #22 Oreca 07-Gibson | United Autosports | Oliver Jarvis / Bijoy Garg / Nolan Siegel | 296 laps
LMGT3 – #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R LMGT3 | Manthey EMA | Yasser Shahin / Morris Schuring / Richard Lietz | 280 laps
RETIREMENTS
#54 Ferrari 296 LMGT3 | Vista AF Corse | Thomas Flohr / Francesco Castellacci / Davide Rigon – Crash
#35 Alpine A424 | Alpine Endurance Team | Paul-Loup Chatin / Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen / Charles Milesi – Engine failure
#9 Oreca 07-Gibson | Proton Competition | Jonas Ried / Maceo Capietto / Bent Viscaal
#36 Alpine A424 | Alpine Endurance Team | Nicolas Lapierre / Mick Schumacher / Matthieu Vaxivière – Engine failure
#15 BMW M Hybrid V8 | BMW M Team WRT | Dries Vanthoor / Raffaele Marciello / Marco Wittmann – Collision damage
#46 BMW M4 LMGT3 | Team WRT | Ahmad Al Harthy / Valentino Rossi / Maxime Martin – Crash
#30 Oreca 07-Gibson | Duqueine Team | John Falb / James Allen / Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (LMP2 Pro/Am) – Engine damage
#66 Ferrari 296 LMGT3 | JMW Motorsport | Giacomo Petrobelli / Larry ten Voorde / Salih Yoluc
#45 Oreca 07-Gibson | Crowdstrike Racing by APR | George Kurtz / Colin Braun / Nicky Catsburg (LMP2 Pro/Am)
#27 Aston Martin Vantage AMR LMGT3 | Heart of Racing Team | Ian James / Daniel Mancinelli / Alex Riberas – Crash
#4 Porsche 963 | Porsche Penske Motorsport | Mathieu Jaminet / Felipe Nasr / Nick Tandy – Crash
#95 McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo | United Autosports | Hiroshi Hamaguchi / Nicolas Pino / Marino Sato
#59 McLaren 720S LMGT3 Evo | United Autosports | James Cottingham / Nicolas Costa / Grégoire Saucy
#3 Cadillac V-Series.R | Cadillac Racing | Sébastien Bourdais / Renger van der Zande / Scott Dixon – Engine failure
#83 Ferrari 499P | AF Corse | Robert Kubica / Robert Shwartzman / Yifei Ye – Hybrid system problem
Fastest lap in race: Kamui Kobayashi | #7 Toyota GR010-Hybrid | Toyota Gazoo Racing | 3:28.756 (Lap 254).

Text & Photo: ACO


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