Le Mans, WEC, ELMS entry lists released

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Thursday’s press conference in France revealed several key items for the 2014 endurance sports car season.

Remember the numbers 56, 42 and 31. 56 is the number of entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans – per usual – 31 of which are from the FIA World Endurance Championship. And 42 is the number of entries received for the European Le Mans Series, which has surged back in entries after a pair of challenging seasons.

24 HOURS OF LE MANS

There’s an even split of 28 prototypes (10 LMP1, 17 LMP2 and the Nissan ZEOD RC) and 28 GTs (12 GTE Pros, 16 GTE Ams).

The top LMP1 (now LMP1-H for hybrid technology) arms race features new 2014 regulations, and a three-way bout between Audi, Toyota and Porsche for the overall win. The privateers have their own subcategory, LMP1-L, and will have minor bragging rights with that.

In LMP2, ORECA 03 Nissans appear popular, but there’s also Dome, Morgan, Ligier, Alpine and Zytek chassis, as well as HPD and Judd engines. Nissan though has the bulk of the engines, powering 14 of 17 cars in class.

GTE Pro will see your Ferrari-Aston Martin-Porsche battle joined by the American muscle from Corvette and Viper. Always an entertaining show.

And GTE Am, often the hardest class to project simply due to the driver requirements (LMP2 requires only one Silver or Bronze-rated driver; GTE Am requires at least one Bronze to go with a Silver), has a heavy Ferrari base but also entries from Porsche (notably Dempsey Racing) and Aston Martin.

Here’s the full entry list.

FIA WEC

Take the above copy, look at the entry list to see which cars have the FIA WEC logo next to them, and there’s your field of 31.

LMP2 takes the biggest drop in WEC, with only 7 full-season cars compared to the 17 at Le Mans. GTE Pro drops to 7 from 12; GTE Am is cut in half to 8 from 16. Meanwhile there’s only one LMP1 addition for Le Mans, and that’s the third Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

ELMS

The ELMS has 42 entries received during Thursday’s presentation in Paris. Both the LMP2 and GTE classes have 13 cars listed, with the GTC class (GT3-based) featuring 16.

Cars set to compete in the LMP2 ranks include: Alpine A450 Nissan, ORECA 03 Nissans and Judds, Morgan Nissans and Judds, Ligier Nissans and Zytek Nissans.

The GTE field includes eight Ferraris, four Porsches and a solitary Aston Martin. Meanwhile in GTC, there are primarily Ferraris but also entries from McLaren, Audi and BMW.

Here is the ELMS entry list.

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.