Le Mans: Pre-race post roundup, notes and quick race preview


LE MANS, France – The week of practice and qualifying is in the books for the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Here’s links to all the pre-race posts as done on MotorSportsTalk this week:


Seven cars handed post-qualifying grid penalties
Ford GT race program confirmed for FIA WEC, TUDOR Championship
Porsche retains pole, while No. 63 Corvette is withdrawn
Jani scores provisional pole with record lap
Audi’s Di Grassi retains Le Mans focus before Formula E finale
Webber protege Mitch Evans adapting well to sports cars
Le Mans 2015 class breakdown by car
GTE stunners and spoilers
Webber, Hulkenberg prepped for week ahead at Le Mans
Bell’s whirlwind tour takes him to Le Mans for the first time
Chilton mulling 2016 options ahead of Le Mans debut with Nissan
Meet the Americans at Le Mans
LMP2 stunners and spoilers
Mikhail Aleshin wants to return to IndyCar one day and “kick some ass”
Briscoe expected to continue in SPM IndyCar for rest of season
F1 veterans in the field
LMP1 stunners and spoilers


  • Corvette Racing confirmed it was a piece of debris caught in the throttle mechanism that triggered Jan Magnussen’s accident. The inadvertent and unfortunate side effect of the accident, beyond the fact it’s the first withdrawal for the car in the team’s history at Le Mans, is it will now make a thrash for the crew to repair a second car for Watkins Glen on June 28.
  • Ford was undoubtedly the big talking point today at Le Mans. The program has been in the works for months, but only officially confirmed by the manufacturer this afternoon. Seeing Chip Ganassi in France might take some getting used to, but make no mistake: this is big news as Ganassi continues to expand his motorsports empire.
  • Friday is always a day of rest at the Circuit de la Sarthe in terms of on-track activity, but not in terms of final preparation for Saturday’s race. The field of 55 were still disassembling and reassembling their cars, as throngs of fans looked on from pit lane. Additionally, the parade in downtown Le Mans occurred today, and was a hit.


Oh yeah, there’s a race this week too.

One of the fascinating elements about Le Mans week is that given the number of industry movers and shakers, events, press conferences and other aspects of the week is the race itself can be sometimes overshadowed going into race day. Regulations talk in the future has dominated the headlines this week.

At the front the story is rather simple: Porsche has a clear pace advantage over one lap. But with drivetrain and powertrain issues looming and having reared their ugly head in the past, will the lone hybrid contender in the 8 MJ subclass be able to avoid the reliability pitfalls that have sabotaged its chances in the past? On the mix of history, reliability and consistency, Audi enters as favorite this year although only by a whisker. Toyota may be laying in the weeds but its outright lack of pace all week means it looks like it will have to play the tortoise, rather than hare game, to have a realistic chance. Nissan must be targeting a finish, first.

In LMP2, the Ligier JS P2 Nissan should be the car to beat, with about four or five cars looming as spoilers and about the other 10 to 12 in class shooting for a podium or top-five. While the Oreca 05 Nissan has the class pole, this will be the car’s 24-hour race debut, and that traditionally doesn’t end in victory.

GTE-Pro will see the same storyline as usual – it’s anyone’s guess of Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche and Corvette. Corvette now has the sentimental storyline of the No. 64 Corvette C7.R trying to win as the sole surviving American ground pounder, Ferrari looks for its usual encore and Aston is after its first win in GTE-Pro since the class came into being in 2011.

In GTE-Am, the No. 98 Aston Martin has been the car to beat this season and enters as clear favorite, although this traditionally becomes the hardest class to project beyond a single pace-setter due to the unpredictability of traffic.

It all begins at 3 p.m. local time in France tomorrow, with several options to watch or listen. Radio Le Mans will have radio coverage and the FOX Sports networks, via a mix of FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports 2 and the FOX Sports Go streaming service, pictures. The FIA WEC app, while you have to pay for it, is also a very good bet.

And speaking of bets, if I were a betting man? I’d go Audi No. 7 again (an easy but safe pick), No. 28 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan (even with two Le Mans rookies), No. 97 Aston Martin (overdue for a class win at Le Mans) and No. 98 Aston Martin (the clear favorite delivers).

Come Sunday afternoon, I can’t wait to see how on or off the mark those picks are.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Motocross season opener: Jett Lawrence rockets to the top


As the SuperMotocross season heads outdoors, the NBC Power Rankings change significantly with results from the Motocross opener at Fox Raceway in Pala, California. The Power Rankings assign a numeric value to each individual moto (90 points maximum) as well as the overall standings (100 points) and averages that number over the past 45 days. Included in the Power Rankings are results from the final five Supercross rounds, which fit into that 45-day timeframe.

Dylan Ferrandis finished on the podium in his first race back after experience a concussion in Supercross Round 4 at Houston. – Align Media

It didn’t take long for Jett Lawrence to rocket to the top of the SuperMotocross rankings – only about 74 minutes in fact. Lawrence dominated his first moto and beat his teammate Chase Sexton, the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross champion, to the line by 10 seconds. He had to fight a little harder for the second moto win as Sexton stalked him throughout the race and ended up less than a second behind.

Beginning this week, we have added the SuperMotocross points’ ranking beside the rider’s name and in one fell swoop, Lawrence went from being unranked in the 450 class to 26th. To qualify for the inaugural SuperMotocross’ guaranteed 20 positions that automatically make the gate for the three-race championship series, Lawrence needs to be inside the top 20 in combined Supercross and Motocross points. The bubble is currently held by Justin Starling and Lawrence needs to make up 44 points to overtake him.

Sexton’s second-place finish in the overall standings at Fox Raceway marked his ninth consecutive top-five finish. After the race, Sexton compared the battle he had with Lawrence to the one he experienced with Eli Tomac in last year’s Pro Motocross championship. These two riders had a significant advantage over the field in Pala, but there is still a lot of racing to be completed.

MORE: Jett Lawrence wastes no time, wins first 450 race

After missing 13 rounds to a concussion, Dylan Ferrandis told NBC Sports that he was not going to do anything risky in the season opener at Fox Raceway. If he dialed back his effort at all, one would be hard-pressed to notice. He finished third in both motos and was third in the overall standings. Ferrandis began the weekend just outside the top 20 in combined SuperMotocross points and climbed to 19th. In the next few weeks, he will get a little more breathing room over the cutline and then challenge for wins.

Adam Cianciarulo’s three-race streak of top-five finishes ended with a sixth-place overall at Fox Raceway, but that was enough to advance him one position in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings and land him eighth in the combined points standings. His individual motos were moderate, but Cianciarulo is still battling the effects of injury and a nagging loss of strength in his wrist.

Aaron Plessinger returned from injury in the Supercross season finale to finish second at Salt Lake City. He added another top-five to his season total and now has six of those in the 13 rounds he’s made. With Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac not currently racing in Motocross, Plessinger has an opportunity to rise to the third seeding in short order.

450 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Jett Lawrence (26) 93.33 NA
2. Chase Sexton (1) 92.36 1 -1
3. Dylan Ferrandis (19) 89.00 NA
4. Adam Cianciarulo (8) 82.89 5 1
5. Aaron Plessinger (5) 81.20 9 4
6. Justin Hill (9)
Not racing MX
79.75 8 2
7. Ken Roczen (4)
injured | Not racing MX
79.13 3 -4
8. Jose Butron (30) 75.67 NA
9. Lorenzo Locurcio (29) 75.00 NA
10. Eli Tomac (2)
74.50 2 -8
11. Dean Wilson (10)
Not racing MX
72.88 7 -4
12. Cooper Webb (3) 71.17 6 -6
13. Jerry Robin (32) 70.33 NA
14. Justin Barcia (6)
70.00 4 -10
15. Kyle Chisholm (15) 65.36 11 -4
16. Dante Oliveira (36) 65.00 NA
17. Shane McElrath (11)
Not racing MX
63.63 12 -5
18. Ryan Surratt (38) 63.33 NA
19. Josh Hill (13)
Not racing MX
62.38 13 -6
20. Justin Starling (20)
Not racing MX
62.13 19 -1

Motocross 450 Points

A bad start to Moto 1 at Fox Raceway was not enough to deter Hunter Lawrence. Neither was the fact that he was riding with sore ribs after experiencing a practice crash earlier in the week. He was a distant 10th to start the first race and for most of the 30 minutes, it seemed he would finish off the podium. Lawrence did not win the 250 East Supercross championship by giving in to hopelessness or pain, however.

Lawrence picked off one rider and then another until he found the battle for the top five in front of him at the halfway point. Once the field started to lap riders, Lawrence used the opportunity to continue forward through the grid. He passed third-place Jo Shimoda with two laps remaining and challenged Maximus Vohland for second on the final trip around Fox Raceway, but had to settle for the final spot on the podium. Lawrence dominated Moto 2 and claimed the overall victory in Pala.

Justin Cooper made his first start of the season at Fox Raceway and earned enough NBC Power Average points to climb to second. Partly this was due to consistently strong runs in both motos and a 5-4 that gave him the fifth position overall, but he is also not weighed down with moderate Supercross results. It will take a week or two to see where his strength lands him on the grid.

Motocross 250 Points

In only his third Pro Motocross National, Haiden Deegan scored a second-place finish in the overall standings. – Align Media

RJ Hampshire may feel he has something to prove after finishing second to Jett Lawrence in the 250 SX West division. He certainly rode like that was the case in Moto 1 and easily outpaced the field on his way to victory lane. In Moto 2, he crashed twice on Lap 1 and dropped back to 39th. It took half of the race to get inside the top 20 and salvage points. By the end of the race, he was 11th and while that was enough to get him on the overall podium, it cost him points in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Haiden Deegan surprised the field in Houston in his 250 Supercross debut by finishing fifth. At the time, he said his strong result was because there were no expectations. He echoed that statement after the Motocross season opener. His second-place finish in the overall standings was enough to project him five positions up the SuperMotocross Rankings. In 11 rounds in the combined series, Deegan has earned seven top-fives and a worst finish of eighth.

Jo Shimoda did not make his first Supercross race of 2023 until late in the season. He finished fourth on the hybrid track of Atlanta, which had some similar elements to Fox Raceway. His fourth-place finish in Moto 1 of the Motocross opener made it seem likely he would score an overall podium, but a sixth in the second race cost him points in the NBC Power Rankings in a field that promises to be extremely tight.

250 Rankings

Driver (SMX rank) Power
1. Hunter Lawrence (1) 89.56 2 1
2. Justin Cooper (42) 84.67 NA
3. RJ Hampshire (3) 83.67 3 0
3. Haiden Deegan (4) 83.67 8 5
5. Jo Shimoda (16) 82.33 7 2
6. Guillem Farres (46) 79.33 NA
7. Levi Kitchen (6) 79.11 5 -2
8. Max Anstie (5) 77.83 12 4
9. Max Vohland (8) 77.50 14 5
10. Enzo Lopes (10) 76.00 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg (13) 74.25 16 5
12. Carson Mumford (19) 71.22 17 5
13. Jordon Smith (7) 70.56 9 -4
14. Ryder DiFrancesco (48) 70.33 NA
15. Chris Blose (12) 67.00 13 -2
16. Chance Hymas (27) 66.00 19 3
17. Tom Vialle (9) 65.78 18 1
18. Jett Reynolds (55) 63.33 NA
19. Michael Mosiman (28) 62.33 20 1
20. Garrett Marchbanks (64) 59.00 NA

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner in Supercross and overall winner in Motocross. It awards 90 points for each Moto, Heat and Triple Crown win. The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days.

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 13 AT ATLANTA: Justin Barcia leapfrogs the Big 3
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 11 AT SEATTLE: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT DETROIT: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Eli Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Eli Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 5 AT TAMPA: Chase Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Eli Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Ken Roczen moves up, Chase Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage