One Day Later at Le Mans: The Winners, The Events, and The End of an Era at The 24
Another 24 Hours of Le Mans is in the books and this one marks the end of an era. Toyota Gazoo’s team took the overall win, bringing their LMP1 prototype (Toyota TS 050 Hybrid) home in First and Third. Rebellion Racing (Rebellion R13), a privateer racing in the event’s most demanding and expensive class, took second in the class. This was Toyota’s third win in a row at Le Mans.
In LMP2, United Autosports was second, followed by Jota, and Panis to round out the Podium. As we predicted, the top three were all in Oreca LMP2 cars, specifically the Oreca 07.
There was plenty of drama in the LMGTE Pro class, typically packed with factory teams but no so this year with Porsche, BMW, Corvette absent. The private Ferrari teams were there, but Risi Competizione only brought one F488 GTE EVO instead of their customary two. They finished fourth. Taking two of the three spots on the podium were a pair of Aston Martin Vantage AMRs, with no. 97 in first and no. 95 in third. In second place in the class, a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo (one of the drivers was former Risi Comp shoe James Calado.
And, rounding out the trophy winners, were an Aston Martin, Porsche 911RSR and another Ferrari 488 GTE in the LMGTE AM class (this is the one with pro drivers and an amateur or “gentleman” driver). You can get a full rundown on the results and the official finishing results by clicking this link which will take you to Motorsport.Com and their excellent coverage.
Changing of the Guard: What’s Next at Le Mans
This year was the last year of the hyper-expensive, mechanically and technologically expense LMP1 hybrid class, which combined internal combustion engines with the ERS (energy recovery system) that was developed for F1 cars. The cars are very sophisticated, very fast, and turned out to be so expensive that none of the big name manufacturers really got into running in the class. However, that was good for Toyota, as they became a top line racing company by winning three Le Mans in a row.
The LMP2 class is a class designed specifically to attract lots of entrants; it is essentially similar to the one design format in sailboat racing. Teams have their choice of chassis from Oreca, Dallara (long racing history), Rile Multilmatic, and Onroak; each chassis is powered by a 4.2 litre Gibson V8. This class is designed for private entrants (privateers) but Oreca totally dominates in terms of number of entries and performance.
The LMGTE-Pro class has cars you might recognize, kinda, since they are derived from production model GTs. This is a class the manufacturers like to race in, but not too many manufacturers mounted a full factory effort in 2020, most living the racing to their favored privateers. In the past, Porsche, Ferrari, Ford (before they withdrew from sports car racing), Aston Martin, and BMW have fielded entries. No so this year.
Finally, the LMGTE-Am class is composed of amateurs and professonals racing against each other; each team will have professional and amateur drivers and the cars in this class are the usual suspects: Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin.
The hybrid LMP1 race cars–which can be entered by teams vs. only factories–will be replaced in 2021 by “hypercars”(the organizers are said to be considering a different name for the class”). The class is a work in progress and is designed to bring the big factory teams back into the LMP1 category. Peugeot was said to be interested, as was Aston Martin (which has since backed way from a 2021 debut due to its deeper commitment to F1. But Ferrari, BMW, Audi and other top level manufacturers are said to interested and involved in discussion. Like all regulation/spec changes in motor racing, this one will bring technological innovation and initial technical confusion.