With the countdown firmly on to the weekend and the pinnacle of endurance racing, we take a look at the Super Season so far and what is in store in one of the greatest motorsport events in the racing calendar.
The season got underway in Spa last month with the LMP1 #8 Toyota of Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Fernando Alonso taking the win. A superb start for Alonso in his debut WEC season. The McLaren Formula 1 driver was delighted with the result: “There’s been a lot of preparation into this project with winter testing, with simulator, with a lot of people in the factory building these two cars. Then you have to come to the races and deliver the results. I think we executed the race in the best way we could, and I’m extremely happy to win my first endurance race. Seb and Kazuki I think did an amazing job, made my life a little bit easier, and thanks to everyone in the team.”
In LMP2 the #26 G-Drive Racing of Jean-Eric Vergne, Andrea Pizzitola and Roman Rusinov took the class win, Vergne commented: “I think it was an amazing win. Obviously we don’t win in endurance without two good drivers and a good team, so big thanks to them. I think I did five stints in total.
The first two stints I drove, we pushed really hard. I think we extended the gap to 1m20-something. Then when I took back the car, we kept extending the lead, and then we had the Safety Car, so the lead went down to 12 seconds and I had to push again. Then I left, just didn’t do any mistakes, and went across the finishing line first.”
With such a great opening round delivered, Le Mans looks set to host another fantastic weekend of gruelling racing. The LMGTE Pro class will see a grid of seventeen entries, with Ford and Porsche both fielding four cars each.
Two of the Porsche entries will be in special liveries commemorating classic Le Mans liveries of the 70s and 80’s.
LMP2 Fields a huge grid of 20 entries with Jackie Chan Racing boasting 4 entries including two Ligiers as well as the Oreca’s. Algarve Pro Racing make their Le Mans return and United Autosports are joined on board their #22 Ligier by commentator and former F1 driver Paul di Resta.
And there will be a number of familiar names making their Le Mans debut alongside di Resta and Alonso. Most prominently Jenson Button who will be on board the # SMP Racing LMP1. But other names familiar to motorsport fans include Pastor Maldonado, Mike Rockenfeller, Antonio Felix da Costa, Euan Hankey and Charlie Eastwood.
Fresh from his win in British GT last weekend Nicki Thiim will again be competing at Le Mans alongside fellow British GT Aston Martin drivers Marco Sorensen and Darren Turner.
Thiim also won the Silverstone round of Blancpain Endurance with new outfit R Motorsport in May.
Tennis Champion Rafael Nadal will be the official race starter as the 24hr event gets underway at 1.30 pm GMT, 2.30pm CET on Saturday. While Grand Marshall will be 6 times Le Man winner Jacky Ickx.
Free practice commences this afternoon followed by the first qualifying session, with the final two qualifying sessions starting tomorrow evening.
Le Mans 2018 look ahead images ©www.porsche.de ©Andy Fitzpatrick ©Allison Remzi