At the end of an exciting and hotly contested race, Ferrari emerged victorious in the centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Italian team won for the 10th time in Sarthe, 58 years after the coronation of the 250 LM. It puts an end to Toyota’s streak of 5 victories, 2nd in 2023.
The race of the century has kept all its promises! The centenary edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans saw the crowning glory of the Ferrari 499P n°51, driven by the impressive trio Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi. The Italian hypercar, starting on the front row (in 2nd position), won ahead of the Toyota n°8 (Sébastien Buemi / Brendon Hartley / Ryō Hirakawa) after 342 laps of the track. This is the lowest number of laps covered for 22 years, due to numerous neutralizations. After 50 years of absence, Ferrari signs a return as a master in the premier category of endurance. This is his 10th victory over the Le Mans classic after his successes in 1949, 1954, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964 and 1965.
A duel at the top
Very lively from the start due to changing weather conditions, the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans race was also hectic during the night. Shortly after midnight, the No. 7 Toyota, one of the favorites in the race for victory, was involved in a pile-up with an LMP2 and a GTE. The hypercar driven by Kamui Kobayashi was forced to retire. It was the Peugeot n°94 which then took the controls. But at 3:12 a.m., the lioness, led by Gustavo Menezes, made a mistake and lost all her chances of getting on the podium. It all came down to the second half of the event with a fierce battle between the n°8 Toyota and the n°51 Ferrari. After an impressive stint, Alessandro Pier Guidi, second in the early morning, took the lead of the race by overtaking Ryo Hirakawa on the Hunaudières straight.
Untouchable on the track, the Ferrari 499P n°51 nevertheless had a scare in the pits. Just over 30mm from the finish, the hypercar refused to restart after refueling. The team, like the spectators, held their breath for a few seconds. More fear than harm, the hypercar finally set off again on the track still ahead of its first pursuer. Fifty eight years after the success of the 250 LM, and 50 years after its last participation, Ferrari has written a new name in the history of Le Mans racing. The disappointment comes from Porsche which failed to do better than 9th.
Three different manufacturers on the podium, a first since 2016
The field consisted of 16 hypercars entered by 5 manufacturers and 2 private teams. All had the ambition to mark the history of this centenary edition. And for the first time since 2016, three different manufacturers made it to the podium. We therefore find on the highest step Ferrari which, according to Antonio Giovinazzi, « didn’t expect the car to last until the end ». Then followed by Toyota which “ tried everything to play for victory, but who was too slow compared to the Ferraris as Sebastian Buemi explained at a press conference. The little surprise comes from Cadillac which, for its first year in the queen category of endurance, climbs on the 3rd step of the podium. In 2024, three manufacturers will join the new Hypercar category: Alpine, BMW and Lamborghini. There is no doubt that the 92nd edition will be even more spicy. In the meantime, with this result, Ferrari consolidates its 2nd place in the World Endurance Championship after 4 events and is 19 points behind Toyota.
General classification and by category
The top 5 (general ranking):
- Ferrari 499P #51 Ferrari AF Corse – Alessandro Pier Guidi / James Calado / Antonio Giovinazzi – 342 laps
- Toyota GR010 Hybrid #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing – Sébastien Buemi / Brendon Hartley / Ryō Hirakawa at 1’21 »793
- Cadillac V-Series.R #2 Cadillac Racing – Earl Bamber / Alex Lynn / Richard Westbrook at 1 lap
- Cadillac V-Series.R #3 Cadillac Racing – Sébastien Bourdais / Renger Van Der Zande / Scott Dixon 2 laps away
- Ferrari 499P #50 Ferrari AF Corse – Antonio Fuoco / Miguel Molina / Nicklas Nielsen at 5 laps
The winners of the other categories:
- LMP2: Oreca 07-Gibson #34 Inter Europol Competition – Jakub Smiechowski / Albert Costa / Fabio Scherer – 10th (at 14 laps)
- LMGTE Am: Chevrolet Corvette C8.R #33 Corvette Racing – Nicky Catsburg / Ben Keating / Nicolas Varrone – 26th (at 29 laps)
- Innovative Car: Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 #24 Hendrick Motorsports – Jimmie Johnson / Mike Rockenfeller / Jenson Button – 39th (at 57 laps)