Fifty cars will take part in the 2018 ‘Road to Le Mans’ race this year. The race, which forms part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup series, is designed as a part of the ACO’s ‘Endurance Pyramid’ to give drivers a taste of racing at Le Mans in LMP3 and GT3 machinery before graduating to GTE, LMP2 or LMP1 cars.
The race runs the full 13.6km of the world famous Sarthe ‘Circuit des 24 Heures’ and consists of 27 teams fielding 100 drivers covering 26 nationalities! In the LMP3 ‘Prototype’ class Norma, Ligier and Ginetta, line up looking for the overall win whilst Ferrari and Porsche will be fighting for the top step of the podium in GT3; however, the odds are stacked against the Porsche with a 7-1 advantage to Ferrari!
In 2017 Ligier and Norma took a win each over each of the two 55 minute races, while it was a double for Aston Martin in GT3, so which brand will be victorious in 2018?
Le Mans is a fast, low-downforce track so the Ginetta could be in with a fair chance having set the top speed through the speed-trap at the Monza round of 279.1 kph. Porsche was quickest of the GT3 machinery with a 275.5 kph, 1.4 kph faster than the Ferrari.
Many of the names will be familiar to those of us who follow the European Le Mans Series with 11 of the full-time teams choosing to attend the ‘one-off’ event this week. That said, many of the driver lineups have changed slightly; some like AT Racing merely dropping a driver (fielding their usual father and son team of the Talkanitsa’s with Mikkel Jensen stepping back), others such as M RACING – YMR fielding entirley changed lineups with Jonathan Bennett and Niclas Jönsson (ELMS regular in the Krohn Ferrari) in the #15 Ligier (#18 in the ELMS) and an all-French pairing of Laurent Millara and Natan Bihel in the #16 Norma (ELMS #19).
Hong Kong based Win Motorsport are the only Asian Le Mans Series entrant to make the journey to the Sarthe fielding a Ligier JS P3 for William Lok and Jim Michaelian and we see eight entrants, 7 LMP3s and a single Ferrari GT3, who don’t regularly race in any of the ACO series (ELMS, ALMS or MLMC).
The first practice session for the Road to Le Mans kicks off at 8.30 pm local time today where the drivers have sixty minutes to get used to the circuit and get the car set up just right.
Thursday sees Free Practice 2 first thing in the morning with the two qualifying sessions running from 1.30 pm – 2.25 pm later in the day. The green flag drops for the opening race at 5.30pm and the second race runs Saturday morning at 11.30am.
The full entry list is available here.