The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) today announced a record equalling 60 car grid for the 84th running of the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Not since the 1950’s has the grid been such a size and this has only been made possible by the work currently underway to build additional garages and move the technical and administrative area to the start of the pitlane area.
“This is really good news,” said Automobile Club de l’Ouest president Pierre Fillon at today’s Paris press conference. “We’ve decided to open all four garages, instead of the two we originally planned, so we will have an incredible grid of 60 cars. We’ve not seen that for a long while.”
Pared-down manufacturer entry
As we already knew, and perhaps as an indirect response to the diesel fuel scandal, VW stable-mates Porsche and Audi will run only two cars each this year with Porsche sporting the numbers 1 and 2 on its cars, in deference to its World Endurance Championship title of last year.
Japanese manufacturer Toyota will bring two of its all-new TS050 prototypes (which will be revealed to the public at the official WEC Prologue tests in late March) to round out the LMP1 Hybrid category with six entrants.
Privateers teams Rebellion and ByKolles will enter two and one car respectively.
LMP2 is shaping up be possibly the hottest contested category this year with a bulging 22-car entry. This year will see the last running of the race before the new regulations restrict the chassis manufacturers to only four and we see six different makes of chassis represented for the swansong; French manufacturers Ligier, Oreca & Alpine, The Russian BR01 and the British Morgan, & Gibson.
Although not contesting the WEC in LMP2 this year, Hong Kong based team KCMG will use their invitation and return defend their 2015 title.
LMP2 also sees Panis-Barthez Competition , a brand new team created by former French F1 driver Olivier Panis and 1998 Football World Cup star Fabian Barthez, enter a Ligier JS P2 for the football star for his second outing at Le Mans following his debut in 2014 in GTE Am.
28 GTE Cars, Ford return with four-car assault
This year new LM GTE Pro regulations, mainly based around aero modifications, came into force while the LM GTE Am rules remain unchanged.
The headline news of course is that Ford will return to Le Mans with four cars 50 years after its famous triple in 1966.
Corvette, the 2015 winners and winner in January of possibly one of the most exciting Rolex Daytona 24 Hours, will field two cars for regulars Jan Magnassun and Oliver Gavin while we see a slightly paired-down entry from Aston Martin Racing with two Pro class cars.
Two Ferrari 488’s for AF Corse and Rizi Competizone and three Porsche 911 RSR’s fielded by Porsche (two) and Dempsey-Proton Racing round out the Pro entries.
In the Am category Ferrari has numerical superiority with five 458 Italias. Aston Martin Racing field a two car entry for regular Am driver, Canadian Paul Dalla Lana and 2016 EMLS entrant, Britain’s Andrew Howard. French team TDS Racing switch from BMW to Aston Martin for 2016 with a single car fielded for Eric Dermont.
Labre Competition will enter a Corvette C7 and Tiwaneese Team AAI an earlier C6. Finally, we see four Porsche 911 RSRs from Gulf Racing UK, Abu-Dhabi Proton Racing, Proton Racing and KCMG.
The reserve list is comprised of 10 cars, six LM P2s (with 2015 ELMS Champions Greaves’ Gibson-Nissan at the head) and 4 LM GTE Ams. The ACO will issue invitations to race in the order of the list in the case of withdrawals.
The full entry list can be downloaded HERE.