LE MANS 24 HOURS EXPANDS TO 60-CAR FIELD THIS YEAR
LE MANS EXPANDS TO RUN 60 CARS
Le Mans 24 Hours organisers have confirmed that 60 cars will be able to start this year’s 84th running of the French endurance classic.
Race organiser the Automobile Club de l’ouest has pushed forward the completion date of four new garages at the Circuit de la Sarthe, which are being constructed across the old parc ferme area toward the exit of the pit lane.
It was originally planned for 58 cars to take part this year, with only two new garages due for completion in 2016 before the rest were opened for 2017. But faced with rising interest in the race, the ACO will cater for a record-equalling number of cars this season. Sixty cars took part in three events in the early 1950s, but that amount has never been bettered.
ACO sporting manager Vincent Beaumesnil said: “Each year the selection committee is finding it increasingly difficult to establish the list of entries. We will have 32 prototypes and 28 GT cars this year and it already looks like a first-class race.”
Among the entries is an expanded four-car attack from the Ford factory team, which will field a quartet of its new Chip Ganassi-run GT machines in the GTE Pro class. Two cars had been expected to run, but the ACO has granted two additional entries to Ford, which celebrates 50 years since its first victory at La Sarthe.
Both of Ford’s full-time World Endurance Championship cars – entered for Marino Franchitti and Olivier Pla – will run as will its two IMSA Sportscar Championship cars with Joey Hand and Ryan Briscoe as the first drivers confirmed. The cars are numbered 66-69 to commemorate the marque’s four consecutive Le Mans wins with the original GT40.
“Running all four cars will be a big challenge for us but one we are thrilled to undertake,” said Ganassi. “We have prepared well and can’t wait to get the cars on track to show what they can do.”