The long weekend has begun, with the attention of the entire Endurance racing world centred on the Sarthe region of France where the 89th edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans is set to take place. The programme for the long-awaited race - in one of the most fiercely contested FIA World Endurance Championships in recent years - will get underway with the opening free practice session featuring a 62-strong field of entrants on track at 14:00. Thirteen Ferrari 488 GTE crews will be hoping to bring the glory back to Maranello in LMGTE Pro and LMGTE Am classes, in a crucial stage for the title race, given the double points haul up for grabs. Ferrari currently lead the manufacturers’ standings, just two points shy of the leaders in Pro category, while Cetilar Racing and their crew sit at the top of the Am standings.
LMGTE Pro. The class reserved for the pro drivers will feature two Ferrari crews on the starting-line, both fielded by AF Corse. As previously announced, the #51 will be driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado alongside Côme Ledogar. The Frenchman, who last year drove the first Le Mans Hyperpole in the event’s history aboard the Luzich Racing-run 488 GTE, returns fresh off the back of an extraordinary triumph alongside Pier Guidi and Nicklas Nielsen at the 24 Hours of Spa. The Italian and English drivers, meanwhile, currently hold second spot in the drivers' standings as they go on the hunt to replicate the memorable 2019 win. This year’s edition marks a maiden outing for the #52 crew of Daniel Serra and Miguel Molina, relying on support from English driver Sam Bird who will replace Davide Rigon. The driver hailing from Veneto, originally set to occupy the 488 GTE, will not be present after the accident sustained at the 24 Hours of Spa.
LMGTE Am. Some of the most attention-grabbing entrants in the gentlemen’s category will be the eleven machines fielded by Ferrari. All eyes will be on the Cetilar Racing crew, with Lacorte-Sernagiotto-Fuoco, currently topping both the team and driver standings, and the AF Corse outfit featuring reigning champions Perrodo-Nielsen who will depend on the help of Alessio Rovera, among the fastest and most promising drivers in the early stages of the season. The two Ferraris have shared the wins in the three races held so far, with two victories claimed by AF Corse and one by Cetilar Racing. A podium finish will also be in the sights of the second #54 unit fielded by the Piacenza-based team, crewed by Fischella-Flohr-Castellacci, including the former Formula 1 driver making a twelfth 24 Hours of Le Mans appearance, having previously won in Pro class in 2012 and 2014. With three 488 GTEs entered, Iron Lynx is the team with the highest number of Prancing Horse vehicles at the start, making no secret of the winning aspirations of the Callum-Mastronardi-Cressoni crew. Lining up alongside them will be the squad of Schiavoni-Ruberti-Giammaria and the ‘Iron Dames’ entry for their third consecutive participation at Le Mans, made up of the Frey-Gatting-Bovy trio, with the Belgian replacing Manuela Gostner who has a commitment with the Road to Le Mans. Also starting the French marathon will be the Spirit of Race-run 488 GTE handled by Griffin-Cameron-Perel, the Ferrari of Car Guy by Kessel Racing driven by Kimura-Andrews-Jensen, and the JMW Motorsport car with Neubauer-Sales-Fannin. A Le Mans debut for Rinaldi Racing, who will entrust their car to Ehret-Hook-Bleekemolen and Inception Racing’s crew of Iribe-Millroy-Barnicoat.
Starter. It will be Ferrari President John Elkann who gets the honour of starting the 89th edition of the oldest, most prestigious endurance race. Fifty-three years earlier, Gianni Agnelli unfurled the flag to get the 1968 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans underway.
Schedule. Today sees the first free practice session at the French circuit (14:00-17:00) with qualifying (19:00-20:00), followed by the night-time second free practice session (22:00-24:00). The third free practice session takes place on Thursday 19 August (14:00-17:00) and will be followed by the Hyperpole (21:00-21:30) which sees the top six crews from each class battle it out for pole position and to establish the eventual starting grid. The day will conclude with the fourth free practice session (22:00-24:00). On Saturday morning the cars will make their final adjustments during the warm-up (11.30-11.45) before the race itself gets underway at 16:00, with the chequered flag at the same time on Sunday 22 August.