Racing's Most Exciting 24 Hours: Ferrari Ends its Drought
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is among the world's most famous and prestigious races. It is a packed racetrack with 62 vehicles at once, crazy driving conditions, unique vehicles and teams who have poured their hearts and souls into their cars.
It was a momentous year for Ferrari as they accomplished a feat they hadn't achieved in 58 years. Their first year back and on the centenary edition of the highly regarded race, they blew the competition out of the water, quite literally.
Social media has been flooded with various clips from this weekend's 24 Hours of Le Mans. The weather was the primary curve ball the drivers and teams faced.
This year the rain caught drivers out, with large patches of water forcing cars into an uncontrollable spin. Fortunately, car-on-car incidents were minimal, but several drivers struggled due to the slick tyres their cars were sporting. The Circuit de la Sarthe is a colossal 13.67-kilometre-long track, meaning the weather is an ever-present variable as some patches could have rainfall while others remain dry.
As the rain had only begun at the time of the incident. Due to the distance between the corner and the pits, the cars could not pit in time for wet tyres. This led to a rather hairy lap before the change could be made for the drivers still out on slicks.
Another element of the race that brought much attention from overseas was the Garage 56 Nascar Le Mans car. A rather odd sight out on the track, but we have covered this particular car in another story. So be sure to check that out.
This year was particularly big for one of the world's favourite exotic brands. This was Ferrari’s first year back to the WEC since 1973, and the Prancing Horse had gone without a Le Mans title for 58 years. The engineers were in tears as the Ferraris crossed the finish line this year. And what a race they had.
Hyperpole qualifying saw the number 50 and 51 Ferraris at the front of the grid, providing a promising look into what the race day will provide. Their number 51 499P LMP was the unit which stole the show.
The winning car was piloted by Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi. They collectively managed to cover a punishing 342 laps of the renowned track.
The sister car, number 50, had a good race, too, however, a delay during the night drive of the race forced them further back in the pack. After an aggressive drive, the number 50 car, piloted by Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina and Nicklas Nielsen, clawed its way back to fifth. Despite their impressive recovery, they narrowly avoided joining car number 51 on the podium.
The results of the 24 hours of Le Mans are as follows:
In the Hypercar category, Ferrari's AF Corse car number 51 claimed the top spot, followed by the Toyota Gazoo Racing team's car number 8 in second place. The Cadillac Racing team's number 2 car secured the third spot.
In the LMP2 category, car number 34 of the Inter Europol Competition team secured first place. The second position was claimed by Team WRT's car number 41, while the Duqueine Team's car number 30 took home third place.
In the LMGTE class, car number 33 of the Corvette Racing team emerged as the champions. The ORT by TF team secured second place with car number 25, and the GR Racing team achieved third place with car number 86.
Lastly is the Competitor Demonstrating New Technology category, with only one team competing in this class. While there was no official awards, the Hendricks Motorsport team, with their Nascar-based Camaro, came 39th overall, competing rather aggressively with the GTE-class cars.
It was an exciting year of racing for the endurance world. And a rather grueling one for many, with 22 cars failing to complete the 24 hours. With 62 cars on track, it is clear that even finishing the race is a challenging feat.
With intense weather, unique endurance cars and the Prancing Horse taking the cake, the 24 hours of Le Mans centenary edition was an incredible race to witness. And one which ended the drought for Ferrari.