THE LE MANS LINEUP FOR 2017
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is off and running. The 2017 race is the 94th anniversary of the famed historic endurance race, one of the top three automobile events in the world (Grand Prix of Monaco, Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans), justifiably famous for the demands it puts on cars and teams and for the legends who have won there.
In 2017, there are only four classes at Le Mans. You can read very specific information about each class via this link to the ACO Site. A short description of each of the racing classes is listed below.
LM P1- For manufacturers and privateers.
There are two subgroups in this class, LM P1 with hybrid energy systems(big factory efforts) and LM P2 without (only privateers can run in the non-hybrid category)
The top class is LM P1, with the most advanced prototypes, dominated over the last decade by the magnificent prototype program run by Audi, but also featuring major league efforts from Porsche, Peugeot, Toyota, and Bentley in the past fifteen years. This year, Porsche –who has won 18 times overall at Le Mans with their win last year—has staked a claim to being (again) the team to beat at Le Mans. Porsche certainly knows how to win here…but Toyota, which lost in heartbreaking fashion last year..is back and more determined than ever. One of their cars set a new lap record, so it’s on between those two very big guns.
LM P2-For privateers only
This class is P1,lite. All closed cockpit (in the past there have been open cockpit cars in the class) and a very short list of chassis suppliers (Dallara, Ligier,Oreca, and Riley) and one engine supplier, Gibson).
LM-GTE (Le Mans Grand Touring endurance) is the professional GT category at Le Mans. This category is packed with factory backed entries. Most of the players in this group are familiar to followers of IMSA and the WEC (World Endurance Championship) series: Porsche (back with yet another iteration of the iconic 911 RSR); Corvette ; Aston Martin Vantages; Ford and Ferrari. It was the Ford-Ferrari duel to the finish last year, with four factory Fords fighting a hard charging effort from the privateer Ferrari of Guiseppe Risi’s Risi Competizione team, that provided all the drama in 2017. Both teams are backed. It’s on.
This is the “amateur” category for GT Racing. In this category, an amateur ( or “gentleman driver”) is paired up with one or two drivers of equal or better skill(there’s a rating system for the drivers) who could be classified as professional. The cars in this category are at least one year old.
Le Mans, to its’ credit, is very generous in opening up classes for privateer and amateur teams. The newspaper headlines will go to the P1 category and the LM-GTE Pro classes but there is close racing in every class for the full 24 hours.