Find out what caught the attention of our special correspondents on the occasion of the centenary of the legendary Le Mans race.
Special correspondents at Le Mans
The Ferrari-Toyota duel
The two manufacturers held the 300,000 spectators on the circuit spellbound by delivering an arm wrestling of anthology which will mark the history of the event. The #51 Ferrari 499P and the #8 Toyota GR010 went blow-for-blow, trading first place until midday on Sunday before Ryo Hirakawa’s pilot error handed the victory on a plateau to the Italian clan. Defeated, the Japanese have nothing to be ashamed of this setback against a formidable Italian team that no one expected at such a level.
LeBron James as a superstar to give the start
The greatest scorer in the history of the NBA made the show when launching the 91st edition of the legendary Le Mans race. Smiling and relaxed, the man with the four rings made his small impression by pronouncing – in French please – “Pilots start your enginesbefore waving the French flag. We therefore forgive His Majesty for having very quickly left the circuit.
Encouragement for Peugeot
Let’s face it, we feared a real Bérézina for Peugeot after the very complicated start to the 9X8 season in the World Endurance Championship. The results at the end of the weekend remain positive despite the 8th and 27th places in the final clification and a difficult end to the race with some mechanical problems. We prefer to remember the very good overall performance of the Lionesses at ease in rainy weather on Saturday afternoon, then, the performance of the n°94 which pranced in the lead for four hours, standing up to the competition before the off the track by Gustavo Menezes.
The sound of the Chevrolet Camaro Nascar
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) had the good idea of inviting the Chevrolet Camaro into garage no. 56, usually reserved for innovative cars. The American car from the Hendrick Motorsports team was one of the stars of the Centenary edition thanks to its absolutely deafening V8, even faster than the Cadillacs. And what does it matter if this mechanical monster had a difficult end to the race with a 39th place. Jenson Button and his teammates fulfilled their mission by torturing the eardrums of many spectators with a sweet melody composed by their V8.
Porsche lacking rhythm
Of the five major manufacturers present in the Sarthe, in force with four cars, Porsche is the one that has undoubtedly disappointed the most. The first Hypercar from the Stuttgart brand fails in 9th place (n°5), unable to keep pace with the Cadillacs. Best chance of the German clan, the crew of the n°6 with Kevin Estre went off on Sunday morning before plummeting in the clification following a long stay in the garage to fail in 22nd place. A collective disappointment. The walls will shake at Porsche Penske Motorsport even if the car, released at the start of the year, has not yet shown its full potential.
The new safety car system
The Automobile Club de l’Ouest will have to work on improving its new procedure, which consists of grouping cars into categories when an incident arises. A complex and quite illegible process for the general public. The interventions of the safety car went on forever, sometimes harming the show, especially after the heavy downpour on part of the circuit. A copy to review.
The withdrawals of the French Doriane Pin and Lilou Wadoux
An unfortunate weekend for the promising Lilou Wadoux (22), who had made a mistake with Ferrari AF Corse n°83 in the LMGTE Am category. The Northerner lost control of her racing car when the rain was falling very hard and transformed the track into a skating rink on Saturday afternoon. Doriane Pin also had to pack her bags prematurely when her Russian team-mate Daniil Kvyat left behind overnight in the No. 63 Prema Racing Oreca in LMP2. Hard.
The failed return of Vanwall
After three difficult first rounds in the World Endurance Championship, the Austrian team ByKolles Racing did not have great ambitions for these 24 Hours of Le Mans. Finishing the race was already good. But Tom Dillmann, Esteban Guerrieri and Tristan Vautier did not see the checkered flag after a retirement on the 165th lap. What, perhaps, to make regret the choice of the manufacturer to dismiss former Formula 1 world champion Jacques Villeneuve a few days before the deadline. Racing under the name of a mythical motor racing brand was not enough.