Toyota has free game for the last time in Le Mans, other classes are exciting | NOW

An impressive list of names is eager to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But not next weekend. At the ninetieth edition of the legendary long-distance race, the question is still old-fashioned which Toyota will win. Although there are more hijackers on the coast.

The future of endurance racing is bright, and so is the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Peugeot, Cadillac and Porsche will return next year. That’s good news for the sport. But the icing on the cake is the return of Ferrari, which will once again compete for the overall victory after forty years of absence from the French classic.

For 2024, BMW and Lamborghini have already pledged to join the fray. But all these names are still in the future for the time being: next weekend the battle at the front is not very exciting on paper.

After the departure of Porsche in 2017, Toyota is the only major car manufacturer in the top class of Le Mans, and has won all editions since then. This year, the Japanese will face opposition from two teams: the American Glickenhaus (with two cars) and the French Alpine (with one car).

Mainly thanks to the Balance of Performance (BoP), the field at the front has been brought together somewhat. The organization has a variety of resources available to make the cars more equal, for example by giving the fastest cars less power. So there is a chance that Glickenhaus and Alpine can actually do something against the two Toyotas, but that possibility is still not very great. The biggest threat to the Japanese brand is its own reliability or crashes.

The tiny Glickenhaus takes on the mighty Toyota.


The tiny Glickenhaus takes on the mighty Toyota.

The tiny Glickenhaus takes on the mighty Toyota.

Photo: Getty Images

LMP2 class has a packed field, with promising Dutch people

Provided the two Toyotas do not compete against each other, a nice battle for the overall victory is therefore not very realistic. Fortunately, there are more classes at Le Mans, including the LMP2. Several Dutchmen are taking part in this, who really have a chance of winning.

Robin Frijns, for example, starts from pole position in that class. De Limburger plays for the strong Belgian WRT team. Nyck de Vries is also at the start. The Mercedes reserve driver in Formula 1 joined the French TDS Racing at the last minute, and meets a compatriot there: eighteen-year-old Tijmen van der Helm.

Bent Viscaal and Job van Uitert are also at the start in the LMP2. Viscaal does that for the Slovakian team ARC Bratislava. Van Uitert drives for the team of former French Formula 1 driver Olivier Panis.

Unlike the top class at Le Mans, the LMP2 is a crowded field, with major motorsport teams. For example, the American Penske (known from IndyCar and Nascar) has a car at the start, in preparation for the future collaboration with Porsche. The Italian AF Corse is doing the same, because that formation will be closely involved in the big Ferrari project at Le Mans in 2023. The Italian Prema (known from Formula 2) is participating with, among others, Robert Kubica behind the wheel.

Penske prepares in the LMP2 for a bigger project with Porsche.


Penske prepares in the LMP2 for a bigger project with Porsche.

Penske prepares in the LMP2 for a bigger project with Porsche.

Photo: Getty Images

Top brands clash with the GTs

In the most important GT class, the GT Pro, the car manufacturers do compete with each other. Porsche, Ferrari and Corvette all have two factory registrations. Here too there is a Dutch touch: Nicky Catsburg drives one of the Corvettes. The fight between these brands is invariably a guarantee of spectacle.

The GT AM class, where one of the drivers must be an amateur, has a more extensive field than the pros, including one Dutchman: Renger van der Zande. He will start in a British-registered Ferrari, with two American teammates.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans starts on Saturday at 4 p.m. and finishes 24 hours later on Sunday at the same time. From then on, enthusiasts can prepare for the violence that will really erupt next year.

Ferrari is still fighting in the GTs this year, but will go for overall victory next year.


Ferrari is still fighting in the GTs this year, but will go for overall victory next year.

Ferrari is still fighting in the GTs this year, but will go for overall victory next year.

Photo: Getty Images

The circuit at Le Mans


The circuit at Le Mans

The circuit at Le Mans