How Ferrari Won The 24 Hours Of Le Mans AGAIN?!

After a wait of 50 years, Ferrari returned to the World Endurance Championship in 2023 in the top class known as the Hypercar class and won the most important race on the calendar, 24 Hours Of Le Mans. The Scuderia have done it again! After immense pressure from Toyota in the end, and 9 of 23 hypercars being on the lead lap of the last stint of 24 hours, the Italian Team bought it home courtesy of Niklas Nielsen, Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina.
This victory wasn’t straightforward whatsoever as multiple interventions including 4 hours of safety cars period in the night, indirectly resulted in close competition and ultimately the scrap for victory turned into a Toyota Vs. Ferrari head to head. The strategic calls were like a game of chess where each team tried its best to strike a balance for optimum performance. Ferrari, initially suffering from penalties due to unsafe release, bounced back well in the end but not before encountering more drama. The #50 had to go through an unusual strategy as it had to pit as the door wouldn’t shut after countless efforts. This gave the #7 Toyota an upper hand as it did a pit stop 51 minutes before the race ended effectively handing an advantage to the outfit.

The #7 Toyota driven by Jose Maria Lopez, had to pit from the lead in less than 10 minutes from the finish of the race, resumed the race ahead of its sister car #8 knowing that it could finish. But Ferrari seemed particularly confident in the hands of Niklas Nielsen who did the best impression of Kimi Raikkonen as he went with the flow and mitigated time lost to the Toyotas. Unfortunately, Toyota had to concede the victory as they encountered a power unit issue which is why Lopez lost 13 seconds on one lap alone. It became a priority for Toyota to bring home the P2 rather than chasing for the victory. Although the gap was halved in the race’s final moments and the rain increased, Nielsen’s run to the line was well managed, with the help of Antonio Fuoco and Miguel Molina, to win the race! This was right after Ferrari #50 took the win on Ferrari’s epic comeback.

Toyota also lost the chance for victory after a fightback from 23rd place due to Kamui Kobayashi spinning out in the Hyperpole Qualifying Session. Interestingly, Lopez was a late call-up as regular driver Mike Conway suffered from a fractured collar bone cycling incident. They were also encountering various problems at the start of the race, which is why it was a Triple Ouch!

Ferrari also got the #51 on the podium and denied pole-sitting Porsche 963 courtesy of Kevin Estre by just a mere second. The second Toyota finished sixth, Sebastian Buemi allowed ahead of Lopez to pit, splitting the #5 and #6 Porsche 963s, with the #2 Cadillac finishing seventh in the hands of Indycar Champion Alex Palou at the wheel during the finish.

In the early stages, Ferrari was interestingly battling with itself, which isn’t a surprise to F1 fans, in the hands of #83 AF Corse who is a Ferrari customer. It was a mighty fight which makes it a mighty shame as the car retired driven by Robert Shwartzmen when it encountered overheated brakes which caught on fire spectacularly! The AF Corse also got a 30-second penalty for colliding with the BMW of Dries Vanthoor and eliminated it, after charging from 12th to the lead. As a result, BMW got only one car to finish but the sister #20 M Hybrid V8 in the hands of Robert Frinjs crashed in the second hour of the race, severely damaged and completed only 96 laps, classifying in 47th and last position.

Alpine’s first hypercar, A424 LMDh barely made a quarter distance as the #35 on the lead lap in 13th position driven by Ferdinand Habsburg retired in spectacular fashion in the fifth hour of the race. The other #36 Alpine was also retired by Nicolas Lapierre. The Jota run Porsche 963s were the final cars on the lead lap in eighth and ninth, the #12 car of Callum Ilott, Norman Nato, and Will Stevens finishing ahead of the #38 car of Jenson Button, Phil Hansen and Oliver Rasmussen. The Iron Lynx run Lamborghini SC63 #63 SC63 of Daniil Kvyat, Mirko Bortolotti and Edoardo Mortara finished two laps down finishing in the top 10 by eight seconds, ahead of the Peugeot #94 car driven by Paul Di Resta, Loic Duval and Stoffel Vandoorne.

The LMP2 is a class which also witnessed close racing even if it didn’t as much attention as Hypercars. United Autosports got a second win at the 24 hours of Le Mans. They won it against the Inter Europol squad by 18 seconds which is a pretty close margin after a day of racing. The LMGT3 class which is a new class racing this year, replacing LMGTE had a titanic battle which included various racecars based on real-life models such as the Ford Mustang, Ferrari 296, Mclaren 720 and how can we ignore the Manthey EMA Porsche GT3 in the hands of sportscar veteran Richard Lietz. He won the race by a lap against WRT BMW M4 driven by Agusto Farfus.
We shouldn’t forget Valentino Rossi who was also debuting at Le Mans this year. The 9 time champion was in contention for class victory but the car shared by Al Harthy and Maxime Martin crashed overnight when Al Harthy was exiting the Dunlop curves. Something we should mention is there was no Garage 56 entry in this race unlike last year which included a NASCAR on the grid. The Garage 56 is an entry which is given to experimental cars which are there to test technologies and formats to see their feasibility. Aside from the mix of various drivers from motorcycle champions to F1 champions, or endurance racing veterans to F1 rejects, this great race provided everything.

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Ojas Vadke
Ojas Vadke

A Person who loves cars and a regular guy with big dreams of owning his dream cars. Working as a Blog Writer with absolute lads at The Driver's Hub.

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