Sportscar racing will enter a new era this year with the game changing introduction of the Le Mans Hypercars.
And coolness levels have intensified with Wednesday’s news that Ferrari are going to join the category in 2023, and, in doing so, will fight for overall victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time since 1973.
Ferrari’s president, John Elkann, said in a statement on Wednesday, “With the new Le Mans Hypercar programme, Ferrari once again asserts its sporting commitment and determination to be a protagonist in the major global motorsport events.”
Cars like the Ferrari 488 have been used by AF Corse, but there has been no involvement from the official Scuderia Ferrari team themselves in nearly fifty years.
I don’t know if I was the only one who found this announcement surprising, but this is an unexpected turn from Ferrari.
Nevertheless, their entrance into the Le Mans Hypercar class adds to the excitement that was already there with the introduction of this class set to increase the number of cars competing for overall race victories.
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It’s much needed for a championship that has seen Toyota virtually unchallenged in the top class for three years, after the withdrawals of Audi and Porsche in 2016 and 2017, respectively, after the parent company of both manufacturers, Volkswagen’s emissions scandal and the company’s change in strategy to focus on electrification.
Naturally, Toyota come into the 2021 WEC season as the frontrunners, having been one of the first to pledge their commitment to a Hypercar entry.
Joining them will be Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (SCG), whose cars have featured at the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
A lucky few will be able to get their hands on the SCG007 car, something which makes the Hypercar class unique, as both SCG and Toyota have, or will have, road legal versions of the Hypercars they will be racing.
So if you do have a spare couple of million in your back pocket, the world is your oyster on that front.
Speaking of road car versions, it looks as if that element could have been a selling point for Ferrari, with Elkann also talking in his statement about, “innovations that arise from the track and make every road car produced in Maranello extraordinary.”
The other manufacturer to confirm their Hypercar entry is Peugeot, who will join the party in 2022, returning to Le Mans for the first time in a decade.
Peugeot has already announced their lineup too, with ex-F1 driver, Kevin Magnussen, joining seasoned endurance drivers, Loic Duval, Paul Di Resta, Mikkel Jensen, Gustavo Menezes, and Jean-Eric Vergne. It is one heck of a lineup.
Top quality drivers, at least four manufacturers by 2023, and some sort of road relevance make Le Mans Hypercars the most anticipated motorsport category in recent memory.
The first outing of the season for SCG, Toyota and the rest of the WEC field will be the 8 Hours of Portimao in Portugal on April 4.