Seven automatic invitations to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans have been confirmed after the conclusion of the European Le Mans Series and Michelin Le Mans Cup seasons at Portimao and the IMSA race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last weekend.
A total of nine auto-entry places have been earned so far including four by United Autosports, however the U.K-based team will need to hand back half of its haul under the regulation that a competitor cannot hold more than two auto-entries in any class.
United achieved the 2021 Le Mans invitation spots for winning this year’s LMP2 race, clinching the ELMS LMP2 and LMP3 class titles and finishing second in ELMS LMP2.
It is currently unclear if its two unusable invitations will be discarded or transferred to other teams.
Based on an initial 18-car full-season entry, the ELMS LMP2 class was originally set to produce three Le Mans auto-entries under the rule that one invitation would be given out for every six cars taking part.
However, fewer cars actually took part in the whole season, meaning only two auto-invites were available at the end of the year.
The rule was one invitation for every four entries in GTE, which resulted in the top two cars in the class receiving guaranteed places in either of the GTE categories at Le Mans.
These went to Proton Competition, which secured the title with its No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR, and Kessel Racing which finished second with its Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.
The final invitation to come out of Le Mans organizer the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s European seasons had already been decided before the Portimao weekend.
Iron Lynx drivers Rino Mastronardi and Giacomo Piccini wrapped up the Michelin Le Mans Cup GT3 title at Monza, securing their team’s place on the GTE-Am grid in 2021.
Additionally, TF Sport earned a GTE-Am auto-invite for winning the class at Le Mans.
Unlike last year, there were no invitations on offer for the LMP1 and GTE-Pro Le Mans winners.
From the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Patrick Kelly clinched the Jim Trueman Award following Sunday’s race at Laguna Seca.
The highest-placed Bronze-rated driver in the LMP2 standings now has an automatic invitation to Le Mans next year, also in the LMP2 division.
IMSA’s Bob Akin Award, which gives out a GTE-Am auto-entry, is being contested by Ryan Hardwick and John Potter.
At least three more invitations are set to be granted to the top cars in the LMP2, LMP3 and GT3 classes of the Asian Le Mans Series which takes place next February in the UAE.
There is set to be one invitation for every six full-season LMP2 entries, one for every four entries in GT3 and one for the LMP3 champion progressing into LMP2 for Le Mans.