The 24 Hours of Le Mans will have its largest top-category grid since 2011 for this year’s centenary edition when 16 entries line up in Hypercar at the front of a 62-car field.
Event organizer the ACO on Monday issued the first version of the entry list for the 91st running of the French endurance classic on June 10-11.
It also includes 24 entries in LMP2, 21 in GTE-Am and confirmation of Hendrick Motorsports’ modified Chevrolet Camaro NASCAR Cup car as an ‘Innovative’ entry.
The Hypercar grid features eight different manufacturers, including seven LMDh prototypes that utilize the same hybrid system and nine LMHs. It is the largest top-tier field since 12 years ago when 17 cars appeared in the LMP1 class.
After beating Glickenhaus and Alpine last year, defending winner Toyota Gazoo Racing will face increased opposition for its crack at a sixth consecutive Le Mans victory as Ferrari, Peugeot, Cadillac, Porsche and ByKolles/Vanwall enter the fray.
A dozen full-season FIA World Endurance Championship cars are present, along with additional entries from three constructors.
Porsche Penske Motorsport is bringing one of its factory-run Porsche 963s from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in addition to its WEC setup.
Cadillac, which runs a single LMDh car in WEC, has engaged both of its IMSA-based entries from Chip Ganassi Racing and Action Express Racing.
Furthermore, Glickenhaus has added a second Glickenhaus 007 Pipo as the American constructor aims to repeat its podium result from last year.
Hertz Team JOTA is the only privateer Hypercar team entered with a single Porsche 963, while Proton Competition is absent. Sportscar365 reported last month that the German squad could defer its LMDh debut until after Le Mans.
LMP2 involves the 11-car WEC group of JOTA, Team WRT, United Autosports, Alpine, Prema, Inter Europol Competition and Vector Sport, as well as automatic invitation recipients Panis Racing, Cool Racing, Graff, DKR Engineering and Tower Motorsports.
The last four from that batch are part of an eight-car LMP2 Pro-Am class along with Nielsen Racing, AF Corse, Algarve Pro Racing and European Le Mans Series Pro-Am champion Racing Team Turkey. Each Pro-Am lineup must contain a Bronze driver.
Rolex 24 at Daytona overall winner Colin Braun and LMP2 class winner James Allen will share the Algarve Pro Oreca with George Kurtz, the entry list confirms.
Following the demise of GTE-Pro, GTE-Am is now the top production-based class for one Le Mans edition until it gets replaced by LMGT3 next year.
Two notable debutants in GTE-Am are GMB Motorsport and Walkenhorst Motorsport, which earned auto-invitations for winning the Michelin Le Mans Cup and Asian Le Mans Series respectively.
BMW specialist Walkenhorst has gone with a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo for its maiden GTE outing, while GMB is running an Aston Martin entry.
Actor Michael Fassbender will contest his second Le Mans with Proton Competition, which has four Porsche 911 RSR-19s under its own banner. Proton is also assisting Iron Lynx’s Porsche effort that stands at two full-time WEC cars, with the Italian squad choosing not to take up the option of a third entry based on an auto-invite.
Defending GTE-Am winner TF Sport has a third Aston Martin alongside its full-season entries, while Ferrari stalwart JMW Motorsport has also been accepted.
The rest of GTE-Am consists of WEC regulars, including Corvette Racing which is the only team running a Chevrolet Corvette C8.R against Ferraris, Astons and Porsches.
“The 24 Hours of Le Mans is poised to celebrate its 100th anniversary in June, in what will be the fourth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship,” said ACO President Pierre Fillon.
“In addition to the extraordinary entertainment program, the Centenary will also be celebrated on track, where we can expect a series of spectacular clashes.
“To witness the Centenary of such an iconic race is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Few events can boast such longevity and offer what promises to be one of the greatest sporting occasions in history.”