Jan Magnussen said he “couldn’t refuse” JMW Motorsport’s offer to compete in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, after nearly seeing his two-decade long streak of consecutive appearances in the event end.
The longtime Corvette Racing driver, who was dropped from the team’s full-season lineup this year, was poised to make his 22nd consecutive Le Mans appearance with High Class Racing until the Danish squad’s Oreca 07 Gibson ended up on the reserve list.
The all-Danish effort was pulled prior to a number of withdrawals that would have given the car a space in the postponed French endurance classic.
Magnussen’s streak, dating back to his Le Mans debut in 1999 with Panoz, appeared to be in jeopardy until last week when the four-time class winner was confirmed as part of JMW’s lineup in GTE-Am alongside Richard Heistand and Max Root.
“I have been working on a couple of opportunities over the last couple of months, but when I got the call from JMW I knew it was an offer that I couldn’t refuse,” Magnussen said.
“It’s a well-established factory supported team that won the 24-hour race in 2017 and were runners-up last year. With a great car and a strong driver line-up, we are definitely fighting for the victory.”
While it will mark Magnussen’s 22nd appearance and first without Corvette since 2003, the Dane missed the 2015 race due to a crash in qualifying, which at the time ended his streak of 16 consecutive starts.
“It will be my first Le Mans with a new team and a new car in a new category since 2004, but as always, I cannot wait to get back on track,” he said.
“My first race was in 1999, and I hope my 20 plus years of experience can be useful for the team. The Ferrari 488 GTE has already proven to be one of the best GT cars, and the GTE-Am category looks extremely challenging.”
Magnussen said the race, only the second time in history to be run in September, will offer a different feel due to being run behind closed doors.
“This year will certainly differ a great deal due to the COVID-19,” he said. “I will miss the spectators and all the fan activities during race week. But Le Mans is Le Mans, and I’m looking forward to getting another opportunity to race at this fantastic event.”