Hypercar Hype or Close Racing Next Week at Le Mans? Toyota vs Alpine vs Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus

Ken Zino of Auto Informed.com on Hypercar Endurance Racing Next Week at Le Mans

There are double FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) points to win.

Following three-straight Le Mans victories with its TS050 Hybrid, this year the Toyota Gazoo Racing team competes with the new GR010 Hybrid Hypercar for the first time at the Circuit de la Sarthe. (See 1 below) The team “is determined to extend its winning run.”  It faces Hypercar competition from Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, which enters two cars, as well as Alpine, which participates with a grandfathered LMP1 car at the 13.626 km Circuit de la Sarthe.

Reigning World Champions Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and José María López, in the #7 Toyota GR010 Hybrid, have endured calamity at Le Mans, particularly when mechanical issues denied them victory despite domination in 2019 and 2020. They go into the biggest race of the year following wins in the 6 Hours of Monza last month. (Le Mans 2018 – Wrecks, Pit Stops, Safety Car – Pick Winners. Toyota Finally Wins P1 After Years of Breakdowns with a Record 388 Laps; C’est Bien – Corvette Racing off to Le Mans 24 Hour)

Then there’s Toyota’s Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. They are on a remarkable run, winning at the La Sarthe circuit (aka Le Mans) for three consecutive years, including last year’s coup alongside Brendon Hartley. The #8 GR010 Hybrid trio lead the drivers’ standings following wins in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps and 8 Hours of Portimao. They appear to be the favorites, at least until open track time and qualify occur.

There are double FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) points to win. This makes Le Mans a significant battle for world titles. Toyota Gazoo Racing holds a 30-point advantage over Alpine following three of six WEC races, while the #8 crew lead the drivers’ standings by a mere six points from their #7 team-mates.*

In addition to its quest for a fourth consecutive Le Mans win, the 2021 race is the 10th time Toyota has competed at La Sarthe with a Hybrid-powered prototype. In the nine attempts so far, the team has won three times, earned five pole positions and finished on the podium a total of nine times.

The race is grueling. Depending on the car setup, driver and track conditions – there are ~25,000 gear changes, 4,000 km at full throttle and more than 2-million wheel rotations in a typical race. Then there’s traffic with multiple classes with varying driver skills running in weather conditions that can see the long circuit in dry, hot sunshine at one end, while drenched in a downpour at the other. There are essentially five different races within the race. I guess that’s why Le Mans is called an endurance race. (FIA WEC – One-Two for Toyota at Rain Soaked Silverstone)

Toyota preparations for Le Mans began back in October 2020 when the GR010 Hybrid   tested for the first time and, since then, eight further tests have been used to tweak the car’s performance and reliability, in addition to the three WEC races. The last step in that journey will come on this Sunday, the only official test day at the 13.626km Circuit de la Sarthe.

Next week, two days of preparation lead into five hours of practice and a qualifying session on Wednesday. Thursday sees five hours of practice, either side of the 30-minute Hyperpole session at 9pm CEST, when Toyota Gazoo Racing will challenge for a fifth consecutive pole position.

The 89th Le Mans 24 Hours will begin at 4pm CEST on Saturday 21 August in front of a mini- crowd of 50,000, when it’s expected 62 cars and 186 drivers will start a race legends, which first took place in 1923.

1 The Confusing Le Mans Top Classes

The top class in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, is Hypercar. Two types are eligible: LMH (Le Mans Hypercar starting in 2021) and LMDh (Le Mans Daytona h starting in 2023). In 2023, both types of cars will hit the track together in the FIA WEC and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Therefore, they will be seen at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

For the 2021 Hypercar class, only cars compliant with Le Mans Hypercar technical regulations will be on the track. This allows for a variety of architectures, specifically watch for a hybrid system on the front axle. In 2023, constructors having voted to follow the LMDh regulations will compete in the Hypercar class. In LMDh there will be four chassis manufacturers: Dallara, Multimatic, Ligier and ORECA. The engine, bodywork and hybrid system will come from the automaker in a move to save what has become an absurdly expensive class of racing.

 * Other 2021 Hypercar Competitors

  • #708 – Glickenhaus 007 LMH – Luis Felipe Derani (BRA) – Franck Mailleux (FRA) – Olivier Pla (FRA)
  • #709 – Glickenhaus 007 LMH – Ryan Briscoe (AUS) – Richard Westbrook (GBR) – Romain Dumas (FRA)
  • #36 – Alpine A480-Gibson – André Negrão (BRA) – Nicolas Lapierre (FRA) – Matthieu Vaxivière (FRA)
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4 Responses to Hypercar Hype or Close Racing Next Week at Le Mans? Toyota vs Alpine vs Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus

  1. Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), and Earl Bamber (New Zealand) had a successful test day on Sunday 15th 2021 by posting the fastest lap in the LMGTE PRO Class in preparation for next weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans to run Aug. 21-22 at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

    The WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR ran 44 problem free laps on the day. The Proton Competition crew worked through their test day to-do list providing the three drivers with maximum track time. The fast time of the day was posted by Earl Bamber who ran a 3:52.938 around the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe that had them first in the LMGTE PRO Class. The team will return to on track action on Wednesday for the first official practice at 14:00 CET.

  2. Le Mans 2001 Following an overall victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona earlier in the year, hopes were high for Corvette Racing as it headed to Le Mans for only the second time in 2001. The program finished third and fourth in GTS the previous year during its Le Mans debut, but the lessons and experiences from that initial run set the table for what happened in a chaotic 2001 race, thanks to Mother Nature.

    Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell and Scott Pruett claimed the GTS victory in the No. 63 Corvette C5-R during a rain-soaked 24 Hours to lead a Corvette Racing 1-2 result.

    Ron Fellows: “The 2001 season was really a breakout one for Corvette Racing. We won our first race in Texas the year before, we won Petit Le Mans and then won the Rolex 24 overall in 2001. Things were really, really coming together. As a team, we felt like we were more prepared than we ever had been. We had been to Le Mans for the first time in 2000 and learned a lot. The only obstacle we had in 2001 was the weather. My recollection is that I think I did a total of three laps in the race on slick tires. Everything else was in the rain or an intermediate track. It was a race of survival, which we did and then some. I think we ran fourth overall at some point. It was just an outstanding effort and complete relief at the end that we had accomplished – to that point – more than expected. Winning the Rolex 24 was on the list, but getting it overall was above and beyond. Achieving a class win at Le Mans was huge for all of us. I can’t say enough positives about the whole Corvette Racing effort.

    “We kept plugging away, making adjustments each race and each year to get better – whether it was pit stops, the chassis, the engine guys. They all plugged away at it to get better. We weren’t getting any breaks. We were up against a dominant Viper team. You throw in Ferrari, Porsche and others… it was an incredible moment to be up there on that podium. The event is so amazing, and I feel fortunate to be part of such a great team.”

  3. LE MANS, France (Aug. 19, 2021) – Nick Tandy set the third-fastest time in Hyperpole qualifying Thursday to put Corvette Racing’s No. 64 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R on the second row of the GTE Pro grid for this weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

    Tandy, who drives with Tommy Milner and Alexander Sims, posted a best lap of 3:47.093 (134.216 mph) in the 30-minute session. The day before in the first round of qualifying, Tandy turned a 3:47.074 (134.217 mph) – the fastest lap for any Corvette Racing entry in its 21 years at Le Mans.

    Thursday also featured the final two official practice sessions for the full field of 61 cars – including eight in GTE Pro. The two Corvettes continued to focus on race pace with a number of adjustments and changes to many of the C8.R’s systems including suspension and aerodynamics.

    Antonio Garcia set the best combined practice time for the No. 63 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette C8.R – a 3:49.603 (132.725 mph) effort in the fourth and final practice session of the week. He will team with Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg as the No. 63 C8.R starts eighth Saturday.

    A 15-minute warmup is set for 11:30 a.m. CET/5:30 a.m. ET. The green flag for the 24 Hours of Le Mans falls at 4 p.m. CET and 10 a.m. ET. MotorTrend TV will air the race live with the MotorTrend App adding coverage of official practices and qualifying on Aug. 18 and 19. Live audio coverage will be available from Radio Le Mans starting with Sunday’s Test Day.

    Chevrolet’s YouTube page will stream the on-board feed from the No. 63 Corvette C8.R for the entire race.

  4. Chevrolet Announces 2023 Corvette Z06 Reveal Date: Start the countdown: The all-new 2023 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 will be revealed on Oct. 26. Designed to amplify the thrill of driving, the Corvette Z06 is a supercar that performs – whether on backroads or the Autobahn or the world’s most recognizable tracks like Circuit de la Sarthe. Watch as Corvette Z06 visits legendary European racetracks in advance of reveal here, and stay tuned for more.

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