Ferrari fought off stiff competition from Toyota Gazoo Racing at the 2023 24 hours of Le Mans to mark the team’s return to the race after a half-century absence with a historic victory.
On Ferrari‘s comeback to the prime competition at the Circuit de la Sarthe, the team, riding the new 499P Le Mans Hypercar, relished an outright victory, a feat unseen since Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt emerged victorious in 1965.
The team saw Guidi crossing the finish line 81 seconds ahead of the Toyota GR010 HYBRID driven by Sebastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley, and Ryo Hirakawa.
Alex Lynn, Earl Bamber, and Richard Westbrook, sharing the #2 Cadillac V-Series.R, secured the third position, trailing the leading Ferrari by one lap. The battle for supremacy was mainly between Ferrari and Toyota, with the Ferrari team showing strong performance in the latter part of the race.
A series of events saw the lead alternately pass between the Ferrari and the Toyota teams. A power cycle for Ferrari during a pitstop in the 19th hour diminished the gap, pushing Toyota back into contention.
However, Hirakawa‘s off-track incident in the second to last hour tipped the balance in favor of Ferrari. Despite minor hiccups in the final stages, Ferrari managed to hold onto their lead, ultimately achieving a historic win.
A Rocky Ride for the Other Contenders
The #2 Cadillac had a relatively clean race apart from a nighttime spin by Westbrook. The sister #3 car experienced a tumultuous journey to the fourth place. The #50 Ferrari took fifth place after a difficult race featuring a serious off-track incident and an energy recovery system fluid leak.
Peugeot and Porsche, the two remaining Hypercar manufacturers, struggled with their performance. Both manufacturers faced numerous challenges including crashes, spins, hydraulic issues, and mechanical failures. Despite these challenges, Glickenhaus managed a surprising sixth-place finish in the Hypercar class with the #708 entry.
LMP2: Inter Europol’s Unexpected Win
The LMP2 class witnessed a surprising victory from the Polish Inter Europol Competition squad, who took the top spot despite racer Fabio Scherer‘s suspected foot injury. Their #34 ORECA, shared by Jakub Smiechowski, Albert Costa, and Scherer, managed to hold onto the lead for the final eight hours of the race.
GTE: Corvette’s Farewell Victory
Corvette Racing secured a splendid final victory for GTE machinery at Le Mans before the transition to GT3 cars in 2024. Despite a shaky start, the trio of Nicky Catsburg, Nico Varrone, and Ben Keating powered their Corvette to the front, managing a two-minute lead over the following team in the final tally.
The race was filled with late drama, including a series of delays for the Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 NASCAR Cup car. Out of the 62 starters, only 39 cars were classified, the lowest count since the 2015 race. Despite the attrition, the race proved a historic event for Ferrari.