The 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours Will Have Its Largest Ever Grid
The popularity of the Le Mans 24 Hours can hardly be denied, and it applies to entrants just as much as the rest of us enthusiasts watching on. And to further accommodate this popularity among those who want to take part, the Automobile Club d I’Ouest–the Le Mans race’s creator and organizer as well as the organizer of the FIA World Endurance Championship–has extended the Le Mans grid by two for this year’s race. The 62-car grid this June will therefore be the largest ever Le Mans 24 Hours field. It is up from the 60-car maximum that had been in place since 2016, while the ‘15 race had 56 cars. The 2019 Le Mans event, taking place on June 15 and 16, was already poised to stand apart, as it is to conclude WEC’s unique 2018-19 “super season”, which spans more than 12 months. It also will start what is to be an ongoing calendar arrangement of the famous French endurance race providing the final round of each WEC season.
The two entrants that benefit from the expansion are both LMP2 outfits from the reserve list: High Class Racing, which will be fielding the #20 ORECA-Gibson, and United Autosports with the #32 Ligier JSP 217-Gibson. Work began several weeks ago to extend the Le Mans pitlane to accommodate the additional pair of entries, and it involves two temporary garages being set up towards the pitlane’s entrance. They will be in place in time for the Test Day on June 2, which is a couple of weeks in advance of the race proper. The Automobile Club d I’Ouest insists “the project is organized and customized to host competitors and spectators in optimal conditions”.
“In February, the selection committee faced a harder task than it has in many years,” said Automobile Club de l’Ouest president Pierre Fillon. “There were 75 applications—all of a high standard—and it was particularly difficult to choose 60, only 60 of them should I say. We quickly came to the conclusion that we had to find a way of accepting additional competitors, and our crews confirmed the feasibility of adding two garages to the pitlane. We knuckled down and are overjoyed to be able to accept 62 entrants for the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s a record number and a sign that this race is as popular as ever.”
Images courtesy of Octane Photography