Beyond the 24 Hours of Le Mans

Without doubt, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the greatest endurance race in the world, but it isn’t limited to the 24 hours that glorify those who survive the harshness of endurance racing. Announcements, news, revelations and everything else, we had a lot to deal with even before the French endurance racing.

First of that is about grid numbers, as the increase of entries for the coming editions of the LM24 is a long-time matter of discussion, but it seems to be turning into reality as ACO announced a two-year plan to increase the number of participants from the current 56 to 60 in 2017, following the construction of pit garages in the current Parc Ferme section. ACO’s Vincent Beaumesnil said the two-year plan is allow the realocation of certain areas that will be affected by the construction of the new garages, in example the scrutineering, Parc Ferme itself and the Medical Centre.

Then, the matter is the entries themselves. Michael Shank Racing was already with two eyes at La Sarthe as he plans to enter in 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans with probably the same package the team uses in the United Sportscar Championship: the Ligier JS P2 – HPD. It’s stil uncertain if the team will rely on their current car or lease an existing one in Europe in order to cut costs.

The other thing about entries is that the 2016 and 2017 Garage 56 (or Garage 58/60?) entries were already decided. Sausset Racing Team 41 and Welter Racing, in hugely different approaches.

While Sausset, an ambitious quadruple amputee that races currently with an adapted Ligier JS 53 Evo-Audi, will tackle the LM24 with probably same power, but instead onboard in a Morgan LMP2 model. At the moment, only Christophe Tinseau was announced to join him in his adventure, Welter Racing wille rely on biogas for their attack. More specifically a 450 hp 3-cylinder engine, which will race entirely with liquid biomethane. Both of them will be pioneers with their respective alternatives, as no one tried the LM24 in any of these concepts.

While these cars are still plans for the future, another one made an appearance for the Le Mans public. The Ligier JS P3, Onroak Automotive’s weapon to step into the Ginetta’s LMP3 hordes left the renderings to come to the real world in its first appearance. It is expected to start  racing at the end of the year, with some respectable clients in the wait list, like Graff Racing, Extreme Limite and possible interest of EuroInternational and Starworks in the new chassis.

But obviously, nothing caught more attention at La Sarthe than Ford. The so much awaited announcement came in form of a big American car with a new face to oppose Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche and Corvette from 2016 onwards.

The new Ford GT, that doesn’t resemble in almost anything the one that roared through Le Mans in the 60s and the one that recently was built by Matech Racing and Doran, and also entering in the EcoBoost era, with a Roush Yates-prepared 3.5-liter Turbo V6 powerplant that will be present in the pair of cars to be run by Chip Ganassi Racing, in an ambitious plan that involves the FIA World Endurance Championship and the TUDOR United Sportscar Championship.

The cars will be prepared by Multimatic Motorsports, and although there’s a huge pool of drivers to make a selection, no name was announced initially. Scott Pruett and Joey Hand will certainly be there, as they’re part of the current Ford-Riley DP TUSC effort .

PHOTOS: FIA WEC, TUDOR Championships,Welter Racing, Sausset Racing Team 41, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams