Thursday, August 19, 2021

LE MANS: 2021, Dawning of the Hypercar Era

But can Anybody Beat Toyota?


This year’s delayed running of the 89th Edition of le 24 Heurs du Mans, August 21-22 sees the Dawning of the FIA/ACO’s new Hypercar era which will get off to a somewhat slow start with only five Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) entrants.


Once again, the Odds favour Toyota’s two car GR010 hybrid Factory effort winning a fourth straight 24 Hours of Le Mans, even if Glickenhaus Shocked the Paddock by being Fastest during this year’s Test Day.


As always, I’ll be rootin’ for the No. 7 with K-Squared’, aka Kamui Kobayashi to win, along with co-Drivers Mike “Ice Ice, Baby!” Conway and Jose Maria Lopez.


But the #7 will be trying to exorcise it’s Circuit de la Sarthe Demons, since it’s Thar Seester’s No. 8 that’s been victorious the past three years in-a-row, with Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastian Beumi and Brendon Hartley at it’s controls. As Nakajima and Beumi have won three straight apiece, whilst Hartley, who’s a two times winner has won with two separate teams, i.e.; Porsche in 2017 and Toyota last year.



Although I’d prefer somebody else winning instead, I don’t expect it to happen, especially since the Toy-Yoters’ are the only “all Wheel Drive” (AWD) Hybrid powered LMH entries, but still I’ll be cheering for the upstart American team. Since I’m also a Huge Fan of Ryan briscoe’s, who’ll be part of Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’sDebutante Le Mans outing with it’s two car SCG 007 entry


As Briscoe will be piloting the #709 with team-mates “Westie,” nee Richard Westbrook and Romain Dumas aboard the “Rear Wheel Drive” (RHD) “Blown” 3.5-litre V-8 twin turbo SCG007 racecar.


Meanwhile it’s sister car the #708 sees Pipo Derani, Franck Mailleux and Olivier Pla at it’s controls in what will be the team’s first 24 Hours race outing. As Pla set the Quickest lap time in Sunday’s Test session, to Toy-Yoter’s amazement!


Whilst the final known LMH entry is the #36 Alpine A480, the rebadged Rebellion LMP1 R13, another RHD Prototype propelled by a 4.5-litre Normally Aspirated Gibson V-8 lump. Although I thought I’d read awhile ago that le Reggie’, (Renault) Alpine’s parent company had secured a second A480 chassis for Le Mans? Arse-sumedly’ as a backup chassis.


As the No. 36 features Nicolas Lapierre, the only name I recognize of it’s Driver’s trio. Presumably since the Frenchman’s a two times Sebring 12 Hours winner, along with four Le Mans 24 Hours Class victories. With Lapierre being joined by countryman Matthieu Vaxivier and Brazilian Andre Negro.


But it’s the “lower tier” categories in both the Prototypes and Saloons that make up the bulk of this year’s field, with 25 LMP2 entries and 23 LM GTE Am entries which I’ll chronicle separately.


Since I’m just scribblin’ today about Thar respective Big boy Kissing cousins 5 LMH and 8 LM GTE Pro entrants instead. With a total of 62 racecars, with the inclusion of the annual Project 56 Garage entry taking the Tricolour this coming weekend when 25% Fan capacity will be allowed.


The big Dawgs’ Tintop Saloons LM GTE Pro category’s eight entries are  comprised by  two la Scuderia Ferrari 488 GTE Evo’s, four of Weissach’s Panzerwagen Porsche 911 RSR-19’s and two Corvette Racing C8.r’s, with three IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship teams competing for class honours.


AF Corse, which essentially is Ferrari’s “Werks” entrant, who’ll soon b running la Scuderia’s Factory LMH effort in 2023, will run it’s No.s 51 and 52 Prancing Horses.


The Quattro Panzerwagons are being campaigned by three separate entities, led by the Werks’ Germany Porsche GT Team’s No.s 91 and 92. Whilst “I Know Nothing” about the #72 Hub Auto Racing Taiwan entry. With the No. 79 Stateside IMSA Weathertech Racing entry seeing Cooper MacNeil, Earl Vamber and Laurens Vanthoor at it’s Tiller.


Cooper is the son of David MacNeil, Owner and founder of Weathertech, the Fllor Mat and Cargo linings company that’s the title sponsor of IMSAS’s Sports Car Championship, with a reported yearly revenue of $700 million, with David being rumoured to have a Net Worth of $1.0 B as in Billion, Aye Karumba!


Of course everybody knows who Corvette Racing is, as who knows how much longer we’ll see this Big Dawg’ version of the C8.R upon racetracks? Since the IMSA GT Le Mans (GT LM) Class is being fazed out at season’s end in favour of GTD Pro. Alas, can it only be a matter of time before a similar fate occurs to the WEC LM GTE Pro Class? But I digress…


The #63 Corvette C8.R has Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg at it’s controls, with it’s Seester’ #64 having Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy and Alexander Simms at it’s respective Keyboard.


While last year’s LM GTE Pro winner’s Aston Martin won’t defend it’s Class victory, since the  Factory pulled out of the Le Mans GTE Pro category, now focusing upon the LM GTE Am (Amateur) class instead…