Friday, August 20, 2021

LE MANS: 2021 Supporting classes Once Again represent Majority of the Grid

But it’s a good thing we’ve got ‘em, Otherwise we’d be watching only 13 Cars taking Ye Tricolour…


With  the Bulk of this weekend’s 89th Edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans being comprised of it’s “lower tier” brethren,

i.e.; 25 LMP2 entries and 23 LM GTE Am entrants, which I believe Adds up to 48? Uhm, Too Bad that Jimmie Johnson Guy Ain’t here, Hya! Uhm, actually He’s got the weekend off after last week’s outing at Mother Speedway, with the IMS Road Course being his first repeat racetrack this year, with his best finish of the season coming Thar. (P19)


Thus with 48 outta 61 race entries, I’m simply not even gonna try chronicling ‘em All! But instead will just Highlight some of those who caught my eye when perusing this year’s “Entry list.” With No Disrespect intended towards the Garage 56 entry, which includes two Disabled Drivers on it’s three man #84 LMP2 roster. One a former GP500 Rider and the other an ex-Motorcross rider.


Le Mans Prototypes 2 (LMP2)

As Don’t Quote Me but, it appears that the entire LMP2 field is comprised of the Oreca 07 chassis mated to the mandatory Gibson 4.2-litre Normally Aspirated V-8 lump’ this year, albeit I didn’t initially check All 25 entries thoroughly. Since it appears the lone Ligier JS217/Gibson #74 Racing Team India EurAsia entry is the solitary interloper.


As they say, Ladies First! As the No. 1 Richard Mille Racing’s entry sports an All le femme lineup once again, with Tatiana Calderon, Sophia Florsch and Beitske Visser behind the steering wheel for a second year in-a-row. As it would be Fantastic if they won their Class this year.


But they’ll have to get past defending LMP2 winners United Autosport’s #22 entry with former Formula 1 Driver and current Sky Sports F1 Pundit Paul di Resta alongside Co-Drivers Phil Hansen and Filipe Albuquerque, the latter two who also won last year’s European Le Mans Series (ELMS) championship aboard United Autosport’s #22 ELMS entry. Di Resta has moved over to the team’s No. 23 entry and is replaced by Fabio Scherer this year in the lead #22.


As the team Co-owned by McLaren CEO Zak Brown with Richard Dean's once again enters three cars this year with it’s #22 defending Le Mans LMP2 Class champion entry alongside the #23 and it’s Seester’ #32.


As the #32 sports an interesting lineup consisting of former Indy Lights driver Nico Jammin, Jonathan Aberdein and Manuel Maldonado, the younger cousin   of former Williams F1 Grands Prix winner Pastor Maldonado, better known as “Crashtor,” Youch!


DragonSpeed’s No. 21 features Ben Hanley, Henrik “Max Headroom” Hedman and some guy named Juan Pablo Montoya as it’s drivers, once again begging thoust Questione. If Montoya wins the class, does that mean he claims Fredrico Suave’s Mythical Triple Crown before the Smarmy Spaniard does? Comprising of Monaco, Indy 500 and Le Mans victories? Or presumably does this only apply to outright wins in those three disciplines?


The second High Class Racing #49 entry features a well known Father-son duo, with MAGS’, aka Jan Magnussen joined by his son Kevin Bacon’ Magnussen and Anders Fjordbach at it’s Keyboard. As I’ve just learned that High Class Racing is based in Denmark, so it makes sense for the Magnussen pairing, Righto?


Bad Arse Patrick Kelly Headlines PR1/Mathiasen  Motorsports #24 entry, with Gabriel Aubry and Simon Trummer alongside, as one of the few IMSA Weathertech SportsCar championship entrants being invited to Circuit de la Sarthe this year. With another unlikely one being the No. 82 Risi Competizione, who used to run Ferrari 488 GTE Evo’s in the LM GTE Pro Class being the only two IMSA LMP2 entrants.


And you can never count out Messer di Resta’s Sky Sports F1 Pundit ANT’, aka Anthony Davidson, who’s piloting the #38 JOTA  entry alongside team-mates Antonio Felix da Costa and Roberto Gonzalez.


Whilst it would be nice to see Tristan Gommendy rebound from last year’s Monstrous Crash, who’ll be sharing France’s No. 30 Duqueine Team’s ELMS  entry with Rene Binder and Memo Rojas.


As Gommendy and Gonzalez are former Chump Carz’ (Champ Car World Series) competitors, who both ironically drove for PKV Racing, Gonzalez in 2004 and Gommendy in ’07. While Rojas won multiple Grand Am Championships with Scotty Scooter’ Pruett…


Not to mention IMSA Competitors Ricky Taylor and Renger Van der Zande, who’s “Day Jobs” are piloting IMSA Daytona Prototypes spending seat time in the Nos. 20 and 34 respectively. As the #20 is also a High Class Racing entry.


Interestingly, Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA DPi team-mates Kevin Magnussen and Van der Zande will be racing against each other for LMP2 Class Honours, with Renger part of the #34 Inter Europol Competition entry.


As Van der Zande’s “Turbo Bakers” co-Drivers are Alex Brundle, son of former Formula 1 driver and Sky Sports F1 TV Pundit Martin billybob’ brundle and Jakub Smiechowski. As reputedly the Turbo Bakers nickname is in deference to the team’s main sponsor.


Whilst the No. 28 JOTA  entry’s  my Dark Horse pick due to it’s Uber Stout Driver Trio of Tom “the Bomb” Blomquist, Sean Gelael and Stoffel Vandoorne, whose Seester’ team car is the #38 JOTA Sport’s entry.


Le Mans GTE Am (LM GTE Amateur )

And like above, it’s Ladies First in the “Amateur” Saloons’ ranks also, with the return of Iron Links #85 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo sporting Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting returning for a second year in-a-row, while Belgian Sarah Boby replaces Manuela Gostner.  . As Boby joined the team at Monza, where she made her FIA World Endurance Championship debut.


As this is just one of the Mega Stallion of Prancing Horses “Galloping” about Circuit de la Sarthe with a total of 11 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo’s competing, with the Iron Links Squadra having three entries alone, i.e.; No.s 60, 80 and 85.


Although I didn’t spot any IMSA Teams in the LM GTE Am category, I did notice that IMSA GT Daytona Bad Arse Robby Foley’s part of the #66 JMW Motorsport  Ferrari team.



Robby Foley’s ride at JMW Motorsport fell thru prior to the IMSA Road America Sports Car round where the 25yr old New Jersey Native was contacted by Project 1 Motorsport for an Open Seat in the team’s #46 Porsche 911 RSR-19, for whom Foley made his 24 Heurs du Mans debut for instead…

And whilst I did correctly acknowledge Aston Martin’s withdrawal from the Top tier LM GTE Pro category, I mistakenly said they were also leaving the LM GTE Am ranks which was incorrect! Since Thars actually Quattro Aston Martin Vantage AMR’s contesting this year’s race led by the defending Class Champion TF Sport No. 95 and it’s Seester’ #33. Along with a lone Werks’ #98 entry and the Privateer “Triple Seven” (#777) entry.


Yet last year’s winner was the #90 TF Sport entry, as this year’s No. 95 sports an All New Driver lineup. As I recognize ross gunn’s name, who’s a Factory Aston Martin driver who’s competing for my Home team’s Heart of Racing’s No. 23 IMSA GTD Customer Aston Martin entry, having last spotted Gunn’s name when perusing this year’s Rolex 24 competitors. With gunn being joined by Ollie Hancock and John Hartshorne.


The second largest contingent of LM GTE Am participants are the eight Porsche 911 RSR-19 Panzerwagons, as Yuhs can Never count Porsche out at Le Mans! As that guy known Stateside as Dr. McDreamy, aka Patrick Dempsey’s Dempsey Proton Racing enters a Brace of Ye ubiquitous Porsches, the Nos. 77 and 88.


But I’ve got Zero clue who’s the favoured Contendahs’ or whom I think will win this class? So like Mwah, you’ll just have to stay tuned this weekend…