2013 24 Hours Of Le Mans Preview: LMGTE Am


2013 24 Hours of Le Mans (Credit: Florent Gooden/DPPI)

From shaky starts at the beginning of the decade after the line between the pro and the am drivers in what was then GT2 became official the LMGTE Am has become a class every part as strong as the Pro class.

Though the cars in the Am class are a year older – the specification locked in as of the end of the 2012 season – the teams that contest the class are a match for their professional counterparts. With outfits like Imsa Performance Matmut, Krohn Racing and Proton Competition the teams are some of those that in recent season have been fighting in the upper echelons of the Pro category.

The ‘Pro Lite’ feel to the class is only added to by the presence of both AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing in the class, the two ‘works’ teams likely the favourites at the start of the race week.

Of the five cars that the two teams represent the best, arguably, is the all-Danish team in the #95 V8 Vantage. The combination of Allan Simonsen, Christoffer Nygaard and Kristian Poulsen comes back for a second consecutive season in the class for AMR and starts the meeting leading the class in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) after winning the first race of the year at Silverstone, then a second place at Spa-Francorchamps. The trio were leading the class at Le Mans last year before spinning into retirement at the start of the Porsche Curves, but have the car to fight for victory once again this year.

In terms of experience their closest rivals are likely to come from the AF Corse squad of Jack Gerber, Marco Cioci and Matt Griffin, the combination of Cioci and Griffin the backbone of the strongest of the AF Corse Ferraris.

Rui Aguas, another man at the backbone of AF Corse’s Am line-ups in recent seasons is now part of the 8Star Motorsports team. Enzo Potolicchio’s team – he is also one of the three drivers – took the class win at Spa-Francorchamps in only their second ever ACO rules race to follow a podium on debut at Silverstone. The team, running an unmistakable bright orange Ferrari is completed by V8 Supercars front runner Jason Bright in a car that could be a dark horse (if anything in their shade of orange could be considered a dark anything) for the class.

Despite the fact that the class is geared at accommodating the gentlemen drivers the entry list still includes a number of top class drivers. Three of the Porsche teams in the class come with pro anchors. With six Porsche works drivers in the marque’s LMGTE Pro team there are two more in the Am ranks. Patrick Long joins the Dempsey/Del PieroProton car with long-term driving partners Joe Foster and Patrick Dempsey. Long’s fellow works driver Wolf Henzler and former Peugeot tester JeanKarl Vernay join the two car effort from Raymond Narac’s Rouen based Imsa Performance team.

The fourth 911 RSR on the entry list is the only one without a significant Pro addition. However Paolo Ruberti, Christian Ried and Gianluca Roda have become one of the standards of the class, as have Larbre Competition.

The French, Corvette running team, won the class at Le Mans, and in the WEC last year but face 2013 without Pedro Lamy who was doubtless the star driver of the class last year. While Lamy has moved to the Pro class and behind the wheel of an Aston Martin the empty seat in the team’s lead car – the #50 is taken by American Ricky Taylor, older brother of Corvette works pilot Jordan.

Though Taylor is a fine replacement, on a par with the other pro drivers punctuating the class, it is hard to shake the feeling that the class has grown around Larbre, rather than Larbre growing with the class.

2013 24 Hours of Le Mans LMGTE AM entry list

#50 – Patrick Bornhauser/Julien Canal/Ricky Taylor
Larbre Competition
Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1

#54 – Jean-Marc Bachelier/Howard Blank/Yannick Mallegol
AF Corse
Ferrari 458 Italia

#55 – Lorenzo Case/Piergiuseppe Perazzini/Darryl O’Young
AF Corse
Ferrari 458 Italia

#57 – Niclas Jonsson/Tracy Krohn/Maurizio Mediani
Krohn Racing
Ferrari 458 Italia

#61 – Marco Cioci/Jack Gerber/Matt Griffin
AF Corse
Ferrari 458 Italia

#67 – Pascal Gibon/Wolf Henzler/Patrick Milesi
Imsa Performance Matmut
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

#70 – Philippe Dumas/Cooper MacNeil/Manuel Rodrigues
Larbre Competition
Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1

#76 – Christophe Bourret/Raymond Narac/Jean-Karl Vernay
Imsa Performance Matmut
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

#77 – Patrick Dempsey/Joe Foster/Patrick Long
Dempsey Del Piero-Proton
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

#81 – Rui Aguas/Jason Bright/Enzo Potolicchio
8 Star Motorsports
Ferrari 458 Italia

#88 – Christian Ried/Gianluca Roda/Paolo Ruberti
Proton Competition
Porsche 911 GT3 RSR

#95 – Christoffer Nygaard/Kristian Poulsen/Allan Simonsen
Aston Martin Racing
Aston Martin Vantage V8

#96 – Jamie Campbell-Walter/Roald Goethe/Stuart Hall
Aston Martin Racing
Aston Martin Vantage V8