After suffering some bad luck in the second round of the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup at Silverstone, Will Stevens has announced that he will be returning to the prestigious Circuit de la Sarthe for the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. Stevens will be joining the LM GTE Am class with JMW Motorsport as he takes on the 24-hour endurance race and tries to better the second-place finish he achieved in LMP2 last year.
Stevens will be the most experienced of the three-man team that lines up in the JMW-branded Ferrari 488 GTE, partnered with Rob Smith and Dries Vanthoor for the blue-ribboned event. Stevens and Vanthoor already have a good partnership as they are team-mates in their Audi Club Team WRT Audi R8 LMS in the Blancpain GT Series.
Last year was Stevens’ first year tackling the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He raced in LMP2 with G-Drive Racing and managed to finish second in class with the team. He continued in World Endurance Championship with G-Drive in 2016 as a stand-in for René Rast for two rounds as Rast recovered from injury. In his short time with the team, Stevens was able to help bring the team victories in both the round he participated in: 6 Hours of Fuji and the 6 Hours of Shanghai.
Stevens, who will be driving for JMW, a GTE sportscar and racing a Ferrari all for the very first time, finished second in the LMP2 class with G-Drive Racing on his Le Mans début last June, the ex-Formula One driver going on to record WEC LMP2 wins at Fuji and Shanghai. Will has a Sprint Cup race at Zolder on the same day as the official Le Mans test day (4 Jun) but will now look in to the logistics of attempting to do both events.
There is a clash between the Sprint Cup at Zolder and the official Le Mans test day on the 4th of June, but Stevens has stated that he will look into the logistics of taking part in both events as he needs to get a feel for the Ferrari 488 GTE. Le Mans will be the first time that Stevens has raced a Ferrari competitively.
Ahead of returning to Le Mans, Stevens sais that he was “really looking forward to going back.” In his statement about joining JMW Motorsport for the well-renowned event, he claimed: “I desperately wanted to return but only if I had the chance to win and I believe JMW’s driver line-up gives me a good shot at GTE Am honours.
My focus this year is on GTs and I believe that going to Le Mans in a GTE car can only add to my experience. I’m very excited with this last-minute opportunity.”
Jim McWhirter, the Team Principal of JMW Motorsport, echoed Stevens’ thoughts that JMW could have a great chance at winning their class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. “We wanted to compete at the highest level in the race and having acquired the Ferrari 488, it was logical to put the best drivers in the car.” He said, talking after the announcement that Stevens would join the team for Le Mans. “It is an absolute pleasure to welcome Will to the team for the LM24 Hours. The team are fully motivated for the race and the presence of Will adds to that motivation.”