24 Hours of Le Mans

European and US Outfits Set For LMGTE Battle at Le Mans

3 Mins read
Old rivalries are renewed for Le Mans in the GTE ranks (Credit: Rolex/Jad Sherif)

With 28 prototypes and 28 GT cars the 56 car field for the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans is split evenly between the two forms of machinery that make up the entry list for the 82nd running of the race (June 14-15).

Just as in 2013 the LMGTE Pro class will be both a clash of manufacturers and a clash of continents.

In AF Corse, Porsche Team Manthey and Aston Martin Racing Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin each have a pair of cars in the class for the full season of the FIA World Endurance Championship, with RAM Racing adding a privateer Ferrari to the WEC mix.

The European contingent in the class grows still more for Le Mans, AMR adding a third car to their commitment in the class, the #89 led by Bruno Senna joining the #97 and #99 entries led by Darren Turner and Stefan Mucke respectively.

While those three manufacturers will face each other for the full season it is their battle against the American teams of Corvette Racing and SRT Motorsports that lends the class at Le Mans an additional interest. Having been largely second best to their Europe based rivals in 2013 both of the US outfits will be out to avenge themselves this season, coming to Le Mans from the GT Le Mans class of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship class.

Corvette Racing’s presence in the race will make the 24 Hours of Le Mans the European race debut of the new for 2014 C7-R which broke cover in testing for January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. The SRT Vipers showed well in the opening hours of the Daytona opener to the TUDOR Championship before problems knocked them from the relentless pace at the head of the class.

Though the Am part of the LMGTE class is a battle ground between teams running Porsche, Aston Martin and Ferrari there is still a high profile American presence in the LMGTE Am class. The US based 8Star Motorsports outfit helmed by Venezuelan Enzo Potolicchio return to Le Mans as class champions in the WEC with their Ferrari 458 Italia. Actor Patrick Dempsey’s eponymous team renews its union with Proton Competition for Dempsey himself to line up at Le Mans for a third time. The Dempsey-Proton places a fourth Porsche in the class alongside the full season WEC entries from Proton and Prospeed Competition and IMSA Performance Matmut, Raymond Narac’s team also capable of adding a fifth 911 to the grid as their second car (with Narac himself as lead driver) third in the reserve list queue for the GTE classes.

From the four teams committed to the full WEC season the number of Ferraris in the class doubles for Le Mans. AF Corse’s involvement in the class itself doubles from two to four. SMP Racing add a 458 to join their pair of Oreca-Nissan in the LMP2 class, the French Team Sofrev ASP outfit are set for their Le Mans debut, their driving line-up to be led by French GT champion (and former French national and Manchester United goalkeeper) Fabien Barthez.

More Ferraris lie in wait at the head of the five reserve entries. The lone privateer in the LMGTE Pro class last year JMW Motorsport take the sensible drop into the Am ranks George Richardson to lead what would be the only Dunlop shod GT car in the race. A Matteo Malucelli led Ferrari from Japanese Team Taisan is the second name on the list. Risi Competizione, looking for a return to Le Mans, are the final name on the entry list, and the only LMGTE Pro team of the five back-ups for the race.

The final parts in the puzzle of the LMGTE Am class are the four Aston Martin Vantages. The works team add a third car – with Kiwi Richie Stanaway named as lead driver as the entry lists were announced – to their stable, the AMR army running six cars at Le Mans. Furthermore, having won their invite from the Asian Le Mans Series Hong Kong based Craft Racing will make their Le Mans debut with another Vantage and Frank Yu leading the team to France.

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James is our Diet-Coke fuelled writer and has been with TCF pretty much since day 1, he can be found frequenting twitter at @_JBroomhead
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