This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours will equal the record for the biggest ever, with 60 cars on the grid for the world’s most famous sportscar race. The grid’s capacity has been expanded by four cars for 2016, thanks to new garages being constructed at the end of the pitlane. This matches the 60-car grids that were run in the 1950s – most recently in 1955.
By: Charles Bradley, Editor in Chief
This year’s Le Mans 24 Hours will equal the record for the biggest ever, with 60 cars on the grid for the world’s most famous sportscar race.
The grid’s capacity has been expanded by four cars for 2016, thanks to new garages being constructed at the end of the pitlane.
This matches the 60-car grids that were run in the 1950s – most recently in 1955.
“This is really good news,” said Automobile Club de l’Ouest president Pierre Fillon. “We’ve decided to open all four garages, instead of the two we originally planned [for 2016], so we will have an incredible grid of 60 cars. We’ve not seen that for a long while."
The news was announced at the annual press conference in Paris, which was livestreamed by Motorsport.com.
Overall favourites trim their entries
As previously announced, Porsche and Audi have trimmed their entries from three cars each to two in the top LMP1 hybrid class. Porsche will run the numbers 1 and 2 on its cars this year, in deference to its World Endurance Championship title of last year.
Toyota will continue to run two cars, as usual.
Swiss team Rebellion Racing (two cars) and the Austrian ByKolles Racing Team also field privateer LMP1 entries.
In LMP2, there is a huge 22-car entry, coupled with 14 cars each in LMGTE Pro and Am.
Ford gets all four entries accepted
The other headline news from the announcement was that all four factory Ford GTs have been accepted on to the Le Mans grid, on the 50th anniversary of the manufacturer’s famous victory over Ferrari in 1966. Ford then went on to win the event outright for four consecutive events.
"This is a big deal for Ford, we're dealing with 50 years of heritage," said Ford's Dave Pericak. "It means the world to us."
The two cars that regularly race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will join the pair of WEC contenders, which carries a significant challenge to regulars Porsche (two factory cars plus Dempsey entry), Ferrari (two works cars plus American Risi entry), Chevrolet (two) and Aston Martin (two).
Aston Martin chief David Richards said: "The GT category is always incredibly competitive, I think it's going to be harder-fought than ever before."
Wurz to be Grand Marshal
Recently-retired sportscar ace Alex Wurz is to fulfill the role of grand marshal of the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2016, following on from Tom Kristensen last year.
“I was terribly honoured and I instantly said yes, I simply love Le Mans,” said Wurz. “It has never changed and always remained true to itself. It’s one day of the drivers’ lives racing against each other.”
|1||Porsche Team||Porsche 919 Hybrid|| Timo Bernhard
|2||Porsche Team||Porsche 919 Hybrid|| Romain Dumas
|4||ByKolles Racing||CLM P1/01 - AER||Simon Trummer|
|5||Toyota Racing||Toyota TS 050 Hybrid|| Anthony Davidson
|6||Toyota Racing||Toyota TS 050 Hybrid||
|7||Audi Sport Team Joest||Audi R18 e-tron quattro||
|8||Audi Sport Team Joest||Audi R18 e-tron quattro||
Lucas di Grassi
|12||Rebellion Racing||Rebellion R-One - AER||Nicolas Prost|
|13||Rebellion Racing||Rebellion R-One - AER||Matheo Tuscher|
|22|| SO24 by Lombard Racing
||Ligier JS P2 - Judd||
|23|| Panis Barthez Competition
||Ligier JS P2 - Nissan||
|26||G-Drive Racing||Oreca 05 - Nissan||
|27||SMP Racing||BR01 - Nissan||
|28||Pegasus Racing||Morgan - Nissan||
|30||Extreme Speed Motorsports||Ligier JS P2 - Nissan||
|31||Extreme Speed Motorsports||Ligier JS P2 - Nissan||
|33||Eurasia Motorsport||ORECA 05 - Nissan||
Pu Jun Jin
Nick de Bruijn
|34||Race Performance||ORECA 03R - Judd||
|35||BAXI DC Racing Alpine||Alpine A460 - Nissan||
|36||Signatech Alpine||Alpine A460 - Nissan||
|37||SMP Racing||BR01 - Nissan||
|38||G-Drive Racing||Gibson 015S - Nissan||
Giedo van der Garde
|40||Krohn Racing||Ligier JS P2 - Nissan||Tracy Krohn|
|41||Greaves Motorsport||Ligier JS P2 - Nissan||Memo Rojas|
|42||Strakka Racing||Gibson 015S - Nissan||
|43||RGR Sport by Morand||Ligier JS P2 - Nissan||
|44||Manor||ORECA 05 - Nissan||
|46||Thiriet by TDS Racing||ORECA 05 - Nissan||
|47||KCMG||ORECA 05 - Nissan||Tsugio Matsuda|
|48||Murphy Prototypes||ORECA 03R - Nissan||Greg Murphy|
|49||Michael Shank Racing||Ligier JS P2 - Honda||
|51||AF Corse||Ferrari 488 GTE||
|63||Corvette Racing - GM||Chevrolet Corvette C7R||
|64||Corvette Racing - GM||Chevrolet Corvette C7R||
|66||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Ford GT||Marino Franchitti|
|67||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Ford GT||Olivier Pla|
|68||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Ford GT||Joey Hand|
|69||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Ford GT||Ryan Briscoe|
|71||AF Corse||Ferrari 488 GTE||
|77|| Dempsey Proton Racing
||Porsche 911 RSR||
Richard LietzMichael Christensen
|82||Risi Competizione||Ferrari 488 GTE||
|91|| Porsche Motorsport
||Porsche 911 RSR||
|92|| Porsche Motorsport
||Porsche 911 RSR||
|95||Aston Martin Racing||
Aston Martin Vantage
|97||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin Vantage||
|50||Larbre Competition||Chevrolet Corvette C7R||
|55||AF Corse||Ferrari 458 Italia||Duncan Cameron|
|57||Team AAI||Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1||Jun-San Chen|
|58||Clearwater Racing||Ferrari 458 Italia||Mok Weng Sun|
|59||TDS Racing||Aston Martin Vantage V8||
|60||Formula Racing||Ferrari 458 Italia||
|62||Scuderia Corsa||Ferrari 458 Italia||Bill Sweedler|
|78||KCMG||Porsche 911 RSR||
|83||AF Corse||Ferrari 458 Italia||
|86||Gulf Racing||Porsche 911 RSR||
|88||Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing||Porsche 911 RSR||
Khaled Al Qubaisi
|89||Proton Competition||Porsche 911 RSR||
|98||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin Vantage V8||Paul Dalla Lana|
|99||Aston Martin Racing||Aston Martin Vantage V8||
|84||SRT 41||Morgan - Nissan||
Reserve entries (in order of priority):
|45||LMP2||Greaves Motorsport||Gibson 015S - Nissan||Alex Brundle|
|25||LMP2||Algarve Pro Racing||Ligier JS P2 - Nissan||Michael Munemann|
|76||LMGTE Am||JMW Motorsport||Ferrari 458 Italia||Robert Smith|
|32||LMP2||Courage||BR01 - Nissan||Andreas Wirth|
|29||LMP2||Pegasus Racing||Morgan - Nissan||Ines Tattinger|
|24||LMP2||OAK Racing||Ligier JS P2 - Judd||Jacques Nicolet|
|53||LMGTE Am||Riley Motorsports||SRT Viper GTS-R||Ben Keating|
|21||LMP2||Dragonspeed||ORECA 05 - Nissan||Henrik Hedman|
|87||LMGTE Am||Proton Competition||Porsche 911 RSR||Marco Seefried|
|56||LMGTE Am||Team AAI||Chevrolet Corvette C6-ZR1||Han-Chen Chen|