FIA Le Mans 24 Hours 2023 – Ferrari 499P LMH takes victory
Following an exciting battle with Toyota and its GR010 Hybrid, Ferrari took victory at the centenary of the Le Mans 24 Hours
Ferrari came out on top at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and just a few weeks on, it's done the same at the centenary of the Le Mans 24 Hours, winning the 2023 event with its #51 499P hypercar. Held as the flagship event for the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 2023 event marked 100 years since it first ran in 1923, making it the oldest active endurance race in the world. Over 60 cars participated in this year's event, with US basketball star LeBron James waving the starting flag on Saturday June 10.
Qualifying and Hyperpole saw Ferrari put on an impressive show with its 499P, finishing in first and second place. Not far behind was the #8 Toyota in third, with Porsche, Toyota and Cadillac in fourth, fifth and sixth. Having made its debut last year, the exciting new Le Mans Hypercar class (LMh) sat at the top of the grid, with this a Le Mans Daytona Hybrid (LMDh) debut bringing total top-class entrants to 16. LMGTE Pro was axed for 2023 with the LMGTE Am category larger than ever with 21 cars, joined by 24 in the existing LMP2 class. As featured in evo issue 309, there was also the experimental Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, driven by Jenson Button, Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.
After numerous incidents caused primarily by a series of localised downpours, Peugeot's 9X8 hypercar held first place for the majority of the evening, with an early morning incident setting the fledgling team back. Ferrari's #51 499P hypercar then returned to the lead, battling with Toyota to secure first position overall. The Italian marque's #50 car achieved P5, with Toyota in second and the #2 and #3 Cadillac in third and fourth.
History and location
The Le Mans 24h endurance race was first run 100 years ago in 1923, making it the oldest running active endurance race in the world. While the specific Circuit de la Sarthe has evolved over the years, its basic location near the French town of Le Mans, just north of the Loire Valley, has always been fixed.
The track is based on both public roads and some dedicated racing tarmac. Its most iconic feature is the Mulsanne straight, which at 3.7 miles long, was the longest on any track until two chicanes were added in 1990 to comply with a new rule introduced that limited straight lengths to 1.2 miles.
Race week: practice, qualifying, hyperpole and the race
A total of four practice sessions were held during the week, with qualifying held on Wednesday (June 7) and the Hyperpole race on Thursday (June 8), before the flag dropped for the 24 hour race on Saturday (June 10). Full timings in British Summer Time are as below:
Wednesday June 7
- Free Practice 1: 1300 - 1400
- Qualifying: 1800 - 1900
- Free Practice 2: 2100 - 2300
Thursday June 8
- Free Practice 3: 1400 - 1700
- Hyperpole: 1900 - 1930
- Free Practice 4: 2100 - 2200
Saturday June 10
- Warm up: 1100 - 1115
- RACE START: 1500
Sunday June 11
- RACE END: 1500
What is the Hyperpole?
The Hyperpole is a qualifying runoff driven by the six highest qualifying cars in each class. It was introduced in 2020, and is a chance for all the contenders to run at full pace over a shorter distance, in the end defining the final starting grid.
Le Mans 24 Hours 2023 contenders
There are three categories of car that compete at Le Mans today, with the newest and most controversial being the Le Mans Hypercar class. Initially designed to attract more OEM manufacturers to the sport after the spiralling costs associated with the LMP1 class became a barrier, it had a stunted start due to various factors before finally being introduced in the 2022 season.
Le Mans Daytona Hybrid entrants will also sit alongside them for 2023, with the likes of the Porsche 963 and Cadillac V-Series.R making an appearance. Peugeot and Ferrari are also competing in the top-flight Le Mans Hypercar class this year, with Vanwall and Toyota making a return.
Below this is a continuation of the previous LMP2 class, which is designed largely for privateer teams. As such, the cars run one of four control chassis, with a single power unit shared across all entries. Below this sits the GTE Am class, featuring the likes of the Porsche 911 RSR, Ferrari 488 GTE EVO and Chevrolet Corvette C8.R – GTE Pro has now been axed.
With the top Hypercar class now more exciting than ever, the Centenary edition of the Le Mans 24 Hours was a strong one.
How to watch the Le Mans 24h
Unlike the N24, there’s no free live-stream on which to watch the Le Mans 24h online. Eurosport has the rights to the live coverage, and broadcasts all the practice sessions, qualifying, hyperpole and the race itself on the Eurosport app and website.