The 82nd running of the Le Mans 24 Hours sees legendary manufacturer Porsche return to the top-tier LMP1 class to challenge frontrunners Audi and Toyota, where drivers will race through the night for 24 hours non-stop.
With the race set to get underway at 2pm GMT (3pm local time) on Saturday 14 June, drivers will team up in threes to compete for the most prestigious race on the motor sport calendar. Last year’s winner return in the No 1 Audi, with record nine-time victor Tom Kristensen returning to defend the crown he helped win last season.
Kristensen’s long-time team-mate Allan McNich has called it day after announcing his retirement at the end of last season, so Brazilian driver Lucas Di Grassi steps up to replace the Scot. Loic Duval, part of last season’s winning line-up, was due to feature once again but a massive accident in practice on Wednesday saw the Frenchman ruled out of the race on medical grounds, though he miraculously escaped any serious injury. Test driver Marc Gene has been drafted in as a replacement.
The sister No 2 car features former winners Marcel Fassler, Benoit Treluyer and Andre Lotterer, while the No 3 Audi will have Filipe Albuquerque, Marco Bonanomi and Oliver Jarvis.
It was the No 7 Toyota though that secured pole position on Thursday night as ex-Formula One driver Kazuki Nakajima recorded the fastest lap of the three sessions, with Alexander Wurz and Stephane Sarrazin set to partner the Japanese driver. Their team-mates Anthony Davidson, Nicolas Lapierre and Sebastian Buemi will head off from the second row in the No 8 Toyota.
Undoubtedly, Porsche’s return to the LMP1 class steals the headlines along with the announcement that Mark Webber will drive for the marquee, back at the scene of where he famously flipped his Mercedes in 1999. Webber will partner Brendon Hartley and Timo Bernhard, but it’s their colleagues Romain Dumas, Neel Jani and Marc Lieb who will start alongside the Toyota on the front of the pack.
The Ligier of Thiriet by TDS Racing featuring Pierre Thiriet, Ludovic Badey and Tristan Gommendy will head of the LMP2 class, while the AF Corse Ferrari of Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella qualified fastest in the GT-Pro class. Impressively, the GT-Am AF Corse Ferrari of Stephen Wyatt, Michele Rugolo and Sam Bird starts right behind them in 29th.
When does the race start? 2pm GMT, Saturday 14 June
When does the race finish? 2pm GMT, Sunday 15 June
TV: Live on British Eurosport and British Eurosport 2 throughout the entire 24 hours.