The 60-car entry list for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans was revealed today (9 February) at the Rétromobile Show in Paris, before an expectant audience of drivers, team bosses and journalists. The 86th running of the French endurance classic will once again make history as two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso makes his maiden Le Mans appearance at the wheel of a Toyota TS050 Hybrid. This is also the first time that a competitor who already holds two F1 world titles will make his Le Mans debut while still actively competing in F1.
At the next Le Mans 24 Hours, all eyes are bound to be on Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard made clear his ambition to race at Le Mans several years ago, so this is something of a dream come true – as it is for the fans, already excited at the prospect of watching the single-seater champion steer an LMP1 prototype around the 13.626 km of the iconic circuit. Alonso will be competing in endurance racing’s top class at the wheel of the #8 Toyota TS050 Hybrid, partnered by Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. The Japanese constructor, the only works team in the class, will have two cars on the grid in its latest bid for Le Mans glory.
The updated LMP1 regulations have prompted five privateer outfits to take up the challenge against Toyota, meaning there will be a total ten LMP1s on the grid on 16 June, four more than in 2017. The ACO and FIA have clearly made the right choices with their new LMP1 strategy which has drawn entries from Rebellion Racing, Bykolles Racing, CEFC TRSM Racing, Dragon Speed and SMP Racing. The class will also feature some high-profile drivers such as André Lotterer and Thomas Laurent, the whiz kid who has risen through the endurance racing ranks marked out by the ACO.
Everything points to a David-and-Goliath type scenario in this class but, as we all know, at Le Mans anything can happen.