Ferrari wins Le Mans for the first time since 1965 with James Calado

General

le Mans Ferrari wins 2023 for the first time since 1965
11 June at 15:08
Last update 11 June at 15:35

Exactly a year ago, there were only plans to compete with a hypercar. Just after four o'clock on this Sunday afternoon, Ferrari with Antonio Giovinazzi, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado could call themselves the winners of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Italians surprised favourite Toyota as well as themselves in one of the most spectacular Le Mans editions of recent years. Inter Europol's team won in LMP2, while the #33 Corvette Racing topped the LM GTE Am category.

While the Toyota with Ryo Harakawa stalled backwards on the track, Ferrari team members continued to stare stoically at the monitors. No smiles, no joy; nothing at all. Probably it was the tension. Or was it pure disbelief? Yes, by the one-two on the grid, Ferrari knew there was a chance of victory. However, a pit stop did not go as desired stalled under Pier Guidi, yet the #51 Ferrari continued to compete at the front, with the only remaining Toyota. The spin of the Harakawa, some two hours before the end of the race, ended all tension.

Ferrari did not need to take any more risks in the closing stages of the race, with the wide lead over the Toyota finally able to move on. For a moment there was still the big scare, when the Ferrari did not seem to get away from the spot at the final pit stop (again). But eventually Pier Guidi still managed to get pace in his red car. Ferrari won for the first time again in the famous 24-hour race since 1965, where was one the drivers was former F1 world champion Jochen Rindt.

A second place Totoya (with Hirakawa, Brendon Hartley and Sebastien Buemi) certainly felt like a disappointment, the third spot on the podium for Cadillac felt a lot better for that team. Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Wetsbrook finished a lap ahead of the second Cadillac, with Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Renger van der Zande. This car, which thus finished fourth, was unlucky to be hit early in the race, causing damage and costly time losses.

Like the second Toyota, Porsche Penske also had a dramatic race. Only sixth was the best Porsche, still behind the second Ferrari. Peugeot, which also made its debut in the WEC with a hypercar this season, seemed to be in contention for the podium spots for a long time with good pace - there was even a brief lead overnight - but the French had to settle for a midfield spot among the hypercars in the end.

Polish success in LMP2

In the LMP2 class, there was Polish success. The Inter Europol Competition team drove for many hours at the head of the field, but still saw its win jeopardised in the absolute closing stages. Indeed, radio contact with Fabio Scherer was no longer possible. The Swiss driver nevertheless came in on time for petrol, and he thus managed to maintain his lead. However, race control informed the team that they were under investigation, among other things because information might have been shared with Scherer via signs in the wrong place (thus informing him to come in). In the end, no punishment followed.

Besides Scherer, Jakub Śmiechowski and Albert Costa drove the car. They finished one place ahead of Robert Kubica (who again just missed out on victory at Le Mans), Rui Andrade and Louis Deletraz of Team WRT. The last spot on the podium also seemed to go to the Belgians. The number 30 car of Duqueine Team finished in P3 driver by Rene Binder (Austria), Neel Jani (Switzerland) and Nico Pino (Chile). They finished on the podium for the first time ever in Le Mans.


Catsburg wins with Corvette

The only Corvette in the GT class, with Nicky Catsburg, Ben Keating and Nicholas Varrone at the wheel, was the big favourite beforehand. This can be a fantastic way for the American Keating to cap off his career in the famous race. Early in the race, the Corvette had major problems, causing the team to drop into the rear. But like no other, Catsburg and co managed to work their way to the front, driving to victory in a controlled manner in the final hours. In this class, ORT by TF finished second, the last spot on the podium was for GR Racing. The team with three female drivers, Iron Dames also had a great race and earlier in the morning, but they eventually missed out on the podium.