Saturday 62 cars across 5 classes will fire up their engines and begin 24 arduous hours of racing at Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. The 13.6 kilometer, 8.5 mile track will be lapped over 350 times by the front-runners, challenging the drivers and mechanics to keep their cars running as fast as possible while avoiding costly mechanical failures or on-track incidents.


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This will be the first time the Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) class takes to Le Mans. The Hypercars are the new top-tier cars at Le Mans, taking the place of the LMP1 class. The new Hypercars will reduce the budget of the teams by about 80% versus the LMP1s, and are expected to still be faster than the still-active LMP2 class cars by a few seconds per lap.

The weather for the event is expected to be mainly calm. Dry weather is in the forecast for most of the race, with high temperatures during the day in the mid-to-high 20's. There is a chance of a thunderstorm on Saturday evening. The race will begin at 16:00 local time. Sunset in Le Mans, France comes at roughly 21:00 on Saturday, with the sun rising again at 07:00 on Sunday.

Ex-Formula 1 drivers Robert Kubica and Kevin Magnussen are among the many high profile drivers at this year's event, with each of them making their Le Mans debut this year. Recent Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya will be on the grid this year in the #21 DragonSpeed USA Oreca 07-Gibson LMP2 car. At 45, JP seems ageless, but his age of 45 years pales in comparison to Dominique Bastien, who will drive a Porsche 911 RSR-19 for Dempsey-Proton Racing at 75 years old.

Other familiar names include last year's overall winners Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima. Their reigning champion car, the #8 TS050, will be replaced by the Toyota GR010 Hybrid in the Hypercar class. Testing this week has shown Glickenhaus' Hypercar to have a pace advantage, but Toyota will be relying on the experience of both drivers and mechanics from previous Le Mans wins to gain an advantage over the long timeline of the race.

A special car to watch for in this race is the #84 Association SRT41. The car is a special class entry this year, featuring drivers with disabilities including quadruple amputee Frédéric Sausset. The team will take to the track in an Oreca 07-Gibson, and it's safe to say that this will immediately become a fan-favourite team.

In the GTE cars, the Pro category has seen promising results from the Porsche entries in practice runs. The Chevrolet C8.R makes its Le Mans debut this year, and expectations are high based on strong results in the 24 Hours of Daytona race at the start of this year. In the Am category, familiar names from the sim racing world like David Perel and Nicki Thiim. F1 test driver Callum Ilott will also be on track in the #80 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo GTE Am car.

2021 24 Hours of Le Mans Hypercars.jpg

Introducing the Le Mans Hypercar​

The 2021 24 event will be the debut of the Hypercar at Le Mans. Below are some interesting facts and specifications of the cars.

For the first time at Le Mans, the Hypercar class will compete as the top-tier car category at the legendary endurance event. Five teams are set to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on August 21st and 22nd.

The outgoing LMP1 class had reigned as the fastest endurance race cars in the world in recent years, but they have now been replaced by the Le Mans Hypercar, or LMH class. So far only Toyota Gazoo Racing and Glickenhaus Racing have answered the call to field a new Hypercar at Le Mans, with these teams competing in the Toyota GR010 Hybrid and the Glickenhaus 007 LMH, respectively. Alpine Elf Malmut is also competing in the Hypercar class, though their Alpine A480-Gibson is a repurposed prototype from previous years.

The Le Mans Hypercar regulations include a power output limit of 500 kilowatts or 670 horsepower, and a minimum weight of 1,030 kilograms or 2,270 pounds. The lap times for Hypercars are expected to be in the 3:30.000 range at Le Mans, or roughly 10 seconds slower than the outgoing LMP1 class cars. The costs associated with the Hypercars is estimated to be 80% less than LMP1 cars.

The current field of 5 cars should be expanded significantly next season, as Peugeot and ByKolles are expected to enter Hypercars, with Ferrari joining the field possibly as early as 2023.

The #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing team of Sébastien Buemi, Brendon Hartley and Kazuki Nakajima, which claimed the overall win in last year's 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be taking to the track again the the #8 car, though this year in the GR010 Hybrid instead of the retired TS050 Hybrid.

When is the Le Mans 24 Hours?​

Wednesday 18 August
Qualifying | 18:00 BST / 19:00 CEST / 20:00 EEST

Thursday 19 August
Hyperpole | 20:00 BST / 21:00 CEST / 22:00 EEST

Saturday 21 August
Race | 15:00 BST / 16:00 CEST / 17:00 EEST

Free-to-Watch Le Mans Movies.jpg

Free-to-Watch Le Mans Movies​

In the days leading up to the most prestigious endurance race in the world, there are free movies about Le Mans you can watch to help you get hyped for the race.

If you're not already excited for the 89th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, we've linked to some videos below to help build the anticipation. Note that not all of these videos will be available in all regions worldwide, and some may be age restricted.

"Le Mans"
Steve McQueen stars in this 1971 film, considered by many fans of endurance racing to be the greatest film ever made about the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The roar of the classic endurance cars, now 50 years old, is enough to make any racing fan happy. You'll need to sit through commercials with this recording, as it was recorded from SpeedVision in the early 2000's. Watch "Le Mans" here

"Journey to Le Mans"
Sir Patrick Stewart narrates this documentary which follows the Jota Sport team as they attempt to put their car through a grueling endurance racing season and onto the grid of the 2014 Le Mans race. Watch "Journey to Le Mans" here

"2019 Le Mans 24h Onboard with Fernando Alonso"
In this video we're given a virtual ride-along with Formula 1 and Le Mans champion Fernando Alonso in his #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 during his night sting in 2019. Alonso, along with teammates Sébastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima would go on to win this race. Watch the "2019 Le Mans 24h Onboard with Fernando Alonso" here

Watch the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans livestream​

When you are not among the many fans that spectate the biggest endurance race of the world live from the track you can stay in your seat behind your PC, Tablet or Mobile phone and enjoy the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2021 from the comfort of your own home as RaceDepartment will embed various live streams from various teams and cars.

The race is aired exclusively in Europe on Eurosport television and make sure to support the amazing FIA WEC series by purchasing the FIA WEC app for a few bucks.

Continue reading​

During the course of this week you'll find links for car and driver lists, results, livestream links, related movies, and more information on the 89th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the next pages of this article.

Be sure to let us know in the comments below what you think of the race, your favorite teams and drivers and of course feel free to contribute to the longest chat of the year.
About author
Mike Smith
I have been obsessed with sim racing and racing games since the 1980's. My first taste of live auto racing was in 1988, and I couldn't get enough ever since. Lead writer for RaceDepartment, and owner of SimRacing604 and its YouTube channel. Favourite sims include Assetto Corsa Competizione, Assetto Corsa, rFactor 2, Automobilista 2, DiRT Rally 2 - On Twitter as @simracing604

Comments

Mike Smith
Staff
The Hypercar / LMP2 battle is going to be interesting. The laptimes are so close in FP1
 
Slapped
Premium
If the practice times are something to go on it really doesn't look like there's a much of a performance difference between the Hypercars and LMP2 with the fastest LMP2 being only 0.13 seconds off the fastest Hypercar.

Looking forward to watching this over the weekend.
 
Bram Hengeveld
Staff
Premium
Curious to hear from our fellow community members which teams and drivers they are supporting and why :)
 
Curious to hear from our fellow community members which teams and drivers they are supporting and why :)
Kevin Estre bc, Kevin Estre :)
Porsche because I love driving them and they made a nice documentary about themselves and I like a lot of their drivers.
United Autosport because I like Zak Brown
I feel I am supposed to root for the all women cars since I am a woman, but while I am thrilled more women are on grids, I mostly feel kinda meh about it.
K Mags and his dad because obviously

I root for too many teams and drivers actually so I will stop and let others chime in
 
Slapped
Premium
Curious to hear from our fellow community members which teams and drivers they are supporting and why :)
I really don't go into Le Mans supporting any particular teams or drivers - There's too many and they change around. It's not like F1, BTCC, or DTM where you can really single out a single team or driver.

If you were to put me on the spot and force me, then it would have to be any team driving a Porsche.
 
The two races I look forward to all year long are Le Mans and the Indy 500. Can't wait for this year's Le Mans!
 
Well, I know whose team won't be popular in this community, Jim.
That may be a reminder for me to visit the motorsports section here more frequent, since I have no idea (?).

Started watching the race in mid 80ies and have missed a handfull through the years, I think.

Haven't thought about if I'm rooting for specific teams in these now, I just absorb/inhale the race as a whole, enjoying so much action that happens during the 24 hours. However, can't wait for watching Glickenhaus, walking the walk. And the father-son LMP2 car. And The Woman Wagon. And...no, everything!

In fact last year's edition was my record speaking most hours watched on live broadcast, 19 of 24 hours and by the checkered flag I was ready for more :D Unfortunately, it will be a max. of 4-5 hours in total for me this year.
 
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Always look forward to the le mans 24 just to hear all the quality commentating especially John Hindhaugh and Martin Havers. Thoroughly enjoy seeing how long i can stay awake watching!
had a reprieve this year for the nurburgring 24 when it was red flagged until 7 allowing me to sleep without missing any racing.

Usually like to see the indycar boys coming over but gateways this weekend so no Dixon Bourdais or Pagenaud unfortunately.

For me Le mans is a chance to support more than just 1 driver or team with so many legends and regulars about, Would like to see Kevin Estre having a stab at an overall win maybe have to wait for a porsche hypercar for that.
Seeing as theres only 5 hypercars maybe Ant Davidson could take a win for lmp2 overall!
 
Roy Magnes
Premium
So, first evening of driving at Le Mans 2021. The qualifying-session was not shown on TV here at all, and right now when the night-practise is running, they were scheduled to show that. But I guess that yesterdays tennis is a lot more important to show in a full replay than watching any of the build up for Le Mans at all :devilish: :devilish:
 
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