2020 Le Mans 24 hours ready to go

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

After so much passion and perseverance from the event and Championship organisers to maintain the spectacle that is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, tonight we finally arrive at the eve of the 88th Edition of the event in what can only be described as the most bizarre but unfortunately necessary set of circumstances.

Having been forced to move from its usual mid-June date through to September because of the national and indeed global ramifications of the ongoing COVID-19 situation there have been times in the preceding weeks where the event has looked distinctly fragile and vulnerable. Constant meetings with national bodies with mitigating actions being put forward by both the ACO and the FIA eventually saw it eventually sadly necessary for the paying public to be excluded from the event in order to keep the event alive and that is where we find ourselves tonight.

With all the teams, technical partners, limited media and all the required circuit safety workers now in position at the circuit, all eyes will now look forward to tomorrows first track action of what is for some the penultimate round of the World Endurance Championship with a grid this year of just 59 cars spread across the usual four classes.

Amongst those we of course have the four full WEC season Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE cars competing in both GTE Pro and GTE Am– three factory supported efforts and one from AMR Partner team TF Sport.

The only car not to be affected by recent changes or additions is the #90 TF Sport car of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Jonny Adam who are presently the best placed AMR crew within the GTE Am Drivers Championship in second place, two places and seventeen and a half points ahead of the #98 AMR GTE Am car of Paul Dalla Lana, Ross Gunn and ‘new boy’ Augusto Farfus. 

For TF Sport and their Amateur driver Yoluc, this is his third visit to the circuit whilst Dalla Lana and his various supporting drivers over the years have been there many more times before sometimes at positions in the race from where the Canadian businessman could have virtually tasted the Champagne of success. This will be the first time that both Am crews have competed at the circuit in their 2019 turbo charged V8 Vantage GTE.

Farfus joined the #98 crew in lieu of Darren Turner just ahead of the last WEC round from Spa Francorchamps where the #98 car had something of a nightmare round whilst the #90 crew picked up a class P3 podium. They will compete at Le Mans alongside twenty other GTE Am entries.

Over in GTE Pro, the two AMR factory cars feature within a class entry of just eight cars as the two full season AMR, Porsche and Ferrari factory cars are joined by two more 488 Evo’s from the USA.

On the back of a decent round at Spa Francorchamps for the two Pro Astons with a podium apiece for the #95 crew of Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen in P2 and the #97 car of Maxime Martin and Alex Lynn to lie first in the GTE Pro Drivers Championship for the Dane Train and P4 in the Championship for the Anglo-Belgium duo, the additional points allocated at Le Mans will make or break the Championship hopes for any GTE crew going into the final round in Bahrain later this year.

The two AMR Pro cars will also have two additional drivers brought into the squad for this weekend’s twenty four hour – each from the now defunct Ford GT programme that shook GTE racing onto its head with its design and capability of their car meaning that the #95 crew will be joined by Richard Westbrook whilst the #97 crew will have Harry Tincknell in their midst.

With there being no viewing public around any of the 8.5 mile public road/private race track circuit things will be very different this year watching from the TV. The race organisers have promised something different this year to keep all of us engaged and enthralled in what will always be a great race. 

The best way to keep connected with the action at the Circuit de La Sarthe is surely via the FIA WEC App (small charge necessary there) as well as media sites such as http://www.dailysportscar.com and http://www.radiolemans.co. In the now much reduced programme format, Thursday will see three Free Practice plus a Qualifying Practice session before Fridays fourth Free Practice before the events new Hyperpole  after lunch. The race itself will start slightly;y earlier than usual at 14:30hrs local.

Unfortunately the day job will keep us away from the screen for much of the time but we do wish everyone a great but safe 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Photo credits – TF Sport / Aston Martin Racing / WEC

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