LeMans names 55 teams invited for '07 race
The Selection Committee has met and we now know the names of the 55 teams invited to take part in the official 2007 test day on 3rd June 2007, that begins the build-up to the 75th Le Mans 24 Hours on 16th-17th June. A detailed examination of the list (PDF file) shows that we should see an awesome battle among the elite in the endurance world in all categories.
Thanks to the work carried out to extend the pits, an extra 5 teams will be invited to the 24-hours test day to make up a grid that has not had as many starters since the 1989 event.
The first irrefutable proof of the success of the 24 Hours is the fact that the Selection Committee had to study 76 entry forms. Thus, it takes little imagination to comprehend the disappointment of those who are not along the 55 teams accepted. “The choice is never easy and this year all the entry forms we received were perfect,” underlined Daniel Poissenot, the ACO’s sporting director. “This allowed the committee to concentrate on the main criteria laid down in the regulations concerning choice: in particular, the entry of the teams for the 2007 Le Mans Series and of course the quality of their results during the previous season in the different Le Mans Series.”
The first and most striking feature is the multiplicity of makes of chassis and engines as well as the variety of nationalities among the teams (a total of 13 for 41 entrants). The second most striking observation is that prototypes represent over half the field (28 out of 55) with a marked preponderance in the top category LM P1 (16) just at the very moment when certain observers feared a decline in numbers.
In LM P1, numerology enthusiasts will not be surprised to see the Audi Diesel R10 victorious in 2006 bearing the number 1, the one that has won the race on the most occasions (8) while the other two works Audi Diesels will have numbers 2 and 3. The new Peugeot 908 Diesels, determined to take the battle to the cars from Ingolstadt, have been attributed the numbers 7 and 8 (the latter was the winning number on the Audi in 2006).
The petrol-engined cars led by the 3 Pescarolos, numbers 16 and 17 for the Pescarolo Sport team and no.18 for the Rollcentre Racing entry, will also put up fierce resistance to the diesels. Backing them up will be the two works Courage LC70-AERs from Yves Courage’s stable. In 2007, the local constructor is celebrating his 25th year as an entrant and numbers 12 & 13, his favorites also add up to 25!
In this the top endurance category the very quick Creation Autosportif Ltd Creation-Judd and the Zytek entered by Arena International Motorsport plus Racing for Holland’s brand-new Dome-Judd S 101 and the Swiss Spirit team’s Lola B07-10 in which is installed the V8 Audi engine that powered the R8 to victory in 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004 and 2005, cannot be discounted either.
In LM P2, there is one notable absentee, WR, which has decided to give the 2007 race a miss – after celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2006 - to return in 2008 with a technical solution that is as original as it is ecological.
Barazi Epsilon is back this year in force with a pair of new Zytek 07S/2s. This category, in which Lola and Courage have traditionally reigned supreme, will be the theatre of another no-holds-barred scrap in 2007 thanks to a wide variety of chassis including the Rollcentre Racing Radical, the T2M Motorsport Dome, plucky Pierre Bruneau’s Pilbeam and the Kruse Motorsport Pescarolo-Judd.
14 cars will contest the LM GT1 category with Aston Martin back in force (with the famous 007 and 009) to wrest victory from the works Corvette C6.Rs and Luc Alphand Aventures private C6.R and C5-R. The JLOC ISAO Noritake’s Lamborghini Murcielago and above all the two Saleens entered by Team Oreca could be dark horses in a category that has provided so many last-minute surprises in the past. Suspense guaranteed!
In LM GT2, there are 13 entries and for the first time in years Porsche does not have its usual numerical superiority. This honour falls to Ferrari with a total of five F430 GTs compared to four Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs (type 997). Making up the rest of the GT2 field are two Panoz Esperantes for last year’s winner LNT and two Spyker C8 spyders with closed bodywork. Another great battle looks on the cards in this category, which now has outstanding diversity. It forced the Selection Committee to make some very painful choices: 13 entries in all, 8 of which already enjoyed official invitations for a total of 30 demands!
Finally, there will be 8 reserves (1 GT1 and 7 GT2s) which can still hope to take part in the test day and the race if, from now until 25th May, between one and eight teams withdraw no matter what category they are entered in.
Start at 15h00
Because of the second round of the French legislative elections the start will be brought forward from 16h00 to 15h00. This is not a first as since 1923 the Le Mans 24 Hours has started at this particular time on 6 occasions, usually due to national elections. The last time in 1996 was not for this reason, but because of the timetable of the European Football Championship.
In the future the start time of 15h00 could become the rule to harmonise the timetable of the 2 major 24-Hour events (cars and bikes), and also to make things easier for the media as well as improving travelling conditions for the hundreds of thousands of spectators come to see a new page in the Le Mans legend being written.