Red front row. The return, after half a century, of Ferrari to the 24 Hours of Le Mans is pyrotechnic. Antonio Fuoco wins pole position, ahead of his teammate Alessandro Pier Guidi. There is another dream for Maranello. Which has a better chance of coming true than winning the Formula 1 World Championship this year. 16 years after Kimi Raikkonen’s last victory in 2007. How can anything compare to the Prancing Horse’s ultimate formula? , the fastest single- seater on the planet and the most champions? Hamilton and Verstappen, to be clear, the unborn masters of the wheel in all generations.
Tomorrow, afternoon, the 24 Hours of Le Mans begins, a race that in recent days in our country has not had a proper stage because none of our racing cars were at the start. But the world is global and this is not the case at all latitudes. The 24 Hours has never lost its charm and the Americans and Easterners have always come to try to grab the coveted Trophy from the European hosts who have almost always been champions. A kind of reverse America’s Cup which, however, takes place every year in the days close to the solstice, when the night is light and the hours of light are many and still not too hot. But it wasn’t always like that.
This year Le Mans celebrates its first century of history and in the first forty years the Italian engines were the main protagonists, winning, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari, no less than 13 editions. when the famous Tazio Nuvolari was leading the red army. Then, after the war, with Ferrari that circled 6 jewels in a row, from ’60 to ’65, bringing the total to 9. At that time the light went out in the models. First there was a big challenge lost by Ford. Thus, at the birth of the Porsche phenomenon (19 victories in total, the first in 1970), the Ferrari engineer himself said enough to focus efforts on F1 where Niki Lauda’s epic was about to blossom.
It was 1973, exactly half a century away discontinued this year for the century edition. For the occasion, Maranello is using two 499Ps that started this season, but seem to be in good condition. The decision to retrace his steps was taken by president Elkann when he was also the managing director and he was passionately married to CEO Benedetto Vigna. The race seems to be in its final stages, not only with the return of the Race Horse, but also with the modern Porsche and Peugeot, as well as the expansion of General Motors who were no longer satisfied with plundering GTs and the legend of the Corvette. The guys from Detroit tomorrow will try to attack with three prototypes of the Cadillac V-Serie.R.
Stuttgart, for its part, responds with four 963s, three of whom are Team Penske officials who also field cars in the US IMSA championship. There is a lot of excitement these days because it won’t stop here and other developers are revealing their plans. In 2024 it will be the turn of BMW which trains in IMSA and Alpine (Renault group) which will reveal its right model in La Sarthe. Furthermore, the starting line-up will expand with Lamborghini and Milanese Isotta Fraschini who will join Vanwall already this year (one car) and Glickenhaus (two crews). The 24 Hours can now boast a field of 8 official constructors in 2024, a share that would make F1 jealous.
The manufacturer to beat, however, is Toyota who is the reigning queen, having ruled the past five editions after trying to win for at least twenty years without success. The Japanese are organizing a close and well-tested team and will be able to count on the GR010 hybrid Hypercar which has already shown all its value and, above all, reliability. Except for the Nagoya beast, all the other models are in their first season and cars like Ferrari and Peugeot have never competed in the 24-hour race. since they emerged.
Ferrari proved to be the fastest with 2 cars in the lead, followed by two Toyotas, then a Porsche, two Cadillacs and another Porsche. In any case, the first six cars are only 7/10 on a lap of around 3 and a half minutes at an average speed of 240 km/h (13.6 km). It is true that Ferrari has returned after 50 years with a monster for overall victory, but the AF Corse team that, together with Maranello, manages the track operations has an impressive experience after always participating, and often winning in recent years, for better production- derived GTs. The best-known driver in the Italian team is Antonio Giovinazzi, the current reserve driver for Prancing Horse in F1 after a two-season run with Alfa Romeo.
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