“Le Mans is not just the race itself,” said Milner. “It’s the atmosphere of the circuit. It’s the energy that the fans bring, the energy that the race itself brings, the story of this race. Having fans there will make it a bit more normal. “
Twelve entries withdrew from Le Mans last year due to the pandemic, citing travel restrictions and financial uncertainty. Corvette’s absence was notable as it had planned to launch its C8.R car in the GTE-Pro category. It was the first time since 1999 that the Chevrolet brand had not raced at Le Mans.
“When you watch it on TV you realize how special it is,” Taylor said. “You say to yourself, ‘OK, I really miss this now and I want to be back. This motivates you even more to come back and be competitive. “
This year’s race has 62 cars and will be the start of the Le Mans Hypercar class, which replaces the LMP1s, prototypes of high-performance sports cars. Hypercars are designed to be concepts for future production cars, which makes them more relevant to automakers. The LMP2 prototype class and the two Grand Tourer classes, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am, will also be back at Le Mans.
The Hypercars are expected to be 15 seconds per lap slower than last year’s LMP1 cars due to the heavier weight and lower downforce. But Hartley said his new GR010 car was “made for Le Mans”.
“I expect it to come to life at Le Mans,” said Hartley. “With the long straights we expect to see top speeds similar to what we’ve seen with the LMP1s. But some of the corners that weren’t corners before, maybe they will. We will certainly have our eyes open.
The new Hypercar category is already proving attractive. Peugeot has said it will enter this class from 2022, while Ferrari will enter 2023. A sister class, known as Le Mans Daytona h, has confirmed entries from Porsche, Audi, Acura and BMW from from 2023.