Of the 62 cars on the entry list for the 2021 Le Mans 24, only ten of them are entered with the backing of a major automotive manufacturer. There will be Two Toyotas and one Rebellion rebadged as an Alpine in the LMH class (despite the Alpine being a grandfathered-in LMP1). In the GTE Pro class, there’s a pair of Porsches, a pair of Corvettes, and a pair of Ferraris. There’s still one lone factory-entered Aston Martin in GTE Am. Privately entered cars make up a full 52 cars, or around 85 percent!
The LMH category is supposed to be reserved for manufacturers building cars to the new regulations, but is allowing old-spec LMP1s to compete on a technicality because the class didn’t turn out the dozens of entries the series expected. It’s obviously Toyota’s race to lose, but Glickenhaus will be there to pick up the pieces if it all falls apart. I don’t expect Alpine to do any better with the Rebellion R13 than Rebellion did.
LMP2 is a massive class this year, the largest class in the race, with 25 entries. The class is, by design, limited to privateer entries. Teams in this class have overwhelmingly chosen to run Oreca chassis in recent years, and that’s no different in 2021. Of the 25 entries, 21 of them are Oreca O7 chassis with spec Gibson V8 power.
GTE Pro was once home to as many as seventeen factory-backed cars at Le Mans in its heyday of two years ago. With Ford, BMW, and Aston Martin pulling out of the race, and Porsche reducing its entry from four cars to two, the class is down to just seven cars in 2021. One extra privateer entry from the WeatherTech Racing Porsche team rounds out an entry with two Corvettes, two Porsches, and two quasi-factory AF Corse Ferraris.
The GTE Am class is explicitly for privateer teams, though Aston Martin has largely ignored that gentlemen’s agreement for years. Allegedly non-professional driver Paul Dalla Lana has been racing under the Aston banner for a few years now, and despite the team leaving GTE Pro for 2021, he’s managed to coax them to run a GTE Am car again this year. The rest of the GTE Am grid is made up of non-factory teams. Another big class with 24 entries!
Then, of course, for the first time since 2016, there is a Garage 56 entry for innovative cars! Like last time, the Association SRT42 will be back running an entry for drivers with physical impairments. Frederic Sausset, a quad-amputee, raced at Le Mans in 2016 in a specially adapted LMP2 chassis. In the time since that run, Sausset has set up an academy for other drivers with physical impairments. Presumably the full team of racers will be filled out with graduates of said academy. Hell yeah! Don’t let anything slow you down.
Much like the 2020 Le Mans, the 2021 running is going to be about battles between privateers and gentleman drivers. It’s going to be an interesting one!