LONDON (BBC): Ferrari took a shock victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours 100th anniversary race, with a line-up including Britain’s James Calado.
The 33-year-old was part of a three-driver line-up who beat overwhelming favourites Toyota in a race that saw several car manufacturers return.
Ferrari were competing as a top-level works team for the first time in 50 years. “It’s a great achievement after so long,” said Calado. “This will go down in history,” added Ferrari’s most high-profile British driver since Nigel Mansell in the 1980s.
The number 51 Ferrari crossed the line first with Alessandro Pier Guidi behind the wheel after a stint by former Formula 1 driver Antonio Giovinazzi.
It means, 58 years after their last victory, Ferrari have now taken their 10th top level Le Mans win in one of the most thrilling races for years.
Sportscar racing has seen several manufacturers return to the sport following the introduction of new ‘hypercar’ rules, which allow for a broader design brief than other series, leading to Ferrari, Peugeot, Porsche and Cadillac building very different looking cars. Five years ago, Toyota were the only manufacturer left in the sport, and had been expected to take a sixth-straight victory at Le Mans 2023 following wins at every race in the World Endurance Championship this season thanks to the more refined GR10.
But several early crashes and some heavy rain showers shuffled up the field, and when the race settled down through the night, the Ferrari began to show unexpected consistent speed. After hours of running within seconds of one another, Toyota’s Ryo Hirakawa spun towards the end of the race at Arnage corner, and Ferrari held on.
General Motors’ entry Cadillac finished third with a driver line-up that included Britain’s Richard Westbrook and Alex Lynn.