With thanks to the scalpel-sharp mind of Alex Harrison – @WECData on Twitter – Here’s a selection of interesting stats ad comparisons for the teams and drivers taking place in the weekend’s event.
Winners Virtual Return
Six outright Le Mans winners are participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, spanning seven of the eight runnings in the WEC era – Lotterer (2012/14), Tandy (2015), Jani (2016), Hartley (2017), Alonso and Buemi (2018/19).
Team WRT Back In LMP2
Though primarily a successful GT sportscar team, having won 24 Hour races at Spa in 2011 and 2014, and the Nurburgring in 2015, Team WRT has once ran a LMP car before.
That came at the 2016 ELMS 4 Hours of Spa in a Ligier JS P2, driven by the Vanthoor brothers, alongside Will Stevens. Two of them are participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual – Dries with E-Team WRT, and Stevens with Jota Team Redline
AF Corse’s Antonio Giovinazzi is no stranger to endurance racing, having made one ELMS start, and two WEC appearances in 2016.
The Italian’s best result was 2nd in LMP2 at the 6 Hours of Shanghai, for Extreme Speed Motorsports alongside Tom Blomqvist and Sean Gelael.
Le Mans GTE Pro Winners Reunited
The 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual will see a reunion for GTE Pro winners Turner and Adam, who last raced La Sarthe together in 2017, taking THAT epic victory for Aston Martin Racing.
R8G eSports Team are one of two French outfits in GTE running the Corvette C7.R, echoing Larbre Competition’s numerous Corvette starts of the past. Though not on the entry list, team owner and current Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean has raced at Le Mans, back in 2010, in a Ford GT.
Second Gen Deletraz
F2’s Louis Deletraz is lining up in the #1 Rebellion Williams Esport car, a Le Mans debut for the Swiss ahead of jumping in Rebellion’s R13 at La Sarthe later this year, alongside Nathanael Berthon and two-time winner Romain Dumas.
Louis’s father Jean-Denis Deletraz was a two-time class winner at Le Mans in LMP675 in 2001 and 2002 (ROC Reynard Volkswagen – below) finishing 5th overall in 2001)
Job van Uitert will make his United Autosport’s debut in the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, having made a first appearance at Le Mans with G-Drive Racing in 2019. The Dutchman will run the #22, with 2020 ELMS teammate Alex Brundle, Filipe Albuquerque, and Tom Gamble.
Antonio Felix da Costa and Felix Rosenqvist reunite at Jota having raced for the team last at the 2018 24 Hours of Daytona (though in different cars!) The pair have three Le Mans starts between them, da Costa at the last two with BMW Team MTEK, whilst Rosenqvist drove for DragonSpeed back in 2017.
Also part of the Daytona Jota crew in 2018 was Ferdinand Habsburg, the Austrian royal and 2020 DTM driver forming part of Mahle Racing Team’s #67 effort, Daniel Juncadella, of the #80 R8G eSports Team, and the aforementioned Brundle.
Just The Two Of Us
Just two of the 50 cars contain full-season WEC crews, the #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing trio of Conway, Kobayashi & Lopez, and the #36 Signatech Alpine Elf of Laurent, Negrao & Ragues. The #7 trio have finished runners up at each of the last two 24 Hours of Le Mans, whilst Signatech’s lineup recorded their only podium of 2019/20 at the 4 Hours of Silverstone, with 2nd in LMP2.
Le Mans Winners Galore
21 drivers on the entry list have scored an outright or class win at Le Mans before, with multiple winners from all four WEC classes represented.
No crew on the entry list own more Le Mans winners trophies than that of the #64 Corvette Racing squad. Pro’s Tommy Milner and Jan Magnussen have claimed six GTS, GT1 or GTE Pro wins between them.
Porsche Prime Movers
Looking at outright wins, the four Le Mans victories shared by Porsche eSports Team’s Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016) is more than any other crew. The pair will go up against former WEC teammate Nick Tandy, in the #93 Porsche, with whom a 20th-hour retirement from the lead in 2017 cost the trio a likely win.
17 of the 50 cars, or 34%, contain one or more Le Mans class winners, 8 in LMP, and 9 in GTE.
The split of Pro’s to Sim drivers is 115-85, with 13 entries featuring 3 or more Pro drivers.
Rookie Test Pays Off!
Isa bin Abdulla Al-Khalifa flies the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual flag for the Gulf States, as the lone Bahraini driver on the entry list. Al-Khalifa made a WEC appearance at the 2019/20 Rookie Test in December, turning laps in Jackie Chan DC Racing’s Oreca 07. He will compete against them this time out, as part of the 2 Seas Motorsport lineup that will contest British GT and GT World Challenge campaigns in 2020 with McLaren 720S GT3s.
22 Try To Catch A Le Mans Win
22 drivers who have scored a WEC race win, but not a Le Mans win, are participating – Senna, Conway, Kobayashi, Lopez, Priaulx, Albuquerque, Brundle, Vergne, Aubry, da Costa, ten Voorde, Borga, van der Garde, Nielsen, Castellacci, Cairoli, Molina, Beche, Pera, Pilet, Lynn and Eastwood.
24 At The Virtual 24
24 is the number of current or former F1 drivers who are participating. The drivers represent 14 different nations on four continents and have scored a combined 90 Formula One World Championship wins. Senna, JPM (7), Kobayashi, Buemi, Hartley, Panis (1), Piquet Jr, Papis, Alonso (32), Barrichello (11), Vandoorne, Verstappen (8), Norris, Button (15), Vergne, Gasly, Stevens, van der Garde, Leclerc (2), Giovinazzi, Fisichella (3), Massa (11), Magnussen and Lotterer. Just six of the 24 have never started the Le Mans 24 Hours in reality (Leclerc, Mass, Gasly, Norris, Giovinazzi and Verstappen). Verstappen’s father Jos though is another ex F1 man that has raced and won (in the LMP2 class) at Le Mans – He also raced for Aston Martin in LMP1.
WEC Winners Galore!
In total, 44 of the 115 pro drivers have claimed a WEC class win once or more. Between them, those 44 individuals own 198 winning trophies.
Richard Mille Racing Team make their first international appearance this weekend, ahead of their 2020 ELMS campaign. With a primarily American endurance background, Katherine Legge faces up against familiar names such as Team Penske and Corvette Racing. Tatiana Calderon, who raced the 2020 24 Hours of Daytona alongside Legge, will face LMP competition from former GP3 rivals Tveter, Aubry and Fenestraz. Germany’s Sophia Florsch will race against Habsburg, having previously competed at the 2019 Macau F3. The trio are aided by Australian sim racer Emily Jones.
Plenty Of Podium Sitters
Between all of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual entrants, they have combined for a total of 72 podium places at Le Mans since 2012. Exactly one quarter of the 288 available over that eight-race span. The most in one year, 14, would occur in both 2017 and 2018.
Porsche’s #91 crew includes Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani – the German and Swiss drivers have started from pole position three times at Le Mans in the WEC era, Lotterer with Audi in 2012, with Jani’s Porsche heading the fields in 2015 and 2016.
A number of former Le Mans teammates have turned rivals for the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, having either won or raced at La Sarthe together in years gone by – including Menezes and Lapierre (Signatech), Bradley and Lapierre (KCMG), Buemi and Alonso (Toyota), Pagenaud and Panis (Peugeot), Stevens and Vanthoor (JMW), Taylor and Magnussen (Corvette), Beche and Piquet Jr (Rebellion), Vergne and van Uitert (G-Drive), Thiim and Turner (Aston Martin)
The United Kingdom is the most represented nationality on the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual grid, with 30 drivers participating, ahead of France’s 28.
Of the eight 24 Hours of Le Mans ran since 2012, British drivers have been the most represented on two occasions, in 2016 and 2017.
Just over half of the 2019/20 WEC race winners are present on the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual grid – with 18 of the 35 victors after the five rounds participating. It consists of eight LMP1 winners, five from LMP2, one from GTE Pro and four from GTE Am.
21 drivers on the entry list have won an ELMS race in its current 4-hour format, scoring a combined 54 wins between them. The list includes Albuquerque, who sits atop the field on 7 wins, van Uitert, a winner in both LMP classes, plus six Le Mans class winners.
All four reigning Le Mans winners are present at the 24 Hours of Le Mans Virtual, Toyota and Signatech in LMP, both winners in each of the past two years, whilst AF Corse and Project1 represent Ferrari and Porsche respectively in GTE.
The number 52 last appeared at Le Mans in 2018, with AF Corse. Alfa Romeo Racing’s Giovinazzi made his debut, and finished 5th in GTE Pro with Pipo Derani and Toni Vilander.
Multiple other big endurance race winners are present on the entry list, WRT’s Vanthoor and Van der Linde won the 2019 Suzuka 10 Hours together. Marciello and Vautier also appear in LMP, winners of the same event in 2018. Alonso, J. Taylor and Kobayashi are all present, winners of the 2019 24 Hours of Daytona.
Whilst the likes of R. Taylor, Lynn, Lapierre and Panis have won outright at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Recent winners of Petit Le Mans appear also, in the form of Tandy, Pilet, Jani and Hartley, whilst fellow Porsche alumni Campbell won the 2019 12 Hours of Bathurst.
Six x 07
Six. The total number of Oreca 07’s which have won in the WEC wearing different digits. Most recently the #22 (United Autosport), as well as numbers #31 (Rebellion/DragonSpeed), #36 (Signatech), #37/38 (Jackie Chan DC Racing/Jota) and #42 (Cool Racing).