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June 12, 2023

Ferrari Returns To Le Mans In Style By Winning Over Dominant Toyota

Ferrari ended a 50-year absence from the 24 Hours of Le Mans in style: by toppling mighty Toyota in the centenary running of the most iconic sports car race in the world.

The #51 Ferrari 499P driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, and Antonio Giovinazzi crossed the checkered flag taking the Overall Win as well as first in the new Hypercar Class category.

The other Ferrari, #50 AF Corse 499P, driven by Antonio Fuoco, Miguel Molina, and Nicklas Nielsen finished fifth. It was delayed during the night by repairs that knocked the crew out of contention for the podium, despite an excellent performance that saw them climb several places back up the standings.

Featuring hybrid powertrains, the Hypercar category came from a convergence of rules that allowed both competitors from the United States’ sportscars series, IMSA to compete at Le Mans. It also created an enticing platform that allowed automakers to showcase their road car tech at the race.

The Ferrari 499Ps started from the top two positions on the grid with Hypercar #50 and 51, respectively, thanks to the times posted during the Hyperpole when Fuoco took pole.

Ferrari developed its program—a two-car effort that competes in the World Endurance Championship—over several years in a strategy like what was depicted in the film, “Ford v Ferrari,” the film that focused on the boardroom pressures and drama surrounding Ford’s 1963 successful effort to end Ferrari’s reign at Le Mans.

Only this time it was Ferrari trying to knock down a giant; the two-car Toyota-Gazoo Racing effort, which had entered the twice-round-the-clock race that ended Sunday on a five-year winning streak.

Other entries in the top-tier Hypercar Class included Cadillac, Porsche, Peugeot, Vanwall, and Glickenhaus.

Ferrari in a pair of 499Ps pounced and swept the front row in qualifying and handled every challenge from Toyota. Its chances were aided overnight when Kamui Kobayashi was wrecked out of the race, making it two versus one in favor of Ferrari.

This was the Prancing Horse’s tenth overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to go with those collected in 1949, 1954, 1958, and 1960-1965. Ferrari’s history at Le Mans now comprises 39 victories, including 29 class wins.

With this result in round four of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, Ferrari remains second in the Manufacturers’ standings, narrowing the gap to Toyota to 19 points.

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