Here’s another great article from motorsports enthusiast Rubens Junior, from his website ‘The Classic Machines‘. The post explores the depth of emotion behind Ferrari’s win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

On Jun 11, 2023, at 4 PM (local time), the Ferrari Hipercar #51 driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi receives the checkered flag, winning the 100th anniversary edition of the most iconic auto race on the planet, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This achievement  also marks the Ferrari’s first overall victory in the Circuit de la Sarthe since 1965.

A total of 325.000 fans from all over the world showed up for the party. The two Ferraris qualified P1 and P2 for the start but at the opening lap it was clear that the mighty Toyota came to what would be their 6th consecutive victory at this legendary circuit. The Toyota drivers went so eager to take the lead that it seamed more like it was the last lap instead of the first.

You might remember the quote from the movie Ford vs Ferrari: “It always rain in Le Mans”, and this year wasn’t different. Heavy rain in the Porsche curves caused chaos before night fall. The picture above shows the moment when a  Glickenhaus Hypercar stopped a spin, just in time to avoid being smashed by a GTE-Am Ferrari.

The all female race team Iron Dames brought their pink-liveried #85 Porsche (picture above) to a brilliant 4th place in the GTE class. Despite the good result, the team was deeply frustrated for missing the podium by one position, after fighting so hard through out the 24 hours race.

The two time Oscar nominated actor Michael Fassbender had a rather disappointing debut at Le Mans in 2022, when he crashed his car. Unfortunately, in 2023 it happened again, Michael run over some debris from earlier crashes at the infamous Porsche Courves, when he lost control of his GTE Porsche and crashed against the barrier (picture above). He was able to drive the car back to the pits but the damage was beyond repair.

The weekend was pretty awful for Porsche in general, with too many cars involved in accidents. Their best results was the Porsche Penske Motorsport #5, finishing the race in 9th overall.

Ferrrari had to share the spotlight with General Motors, which had an amazing  performance this year. Cadillac scored 3th and 4th place overall and the factory sponsored Corvette Racing won the GTE class. GM will be shutting down the GTE team at the end of this season so, winning at Le Mans was the perfect farewell.

Another memorable GM car was the Garage 56 NASCAR Chevy Camaro, racing in class of it own, called Experimental. The team qualified 3 secs faster than the fastest GTE car and the drivers delivered a solid performance through out the 24 hours race.

After 20 hours of racing, the Camaro was going strong at 27th overall, leaving behind all the GTE cars. But nine minutes later, the former F1 world champion Jenson Button had to pull over at the pits with a major mechanical issue. The Hendrick Motorsport team spent one hour and 21 minutes  replacing the gearbox. After that, the only goal was to finish the race, which they did superbly,  receiving the checkered flag in 39th overall.

The LMP2 class also had a historical moment. The #34 Inter Europol ORECA finished the race in P1, scoring the first-ever Le Mans win for a Polish team. (picture above)

During the 24 hours of racing, the leading position was occupied by a few different cars, but the race will be remembered by the battle between Ferrari and Toyota. As usual, the fighting was loaded with drama.

At end of the eighth hour, race leader Pier Guidi spun his #51 Ferrari into the gravel at the first Mulsanne chicane, beaching his car as two cars clashed right in front of him. Guidi told reporters he thought everything was lost but the marshals did an awesome job lifting the Ferrari with a crane and putting him back on the track.

Moments later Kamui Kobayashi brought his #7 Toyota to a near complete stop, avoiding two crashed cars in front of him, just to be abruptly  rear ended by Louis Prette’s GTE Ferrari. Unfortunately that was the end of race for Kamui.

The drama followed Guidi to end, testing the limits of ability and composure of the team. In two different occasions, the #51 Ferrari failed to restart during the pit stops. Thankfully the Italian driver had a good lead over the P2 Toyota, allowing enough time for the technicians to bring the engine back to life.

Not having Ferrari at the Sports Prototype competition for all those years just felt wrong, and I can not lie that I am thrilled to see them back. I was watching the onboard footage from the #51 car; Guidi was going on a parade lap, right after the checkered flag and when I saw the #50 Ferrari joining it, I just couldn’t hold the tears.

Congratulazioni alla squadra Ferrari.

About the Author: Rubens Junior is a car guy who decided to write about his passion. Like many gearheads around the world, he grew up surrounded by cars and motorcycles, going to car shows and races. Check out his website ‘The Classic Machines‘ for automotive content with an international perspective.

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