7 Things to Watch at 92nd 24 Hours of Le Mans 2024

24 hours of le mans 2024 previews
7 Things to Watch at 92nd 24 Hours of Le Mans 2024James Moy Photography - Getty Images

"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."

The 92nd 24 Hour of Le Mans is June 15-16 at the famous Circuit de la Sarthe in France.

This year's entry list features 23 cars in Hypercar category, 16 in LMP2 and 23 cars in LMGT3.

Here's what to watch, or maybe even root for, at this year's World Endurance Championship classic:

24 hours of le mans 2024 previews
Porsche Penske Motorsport is trying to give Roger Penske his first win at Le Mans.James Moy Photography - Getty Images

All Eyes on Roger Penske

Can team owner Roger Penske complete an unprecedented triple with victories in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Indy 500 and the Le Mans 24-hour in one season?

Winning at Indy in the month of May, as Team Penske’s driver Josef Newgarden did this year, is always an expectation with “The Captain.” The win at the Rolex in January came 55 years after Penske’s Lola T70 won at Daytona with drivers Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons. But Penske has yet to win at Le Mans.


Entering the second year of the LMDh program, Porsche Penske Motorsport’s three Porsche 963s are certainly among the favorites in the fourth round of the World Endurance Championship. The others expected to be out front at the Sarthe circuit are the two factory Ferrari 499Ps and Toyota’s two GR010 Hybrids.

In a season that opened with the WeatherTech Championship win in Florida followed by a win in the WEC opener in Qatar, the Porsche Penske team and their 963s are much improved from last year’s mid-season disaster in France.

“Judging from the way the WEC season has panned out so far, we’re heading into the highlight event with high expectations and great anticipation,” said Kevin Estre, who set the fastest lap during the Test Day, when the Porsche Penske cars recorded three of the four fastest laps.

This year’s 963 has proved to be more reliable. And the car’s braking has been better and far more consistent.

The reliability has been aided by gathering data from entries on both sides of the Atlantic, including the multiple privateer Porsche 963s. The braking, which includes the regenerative system at the rear wheels, has been improved through the hybrid’s complicated software system and some hardware adjustments.

24 hours of le mans 2024 test day
Ferrari just might find itself on the wrong side of the BOP equation in 2024.James Moy Photography - Getty Images

Second-Stage BOP May Work Against Ferrari

Last year, Ferrari benefitted from a late-stage BOP adjustment that caught its main rival Toyota by surprise. This year, the Prancing Horse’s 499P may be the one that suffers from a rule change broached at the beginning of the season.

A “second stage BOP” will be used for the first time in a WEC race. Above the speed threshold of 155 mph, some teams will get slightly less power and some slightly more with the regulation known as Power Gain. Given how much of the 8.48-mile circuit is traversed at top speed, the regulation is a significant new way of hobbling the fastest cars—or keeping the field closer together.

Ferrari was hit with the largest power reduction of 1.7 percent after the speed threshold is crossed, indicating last year’s victory resulted in no small part from the 499P’s aerodynamic efficiency. Also receiving slightly less power are the Lamborghini SC63 and Peugeot 9x8, the latter designed for Le Mans and low drag.

In the “aerodynamically bulky” category, those receiving slightly more power (about one percent) are the Alpine A424, BMW M Hybrid V-8, Isotta Fraschini Tipo 6 and Toyota GR010 Hybrid.

The Porsche 963 and Cadillac V-Series.R are judged to be OK on the straights and have not received any Power Gain adjustment.

24 hours of le mans 2024 test day
The No. 3 Cadillac Racing entry has plenty of star power behind the wheel with Sebastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon.James Moy Photography - Getty Images

Cadillac Could Be a Spoiler

Despite yet another major crash at Spa requiring a replacement Cadillac V-Series.R to be brought in, the Chip Ganassi Racing team hopes to improve two positions from last year’s third place finish at the Sarthe circuit. So far, the team seems more motivated by the fact it will not continue with Cadillac beyond season’s end.

The consistent pace of the Cadillac was evident in last year’s podium finish and, ironically, at Action Express Racing, whose solo entry will give the brand three cars once again. After an opening lap crash in the rain last year, the Action Express V-Series.R matched the pace of the podium finishers once repaired and never lost another lap.

“The car is responding well on the engine side,” said Sebastien Bourdais, who will co-drive the No. 3 Cadillac Racing entry with Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon. “I feel like we have a better handle on things and the systems in general are a lot smoother and predictable than our first time here last year. We just have to fine-tune some things to be ready.” The Le Mans native will try again to win overall in his hometown race after scoring a class victory with Ganassi in the Ford GT in 2016.

24 hours of le mans 2024 previews
The Iron Dames squad features an all-women trio of drivers in the LMGT3 class.James Moy Photography - Getty Images

LMGT3—Come On In!

After finally relenting to the worldwide conquest of the GT3 category, Le Mans officials this year are welcoming the LMGT3 class to the 24-hour. It replaces the LM GTE Am that required one bronze-rated driver.

It means the race is likely to go to the fastest team and car, not the crew that manages its bronze driver best.

The new class also means that Corvette Racing, which has scored nine class victories at Le Mans, has given way to the customer program at TF Sport that will run the new Corvette Z06 GT3.R.

Nine manufacturers have been admitted to the new WEC category, where the Ford Mustang GT3, McLaren 720S GT3 Evo and Lexus RC F GT3 have joined the entries from the other regular manufacturers—Aston Martin, BMW, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Porsche. Any one of the 23 entries that runs a trouble-free 24-hour race can come out on top.

Our pick? One of the two Porsche 911 GT3 Rs, which have been stellar this year, and are entered by the veteran Manthey factory team.

world endurance championship wec 6 hours of spa
Carl Wattana Bennett, right, is the lone American driver in the Hypercar class at Le Mans this year. Eurasia Sport Images - Getty Images

Vive Les Americains

The expansion brought about by the new LMGT3 category has resulted in an Aston Martin Vantage entry at Le Mans from the Heart of Racing, where British-American Ian James is a principal and driver. The American-based IMSA team added the WEC to its schedule this year.

Other Americans competing include Jordan Taylor, who will co-drive a Ferrari 296 GT3 for Spirit of Race and Colin Braun, who will co-drive with team owner George Kurtz in an Oreca 07-Gibson.

There is only one American driving this year in the Hypercar category in the absence at Porsche Penske Motorsport of Dane Cameron, who was not selected for the No. 5 “IMSA car” to be driven by Felipe Nasr, Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy. The lone American in the class is Carl Wattana Bennett, a 19-year-old Thai-American. Bennett moved into endurance racing last year in the Asian Le Mans Series in LMP2 and will co-drive the Isotta Frashcini.

NTT IndyCar Series driver Alex Palou, who grew up just across the border in nearby Spain, is making his first appearance at Le Mans with Chip Ganassi Racing. “It’s nice to be racing close to home,” he said.

auto may 12 imsa motul course de monterey
Jack Hawksworth is with a Vasser-Sullivan entry at Le Mans.Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

Two Cinderellas

There are a pair of unexpected, last-minute lineup changes this year and both drivers involved have a decent chance of winning.

When Jose Maria Lopez, scheduled to drive in LMGT3 for Toyota, replaced the injured Mike Collins in one of the GR010 Hybrids, the factory brought in Jack Hawksworth from its Vasser Sullivan IMSA team to fill the void. After a sudden call-up shortly before the Test Day, Hawksworth will co-drive his first Le Mans in the Akkodis ASP Team’s Lexus RC F GT3.

Argentinian Lopez, whose nickname is Pechito, or “Little Breast,” had his F1 career aborted when the ill-fated USF1 team folded before it ever produced a car. After three World Touring Car championships, he has also thrived in endurance racing with Toyota, earning two WEC driver titles and winning at Le Mans in 2021.

In his seventh season with Toyota, Lopez was transferred to the Akkodis team to make room for the younger Nyck de Vries, whom he will join, ironically, along with Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 7 entry.

While slotting back into the team was relatively easy for Lopez, it was like parachuting into a new world for Englishman Hawksworth, not surprisingly a lifelong fan of Le Mans.

“Although the track and the event are new,” he said, “I have a lot of experience with the RC F GT3 race car and with other 24-hour races. So, my approach going into the race weekend isn't too different to, say, Daytona. The biggest focus outside of learning the track is nailing the basics and making sure I am on top of things procedurally going into the race itself as the WEC rules vary a lot from the IMSA regulations.”

le mans 24 hour race
Don’t be surprised if the Safety Car comes into play this year.James Moy Photography - Getty Images

The Safety Car Fix Is In

Last year’s experiment with the Safety Cars under full-course caution retains two procedures designed to reduce scoring inequities. But the time-consuming effort to re-start the race with each of the classes grouped together has been dropped.

As has become traditional, three Safety Cars will be deployed at intervals for full-course cautions with the first picking up the over-all race leader. “The merge” will again take place prior to the re-start. Once the two trailing Safety Cars leave the track, all the cars will be allowed to bunch up in the queue behind the race leader and the leading Safety Car.

Before the green is waved, those cars ahead of their respective class leaders will be allowed to “pass around” and rejoin at the end of the queue behind the leading Safety Car. Both procedures help prevent the artificial loss of a lap due to full-course safety periods.

If a team pits, it cannot return to the track before the next Safety Car passes the end of the pit road.