Ferrari and Porsche play to the crowd on Day 2 of Le Mans Scrutineering

Day 2 of Le Mans Scrutineering at the Place de la République again brought out a large crowd. After the bulk of the Hypercar factory teams visited the city center for technical checks yesterday, just three remained today, with the Porsche, Ferrari and Toyota Hypercar teams headlining the schedule.

Porsche was first through, with the trio of Penske 963s trailed by the No. 99 from Proton, sporting a tweaked FATurbo Express livery for this race that features green accents.

At Penske, the mood within the camp as they passed through Le Pesage stood out. It was the polar opposite to last year, when the team turned up with the dream of celebrating the 75th anniversary of Porsche with a 20th overall Le Mans win, only to struggle all week long with a set of 963s that clearly needed work.


As we know, it’s a different story now. Porsche Penske Motorsport came out swinging after a productive off-season, winning the IMSA and WEC season openers at Daytona and Qatar and showing race-winning speed at a variety of circuits.

Laurens Vanthoor, who drives the WEC championship-leading No. 6 963, agrees confidence is high this year.

“I thought about that a bit this morning,” he told RACER when asked about being one of the favourites for the win heading into the race. “I mean, I remember last year, coming here was a dream come true.

“You know, being in Hypercar, being a Porsche Penske, driving these cars in Le Mans, and now a year on we’re here, leading the championship. And I agree we are one of the favorites indeed, which is pretty cool.

“I told myself, ‘Enjoy it! It might be a week or a weekend which you’ll remember for a long time. So enjoy the moment.’”

Meanwhile, Proton Competition’s new-look 963 is ready for action. The family-run German team is looking to build on its impressive performance at Spa, during which it led a considerable chunk of the race and was in the mix for a podium finish before the red flag.

Harry Tincknell, who is back with the team after being forced to watch the Spa race from afar due to an IMSA clash, said it was fun but hard watching on TV.

“I really wanted to be there!” he admitted. “The team and drivers executed so well and it was amazing to see how far we’ve come. In general, we are preparing for events better now. For instance, we did a session on the Multimatic sim in Detroit before Spa and that was really useful to get us started with a setup. And we’ve done that again for this race.

“We just want to be the underdogs, quietly going about our business. That’s how we will get a good result.”

For Proton the Test Day tomorrow is set to be especially important, as it has not been able to go testing in private this year. It will push to complete as many laps as possible as it has yet to turn a lap with the 963 on the Circuit de la Sarthe.

“We haven’t tested since Qatar, but for us it’s created an underdog spirit,” Tincknell said. “You see online other teams going testing here, there and everywhere and then we rock up and are quick straight away. But on this occasion, we will test with everyone else. We’ve seen what happens when things are stacked against us, so it will be interesting to see what we do on a level playing field.”

Ferrari arrives at Le Mans with three Hypercars for the first time, the No. 83 privately entered 499P adding to the team’s prospects for the race.

Robert Kubica, who shares the No. 83 with Robert Shwartzman and Ye Yifei, is keen to finally claim a breakthrough win at Le Mans on his fourth attempt. Back in 2021, his WRT ORECA retired from the lead on the final lap, then in 2022 and 2023 he finished second.

“Every year this race is very demanding,” he said. “It’s one of the biggest challenges in motorsport. I will try to repeat what I did in the past, with improvements here and there. We know in a field like this we will have to execute the race perfectly to have a chance.”

However, to achieve a dream result, he will have to beat the factory cars from AF Corse — a task that will be far from easy. Both the No. 50 and No. 51 crews carry extra motivation with them to win after a rollercoaster ride of a start to the season.

Alessandro Pier Guidi, who proudly returns to the event as an overall winner, feels it could be a different story this year, with the new “Two Stage” BoP system in play and no tire warmers this time around.

“Statistically, it’s so difficult to win twice in a row,” he said. “It’s nice to come back as a winner but we need to forget what we did and try to repeat last year’s result if we can. I don’t think expect to be as quick as last year, I think Toyota and Porsche will be quick here. After the Test Day we hope it will be easier to understand where we are. We believe it will be a fight between three or more manufacturers.”

Specifically on tire warmers, Pier Guidi and the other Ferrari drivers continue to express safety concerns, a year on from the re-introduction of tire warmers for Le Mans after multiple high-profile incidents at Spa in cool temperatures trackside.

“The only difference (compared to last year) for us is safety,” he told RACER. “I hope the weather is warm because then it won’t be a big issue. But it will be if it is cool or damp. The problem is you have long straights, few corners, not a lot of energy, so it will take a long time to heat the tires, longer than every other circuit.”

On the subject of BoP, while few personalities are keen to discuss anything in-depth on the record (by regulation), in the background there is plenty to discuss ahead of track action.

It seems teams at the top end of the championship standings, like Porsche, are particularly eager to hit the track to see what effect the latest round of Balance of Performance changes, and the addition of the “two-stage” system, have had on their cars.

Opinions are split, though the majority appear to welcome the two-stage BoP process — which regulates power output below and above 250 kph, handing the rule-makers greater control over the top speed of the cars.

In practice, the hope is that at Le Mans it will prove to be another significant tool to help the rule-makers balance the cars on a circuit which features lengthy straights from Tetre Rouge to Mulsanne Corner, from Mulsanne Corner to Indianapolis and from Arnage to the Porsche Curves.

The objective is clear: reduce performance gaps in the field. Will it prove a success? We will have to wait until next weekend to truly find out.

Later in the day, Toyota headed into the city with its GR010 HYBRIDs ahead of its 13th consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours as a top-class contender. All eyes were on Jose Maria Lopez, who has been called up late to replace the injured Mike Conway.

Over at AKKODIS, Lopez’s replacement, Jack Hawksworth, was also present after making a rapid journey to France. But he wasn’t the only LMGT3 driver in a new environment to report on, as IMSA GTP regular Jordan Taylor headed to the square with his new teammates at Spirit of Race ahead of his first Le Mans start in a Ferrari.

“I’ve raced against Ferraris for many years here, and they’ve always been strong competitors so it’s been good to be on the other side,” he told RACER.

“The deal came about because I knew Marco Sorensen and he knew Johnny and Conrad (Laursen), so he reached out to see if I was available (as Kevin Magnussen, the team’s first choice, was not able to take part). Thankfully, I got approval from my team in America.

“The biggest thing was being present for a test in Paul Ricard with the team. It was a really good first chance to get to know everyone and get some mileage in the car. The car is impressive and user-friendly, but there’s a lot to learn with over 40 pages of system information to read.”

With scrutineering wrapped up by mid-afternoon, the next significant item on the schedule included 17 of the cars on the entry and the 1924 winning Bentley 3 Litre Sport completing a road run through the city. The turnout was huge.

Test Day follows on Sunday.

Story originally appeared on Racer