For its rookie participation in the 24 Hours, Team WRT made its mark with two ORECA 07s! After a race contested in tricky weather conditions and in the wake of a completely strange scenario, the Belgian outfit claimed the top step on the LMP2 podium. Robin Frijns, Ferdinand Habsburg and Charles Milesi in the #31 ORECA 07 won the 89th running of Le Mans even though the sister car was on its way to victory up until the last seconds of the race. In the last meters, the trio had to stave off JOTA Sport’s #28 driven by Sean Gelael, Stoffel Vandoorne and Tom Blomqvist. Less than a second separated the two cars after a particularly competitive edition! Panis Racing’s #65 ORECA 07 entrusted to Julien Canal, William Stevens and James Allen rounded out the podium. Team WRT’s win signals the seventh consecutive victory for an ORECA chassis at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Twenty-five prototypes designed by ORECA Technology took the start in the race, and 19 made it to the checkered flag.
After an already successful start in the WEC and ELMS, Team WRT made a strong impression at the race by dominating the LMP2 field nearly from start to finish. A duel between the sister cars kept spectators on the edge of their seats hour after hour, an extended battle that ended 23 hours 59 minutes into the race and shocked everyone watching. As the #41 was mere seconds away from taking first place, the car stopped on the track in the final lap. The Belgian team was practically in tears, as much for its win with the #31 (first participation, ORECA 07) as it was for the cruel twist of fate befallen the #41.
In the wake of a perfect start at the Circuit de la Sarthe for pole-sitter JOTA Sport’s #38 ORECA 07, the car left the track at the Dunlop chicane, dashing all hopes of a win and finishing in ninth place. The #28 sister car, at one time in the lead, had to work hard to compensate for two penalties. The trio Tom Blomqvist, Sean Gelael and Stoffel Vandoorne reached the second step on the podium after a suspense-filled race end and only trailing the winners by 727 thousandths of a second!
A recent first-time winner in the ELMS and on the podium last year, Panis Racing claimed the third spot in the class. A longstanding front runner, the French team was rewarded with a third place finish for drivers William Stevens, James Allen and Julien Canal. The latter clocked the fastest in-race lap in 3:31.096 in the LMP2 class.
With three ORECA 07s fielded and after a flawless 2020 season, United Autosports was a top contender in LMP2. However, several incidents disrupted the team’s chances of victory: an accident for the #32 on Saturday night at the Dunlop chicane, and a mechanical problem for the #22 that finished 18th in the class. Despite a serious collision, the #23 ended up in fourth place.
Thanks to a solid performance, InterEuropol finished fifth ahead of G-Drive Racing, a team that was playing to win before being delayed by an incident. Unfortunately, certain teams were not rewarded for their efforts: the #1 of Richard Mille Racing’s all-female crew, the #82 of Risi Competizione and the #24 of PR1 Mathiasen.
In Pro/Am, DragonSpeed took control of the class on Sunday around noon as RealTeam Racing’s Norman Nato, Loic Duval and Esteban Garcia were firmly in the lead. In the end, RealTeam Racing finished in the third spot behind Racing Team Nederland who had also been at the helm for awhile. High Class Racing’s #49 ORECA 07 and SO24-DIROB by Graff’s #39 completed the top 5.
A partner in Association SRT41’s Innovative Car project led by Frédéric Sausset and supported by Graff Racing, ORECA was proud to see the #84 cross the finish line in 32nd place overall. The line-up composed of two drivers with reduced mobility, Takuma Aoki and Nigel Bailly, as well as Matthieu Lahaye, gave a remarkable showing.
Le Mans is always an unforgiving and unpredictable race. The 2021 edition proved it once again with plenty of twists and surprises. For its rookie participation, Team WRT was impressive. The situation was unbelievable for the #31 and incredibly cruel for the #41. There are no words. The joy felt by Ferdinand, Robin and Charles is as strong as the disappointment felt by Louis, Yifei and Robert who themselves did a fantastic race. With as many ORECA 07s at the start, to win was a must. To see a maximum of our cars at the finish was also a goal. We can always do better and that is what pushes us to improve and make progress. Bravo to the winners, and to JOTA Sport and Panis Racing for outstanding battles that continue this exciting season. Hugues de Chaunac, President of the ORECA Group
Alpine Elf Matmut
For its return to the top class, Alpine Elf Matmut did not make it easy for its rivals in the Hypercar class. The “Bleus” avoided the pitfalls of a challenging race and reached the podium for the fourth consecutive time this season.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing
With the operational support provided by ORECA, Toyota became the first manufacturer to win the new Hypercar class at Le Mans. After holding the lead from start to finish, the Japanese marque secured a third one-two finish with the #8 in second place one lap behind its #7 sister car.