Brits rev up for Le Mans

Wednesday 12 June 2024

This weekend Jenson Button, Callum Illott  and Paul di Resta will be among those hoping to add their names to the unrivalled roster of British success in the world’s most famous and prestigious endurance race: the epic Le Mans 24 Hours.  

When it comes to winning the Gallic twice-around-the-clock classic, the UK has racked up a record 34 victors followed by France with 28 and then Germany with 18. The first was Frank Clement who, along with Canadian John Duff, gave Bentley its debut victory exactly a century ago in 1924. Sportscar legend Derek Bell MBE is the most successful British driver with five wins to his name at the celebrated Circuit de la Sarthe. 

The most recent British victor of the blue-riband event is James Calado who gave Ferrari AF Corse a famous – and popular – win in last summer’s sold-out centenary edition of the spectacular day-night-day showdown.  

Calado was one of a triumvirate of British winners on the original 2024 entry list. He is back with the Prancing Horse and 2015 victor Nick Tandy lines up for Porsche Penske Motorsport. Mike Conway was due to return with Toyota Gazoo Racing but a cycling accident has sidelined the 2021 winner. 

With no fewer than 23 Hypercars representing nine different marques set to take the 4pm local time (3pm BST) rolling start on Saturday afternoon, the battle for top honours is going to be fiercely fought and final victory will be hard-earned.  

Button and Illott are part of an ambitious Hertz Team JOTA two-pronged privateer Porsche attack while di Resta will be hoping he can give home favourite Peugeot its first triumph since 2009.  

Other British contenders in the rejuvenated top class are Alex Lynn (Cadillac Racing), Harry Tincknell (Porton Competition/Porsche), Jack Aitkin (Action Express Racing/Cadillac) as well as Phil Hanson and Will Stevens who are two more members of Hertz Team JOTA driving force.    

British representation is also strong in both LMP2 and LMGT3 classes – in total there are 25 UK drivers on the vastly-oversubscribed 2024 entry list. 

UK viewers can follow all the action live on Eurosport which will be providing comprehensive coverage of all four Free Practice sessions, Qualifying, Hyperpole, Warm-up and the race itself from 2pm BST on Saturday afternoon.  

With so much thrilling competition in all three categories – plus the gruelling nature of racing flat-out for 24 hours – drama is absolutely guaranteed! Who knows, by Sunday afternoon we could have a 35th different British winner. Whatever the ultimate result, one thing is certain: all the winners will be extraordinarily deserving of their honours.