Ferrari returns to Le Mans, confirms 'Hypercar' development

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Words: Zane Shackleton
25 Feb 2021

Ferrari will have the chance to pursue its first 24 Hours of Le Mans overall victory in over half a century, with the Italian powerhouse confirming today they will develop a Le Mans Hypercar for the World Endurance Championship.

It means Ferrari now joins the ranks of Toyota and Peugeot in designing an LM Hypercar. Meanwhile, Audi and Porsche are currently developing their LMDh prototypes, which will be eligible to race in a unified Le Mans Hyperclass.

A factory Ferrari prototype hasn’t been seen in endurance racing since 1973, while the last Ferrari-badged privateer prototype took to Le Mans in 1999.

Since the turn of the century, Ferrari has devoted its efforts to racing in the GT Le Mans class, claiming three Le Mans wins during that period.

Ferrari has not said how introducing a factory LMH program will affect its existing GT racing operations.

Ferrari president John Elkann said: “In over 70 years of racing, we have brought our cars with covered wheels to triumph on tracks all over the world, experimenting with cutting-edge technological solutions: innovations that come from the circuits and make every road car produced in Maranello.

“With the new Le Mans Hypercar program, Ferrari relaunches its sporting commitment and confirms its will to be a protagonist in the world motorsport championships of excellence.”

Ferrari has been seeking a path back into the top-flight tier of sportscar racing for nearly three years.

The manufacturer was a part of the initial roundtable discussion back in 2018 that led to the introduction of LMh. They also supported the launch of the LMP2-based LMDh category. However, they expressed no interest in designing a car for the class.

Ferrari’s timing to enter LMh coincides with Formula 1’s budget cap regulation, drastically decreasing the series’ costs. The available funds thus gave Ferrari an incentive to pursue a return to prototype racing.

Competing in WEC will also give Ferrari a platform to develop hybrid and sustainable energy powertrain technology.

“The news that Ferrari is set to join the new Hypercar category is simply amazing,” said WEC’s new CEO Frederic Lequien.

“What’s even more incredible is that Ferrari will join at least five other manufacturers to compete in the WEC’s top-tier category from 2023 – the scene is set for an unforgettable period in endurance racing history.

“We are delighted that our new regulations have attracted so many prestigious automotive brands.”

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