11 standout drives from the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours

11 standout drives from the 2024 Le Mans 24 Hours


When you have over 180 drivers to choose from, all on track at different times throughout the 24 hours, trying to spot the actual top performers can be a difficult task.

But that's exactly what we tried to do here at The Race, as we sifted through laptops from the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans to pick out the drivers they admired most.

Considering how difficult the conditions were at various points – so bad overnight that the safety car period lasted for four straight hours – standards were excellent from the majority of drivers. However, some of them were strikingly impressive.

Hypercar

Brendon Hartley

Were you surprised to see a driver from a car ranked fifth at the top of this list?

Hartley may have made a mistake in qualifying due to a spin, but he was the backbone of the No. 8 Toyota crew's effort to win Le Mans – an attempt that was thwarted by contact with Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 51 Ferrari while Hartley was driving. .

In the first six hours of the race, Hartley set the fastest average lap time of any Hypercar driver – taken from his 36-lap sample set – and was there again in the gap between heavy rain showers in the early hours of Sunday morning. He completed the 12 laps in wetter conditions again in the final two hours of the race before handing over to Sébastien Buemi.

Yes, Hartley had a good scrub of the greens in the fresh air while shaping the ground, but he was solid throughout.

Niklas Nielsen

Nielsen was remarkable for the way he calmly handled the door open, the compensatory strategy that left him – completing an improbable last-ditch task to get the Ferrari to the checkered flag first without needing a late splash – and a dash visit to the pits.

He was also incredibly composed when he conquered the wettest sections of the wet dry track, particularly in the Porsche Curves, early in the evening as he battled for the lead and carried the No. 50 Ferrari into contention.

But it was in those final stages where his mettle was truly tested. Even with Jose Maria Lopez faster in the Toyota and adopting a more appropriate strategy, it was Nielsen who managed the situation better.

His team-mates, Miguel Molina and Antonio Fuoco, also deserve credit – although Fuoco was crucial in overtaking the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari (which eventually retired) and the No. 5 Porsche when it was important to gain track position before that. Delivery to Nielsen. That was an important basis for Ferrari's victory.

Vanthor dries up

The #315 BMW's race may have only lasted just over a quarter of a quarter of an hour, but Vanthoor was going strong in the M Hybrid V8 until his race was abruptly ended by Kubica's clumsy move on the night (which was the difference between him appearing on this list and not doing so ).

Before that, Vanthoor was making up for lost time after Marco Wittmann went out in the early stages in a BMW that was clearly fast but had looked on the edge all week.

His average speed was second only to Hartley during his time in the car in the first six hours – having spent more of his time in traffic as well – and although he was just trying to drag the car back into the top 10 at that point, Given the long safety car running at night, who knows if it will lift the BMW back into contention.

And that's not to mention the incredible effort he put in to achieve the fastest speed ever in the first qualifying session, although there was a blot on Vanthoor's record when he crashed in Hyperpole qualifying. However, Vanthoor was the BMW drivers' choice on its return to the top category at Le Mans.

Jose Maria Lopez

Yes, Lopez has plenty of experience with Toyota prototypes including the current GR010 hybrid.

But it should not be underestimated how difficult a task he faced when he was called up at short notice to replace the injured Mike Conway. Not only in adapting to the GT3 Lexus he previously raced in the World Endurance Championship this season, but also in making up for the gap in Toyota's testing and development knowledge process throughout the year. This is in addition to the psychological hurdle of returning to the stable from which he was dropped (in favor of Nyck de Vries) for 2024.

However, Lopez's professionalism was never in doubt, and while his pace was steady in the early stages, he was at his best until the final stint, where he was on par with Hartley at average pace (over a much longer period when the track was generally more… humidity) and was well behind its sister No. 8 Toyota once Buemi took over and the race-winning Ferrari he was trying to catch.

The spin in the final hour was unfortunate, but the power issue and Toyota's admission with half an hour to go were bigger factors in Lopez's challenge being run out.

Alex Lin and Alex Ballou

Given that its Chip Ganassi Racing-run cars were second and third fastest in qualifying, Cadillac might consider its seventh-place finish as a bit disappointing.

But as conditions are often unpredictable at Le Mans, this was a wetter edition than usual and this discrepancy was a limiting factor for the rear-drive, Dallara-chassis V-Series.R compared to the all-wheel drive Le Mans car. Hypercars.

Lynn was exceptionally fast in qualifying – almost clinching pole with an improbable final sector, even if a five-place drop penalty meant the No. 2 car was never destined to start from pole – and was among the fastest on track as his time In the race, the car finished during the last two hours.

Meanwhile, Balu had an exceptional debut. His performance was already impressive given his lack of practical testing, but in the race he was much more consistent over the long run – and the second-fastest lap of the race was testament to how successful he was. It was the increasing intensity of the rain in the final stages that halted outside hopes of another Cadillac podium at Le Mans.

LMP2

Oliver Jarvis and Nolan Siegel

A real mix of experience and youth here, with United Autosports victorious in a five-car battle for the LMP2 title.

United paired Jarvis with Le Mans rookies Siegel and Bijoy Garg, and he repaid it handsomely with his best drive at Le Mans – repeating the accolades he first took with Jackie Chan DC Racing in 2017 (having driven outright for much of that edition). .

What was initially a stealth drive became a proper challenge for victory with exceptional performance in the toughest race conditions, Jarvis also setting the fastest lap in class on his way to victory.

Siegel – who has been in the news since Le Mans and now that McLaren has appointed him to fill its third IndyCar seat in place of Theo Bourchier – was also impressively quick before handing off to Jarvis.

At that point in the race, Siegel (who received an evening penalty for contact) was second fastest in the LMP2 class.

Ben Barnicoat

Barnicoat never reached the heights of his early exploits in single-seater racing, but he was a very reliable performer in any class he entered and rarely failed to impress.

It was the same again in this, his fourth appearance at Le Mans, where he drove AF Corse's Pro-Am LMP2 entry alongside François Perroudeau and Nicolas Faraone.

Barnicoat even put the car in contention for a potential outright win in class – it was in the lead, and in some control, within three-quarter lengths before the team became conservative in its strategy in order to maintain its Pro-Am advantage (with reliability also a concern).

The 27-year-old has been increasingly talked about as a supercar client – possibly with Toyota – and with performance like this it's no wonder.

Clement Novalac

On his debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, there was an argument that the recent Formula 2 convert Novalac was the star of the LMP2 division.

In a fierce battle for top honours, Novalac almost gave Inter Europol back-to-back wins at Le Mans, with particularly strong pace in the final hours – as he overtook Patrick Pilet for the lead while also starring alongside Job van. Uitert shined in the race scrap.

GT3

Richard Litz

The GT3 class was all-new at Le Mans for 2024. Well, this shift from the GTE may not be the biggest neverbut it still required experience and for the Manthey Porsche team its long association with Lietz was a great calling card to have.

The #92 car started lower in class but made light work of cycling to the front and, despite some fluctuations with the eventual second-placed WRT BMW, took control once Lietz passed Sean Gelael.

Much of the gap it eventually built was down to Lietz, who was second-fastest GT3 runner on average in the final two hours behind only Joel Sturm in the sister car Manthey, and was also a great mentor to co-drivers Yasser Shaheen and Maurice Schuring. , with whom he also won at Spa in May.

It was the fifth win in as many GT-spec machines at Le Mans since his debut in 2007 (the version he won) for Lietz.



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