Despite it still being more than a month until the closing date entry submissions, it’s already clear that there are only very few spots left for the 2023 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That is of course depending on all the new Hypercar competitors being ready to compete, when we get to June.
But if we look at the entry list for the FIA World Endurance Championship, which was announced last week, as the basis, we might end up with less than a dozen of available spots, when the entry closes on 21 February at 12.00 CET.
We already know that there are 13 cars, which are full-season entries for the Hypercar season. JOTA #38 and Proton Competition #99 won’t get their Porsche 963 cars delivered until currently expected April. But that is still well in advance of Le Mans. The question is, if Floyd Vanvall Racing Team #4 will have their car homologated for the season. The car has already been testing, but still waits for the final approval by the ACO and the FIA – but the ACO must see that as quite an easy task, since they have included them on the full-season entry list for the FIA WEC.
There is a rule in Hypercar, that every manufacturer are allowed to apply for an additional entry for the 24 hours race. It is however up to the committee to accept or decline those applications. There is just a total of 62 entries allowed, so that is a hard limit.
In addition to the 13 Hypercars, we already know that the Action Express Racing team from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has been invited to the race, since IMSA has a ticket for each of the categories, for their 2022 competitors. AXR competes in IMSA with a new Cadillac LMDh, so we know at least two cars will be present from the American brand. But Cadillac Racing, run by Chip Ganassi Racing, will apply for an extra car, in addition to the car they already have running in the full FIA WEC season.
Floyd Vanvall Racing Team has also said, that they want to enter a second car at Le Mans, just as Porsche Penske Motorsport is expected to bring one of their IMSA entries to Le Mans. Last but not least, there is a second entry from Glickenhaus Racing, just like we have seen in the part two years at Circuit de la Sarthe.
That leaves only Toyota Gazoo Racing, Ferrari AF Corse and Peugeot TotalEnergies with their FIA WEC entries only. There has been no talks from them yet, to run an extra car – but they have just over a month to go, to apply for that.
That will bring the expected Hypercar entry to 18 cars.
There are 11 LMP2 cars entered in the FIA WEC. In addition to them, there is an extra entry pending for Prema Racing, who won the European Le Mans Series 2022 in LMP2. The team has however already doubled their FIA WEC effort for this year, since they will run two cars instead of a single entry. Panis Racing has also received an entry, by finishing second in the 2022 ELMS standings. COOL Racing won the LMP3 category in ELMS 2022, so that gives them an entry to the French classic. IMSA has handed their LMP2 ticket out to the Jim Trueman award winner of 2022, and that has been won by Tower Motorsport.
Last but not least, there will be two LMP2 tickets handed out for the Championship winning LMP2 and LMP3 teams respective in the Asian Le Mans Series.
That will make it 17 cars in LMP2.
The GTE Am category consists of 14 full-season entries in the FIA WEC. We already know that GMB Motorsport with their Aston Martin Vantage will be present at Le Mans, thanks to their 2022 Michelin Le Mans Cup Championship win in GT3.
Proton Competition Porsche has won an extra entry, thanks to their ELMS GTE title, while Kessel Racing Ferrari and Iron Lynx have an additional entry, since they finished second and third in the 2022 ELMS GTE Championship.
There is a single spot for the Asian Le Mans Series Champion in the GT3 category.
Last but not least, there is an entry to Wright Motorsports, who won the spot thanks to claiming the Bob Akin Award from GTD in IMSA 2022.
That will bring that GTE total up to 20 cars.
Hendrick Motorsports will bring a modified NASCAR to the 2023 edition of the great race, as the so called Garage 56 entry. That is reserved for cars that doesn’t fit into any other category, since the car specifications don’t fit the existing categories, or have something other unique compared to the other competitors. We have seen the Nissan Deltawing competing in the past, just as the SRT41 with their specially equipped LMP2 car, for paralyzed drivers.
They will bring a single car.
If you add all these entries together, you will get to a total of 56 cars – with 62 spots available.
It is however not certain, that only 6 spots for the 44 remaining Asian LMS and expected 40 ELMS are available. Even if you have won an entry, there might be some teams not taking up that entry. As previously mentioned, the Prema Racing outfit has already added a full season FIA WEC entry, so it’s not certain, that they will take up their invitation. And depending on what teams win the Asian Le Mans Series, there might be a few not taking up the automatic entries, in case they already have FIA WEC entries.
The GTE category is most likely to take up all their entries. There are very good chances of selling the seats for one driver, or a complete set of drivers, who wish to participate in the 24 hours race, but haven’t got their own entry accepted. They will however have to run under the original team’s name – like we saw at Le Mans 2022, where Rinaldi Racing took over the Iron Lynx Ferrari #75, and run in full Rinaldi livery, in which they compete in for the ELMS series.
But that only makes the the battles in Asian Le Mans Series even more intense, with only three entries being handed out – a significant reduction compared to previous years, where there was up to two entries handed out in LMP2, one in LMp3, and up to four in the GT3 category, as we saw in the 2022 edition, with the record field of more than 20 cars.
We will all know a lot more once the final entry list for the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans will be released at the end of February, or early March.