“Le Mans is not just the race itself,” said Milner. “It’s the atmosphere of the track. It’s the energy that the fans bring, the energy that the race itself brings, the history of that race. When there are fans, it feels a bit more normal.”
Twelve entries withdrew from Le Mans last year due to the pandemic, citing travel restrictions and financial uncertainty. Corvette’s absence was notable as it planned to debut its C8.R car in the GTE-Pro category. It was the first time since 1999 that the Chevrolet brand has not raced at Le Mans.
“When you see it on TV, you realize how special it is,” Taylor said. “You think, ‘OK, I’m definitely missing this now, and I want to be back.’ It definitely motivates you even more to go back and be competitive.”
This year’s race will feature 62 cars and will be the debut of the Le Mans Hypercar class, which will replace the LMP1, high-performance prototype sports cars. The Hypercars are designed as concepts of future production cars, making them more relevant for car manufacturers. The LMP2 prototype class and the two Grand Tourer classes, GTE-Pro and GTE-Am, will also return to Le Mans.
The Hypercars are expected to be 15 seconds per lap slower than last year’s LMP1 cars due to greater weight and less downforce. But Hartley said his new GR010 car was “made for Le Mans”.
“I expect it to come alive at Le Mans,” Hartley said. “With the long straight lines, we expect the same top speeds as with the LMP1s. But some corners that were not corners before may become them. We will definitely keep our eyes open.”
The new Hypercar category is already proving attractive. Peugeot said it would step into that class from 2022, with Ferrari entering in 2023. A sister class, known as Le Mans Daytona h, has confirmed entries from Porsche, Audi, Acura and BMW from 2023.