The Le Mans 24 Hours organizers released the entry list for the legendary endurance race, which includes a record-breaking 3 female crews.
The ACO released the 62-cars selection for the 2020 Le Mans 24 Hours race, which will end for the second time a WEC season after the June 13-14 event.
Out of 75 applications, the organizers invited 62 teams to the 88th edition of the legendary competition, which is part of the famous motorsport "Triple Crown". Among them, there are a record-breaking 3 fully-female squads: the #50 Richard Mille Racing in the LMP2 class; the #81 GEAR Racing team and the #85 Iron Lynx team, both in the GTE-AM class. All three crews are Le Mans new-comers.
While LMP1 and GTE-Pro classes dropped in numbers, the LMP2 and GTE-Am entries went up to 24 and 20 cars.
"We received 75 applications for 62 places, several of which are already allocated based on results here last year or in the ELMS, the Michelin Le Mans Cup, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship or the Asian Le Mans Series." - commented Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO. "After due deliberation, the selection committee has drawn up a list of 62 plus 10 reserves."
Fillon also highlighted the fact that the race will have "several all-women driver crews."
"With several all-female driver line-ups in LMP2 and in LMGTE in the field, it shows that motorsport, and particularly endurance, is universally popular and that the road to Le Mans is barred to no-one."
With only 6 crews in the top-LMP1 class, which reached its final year of competitions, there will thus be plenty of reasons to follow the many ladies on track, starting from the debut of the Signature-run Oreca 07-Gibson, with racing stars Katherine Legge, Tatiana Calderon and Sophia Floersch behind the wheel.
"We officially got the entry for 24H of Le Mans 2020! Can’t wait for that amazing race! This is such a dream!" - wrote Floersch on her social medias. The German driver is currently traveling to Bahrain, where she'll take part in the FIA Formula 3 collective testing for Campos Racing.
The rest of the Richard Mille Racing crew received the news from Aragon, where the team was carrying out the first tests.
"It’s official now, so excited to race the 24 hours of Le Mans with Richard Mille Racing Team!" - wrote Calderon. "Incredible opportunity."
The "Iron Dames" will also be back on the grid for a second year in a row after their impressive 9th place class finish of 2019. This year, the operations will be fully managed by Italian Iron Lynx Motorsport Lab, which will also run the squad in the European Le Mans Series, as Manuela Gostner, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey will try to assault the GTE class after finishing fourth in their inaugural season.
“It is excellent news that Manuela, Rahel and Michelle can build on their experience from last year and put all that knowledge into a serious assault on the series,” said Michèle Mouton, President of the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission.
“A lot of the initial learning curve is now behind them and having consistency in a race programme obviously helps enormously."
Mouton also commented on the presence of other female crews, especially the LMP2 outfit in the ELMS campaign: “I don’t remember a time when this has happened and it is evidence of the progress being made for, and by women in our sport.”
Iron Dames project founder Deborah Mayer will also enter the Michelin Le Mans Cup alongside Michelle Gatting in another Iron Lynx Ferrari. Both the crews will feature another watch-maker partner: Swiss luxury brand Hublot.
Another Le Mans newcomer will be the GEAR Racing team, currently protagonist in the American premier sportscar championship IMSA. GEAR - an acronym that stands for "Girl Empowermen Around Racing" is a motorsport project that kicked-off earlier this year at the Rolex 24H of Daytona. Starring an eye-catching pop-art livery, the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo with Tatiana Calderon, Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen and Rahel Frey behind the wheel was forced to retire after a series of gearbox issues and, ultimately, a fire.
GEAR Racing appears on the Le Mans entry list with a Ferrari 488 GTE EVO and a Danish licence. Two-times IMSA champion Christina Nielsen is so far the only driver confirmed, with Legge, Calderon and Frey all taking part in the race with other entries. Brazilian Bia Figueiredo, who was also announced by the GEAR team for the IMSA campaign, is expecting her first child and will thus not be returning to competitions until the end of the year.
All the teams partnered with the FIA Women in Motorsport commission, whose disruptive approach and actions proved once again vital in providing drivers and teams with opportunities at the highest levels of motorsport.
The 88th Le Mans 24 Hours, which will also feature a new qualifying format based on different 45 minutes and 30 minutes stages on Wednesday and Thursday nights, is set to mark the end of an era for its overall class winners and manufacturers. But, hopefully, it will also open another cycle marked by more female racers at the very pinnacle of endurance racing.