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Hannah Grisham and Hannah Greenemeier make remarkable Le Mans debut in Fun Cup

"It was so fun to go into the first turn, five, six wide. Just cars everywhere" – GT4 America race winners Hannah Grisham and Hannah Greenemeier headed to Le Mans to tackle the iconic Circuit de La Sarthe – as they entered the 4-hour Fun Cup race in a 120-car field, finishing an outstanding 15th under the banner of Heart Of Racing.

Hannah Grisham, Hannah Greenemeier, The Heart Of Racing, Fun Cup Le Mans 2024
Photo credits: The Heart Of Racing

GT4 America race winners Hannah Grisham and Hannah Greenemeier made a trip to France to attend one of the most iconic sports car races on the planet, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The two drivers, though, were not only supporting their team, the Heart of Racing, in the main race - but would be tackling the mighty 13.626 km Circuit de La Sarthe for the Fun Cup round.

'Team Hannahs', who took class victory in their first ever race together sharing the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 at Sonoma, and followed up with two more class podiums to date, in fact shared the #463 Volkswagen Beetle in a monumental 120-car field that battled side by side for four hours on Friday morning, in one of the most exciting support races to the 24-hour race.

"I think we only found out we were racing about three weeks ago at our COTA race for SRO", Grisham told us, explaining how the idea of competing in the Fun Cup came about.

"I don't fully know how the idea came to play, but the Heart Of Racing has done a Fun Cup car before in the past at the 25 Hours of Spa. So I assume they saw that they were coming here and thought that, you know, it would be a cool idea to get us to race on a track as iconic as Le Mans."

It was obviously not only a new track to learn, but a new car as well for both drivers, who had no previous experience of anything quite like that, coming from GT racing and F4 respectively.

"At my house, I did a lot of sim on iRacing for this track", explained Greenemeier, who nevertheless had to find the closest car to train with, in absence of the Volkswagen Beetle. "I used a Toyota GR 86, which was fairly close to what it felt like, but was a little bit faster than the actual", she continued.

For Grisham, her background in grassroots sports cars offered a few more clues: "Obviously the Fun Cup's a bit slower than the GT4 Aston, but when I first got into cars, I started in spec Miatas", she told us. "So, in a way, coming into it, I thought it would kinda feel like spec Miata, but twice as large of a field at Le Mans - and no ABS."

"I've gotten pretty used to ABS and traction control and all the new bells and whistles we have in the Aston, so coming to this was more, I guess you could say, old school: no ABS, no traction control. We didn't even have radio communication with our teams as well - all we could hear was race control. So that was also another kind of factor that came into play."

Tyres were also a major difference, with the Fun Cup Beetle running on road-legal tyres.

"The car is kind of low grip levels, as also you're not on slicks", Grisham continued.

"It's something you could put on your daily car and go drive thousands of miles on, so we never changed tyres once, and the same tyres for the wet and the dry."

The format makes for a rather pure form of racing, with over hundred race cars competing door-to-door on a circuit filled with motorsport history and with endless straights - which results in slipstream playing a major role.

Hannah Grisham, Hannah Greenemeier, The Heart Of Racing, Fun Cup Le Mans 2024
Photo credits: The Heart Of Racing

After two practice sessions on Wednesday, where the drivers had the chance to finally familiarize with the circuit, Grisham and Greenemeier qualified the #463 machine on Thursday morning, in dry conditions. Both drivers took turns in the 45 minute session and set a 5:11.408 lap time that placed them in P43, on the 22nd row of the grid.

"We started about 43rd, didn't have the best qualifying, but it was okay", Grisham said. "I started the race, and the track was a bit wet, so that made things a little bit interesting."

After rain overnight, the track was damp as the lights went out for the Friday morning race, but Hannah Grisham was undeterred and had a jaw-dropping first lap: she moved up to P24 in a little over one lap.

"Obviously, I've never been around here on a slightly wet track, but it was good. I think I made up 20 or so positions in my first lap" - she recalled.

"It was so fun to go into the first turn, five, six wide. Just cars everywhere. I just tried to be aggressive, but not too aggressive. The draft is insane, I think it's worth 10 miles an hour, they were saying."

Grisham then climbed into the top 20 by lap 3, with lap times just a few seconds away from the very top of the field. Her progression did not stop there: by lap 5, she was up to P18 before the first pit stop on lap 6. She continued to make up positions as the rest of the field pitted. As the first pit cycle came to a close, Grisham had moved up to 12th position, with a stellar first hour of racing.

Hannah Greenemeier took over, and the Hannahs looked unstoppable: by lap 10, as the race entered its second hour, they were already up to ninth and quickly closing in on the car ahead, although Greenemeier had to defend from the Zosh Driving Koncept1 cars.

Having settled in eighth, Greenemeier was back in the pits for the second stop on lap 14.

Back out in tenth, the safety car eventually neutralized the action with 2 hours and 12 minutes to go. Several cars had to refuel under closed pits, which put the #463 machine now driven by Hannah Grisham into seventh place.

They eventually pitted for their third time on lap 20, as soon as the race went back to green – which proved to be a bit costly and they rejoined in P21 at the midway point of the race.

With a really fast new personal best - three seconds faster than their previous benchmark -Greenemeier and Grisham, who alternated again behind the wheel, tried to recover.

In the following pit sequences, the Hannahs ran between P20 and P15, consistently on competitive lap times and on the lead lap.

"Every pit stop, we'd have to go to the fueling part, and you didn't know if there was gonna be a bunch of people waiting for the fuel because there was ten pumps", Greenemeier explained. "And my first stop that I came in, I had to wait just a couple of seconds for a fuel pump, but then my second stop that I made, I just got to go right through. And so we made up some time."

After the final pit stop with 45 minutes to go, Greenemeier was in charge of the last stint. Eventually, she crossed the finish line in P15, after a stunning run for the two Pirelli GT4 America teammates in their first-ever race at Circuit de la Sarthe.

"Overall, I'm really happy with 15th place", Grisham summed up. "I think we could have done a little bit better, we kind of messed up one pit stop - it was mostly my fault, but other than that, really happy."

"Obviously, the safety car was a little bit unfortunate, but we still recovered really well from our qualifying spot", echoed Greenemeier. "So I think it was obviously a great race and a great opportunity from the Heart Of Racing. We're super appreciative of it, and hopefully it's not our last time being here racing."

Hannah Grisham, Hannah Greenemeier, The Heart Of Racing, Fun Cup Le Mans 2024
Photo credits: The Heart Of Racing
"But it was Fun Cup, and it was definitely fun!"

For the 21-year-old Colorado native, her first Le Mans experience was certainly a memorable one, as she got to grasp the scale of the event for the first time.

"The first lap that I did here on the track, I was a little bit overwhelmed just with seeing everything", she told us.

"I guess I knew that the 24 Hours of Le Mans was big, but I didn't realize it was this big.

I mean, walking around the paddock and just seeing the amount of people that are here on a Thursday or a Friday, and then being told that it's gonna be twice as much, three times as much people for the 24 hours race is very, I guess, mind boggling. The track was better than I could have ever imagined, and just being able to drive on such an iconic track is something that I'll cherish for years."

"It's just so cool to get to race here and race under the Heart Of Racing name", added her teammate Grisham. "Obviously they're competing in WEC, so hopefully it's not the last time I get to race at this course", she concluded, a sentiment that both Hannahs share.

Team Hannahs will be back in the SRO America-sanctioned GT4 America on July 19-21 at VIRginia International Raceway, for the fourth round of the 2024 season.



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