The 92nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans gets underway this week at the iconic Circuit de La Sarthe in France, with fourteen Asian drivers competing across the three classes of Hypercar, LMP2 and LMGT3. Asian Motorsport outlines everything you need to know.

By Seb Tirado

Hypercar

Credit: World Endurance Championship

Toyota Gazoo Racing will field two Japanese drivers in their two Toyota GR010 Hybrids. Kamui Kobayashi currently competes in the #7 entry alongside teammates José María López and Nyck de Vries. The 37-year-old has won the 2019-20 LMP1 and 2021 Hypercar titles as well as the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans and currently stands 3rd after winning the 6 Hours of Imola overall. He has also won the 2019 and 2020 24 Hours of Daytona in the IMSA SportsCar Championship with Wayne Taylor Racing.

The #8 Toyota will field Ryō Hirakawa. The 30-year-old won the 2022 and 2023 Hypercar titles with current teammates Brendon Hartley and Sébastien Buemi as well as the 2022 24 Hours of Le Mans. He also won the 2017 Super GT GT500 title and is currently a McLaren F1 reserve driver. However, an underwhelming start to the entry’s 2024 season sees him currently 8th in the Hypercar championship with a best finish of 5th in Imola.

Credit: World Endurance Championship

The #83 AF Corse Ferrari 499P will see two Asian drivers in Yifei Ye and Robert Shwartzman. 

The 23-year-old Chinese driver previously competed for Hertz Team Jota in the Hypercar class last year and became a Ferrari factory driver ahead of the 2024 season. He has also won the 2016 French F4 title, the 2020 Euroformula Open title and both the European and Asian Le Mans Series LMP2 titles in 2021. 

On the other hand, Israeli driver Shwartzman has been affiliated with Ferrari since 2017 after being part of their Driver Academy until 2022 and their F1 reserve driver since 2023. The 24-year-old has previously won the 2018 Toyota Racing Series and the 2019 FIA Formula 3 titles. 

The pair along with teammate Robert Kubica are currently 7th in the Hypercar standings with a best finish of 4th at the opening round at the Qatar 1812km.

Credit: World Endurance Championship

Thai driver Carl Bennett currently drives for newcomers Isotta Fraschini alongside Jean-Karl Vernay and Antonio Serravalle. The 19-year-old competed in various single-seater championships before moving to the LMP2 class of the 2023-2024 Asian Le Mans Series, where he finished 3rd in the second 4 Hours of Abu Dhabi. Isotta have struggled in their first year of competing in Hypercar, achieving a best finish of 15th in the 6 Hours of Spa. The team currently stand in 26th.

Credit: World Endurance Championship

South Korean driver Jack Aitken will compete in the #311 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R alongside Pipo Derani and Felipe Drugovich. The entry, with Aitken as one of its drivers, currently competes in the IMSA SportsCar Championship’s GTP class and are 4th in the standings with three podiums. The 28-year-old most notably had a one-off F1 appearance with Williams at the 2020 Sakhir Grand Prix, replacing George Russell.

LMP2 – Ritomo Miyata

Credit: World Endurance Championship

The reigning Super Formula and Super GT champion is currently doing a dual campaign in the European Le Mans Series with Cool Racing’s #37 LMP2 alongside his Formula 2 season with Rodin Motorsport. The Japanese driver recently deputised for Kelvin van der Linde in the #78 Akkodis ASP Team Lexus RC F GT3 in Spa as the South African was called up to race in Formula E in Berlin. The #78 would finish in tenth, achieving the team’s first point of the season.

The 24-year-old, pictured ahead of his drive in Spa, has also won the 2016 and 2017 Japanese F4 and the 2020 Super Formula Lights titles. He currently stands in 3rd in the ELMS standings along with teammates Lorenzo Fluxá and Malthe Jakobsen after winning the first race of the season at the 4 Hours of Barcelona. 

LMGT3

Credit: World Endurance Championship

Sean Gelael from Indonesia currently competes in the #31 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3 alongside Augusto Farfus and Darren Leung. Before its removal from the WEC, the 27-year-old competed in the LMP2 class with Jota Sport and Team WRT, achieving multiple class wins and podiums including 2nd at the 2021 24 Hours of Le Mans. After winning in LMGT3 at the 6 Hours of Imola with a WRT 1-2, he is now 2nd in the standings.

Credit: World Endurance Championship

Hailing from Oman, Ahmad Al Harthy competes in the #46 Team WRT entry alongside Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi. The 42-year-old formerly competed in British GT and the Asian Le Mans Series, where he has achieved included numerous podiums and wins. Al Harthy finished 2nd in LMGTE Am in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with ORT by TF. After the team’s result in Imola, he now stands 4th in LMGT3.

Credit: GT World Challenge Europe

Salih Yoluç from Turkey will make a one-off appearance in the #66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 296 GT3 alongside Larry ten Voorde and Giacomo Petrobelli. The 38-year-old won the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans in LMGTE Am with TF Sport and currently competes in GT World Challenge Europe with Racing Team Turkey and the IMSA SportsCar Championship’s GTD class with Lone Star Racing. He has also formerly competed in the European and Asian Le Mans Series, winning the 2022 Pro-Am Cup title and the 2023 LMP2 title respectively. Yoluç also competed in the 2022 Formula Regional Asian Championship.

Credit: World Endurance Championship

Hiroshi Koizumi currently competes in the #82 TF Sport Corvette Z06 GT3.R alongside Sébastien Baud and Daniel Juncadella. The 55-year-old Japanese driver has previously competed in the GT3 classes of the Le Mans Cup and GT World Challenge Asia as well as the Super GT GT300 class. He currently stands 16th in LMGT3 with a best finish of 8th in Imola.

Credit: World Endurance Championship

Japanese drivers Marino Sato and Hiroshi Hamaguchi will compete in the #95 United Autosports McLaren 720S GT3 alongside Nico Pino.

Sato currently also competes in the European Le Mans Series with United Autosports’ #22 LMP2 entry and has done since 2023. The 25-year-old won the 2019 Euroformula Open Championship and previously competed in Formula 2 with Trident and Virtuosi Racing. He currently stands 13th in LMGT3 with a best finish of 6th in Imola.

Hamaguchi is making a one-off appearance in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 47-year-old currently competes in the LMGT3 class of ELMS with Iron Lynx as well as GT World Challenge Asia with The Spirit of FFF Racing. He currently stands 2nd in the ELMS LMGT3 standings with a best finish of 2nd in the 4 Hours of Le Castellet. 

Credit: World Endurance Championship

Satoshi Hoshino will also make a one-off appearance in the race in the #777 D’station Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3. The 63-year-old Japanese driver currently competes with the team in GT World Challenge Asia and the Asian Le Mans Series and has done for several years. He is currently unclassified in GTWCA with a best finish of 21st in the first race in Buriram and finished the 2023-2024 ALMS season in 33rd with a best finish of 13th in the second 4 Hours of Abu Dhabi.

Event schedule

Free Practice 1 – 12:00 UTC / 14:00 CEST June 12th

Qualifying – 17:00 UTC / 19:00 CEST June 12th

Free Practice 2 – 20:00 UTC / 22:00 CEST June 12th

Free Practice 3 – 13:00 UTC / 15:00 CEST June 13th

Hyperpole – 18:00 UTC / 20:00 CEST June 13th

Free Practice 4 – 20:00 UTC / 22:00 CEST June 13th

Warmup – 10:00 UTC / 12:00 CEST June 15th

24 Hours of Le Mans – 14:00 UTC / 16:00 CEST June 15th

Header image credit: World Endurance Championship

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