Over the last couple of weeks we have looked at the prospects of the 24H GTE PRO and LMP1 classes at the Le Mans 24-Hour race, which takes place in about two weeks time. So, this week it is the turn of the Le Mans 24H GTE AM, guys. While this class caters for one-year old cars driven by Gold, Silver and Bronze drivers, there are also some Platinum drivers here too. Last year for instance, the GTE AM #72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 Italia would have qualified in fifth place (out of eight cars) in the GTE PRO class. Looked at another way, the top five GTE AM cars at the 2015 Le Mans race would have qualified inside the time of the slowest of the GTE PRO cars. That’s food for thought…!
So clearly, there is no shortage of competition and rivalry in the Le Mans 24H GTE AM class, so without any further waffle, let’s take a look at what the contenders in this class have done so far this year. In the first two races of 2016, this being Silverstone and Spa, we have seen six cars competing in both races, but for Le Mans this class has been expanded to thirteen cars, more than double what we have had so far this year.
Keeping things conveniently simple for us, the same three cars have finished in the top three places on both occasions, with just the final order being shuffled to keep things honest. At Silverstone it was the #83 Ferrari F458 Italia of Perrodo/Collard/Aguas in first place, with the #98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 of Dalla Lana/Lamy/Lauda in second, and the #50 Corvette C7-Z06 driven by Yamagishi/Ragues/Ruberti in third place. At Spa it was #98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 first, the #83 Ferrari F458 Italia in second place, with the #50 Corvette C7-Z06 in third place.
At Silverstone, the two Porsches (#78 KCMG and #88 Abu Dhabi-Proton) finished in fourth and fifth places, with the #86 Gulf Racing being involved in the race-ending accident with the #1 works Porsche of Brendon Hartley. At Spa, all three Porsches finished with the #78 car fourth, the #86 RSR in fifth and the #88 in sixth.
For Le Mans, the Le Mans 24H GTE AM class will be made up of two Corvettes (#50 and #57), five Ferrari 458 Italias (#55, #60, #61, #62 and #83), four Porsche 911 RSRs (#78, #86, #88 and #89), and a pair of Aston Martin Vantage V8s (#98 and #99). Looking at the Silverstone and Spa results, you have to assume that the top three finishers in those two races will again feature at Le Mans, but the strength and depth of the rest of the class is quite formidable. Ferrari are clearly present in numbers, fielding four additional cars, Porsche has one additional car along with the Corvette and Aston Martin teams, making an extra seven contenders.
After much discussion amongst the members of the VMP staff, we have come up with the following (potential) result in Le Mans 24H GTE AM: 1st place – #83 (Ferrari); 2nd place – #98 (Aston Martin); and 3rd place – #86 (Porsche). Now that we have stuck our collective necks out, it remains to say that this year’s Le Mans race will see a field of 60 cars in total, instead of the traditional 55 starters, all of which translates into more action on the track…just what the spectators want!! Next week it is the turn of the LMP2 cars to come under the spotlight, this class being the biggest by far, with 23 teams fighting for the honours…
Hope to see you there!
Written by: Glen Smale
Photographs by: Glen Smale and John Mountney
(For more images, check out our website: Virtualmotorpix.com