Ferrari has won the outright title at Le Mans on nine occasions, the last of which came in 1965. — AFP pic
Ferrari has won the outright title at Le Mans on nine occasions, the last of which came in 1965. — AFP pic

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PARIS, Feb 25 — Ferrari will return to the elite class of the fabled Le Mans 24 Hour Race in 2023 after announcing Wednesday their Hypercar entry in the World Endurance Championship.

The iconic Ferrari racing car has been absent from the highest level of sports car racing, headlined by the Le Mans showpiece, since 1973.

While the hotly-awaited car has yet to be unveiled, it has been designed and Ferrari are also preparing to name its drivers for the 2023 return.

Ferrari has won the outright title at Le Mans on nine occasions, the last of which came in 1965.

“In over 70 years of racing, on tracks all over the world, we led our closed-wheel cars to victory by exploring cutting-edge technological solutions,” said Ferrari President John Elkann .

“With the new Le Mans Hypercar programme, Ferrari once again asserts its sporting commitment and determination to be a protagonist in the major global motorsport events.”

The new programme is also an opportunity for Ferrari to diversify its activities with Formula 1 introducing an annual spending limit this season of US$145 million (RM587.4 million) for each team.

By 2023, Ferrari will be the fifth manufacturer in the Hypercar series alongside the likes of Peugeot, Audi, Porsche and Toyota. 

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), which promotes the WEC, welcomed the return of Ferrari.

“Ferrari has a long and illustrious history in Endurance and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Maranello team has won nine times, the last in 1965 in an epic duel against Ford,” said the ACO in a press release. 

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“Today is a great day”, added Pierre Fillon, the president of the ACO who noted the significance of 2023 which will be the centenary of Le Mans.

Limits on soaraway budgets in F1 have prompted the sport’s heavyweights such as Ferrari and Mercedes to review their racing objectives.

To avoid layoffs of engineers and other employees, new outlets for their technological expertise have been sought.

Mercedes, for example, has raced in Formula E since the 2019-2020 season and shares projects with Ineos in sailing and cycling.

On the F1 grid, they have also strengthened their partnership with the Williams team. 

Ferrari, which has not won the F1 drivers world title since Kimi Raikkonen’s triumph in 2007 and a constructors trophy the following year, endured their worst season in the sport in 40 years in 2020. — AFP



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