Ferrari is making a grand return to the top class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, after what’ll be a 50-year absence by the time it happens. Maranello will join the FIA World Endurance Championship’s Hypercar category in 2023, the company confirmed in a press release.
Development on its car is said to have started in “recent weeks” and is currently in the design and simulation phase. We’ll learn of track testing activities and driver line-ups in “future announcement,” Ferrari said.
It’ll be the fourth entrant in the Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) class, competing with Toyota, Peugeot and Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus. It isn’t the only way to race at the top under the new ACO rules, though. Porsche and Audi will each build a car to the new LMDh regulations shared with the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which features a single LMP2-derived chassis and standardised hybrid system. So, by 2023, the top category will have at least six teams duking it out. Hell yes.
LMH is, in theory, the more expensive option, giving much more free rein. Manufacturers can either go for a pure prototype design or one based on a road car. If it’s the latter, there need to be at least 25 street-legal versions, although if it’s the former, there still needs to be some vague link to production cars. Ferrari hasn’t yet said which option it’ll go for.
For Ferrari’s last prototype racer, we have to wind the clock all the way back to the 333 SP (above), which competed from 1994 to 2003 in various series. The company has been indirectly active in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s lower categories in recent years via Italian team AF Corse, which took LMGTE Pro-class victory at the 2019 running of Le Mans with a 488. AF Corse and other teams also run 488s in the GTE AM class.
In total, Ferrari has 36 victories at 24 Hours of Le Mans, and you wouldn’t want to bet against that tally growing further in the years following 2023.