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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans

LMP2 "as competitive as it's ever been" at Le Mans despite WEC demotion

Leading LMP2 drivers have described the Le Mans 24 Hours class as being “as competitive as it’s ever been”, despite it being dropped from the World Endurance Championship this season.

#37 Cool Racing Oreca 07: Gibson: Lorenzo Fluxa, Malthe Jakobsen, Ritomo Miyata

#37 Cool Racing Oreca 07: Gibson: Lorenzo Fluxa, Malthe Jakobsen, Ritomo Miyata

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

The category is making its return to the WEC this week at Le Mans with a 16-strong entry, down from 24 cars in last year’s race, having been axed from the series' other rounds amid strong interest in the Hypercar and new LMGT3 divisions.

But, despite topping the LMP2 leaderboard in two of Wednesday’s three sessions – including setting the fastest time in qualifying – Cool Racing’s Malthe Jakobsen is expecting a tough battle ahead.

“I would say all of the cars in the LMP2 category are in contention to be able to fight for the win,” the Peugeot Hypercar reserve, who is joined by Toyota’s reserve Ritomo Miyata in the #37 car, told Autosport.

“There's super good teams, first of all, but also super good driver line-ups.

“It's not going to be easy, but that's why we're here.”

The LMP2 class features a Pro-Am sub-category for crews that must feature a bronze-graded amateur, while the other entries are required to have one silver in their line-up.

Watch: Will Buxton's 24 Hours of Le Mans - A Throwback to 2021

Aside from Colin Braun’s effort in the #45 Algarve Pro Racing entry – one of eight cars in Pro-Am – the rest of the LMP2 field was split by just over 2.5 seconds in qualifying.

Jakobsen’s comments were echoed by United AutosportsOliver Jarvis, who won the class at Le Mans in 2017, and has described this year’s LMP2 field as “amazing”.

“You think with such a big Hypercar grid, it would lessen the quality of some of the [LMP2] drivers and you then look at the grid and it doesn't at all,” he told Autosport.

“The driver line-ups are still exceptional – you've got experienced guys and then you've got some really quick up-and-coming guys trying to make a name.

“And that's one of the reasons I love LMP2. For the majority of years, I think it's had the stronger driver line-ups to an extent.

“We've lost one or two teams [for 2024’s race] but the other teams seem to have stepped up and filled that void so it's as competitive as it's ever been, which is incredible.”

Jarvis also progressed to Thursday’s Hyperpole shootout but said judging the overall formbook is tricky.

#45 Crowdstrike Racing Oreca 07: Gibson: George Kurtz, Colin Braun, Nicky Catsburg

#45 Crowdstrike Racing Oreca 07: Gibson: George Kurtz, Colin Braun, Nicky Catsburg

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt

“We've been one of the quickest in every session, but you never know what your competitors are doing,” he added.

“All of a sudden in qualifying there were cars that appeared from nowhere that we hadn't really seen much from until then.”

Fellow United Autosports driver Ben Hanley – who was third-fastest in qualifying in the sister #23 machine – suggested part of the reason for the class being so competitive is the fact the present generation of LMP2 machinery has been in use since 2017.

All of the grid also runs the same ORECA 07 car, powered by a V8 Gibson engine and using Goodyear tyres.

“We're many years now into the cycle of this car and, every year, the gaps just get smaller and smaller,” he told Motorsport.com.

“As the teams get more and more experience with the cars, no one is really a step ahead of everybody else. It's all super tight.”

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