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Ferrari F50 testing 1996
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Le Mans 24 Hours of Le Mans
Special feature

How Ferrari could have won Le Mans outright in its factory absence

It’s half a century since a factory Ferrari team was in with a shot of overall victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours. That changes this weekend for a marque that, in reality, has hardly been away from the race

Ferrari is back and gunning for victory at the Le Mans 24 Hours after half a century. That statement needs to be qualified, twice over in fact. It’s back with a prototype and as a factory entrant. That’s what is new for 2023. Beyond the inevitable fanfare of the arrival of the 499P Le Mans Hypercar, it’s important to remember that the Italian manufacturer’s history at the French enduro and in the wider sportscar racing realm didn’t abruptly stop at the end of 1973.

The Prancing Horse has been active and successful on the hallowed asphalt of the Circuit de la Sarthe in the 50 years since. In the 49 editions of the great race since Ferrari’s fleet of 312PB three-litre prototypes ran Matra close for victory, a car bearing the marque’s famous shield has taken part at the French enduro on 37 occasions, a figure that includes a withdrawal and a did not start.

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