Ferrari boss John Elkann named official starter of 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours

Ferrari boss John Elkann will wave off the field at the start of this year's Le Mans 24 Hours in August.

Ferrari boss John Elkann named official starter of 2021 Le Mans 24 Hours

The Italian-American will drop the French flag on the 62-car field at this year's double-points round of the World Endurance Championship at 4pm on 21 August.

Elkann's appointment in the honorary starter role by race organiser the Automobile Club de l'Ouest follows the announcement at the end of February that Ferrari will end a 50-year absence from the top flight of sportscar racing as a factory in 2023.

The marque will make its first bid for outright honours with a works team at the 24 Hours since 1973 with a new Le Mans Hypercar as part of WEC campaign.

Elkann, who is chairman of Ferrari, described the chance to start Le Mans as "a truly exceptional privilege and one filled with emotion for me".

"Le Mans is much more than a challenge of mechanical endurance: it is a unique space in time that recalls some of the greatest racing rivalries of the past, and creates new tales and legends every year it is run," he said.

"Ferrari’s history, that also binds us to these 24 hours, is one of passion, excitement and success at Le Mans that began in 1949 [with its victory in the first post-war edition of the race].

"But above all, it is a story of innovation, technological daring and dramatic sporting challenge at the very highest level.

"All of which also explains our recent decision to bring Ferrari back to the Hypercar class and to Le Mans in 2023.”

Chase Carey, FOM CEO waves the French flag to give the start of the race at the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours

Chase Carey, FOM CEO waves the French flag to give the start of the race at the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours

Photo by: Rainier Ehrhardt / Motorsport Images

ACO president Pierre Fillon added: "Given the all-round jubilation witnessed when Ferrari announced its return, it is particularly fitting that John should start the race.

Read Also:

"Having manufacturers as prestigious as Ferrari join the Hypercar class signals a glittering future for endurance racing."

Ferrari has begun to flesh out details of its LMH programme in the wake of the news of its return earlier this year.

It announced last month that it will maintain its relationship with the AF Corse squad, which has masterminded its factory WEC campaigns in the GTE Pro class since the revival of the WEC in 2012, for the new programme.

It is expected that the Ferrari LMH hybrid prototype will begin testing in the second quarter of 2022.

Elkann, who is the grandson of long-time Fiat patriarch Gianni Agnelli, isn't the first Ferrari boss to be the honorary starter.

Luca di Montezemolo filled the role in 2009 when he was president of Ferrari and parent company Fiat.

Other leading figures from the automotive world to be honoured with the role include Henry Ford II in 1966, Agnelli in 1968 and Ferdinand Piech, the architect of the double Le Mans-winning Porsche 917, when he was chairman of Volkswagen in 2001.

Film director Luc Besson and actor Brad Pitt waved off the field in 2002 and 2016 respectively.

The job of official starter has also been filled by politicians, royalty, local dignitaries and astronauts.

shares
comments

Related video

Hirakawa: Toyota WEC hypercar test tougher than I imagined
Previous article

Hirakawa: Toyota WEC hypercar test tougher than I imagined

Next article

United Autosports completes Le Mans line-up with Boyd

United Autosports completes Le Mans line-up with Boyd
The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age Plus

The long road to convergence for sportscar racing's new golden age

The organisers of the World Endurance Championship and IMSA SportsCar Championship worked together to devise the popular new LMDh rule set. But to turn it from an idea into reality, some serious compromises were involved - both from the prospective LMDh entrants and those with existing Le Mans Hypercar projects...

IMSA
Nov 25, 2022
How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game Plus

How Porsche's Le Mans legend changed the game

The 956 set the bar at the dawn of Group C 40 years ago, and that mark only rose higher through the 1980s, both in the world championship and in the US. It and its successor, the longer-wheelbase 962, were voted as Autosport's greatest sportscar in 2020 - here's why

WEC
Aug 25, 2022
Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes Plus

Why BMW shouldn't be overlooked on its return to prototypes

OPINION: While the focus has been on the exciting prospect of Ferrari vs Porsche at the Le Mans 24 Hours next year, BMW’s factory return to endurance racing should not be ignored. It won't be at the French classic next year as it focuses efforts on the IMSA SportsCar Championship, but could be a dark horse in 2024 when it returns to La Sarthe with the crack WRT squad

Le Mans
Aug 21, 2022
The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause Plus

The problem sausage kerbs continue to cause

Track limits are the problem that motorsport doesn't seem to be able to rid itself of. But the use of so-called 'sausage kerbs' as a deterrent has in several instances only served to worsen the problem, and a growing number of voices want to see action taken

Formula 1
Jul 18, 2022
The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return Plus

The history lessons Peugeot should have learned on its return

The Peugeot 9X8 will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend. The French manufacturer has gone radical and will be hoping it doesn’t need to overhaul its contender, as it did with its first Le Mans challenger…

WEC
Jul 8, 2022
Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination Plus

Why Peugeot's sportscar return will capture the imagination

OPINION: Peugeot will make its World Endurance Championship debut at Monza this weekend with the 9X8 Le Mans Hypercar that has ignored design conventions by eschewing a rear wing. Its distinctive look will help sportscar racing appeal to fresh audiences as a new golden era is ushered in

WEC
Jul 7, 2022
How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes Plus

How Formula E's double-duty drivers influenced their Le Mans teams' fortunes

Eight Formula E drivers made the 7,000-mile sprint from the streets of Jakarta to the fabled Circuit de la Sarthe and every one had a story to share at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours. Despite a range of triumphs and disappointments, each driver doubling up on the day job played a key role in their teams' fortunes

Le Mans
Jun 14, 2022
How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future Plus

How an Italian junior formula giant is readying for its Le Mans future

Prema remains a colossus in single-seaters, but the serial Formula 2 and Formula 3 title-winning squad has joined forces with top GT squad Iron Lynx for an attack on sportscars in the World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series. Ahead of its debut at the Le Mans 24 Hours, its sights are firmly fixed on LMP2 glory – and a future in Hypercars next year...

Le Mans
Jun 8, 2022