AUTO-FRA-24H-ENDURANCE-QUALIFYING Japanese's driver Kazuki Nakajima (2R) Pole man in 3'15.337 on (Toyota TS050 Hybrid LMP1), poses with his teammates Spain's driver Fernando Alonso (L), Miss 24Hours of Le Mans (2L), and Swiss' driver Sebastien Buemi after the qualifying practice session of the 86th editionof the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, on June 14, 2018, at the Le Mans circuit, northwestern France. (Photo by Jean-Francois MONIER / AFP) (Photo credit should read JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP/Getty Images)

The fabled 24 hours of Le Mans takes place this weekend (June 16-17 2018). The 2018 Le Mans race has attracted heightened interest because of the increased participation of Formula 1 drivers, past and present, led by the irrepressible Fernando Alonso.

Formula 1 drivers at the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours

Le Mans will take place twice as part of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) Super Season from May 2018 to June 2019, the second and last race of the season. Alonso is committed to driving in all the races of this super season, even as he participates in the 2018 Formula 1 season.

The Le Mans 24 Hour race has been run in various formats since 1923 at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. The race joined the FIA WEC championship in 2012. The race starts on Saturday afternoon and runs for 24 hours until Sunday.

The LMP1 (LE MANS Prototype 1), LMP2 (LE MANS Prototype 2), LMGTE PRO (LE MANS Grand Touring Endurance Pro) and LMGTE AM (LE MANS Grand Touring Endurance Amateur) categories are part of this race. Each category is regulated by the Rules and Regulations of the FIA.

Fernando Alonso and Toyota Start Favorites

In the LMP1 class, the two Toyota Gazoo Racing (Toyota TS050 HYBRID) entries, Car #7 and #8, will be favorites to win. The Japanese manufacturer is the only manufacturer left in LMP1 after the exit of Audi and Porsche from the series.

Fernando Alonso’s Car #8 will start on pole. The two-time Formula 1 World Champion (2005, 2006) is joined by ex-F1 drivers Sebastien Buemi and Kazuki Nakajima. Buemi is a former WEC Champion (2014) and Formula E Champion (2015-2016). The Swiss driver spent three seasons (2009-2011) with Toro Rosso in F1. Nakajima drove for Williams for three seasons (2007-2009).

Alonso leads the brigade of F1 drivers at the race this year. The Spaniard is intent on joining Graham Hill as a “triple crown winner” (Monaco GP, Le Mans, Indy500 winner). He has taken on a heavy schedule driving for McLaren in F1 and the super season of the WEC in parallel.

Alonso made his 300th GP appearance at the Canadian GP last weekend. He will be competing at his first Le Mans, before returning to race in F1 at the French GP next weekend. A very challenging schedule indeed !!

In the sister Toyota #7, another former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi leads the way. Kobayashi spent five seasons in F1, mainly with the Sauber F1 team (2010-2012).

Jenson Button Debuts at Le Mans

Jenson Button, former F1 World Champion (2009) and former teammate of Alonso at McLaren, makes his debut at Le Mans this year. The now retired Button (306 F1 races) will drive for SMP Racing (BRE-AER BR1) Car #11. One of his teammates is Vitaly Petrov, another former F1 driver. Button is also currently racing in the Japanese Super GT Series.

F1 reject, Bruno Senna, is driving for one of the strongest privateer teams, Rebellion Racing (Rebellion-Gibson R-13), in the LMP1 class. His teammate Andre Lotterer made a solitary start for Caterham F1 in 2014.

Formula 1 drivers in the LMP2 class

Juan Pablo Montoya is a 7-time race winner in F1 (2001-2006). After the maverick Colombian left F1, he has made a name for himself over a long and distinguished career in the IndyCar and NASCAR series in the USA. Montoya has won the Indy500 (2000, 2015) and the Monaco GP (2003), two-thirds of the triple crown.

Montoya will be driving for the United Autosports (Ligier-Gibson JSP217) team’s Car #22. Former Force India F1 driver, Paul Di Resta will be driving for the sister car of this team. Will Stevens, former driver for Marussia F1, will be driving for the Panis Barthez Competition team in the same class.

G-Drive Racing (ORECA-Gibson 07), the Russian entrant, has fielded Jean-Eric Vergne in Car #26. Vergne spent three seasons (2012-2014) with Scuderia Toro Rosso. The Frenchman moved to the new Formula E series and leads the drivers’ championship in the current season (2018-2019).

Pastor Maldonado, former Williams and Lotus F1 driver, will be driving for the DragonSpeed (ORECA-Gibson 07) racing team. Maldonado was known for his many mishaps in F1. The Venezuelan is a one-time race winner winning the Spanish GP in 2012.

Giedo van der Garde, former Caterham F1 driver, will be driving for the Racing Team Nederland (Dallara-Gibson P217) this year. The Dutchman left F1 after a dramatic court case against the Sauber F1 team and an out of court settlement that ended his F1 career.

Felipe Nasr, another ex-Sauber driver, will complete the team of former F1 drivers in the LMP2 class. The Brazilian will be driving for the Cetilar Villorba Corse (Dallara-Gibson P217) team. He participates in the IMSA racing series also.

Formula 1 drivers in the GTE class

Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber F1 reserve driver, has made two starts for the Sauber team in F1. The Italian junior Ferrari driver will drive for the Ferrari AF Corse team in the GTE Pro class.

Jan Magnussen, former F1 driver and father of current F1 driver Kevin Magnussen, will drive for the Corvette Racing team.

The Ford Chip Ganassi team will have Sebastian Bourdais driving for them. The Frenchman partnered with the future four-time F1 world champion, Sebastian Vettel, at Toro Rosso in 2008. A mid-season exit in 2009 saw Bourdais go to IndyCar racing and he has had a long career there.

Giancarlo Fisichella will be driving for the Ferrari 488 GTE team in the GTE Am class. Fisichella is a three-time race winner in F1 and had a long career (1996-2009) in the sport making over 230 appearances.

Alonso starts Le Mans from Pole position

Alonso, Nakajima, and Buemi have qualified on pole in the Toyota Car #8. They will be joined by sister Car #7 in the front row. Alonso will hope to emulate fellow F1 driver, Nico Hulkenberg, who won Le Mans in 2015 with the Porsche team. A large number of F1 fans will follow Le Mans this year to track the fortunes of Alonso and all the other F1 drivers driving at this historic motorsport race.

Starting Grid:

Pos Class Driver Team Car Time Gap
1 LMP1 S.Buemi, K.Nakajima, F.Alonso Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m15.377s
2 LMP1 M.Conway, K.Kobayashi, J.M.Lopez Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota 3m17.377s 2.000s
3 LMP1 A.Lotterer, N.Jani, B.Senna Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m19.449s 4.072s
4 LMP1 S.Sarrazin, E.Orudzhev, M.Isaakyan SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m19.483s 4.106s
5 LMP1 T.Laurent, M.Beche, G.Menezes Rebellion Racing Rebellion/Gibson 3m19.945s 4.568s
6 LMP1 H.Hedman, B.Hanley, R.van der Zande DragonSpeed BR Engineering/Gibson 3m21.110s 5.733s
7 LMP1 V.Petrov, M.Aleshin, J.Button SMP Racing BR Engineering/AER 3m21.408s 6.031s
8 LMP1 O.Webb, D.Kraihamer, T.Dillmann ByKOLLES Racing Team ENSO CLM/NISMO 3m22.505s 7.128s
9 LMP1 O.Rowland, A.Brundle, O.Turvey CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta/Mecachrome 3m23.757s 8.380s
10 LMP2 P.Lafargue, P-L.Chatin, M.Rojas Idec Sport Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m24.842s 9.465s
11 LMP2 R.Gonzalez, P.Maldonado, N.Berthon DragonSpeed ORECA/Gibson 3m24.883s 9.506s
12 LMP2 R.Rusinov, A.Pizzitola, J-E.Vergne G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m25.160s 9.783s
13 LMP2 F.Perrodo, M.Vaxiviere, L.Duval TDS Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m25.240s 9.863s
14 LMP1 C.Robertson, M.Simpson, L.Roussel CEFC TRSM Racing Ginetta/Mecachrome 3m25.268s 9.891s
15 LMP2 T.Buret, J.Canal, W.Stevens Panis Barthez Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m25.376s 9.999s
16 LMP2 N.Lapierre, A.Negrao, P.Thiriet Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine/Gibson 3m26.681s 11.304s
17 LMP2 V.Capillaire, J.Hirschi, T.Gommendy Graff-SO24 ORECA/Gibson 3m26.701s 11.324s
18 LMP2 P.Hanson, F.Albuquerque, P.Di Resta United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m26.772s 11.395s
19 LMP2 H-Pin Tung, S.Richelmi, G.Aubry Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.120s 11.743s
20 LMP2 J.Jaafar, N.Jeffri, W.Tan Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.226s 11.849s
21 LMP2 J.Allen, J.Gutierrez, E.Guibbert G-Drive Racing ORECA/Gibson 3m27.280s 11.903s
22 LMP2 R.Lacorte, G.Sernagiotto, F.Nasr Cetilar Villorba Corse Dallara/Gibson 3m27.993s 12.616s
23 LMP2 F.van Eerd, G.van der Garde, J.Lammers Racing Team Nederland Dallara/Gibson 3m28.111s 12.734s
24 LMP2 H.de Sadeleer, W.Owen, J.P.Montoya United Autosports Ligier/Gibson 3m28.159s 12.782s
25 LMP2 V.Shaytar, H.Newey, N.Nato SMP Racing Dallara/Gibson 3m28.629s 13.252s
26 LMP2 R.Taylor, C.Ledogar, D.H.Hansson Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m29.474s 14.097s
27 LMP2 A.Bertolini, N.Jonsson, T.Krohn Eurasia Motorsport Ligier/Gibson 3m33.585s 18.208s
28 LMP2 D.Cheng, N.Boulle, P.Nicolet Jackie Chan DC Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m35.237s 19.860s
29 LMP2 E.Creed, R.Ricci, T.Dagoneau Larbre Competition Ligier/Gibson 3m38.206s 22.829s
30 LMP2 M.Patterson, A.D.De Jong, T.Kim Algarve Pro Racing Ligier/Gibson 3m39.518s 24.141s
31 GTE Pro R.Lietz, G.Bruni, F.Makowiecki Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m47.504s 32.127s
32 GTE Pro M.Christensen, K.Estre, L.Vanthoor Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.097s 33.720s
33 GTE Pro S.Mucke, O.Pla, B.Johnson Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m49.181s 33.804s
34 GTE Pro A.P.Guidi, J.Calado, D.Serra AF Corse Ferrari 3m49.494s 34.117s
35 GTE Pro J.Hand, D.Muller, S.Bourdais Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m49.582s 34.205s
36 GTE Pro P.Pilet, N.Tandy, E.Bamber Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m49.589s 34.212s
37 GTE Pro R.Briscoe, R.Westbrook, S.Dixon Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA Ford 3m49.761s 34.384s
38 GTE Pro R.Dumas, T.Bernhard, S.Muller Porsche GT Team Porsche 3m50.089s 34.712s
39 GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, M.Rockenfeller Corvette Racing – GM Chevrolet 3m50.242s 34.865s
40 GTE Pro D.Rigon, S.Bird, M.Molina AF Corse Ferrari 3m50.246s 34.869s
41 GTE Pro A.Priaulx, H.Tincknell, T.Kanaan Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK Ford 3m50.429s 35.052s
42 GTE Pro A.Farfus, A.F.da Costa, A.Sims BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m50.579s 35.202s
43 GTE Pro M.Tomczyk, N.Catsburg, P.Eng BMW Team MTEK BMW 3m50.596s 35.219s
44 GTE Am M.Cairoli, K.Al Qubaisi, G.Roda Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m50.728s 35.351s
45 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, M.Fassler Corvette Racing – GM Chevrolet 3m50.952s 35.575s
46 GTE Pro T.Vilander, A.Giovinazzi, P.Derani AF Corse Ferrari 3m50.957s 35.580s
47 GTE Am M.Wainwright, B.Barker, A.Davison Gulf Racing Porsche 3m51.391s 36.014s
48 GTE Am M.Campbell, C.Ried, J.Andlauer Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 3m51.930s 36.553s
49 GTE Am T.Flohr, F.Castellacci, G.Fisichella Spirit of Race Ferrari 3m51.956s 36.579s
50 GTE Pro A.Lynn, M.Martin, J.Adam Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m52.486s 37.109s
51 GTE Am J.Bergmeister, P.Lindsey, E.Perfetti Team Project 1 Porsche 3m52.985s 37.608s
52 GTE Am S.Yoluc, E.Hankey, C.Eastwood TF Sport Aston Martin 3m53.070s 37.693s
53 GTE Am F.Babini, C.Nielsen, E.Maris Ebimotors Porsche 3m53.402s 38.025s
54 GTE Am Mok W.S., M.Griffin, K.Sawa Clearwater Racing Ferrari 3m53.409s 38.032s
55 GTE Am L.Griffin, C.MacNeil, J.Segal JMW Motorsport Ferrari 3m53.439s 38.062s
56 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, N.Thiim, D.Turner Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.523s 38.146s
57 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 3m53.817s 38.440s
58 GTE Am B.Keating, J.Bleekemolen, L.Stolz Keating Motorsports Ferrari 3m54.000s 38.623s
59 GTE Am P.Long, T.Pappas, S.Pumpelly Proton Competition Porsche 3m54.720s 39.343s
60 GTE Am M.Ishikawa, O.Beretta, E.Cheever MR Racing Ferrari 3m54.951s 39.574s

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