Ferrari’s 488 (pictured) has been successful in the GTE Pro class but the Italian marque now plans a long-awaited return to the top tier of Le Mans racing. Picture: REUTERS
Ferrari’s 488 (pictured) has been successful in the GTE Pro class but the Italian marque now plans a long-awaited return to the top tier of Le Mans racing. Picture: REUTERS

London — Ferrari will return to the top flight of endurance racing with a hypercar entry in 2023, competing for outright Le Mans 24 Hours victory for the first time in 50 years.

The Italian sports car maker last entered the top category at Le Mans in 1973 and rivals will include Toyota, Peugeot, Porsche and Audi among major manufacturers.

The Hypercar category replaces the previous LMP1 in endurance racing.

Ferrari has won Le Mans outright nine times but not since 1965, when it fought a famed battle with Ford at the Sarthe circuit in western France. The marque has tasted success more recently in GT racing, winning the 2019 GTE Pro category at Le Mans with the Ferrari 488.

“With the new Le Mans Hypercar programme, Ferrari once again asserts its sporting commitment and determination to be a protagonist in the major global motorsport events,” Ferrari president John Elkann said.

The name of the Ferrari car and the drivers have yet to be announced.

Ferrari has been looking for other activities in which to redeploy staff as a Formula One budget cap takes effect and the sport's oldest and most successful team is forced to slim down.

Some technical staff have already moved across to work with the Haas F1 team, which uses Ferrari engines and has a close partnership with Maranello.

Ferrari also has a thriving young driver academy with endurance racing another arena for it to gain experience.

Numerous Formula One drivers have won Le Mans, with Germany's Nico Hulkenberg triumphant with Porsche in 2015 while also competing in F1 with Force India.

Former Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso, a double F1 world champion now making a grand prix comeback with Renault-owned Alpine, won Le Mans with Toyota in 2018 — while still at McLaren — and 2019.

Reuters

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