A flock of American bald eagles descended onto the French countryside this week to remind the world that kilometers are stupid. General Motors went full-send during the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which came to its conclusion at 10:00 AM EDT. Altogether, GM campaigned five vehicles in the world’s greatest endurance race: three Cadillac Hypercars, a lone Corvette Racing C8.R, and the almighty Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro. And, somehow, they all finished.
Winning the milestone event overall was Ferrari, which outpaced Toyota to win its first Le Mans in 58 years with the No. 51 499P. But even as the bells of Maranello rang in victorious celebration, a lot of race fans were singing The Star Spangled Banner.
Cadillac Racing Takes First-Ever Le Mans Podium Finish In Top Hypercar Class
It was a mixed bag for the Cadillac Racing Le Mans Hypercars. The No. 311 Action Express V-Series.R went into the wall during an unhinged lap one of the race, putting the car out of contention early, but still managed to finish the race when six other Hypercars did not. Meanwhile, despite having a stacked driver lineup in Sebastian Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Renger Van Der Zande, the No. 3 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R couldn’t stay out of trouble, suffering spin outs in the rain and contact with other cars, finishing fourth overall, and two laps down from the leader.
Down a lap, but enough to secure a step on the podium, the No. 2 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R kept things fairly clean across the 24 hours, apart from a spin during a nightly downpour while on slicks. This blue Hypercar was driven by Richard Westbrook, Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn. It’s the first podium for the overall win for both Cadillac and GM at Le Mans, and could be a sign of great things to come for these 5.5L hybrid V8-powered hypercars going forward.
Also waving the stars and stripes was Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, which placed 6th and 7th overall, as well as in the Hypercar class. No small feat, as the privateer team based out of New York managed to finish ahead of all four Porsche Hypercars (9th, 11th, 13th, DNF), the Peugeot Hypercars (8th, 12th), and the only other privateer team in the class: Floyd Vanwall Racing (DNF).
— Corvette Racing (@CorvetteRacing) June 11, 2023
Corvette Racing Wins GTE AM In Final Le Mans As A Team
They did it. The Corvette Racing team as it exists today was able to leave Le Mans for the last time on a high note, winning the GTE Am class with just a single C8.R. The signature yellow race car suffered suspension failure after just 90 minutes of racing, putting the car in the garage while the rest of the field gained a two lap advantage. But by the time the checkered flag waved, just nine of the 21 GTE cars managed to finish this race of attrition. Though as C8.R driver Nicky Catsburg expressed, the changes in the safety car rules this year also helped Corvette Racing catch back up during full course cautions.
“We had great pace and with the safety car the way it is now, thank God, we got a lap back and the other lap we won back by just being faster than the others. It was insane we managed to get back,” Catsburg told Motorsport.com. Corvette Racing eventually finished a lap ahead of the field, and was the team’s first Le Mans win since 2015 with the No. 64 C7.R. Coincidentally, Corvette Racing had to make do with one car then, after a disastrous crash involving the sister car during qualifying.
The Corvette Racing team will sunset after the 2023 season, as GM and motorsports partner Pratt & Miller move to a support role for the Corvette Z06 GT3.R customer program.
What a 24 hours… we will be talking about this one for a while. pic.twitter.com/W0V55UxWuu
— Hendrick Motorsports (@TeamHendrick) June 11, 2023
People’s Champion: Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1
The Garage 56 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 existed purely for the spectacle of it. As a modified Hendrick Motorsports NASCAR Cup Car, it ran outside of any classification, meaning it had no real shot at a podium. Despite this, it was piloted by former Formula 1 and NASCAR champions. It garnered the affection and admiration of motorsports fans the world over. And, despite a driveline failure that required extensive time in the repair garage, and getting caught behind a safety car or two, this howling gorilla of a race car managed to finish the 24 hour race, placing 39th out of 62 cars.
“My heart is full,” said seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, who shared the car with former F1 champ Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller. “For all the reasons we know – coming here with NASCAR, Hendrick, Chevrolet, Goodyear.”
“The fan reception – whether it was at the parade, or on the cool down lap just now. Even the corner marshals were going nuts. Everything was just incredible.”
Le Mans 2024: Expect Cadillac To Return, Plus A Field Of Corvette Z06 And S650 Ford Mustang GT3 Cars
For the 101st anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, there may not be a Corvette Racing, but there will be more Corvette race cars thanks to the new Z06 GT3.R customer program. And making a comeback into endurance racing will be Ford Performance, who will be selling new Mustang Dark Horse GT3 cars to customers of their own.
Along with Ford’s comeback, the Le Mans entry field is expected to be even more stacked for 2024, with Lamborghini, Alpine, BMW and Isotta Fraschini entering the Hypercar class, making the field even deeper and more exciting than it already is. Cadillac will continue have its work cut out as it seeks overall victory next year. Expect 24 Hours of Le Mans 2024 tickets to go on sale in Q4 2023.