Ferrari history at Le Mans 24H - Epic victories ans thrills
A race that is part of the collective imagination of endurance racing, an event that has written pages of history where racing competition intertwines with heroics, driving feats, and the resilience of the cars shape the legend. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is more than simply an endurance race. It has been a concentrate of excitement since its first edition in 1923. Over this long history, Ferrari has amassed nine overall victories and 29 class wins: a prestigious roll of honour for the Prancing Horse, which returns to the top class of the FIA WEC after half a century, with two crews in the 499Ps lining for the race on 10 June.
Black and white images documenting Ferrari’s first appearance on the Sarthe circuit depict the magical atmosphere of endurance racing after the Second World War when Europe and the world were slowly rediscovering the joys of motor racing.
Debut. In 1949, the Prancing Horse debuted on the La Sarthe circuit, claiming its first overall victory at Le Mans. The result came with the 166 MM Barchetta Touring driven by Luigi Chinetti and Lord Selsdon. The American and Briton basked in the public’s applause as they crossed the finish line after sharing a sporting adventure in the red-liveried number 22 car, specially prepared for endurance races. It packed a 1995cc V12 front-mounted engine, delivering 103 kW (140 hp). Thanks to its low weight of just 680 kilograms, the Maranello Barchetta triumphed in the biggest endurance races of the time, including the Mille Miglia (hence the ‘MM’ acronym) won the same year before the big French event.
Iconic models. The names of some of the most iconic models stand out in the roll of honour of the oldest and most illustrious 24 Hours race. One car occupies a prominent place among them. In 1958, the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa was first to the chequered flag with Olivier Gendebien and Phil Hill, in 1960 with Gendebien and Paul Frère, and in 1961 again with Gendebien-Hill. The last two triumphs also paved the way for the six consecutive victories celebrated by the company founded by Enzo Ferrari in 1947.
Developed for long-distance racing, beneath the Scaglietti-designed bodywork, the 250 Testa Rossa housed a 2953cc V12 engine delivering 221 kW (300 horsepower). This power, combined with a weight of just 800 kg, allowed the car to accelerate to 270 km/h. Such record-breaking figures enabled the model, whose futuristic lines and aerodynamics also immediately garnered the admiration of fans, to triumph at the La Sarthe circuit and in the World Sports Car Championship over those same years.
Winning Streak. The last of the nine overall victories came in 1965 when Jochen Rindt and Masten Gregory triumphed co-driving the 250 LM. The sixth consecutive victory capped off a 348-lap race that ended with three Ferrari crews on the podium. It came through exploiting the performance of a rear-mounted 3285cc V12, which at 7,500 rpm, unleashed 235 kW (320 hp). The Ferrari 250 LM was credited with a 287 km/h top speed. During the 24 Hours, Rindt-Gregory recorded an average speed of over 194 km/h.
Recent years. Of the 29 class victories that forged the Ferrari legend at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, some memorable ones came with production-derived cars. Since the founding of the FIA WEC in 2012, the Maranello manufacturer has claimed eight victories, two with the 488 GTE by Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado, who now share the cockpit of the number 51 Hypercar 499P with Antonio Giovinazzi. In 2019, the Italo-British pairing celebrated their first win in the LMGTE Pro alongside Côme Ledogar, two years later sharing the car with Daniel Serra. Ferrari also took first place in the LMGTE Am in 2021 with the 488 GTE crewed by Nicklas Nielsen, Alessio Rovera and François Perrodo.
All the overall victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1949 – Ferrari 166 MM – L. Chinetti, Lord Selsdon
1954 – Ferrari 375 Plus – J. F. Gonzalez, M.Trintignant
1958 – Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – P. Hill, O. Gendebien
1960 – Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – O. Gendebien, P. Frère
1961 – Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa – O. Gendebien, P. Hill
1962 – Ferrari 330 TR – O. Gendebien, P. Hill
1963 – Ferrari 250 P – L. Bandini, L. Scarfiotti
1964 – Ferrari 275 P – J. Guichet, N. Vaccarella
1965 – Ferrari 250 LM – J. Rindt, M. Gregory