During the simpler times of the Beetles, bell-bottom jeans and good-old fashioned carburetted horsepower, Ferrari was the final word in the world of endurance racing. However, old-man Enzo Ferrari decided to step away from prototype sports car racing in the mid-70s and instead focused on GT class racing, of which Ferrari are still a leading force.
But when the FIA announced that the current LMP1 category will be replaced with the LeMans Hypercar (LMH), the light bulbs lit up at Ferrari, seeing an opportunity for the Scuderia to return to the pinnacle of the World Endurance Championship.
Following Audi's exit in 2016 and Porsche's in 2017, the LMP1 category desperately needed a revamp, with only Toyota being the sole factory-backed participant in recent years. This has led to the creation of the LMH and the LeMans Daytona Hybrid (LMDh) for participants with a smaller wallet for the 2023 calendar onwards.
This has clearly drummed up plenty of interest with major manufacturers around the world. Acura, Audi and Porsche have confirmed entrances into the LMDh category, while McLaren, who had previously shown interest, have pulled out citing high cost. For the LMH category, Toyota, Peugeot, Glickenhaus and now Ferrari have confirmed their entrance, with LMH pioneers Aston Martin postponing their plans to focus more on their Formula One endeavours.
Fifty years after its last official participation in the premier class of the World Sports Car Championship in 1973, Ferrari's involvement in the LMH category has added significant legitimacy to the FIA's reinvigoration efforts for the World Endurance Championship. The Modena-based outfit has a respectable record in the closed-wheel competition with 24 world titles (most recently in 2017) and records 36 victories in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ferrari's President John Elkann commented: "In over 70 years of racing, on tracks all over the world, we led our closed-wheel cars to victory by exploring cutting-edge technological solutions: innovations that arise from the track and make every road car produced in Maranello extraordinary. 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."
While most of us know of Ferrari's motorsport endeavours in Formula One, the brand's interest in the hypercar category comes as no surprise given Ferrari's hybrid hypercar line-up, i.e. the LaFerrari and SF90 Stradale. While the tech geek would see the potential of using LMH-developed technology in Ferrari's road cars, the adrenaline junky in us can't wait to relish in mouth-watering wheel-to-wheel action between the world's biggest manufacturers.