Pierre Fillon, the eighth president of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, creator and organizer of the Le Mans 24 Hours since 1923—the 82nd running of which will be held on June 14–15, 2014—will lower the flag on Saturday to unleash the 67 cars in the 52nd event.
This great honor highlights the indispensable role the Automobile Club de l’Ouest played in the creation of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship, the result of the merger between the American Le Mans Series and the Grand Am Road Racing series, of which the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona is the first round.
Thanks to this union some of the cars racing in the Le Mans 24 Hours complying with the ACO technical regulations, are once again entitled to race on the legendary Florida circuit as well as in the 14 rounds in the 2014 championship. Thus, in the categories that are now accepted, the cars in two of them, LM P2 and GT LM, are eligible on both sides of the Atlantic.
The six LM P2s represented by Morgan, Oreca, HPD and Mazda can now fight for victory in the overall classification reviving history, while in the grand touring category the 11 GT LMs will go head-to-head with the Daytona GTs.
As a matter of interest, the last time a type of car entered for the Le Mans 24 Hours won the Daytona 24 Hours was in 2003 (Porsche 996), and one has to go back to 1990 to find the same type of prototype winning on both sides of the Atlantic the same year—the extraordinary Jaguar XJR-12.
Quite a few of the 67 cars entered this weekend come from teams that enter for Le Mans on a regular basis, as well as for the FIA World Endurance Championship of which the ACO is the organizer and promoter, a role it also plays in the Le Mans continental series. Among them are OAK Racing, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing, Starworks Motorsports, Corvette Racing, Aston Martin, Dempsey Racing, etc.
There are also many drivers (over 40) who usually race in the Le Mans 24 Hours or in the FIA WEC starting with former outright winners in the Sarthe, David Brabham, Timo Bernhard and Mike Rockenfeller, the last driver to have won the two greatest 24-hour races in 2010.