The Alley

Let the grand battle begin

With 60 cars, four classes, lap records in qualifying and incredible competition, the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans is sure to be entertaining from hour one to hour 24.

Toyota Gazoo Racing may have just beaten Porsche to the front of the grid with their No. 7 and No. 8 TS050 Hybid cars, but the 919 Hybrids from the German carmaker are not far behind. After last year’s shock late-race failure from Toyota, it’s hard to imagine the stakes being higher for the Japanese team to bring home a win, but as ever, Porsche will be hard to beat.

“I am really proud of this pole position,” said Kamui Kobayashi, who set the fastest time, and new lap record for Toyota. “Still, it is a 24-hour race so the important thing is the race result and that is what we are focusing on.”

The often-unpredictable LMP2 class will provide plenty of entertainment during the twice-round-the-clock enduro as well. With a full 25 car lineup, it’s anyone’s game, with advantage, so far, going to the pole winning No. 26 G-Drive entry.

If LMP2 is the most unpredictable in terms of sheer car count, GTE-Pro is the most unpredictable thanks to outright competition.

All 13 cars in the class—from the polesitting No. 97 Aston Martin down to last year’s winner, the 13th place No. 68 Ford GT—were separated by less than two seconds in qualifying.

With teams from both the World Endurance Championship and the IMSA Weathertech SportsCar Championship, the GTE-Pro class brings together some of the most well-prepared, experienced cutthroat teams in the world. The race might be 24 hours, but for the cars and drivers in GTE-Pro, it’s more like a day-long shootout.

“While it is nice to get the headline for being on pole at Le Mans, it is all about the result on Sunday,” Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen said.

“The field is incredibly close and getting a quick lap in qualifying can be all about being on track at the right time and not having any traffic. For the race it is all about execution. You have to make sure you have a trouble free run and not spend any time in the garage.”

But the competitive field at this year’s Le Mans isn’t done there. There are still 15 cars in GTE-Am. The colorful No. 50 Larbre Competition Corvette may have taken pole in that class, but, much like LMP2, the race is wide open for who will end up on the top step.

Adding to the intense competition in all four classes this year, is the high heat that is expected during the weekend.

Uncharacteristically, temperatures will reach the high 80s on Saturday and Sunday (low 30s celsius), giving teams another hurdle to cope with during the already high-attrition race. Teams will always lose out to one another, but expect a couple to lose out to the heat as well.

All 24 hours of drama at the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans can be found on Fox Sports Go. Additionally, 10 hours will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1 and 12 hours on Fox Sports 2 in the US. The full schedule can be found below.

FS1: Saturday 8:30am-10am ET
FS2: Saturday 1pm-Sunday 1am ET
FS1: Sunday 1am-9:30am ET
Fox Sports Go 8:30am ET Saturday to 9:30am ET Sunday

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