Five additional invitations to the 2020 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours next June were handed out to teams on Sunday after the final Le Mans Cup and European Le Mans races at the Algarve circuit in Portugal.
Four of the five were handed to teams competing in the European Le Mans Series.
In the highly-competitive top class, the 18-car LMP2 category, the top two finishers in the title race were handed invites.
French team IDEC Sport (shown above), in dramatic fashion, won the four-hour race and snatched the title from G-Drive Racing in the process. The Russian-flagged G-Drive team, which led the title battle from the opening round at Paul Ricard until yesterday, still finished second in the standings despite a disappointing outing in which its Aurus 01 finished sixth overall. Therefore, Romain Rusinov’s TDS Racing-run team has a guaranteed place for Le Mans next year.
In GTE, Proton Competition secured second in the class championship and won an invite. This reward came despite its leading Porsche 911 RSR failing to finish the race after being involved in a huge multi-car shunt on the opening lap which brought out a length red flag. The other GTE entry had been handed out last month in the penultimate round of the season at Spa to US-owned team Luzich Racing, which won the GTE class in the race with its Ferrari 488 GTE.
The entry handed to the LMP3 title winner meanwhile, was handed out in the aftermath of the race, when Polish team Inter Europol had its championship taken away from its No. 13 crew for a drive-time infringement which was penalised post race.
As a result, American-flagged team Eurointernational was awarded the title and Le Mans berth post-race. (Though Inter Europol has lodged an appeal, which remains provisional.)
Heading into the event the two teams were on equal points, Inter Europol’s contending Ligier initially finished second while Eurointernational came home seventh. RACER understands though, that Eurointernational is unlikely to take up its auto invite and race at Le Mans next year.
Notably, Eurointernational is due to begin an Asian Le Mans Series campaign next month in China, where it will race in the LMP2 Am category partnered with NASCAR outfit Rick Ware Racing, which also intends to enter IMSA’s LMP2 ranks next year.
The fifth entry was handed out earlier in the day to Kessel Racing, which claimed the GT3 class championship in the ELMS-supporting Michelin Le Mans Cup series’ final race. The Swiss team competed at Le Mans for the first time earlier this year, having won the Le Mans Cup GT3 title in 2018.
Most of the automatic entries for Le Mans 2020 have now been awarded.
In addition to Luzich Racing, with class wins at Le Mans earlier this year, Toyota Gazoo Racing, Signatech Alpine, AF Corse and Team Project 1 also had entries previously confirmed. From IMSA, Cameron Cassels (Performance Tech in LMP2) also has an entry after winning the Jim Trueman award.
Four others will be now be handed out to the class winners in the Asian Le Mans Series over the winter. By regulation, all full-season FIA WEC teams have entries to Le Mans in 2020 too.