More than 25 drivers with Formula One experience will be on the grid at this weekend’s 80th running of the fabled 24 hour Le Mans race.
Near the front, in the premier LMP1 prototype class, will be Allan McNish and Marc Gene, driving for Audi. Scot McNish raced in F1 with Toyota in 2002, while Gene drove for Minardi and is still a Ferrari test driver. Toyota has since left F1 and for 2012 has entered Le Mans, and the Japanese marque’s number 8 entry is a grand prix-superteam featuring Anthony Davidson (Super Aguri), Sebastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) and one-off 1999 Minardi driver Stephane Sarrazin.
Another hybrid Toyota prototype will be raced this weekend by Alex Wurz and Kazuki Nakajima. Also in the premier prototype class will be the F1 veteran Nick Heidfeld, driving a Lola-Toyota. His teammates are Neel Jani, a former third driver for Toro Rosso, and quadruple F1 world champion Alain Prost’s son Nicolas.
Also driving in the LMP1 class this weekend are Franck Montagny (Super Aguri), Jean-Christophe Bouillon (Sauber/1995), Sebastien Bourdais (Toro Rosso/2008-9), David Brabham (Simtek/1994) and Karun Chandhok (HRT/2010).
In the LMP2 class, former Ferrari and McLaren driver Stefan Johansson, now 55, will be driving a Lola-Nissan. Also racing will be the Swiss Jean-Denis Deletraz (Pacific/1995) and Bas Leinders, a Belgian who was Minardi’s Friday practice driver in 2004.
British veteran and highly respected F1 commentator Martin Brundle, meanwhile, is sharing a Zytek-Nissan with his son Alex, who this year is a regular in the support series GP3. Also in the LMP2 class are Shinji Nakano (Minardi/1998) and Brendon Hartley, the 22-year-old New Zealander who was an official Red Bull reserve driver in 2009.
Driving a Ferrari 458 in the GT class is grand prix winner Giancarlo Fisichella and Gianmaria Bruni. Italian Bruni, now 31, raced for Minardi in 2004.
Ferrari test driver Andrea Bertolini and Olivier Beretta (Larrousse/1994) share the other Ferrari-linked AF Corse entry, while Jan Magnussen (Stewart/1997-8) is driving a Corvette.
In another Corvette will be the former F1 safety car driver Oliver Gavin, while former Minardi driver Pedro Lamy is set to race a similar car.