Rolex New champions crowned at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2021
24 Hours of Le Mans 2021 trophy and engraved Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona presented to the winners of the race
Circuit de la Sarthe, 22 August 2021 –
Victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2021 was sealed by the No. 7 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing when Kamui Kobayashi took the chequered flag, after a dominant race for the Japanese manufacturer car, co-piloted with Mike Conway and José Maria Lopéz. This year’s 89th
edition was a true race of attrition, characterized by changing conditions in the early stages which demanded absolute focus and ceaseless commitment. In Rolex’s 20th
anniversary year as the Official Timepiece of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the endurance epic continues to be the definitive race against the clock, providing the definitive stage for these unrivalled machines to showcase their technological prowess.
24 Hours of Le Mans 2021 race finish - #7 Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota GR010 - Hybrid (Hypercar) and #8 Toyota Gazoo Racing, Toyota GR010 - Hybrid (Hypercar)
Heavy showers preluded the start, meaning that the race got underway behind the safety car for only the second time in the race’s history. There was action from the first lap of green flag racing, with a number of incidents ensuing, as the teams negotiated the wet conditions and adapted to the evolving track. At the front, the No. 7 Toyota managed to stay out of trouble, showing great pace and reliability to build a steady lead, finally bringing their Hybrid GR010 home to take their maiden win ahead of their teammates in the No. 8.
LMGTE Pro Class Winner - #51 AF CORSE, FERRARI 488 GTE EVO (LMGTE PRO) - Alessandro Pier Guidi (ITA), James Calado (GBR), Côme Ledogar (FRA)
Claiming the inaugural overall victory for the new Le Mans Hypercar (LMH) category at the Circuit de la Sarthe, the No. 7 drivers were awarded an Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona in recognition of their monumental achievement. Speaking ahead of the podium celebrations, Mike Conway
said: “It is an incredible feeling. We have had some bad luck at Le Mans – so, to get it done here, with the new Hypercar and with these team mates, it feels so good. You work so hard for this one and, each year, you forget how hard it is.”
Free practice action
This year’s race was the ultimate test of endurance, with just 44 of the 61 starters going the distance to complete the 24-hour marathon. The Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) class was strongly contested, with intense battles throughout the field, up until the closing stages. In their Le Mans debut, Team WRT’s No. 31 ORECA 07-Gibson machine clinched victory, after late heartbreak for its No. 41 sister car who came to a sudden stop from the lead on the final lap of the race. Ferrari took honours in both the Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance (LMGTE) classes, with the No. 51 fending off rival manufacturers Corvette and Porsche to second and third place in the Pro category, while the No. 83 completed 340 laps to win in LMGTE Am.
Pit lane atmosphere
Following the conclusion of this year’s race, Rolex Testimonee and record nine-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans Tom Kristensen
reflected: “It has been great to be back at Circuit de la Sarthe and, especially, to witness a brilliant victory for the No. 7 Toyota, after so many years of coming so close – with three pole positions and leading the race on three occasions – finally they got their deserved win. It was a very eventful race, as the rain came at the worst time, before the race start and then again as darkness fell. But the No. 7 team delivered a fantastic display of determination and strategic know-how to execute the perfect race – being pushed to the limit, the drivers were completely in tune with their new Hypercar machine. I am delighted for them all. Mike Conway is one of the most hard-working, genuine drivers; the ultra-fast Kamui Kobayashi now has his well-earned Le Mans win; and Argentina finally has another winner of this historic race with ‘Pechito’ [José Maria López], the first since José Froilán Gonzalez in 1954.”
Rolex Testimonee Tom Kristensen
Endurance racing is a matter of synchronicity between different temporalities; the time in motion, as the clock counts down to the chequered flag, and the slightest of moments, when everything can change in a split second. When the driver masters both the course of their machine and that of time, they conquer the 24 Hours of Le Mans and this ultimate race against time.
Rolex’s close ties with motor sport date back to Sir Malcolm Campbell’s World Land Speed Record successes in the 1930s, when he became the first driver to break the 300 mph barrier (483 km/h) at the wheel of his car, Bluebird. Since then, Rolex’s presence in motor racing has grown steadily, its support extending to revered endurance events such as the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship. In 2013, Rolex became associated with Formula 1®, the pinnacle of motor sport, having supported Rolex Testimonee Sir Jackie Stewart since 1968. The three-time FIA Formula 1® Drivers’ World Champion has been joined by fellow high achievers from the world of motor sport: Tom Kristensen, the record nine-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, and Mark Webber, the multiple Formula 1® race winner and 2015 FIA World Endurance Champion. The brand also has a global appreciation for classic automotive events steeped in elegance, beauty and tradition, including the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance®, The Quail, A Motorsports Gathering, the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and the Goodwood Revival.
An unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise
Rolex is an integrated and independent Swiss watch manufacture. Headquartered in Geneva, the brand is recognized the world over for its expertise and the quality of its products – symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. The movements of its Oyster Perpetual and Cellini watches are certified by COSC, then tested in-house for their precision, performance and reliability. The Superlative Chronometer certification, symbolized by the green seal, confirms that each watch has successfully undergone tests conducted by Rolex in its own laboratories according to its own criteria. These are periodically validated by an independent external organization.
The word “Perpetual”
is inscribed on every Rolex Oyster watch. But more than just a word on a dial, it is a philosophy that embodies the company’s vision and values. Hans Wilsdorf, the founder of the company, instilled a notion of perpetual excellence that would drive the company forward. This led Rolex to pioneer the development of the wristwatch and numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism, invented in 1931. In the course of its history, Rolex has registered over 500 patents. At its four sites in Switzerland, the brand designs, develops and produces the majority of its watch components, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Furthermore, the brand is actively involved in supporting the arts and culture, sport and exploration, as well as those who are devising solutions to preserve the planet.