In this Motorsport.tv original production (full video above), Will catches up with some familiar faces from the F1 paddock and takes us on to the grid just before the 89th running of the twice-around-the-clock event. With rain threatening, starting drivers are faced with an agonising decision on tyre choice that could make or break their race.
He catches up with Jacky Ickx, the six-time winner, along with Tim Mayer, the FIA’s leading American race steward and organiser, Hypercar constructor Jim Glickenhaus and Zak Brown, the McLaren and United Autosports boss.
Following the start, Buxton gets an exclusive interview with Ferrari president John Elkann, who waved the cars off at the start. He discusses the reasons behind Ferrari’s return to the top sportscar class in 2023, and its bid for its 10th overall victory in the 100th anniversary race.
Will then catches up with Esteban Ocon, fresh from his Hungarian Grand Prix victory for Alpine. The Frenchman explains how he attended the race as a small boy, and turned his first lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe in a GT4 car. “Mega! It was so fast,” he smiles.
Meantime, Formula E champion Antonio Felix da Costa talks Will around his office behind the wheel of JOTA’s LMP2 contender.
As night descends, there’s chaos in the LMP2 category – and one of the crashes takes out the all-female team at Richard Mille Racing. Will catches up with Tatiana Calderon, who explains what happened as team-mate Sophia Floersch was taken out and then ended up in the medical centre.
Buxton goes trackside in the darkness, as the race flashes by in a blur of headlights.
He then gets insights from Mr Le Mans himself, Tom Kristensen – who explains what it takes to win here – and more words of wisdom from Toyota’s Alex Wurz, who was yet again involved with the winning team overall.
After the chequered flag has fallen, Buxton sums the race up: “No understatement to say a life-changing weekend… I may be short of sleep, and I may be an over-emotional guy at the best of times, but this is the greatest race in the world.”