On April 16, 2023, the Endurance World Championship (EWC) wrapped up another edition of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. The season opener didn’t disappoint either. With just three laps separating winning team F.C.C. TSR Honda France and runner-up YART Yamaha, the competition couldn’t get much closer.
Over the course of the 24-hour race, the France-based Honda team clocked 791 laps. The Yamaha squad valiantly completed 788 trips around the Bugatti Circuit of Le Mans, but ultimately came up short. In all, 34 teams competed in the EWC season opener, and fans flocked to the iconic track to cheer on the competitors.
After tallying the total attendees, organizers reported that 77,200 spectators flooded the Le Mans grandstands over the race weekend. In 2010, the race set an outright attendance record with 92,000 spectators. Sadly, those numbers steadily declined in the following years, with 82,200 fans attending in 2011 and 66,700 coming out in 2012. While this year’s crowd couldn’t eclipse 2011’s strong showing, ticket sales still outperformed 2018’s total of 76,000 spectators.
Overcoming those pre-pandemic figures is an encouraging development for both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Endurance World Championship. Next, the series will head to Belgium’s Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps on June 16-18, 2023. The teams will then leave Europe for the Suzuka 8 Hours in Japan on August 4-6, 2023. EWC will return to France for the 2023 season finale for the Bol d’Or at the Circuit Paul Ricard on September 14-17, 2023.
Hopefully, the 2023 24 Heures Motos sets the stage for the rest of the season, with the remaining races attracting ardent endurance racing fans from around the world. Racing of all forms suffered during the pandemic, and it’s heartening to see fans return to the stands.