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Three Canadians Quest for Le Mans Glory in 2024

Photo Credit: Drew Gibson via Zacharie Robichon's Instagram


This weekend, 62 of some of the finest sports cars and competitors challenge themselves on a famous race track in Le Mans, France for some of the most meaningful 24 hours in motorsports. Venturing to the Circuit de la Sarthe vying for honour in Hypercar, LMP2 or LMGT3 competition categories, the historic mechanical and physical torture test attracts the usual mosaic of cars, teams and drivers. For the 2024 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a Canadian will be competing in each of the three classes. Their competition in the 24 hour race comes on the centennial for when John Duff (Canada's only overall winner at Le Mans) co-drove a Bentley to victory. For 2024, each of these three motoring athletes wearing a maple leaf has their own unique racing story that they hope to write the latest, greatest page with glory in the classic endurance event.

 

Antonio Serravalle

Photo Credit: Penske Entertainment/Chris Owens


Team: Isotta Fraschini 

Co-Drivers: Carl Wattana Bennett and Jean-Karl Vernay

Race Car: #11 Isotta Fraschini Tipo6-C

Class: Hypercar


The Driver: 

Antonio Serravalle auto racing career trajectory from Unisonville, Ontario to being a rookie in the FIA WEC (World Endurance Championship) for Isotta Fraschini.  

Starting of in go-karts at the age of 5, the young Antonio Serravalle excelled behind the wheel proving himself to be a leading Canadian racing phenom by earning several national championships as well as impressing on an international karting stage. Gaining accolades in karting, he gained the support of Canadian businessman/investor Marc Wade. The business relationship between Wade and Serravalle continues with his current opportunity with the Isotta Fraschini team.

Moving up through the ranks of open wheel racing in North America from 2018 to 2022, Serravalle competed in the Pro Mazda Championship, Indy Pro 2000 and Indy Lights. Success was unfortunately limited during his attempted progression up the open wheel racing ladder but he remained determined to prove himself at the highest levels in motorsports. Antonio switched from open wheel to sports car racing putting in a strong showing during a single round LMP3 appearance at Sebring for the 2023 IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge.

For 2024, 21 years old Antonio Serravalle joined the start-up Isotta Fraschini race team.  


The Team:

Isotta Fraschini has been a historic name in Italian industry since 1900. Connected to the production of marine and aviation engines, Isotta Fraschini was also a luxury car maker through the first half of the 20th century. 75 years since leaving the auto industry, a new effort is reviving the brand on four wheels using sports car racing competition as a relaunch setting. 

The Isotta Fraschini Tipo 6 LMH-C Hypercar contender is an all-new entry for the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans incorporating the involvement of Williams Advanced Engineering for aerodynamics and a turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 gasoline powerplant tuned by long-time Mercedes-AMG partner HWA. Competing against several established racing programs consisting of Porsche, Ferrari, BMW and Toyota teams in the Hypercar category, Isotta Fraschini’s debut is not expected to be strong enough to compete for victory but Canadian Antonio Serravalle, Thai-American Carl Wattana Bennett and Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay (former Indy Lights Champion and LMGTE AM class winner in the 2013 24 Hours of Le Mans) will attempt to make a good showing throughout the daylong event.



Roman De Angelis

Photo Credit: Aston Martin


Team: Algarve Pro Racing 

Co-Drivers: Olli Caldwell and Matthias Kaiser 

Race Car: #25 Oreca 07 Gibson

Class: LMP2


The Driver: 

Despite being 23 years old, Roman De Angelis has proven himself to be a capable, competitive fixture in the IMSA competition. Winning the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Gold title at the age of 16, he would claim the Platinum level championship two years later in 2019. Debuting in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTD category in the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona, De Angelis was part of a driving combination that finished third in class driving an Audi R8 LMS EVO. The following year he settled into Heart of Racing organization where he drove the team’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3 machines. For the 2022 season, Roman De Angelis claimed the GTD class’ championship with the Heart of Racing team and would capture a Rolex 24 at Daytona GTD victory the following year. Further highlighting his ambitions, he was studying as a mechanical engineering student with the University of Windsor during much of young professional racing career.

For Roman De Angelis, he arrives at the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans race as both a rookie to the French circuit as well as first-time competitor in an LMP2 race car driving for Algarve Pro Racing.


The Team: 

Founded in 2010 by Stewart and Samantha Cox, Portugal’s Algarve Pro Racing has cemented itself as a modest but professional motorsport organization. Entering the 2024 LMP2 category for 24 Hours of Le Mans, the team has tasted victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe in the past two years in the LMP2 Pro-Am ranks. Algarve Pro Racing is also the defending European Le Mans Series champion in LMP2 earning the 2023 title with current NTT IndyCar Series driver Kyffin Simpson serving as a co-pilot. 

Sharing driving duties in the #25 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca 07 race car with Roman De Angelis will be British driver Olli Caldwell and Liechtenstein’s Matthias Kaiser.



Zacharie Robichon

Photo Credit: Drew Gibson


Team: Proton Competition

Co-Drivers: Benjamin Barker and Ryan Hardwick

Race Car: #77 Ford Mustang GT3
Class: LMGT3


The Driver: 

For the third year in a row, Zacharie Robichon will be vying for glory at 24 Hours of Le Mans event in 2024 with Germany’s Proton Competition. 

The Ottawa-born driver, while attracted to auto racing partially fueled by his father’s experience in motorsports, would only start competing in go-karts at the age of 14. Despite waiting longer to enter the sport, Robichon emerged as a talented racer and would score the coveted Hinchtown.com Canadian Karting Award in 2011, one year after future Formula 1 driver Nicolas Latifi won the honour.  

Robichon’s found success quickly after transitioning from karting to F1600 racing and later established himself firmly in sports car racing. He entered the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada series in 2016 and would capture the Platinum title in 2018 beating out Roman De Angelis. Following the championship season, Canadian race team Pfaff Motorsports picked up Zacharie Robichon to drive their Porsche 911 GT3 R in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GTD category. Paired with British Columbia’s Scott Hargrove, Robichon went to victory in the GTD class twice in 2019. For the 2021 season where he was paired with Laurens Vanthoor at Pfaff Motorsports, Zacharie Robichon won four times and claimed the GTD drivers’ championship. Rolex 24 at Daytona class victory followed the next year piloting a Porsche for Wright Motorsports.   

Part of Proton Competition’s World Endurance Championship team for 2024 running on the all-new Ford Mustang GT3, Zacharie Robichon heads into the 24 Hours of Le Mans


The Team:

After operating Porsche 911 race cars in Le Mans’ GT production-based class for years, Proton Competition’s 2024 campaign features a switch to all-new Ford Mustang GT3s. In the first few outings as part of the FIA WEC tour, the V8-powered performance car is struggling to overcome stiff opposition from established class members such as the BMW M4 GT3, Porsche 911 GT3 R and the Aston Martin AMR. However, the Mustang GT3 cars have proven to be quick getting around the Circuit de la Sarthe. In addition to fielding three factory-backed Ford Mustangs, Proton Competition’s 2024 effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans consists of entries on all categories of racing. A Porsche 963 Hypercar as well as an LMP2 car is also competing into the team banner.

The #77 Mustang GT3 will be shared by an accomplished driving team. Alongside Zacharie Robichon is American Ryan Hardwick and British driver Benjamin Barker. Succeeding in Australian Formula 3 in 2010, Barker has accumulated several major endurance wins in the Bathurst 12 Hour and Dubai 24 Hour events. Hardwick rejoins Robichon having won the 2022 Rolex 24 at Daytona class victory together with Jan Heylen and Richard Lietz.

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