The entry list for the 24 Hours of Le Mans is limited to 56 cars (the highest ever number of starters was 60 in the early fifties but teams shared pit garages in those days), spread across the four classes LM P1, LMP2, LMGTE Pro, LMGTE Am and one pit garage saved for an entry showing new or interesting technologies. This number is set by the number of current pits available at the circuit. All teams that entered the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) for the full season are automatically given entries for the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours.
Since 1959 bar a few years, there was a pre-qualification weekend before the race (even on a couple of occasions a qualifying race). All teams seeking to participate, had to show up at Le Mans, drive their qualification laps and with a few exceptions, e.g. the winner of the previous year’s race, only the fastest cars were able to qualify for the race. This has recently been changed to a system of “pre-selected” or “A.C.O.-selected” entries and the pre-qualification weekend has become a compulsory test weekend for all participants.
Due to the world economic crisis, the test weekends in 2009 and 2010 were cancelled, but 2011 saw the return of the test day. All new or “rookie” drivers must complete their 10 test laps by the end of the test day to qualify for the race. The A.C.O. reserves the right to refuse permission for a driver to race if they consider their performance inadequate but this very rarely happens.
Besides the WEC full season entries there are several other teams which will be given automatic entries by the A.C.O.: if these teams apply for an entry and pay their deposit by a set date (28th January this year), they will be accepted. The list of these additional pre-selected entries is compiled based on results from the previous year. As automatic entries are granted to teams (and are not related to chassis or engine make), the teams are allowed to change their cars from the previous year to the next, but are not allowed to change their category. However, automatic invitations in the two LMGTE categories are able to be swapped between the two based on the driver line-ups chosen by these teams. For 2014, on December 20th the A.C.O. announced that 13 teams received automatic entries:
If a pre-selected entry is not taken or there are any spaces available once all the WEC competitors are taken into account, the remainder of the entries are given away at the A.C.O.’s discretion. The following is a quotation from the A.C.O. Regulations about their guidelines for the selection procedure for the remaining entries:
Pre-selected or not, everyone needs to pay the entry fee which is a juicy 13.500 € per vehicle for the test day and 50.000 € for the race in 2014.