So earlier today, the ACO press conference announced the entry list for the World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Numbers wise, we have thirty-five in WEC, thirty-four in ELMS and the traditional fifty-five at Le Mans, although no Garage 56 entry has been selected for Le Mans. Additionally Seven entrants are on the official reserve list for Le Mans.
So firstly taking a look at LMP1, no major surprises in terms of entries, two cars from the four manufacturers plus the two Rebellion entries, note rebellion will miss Silverstone due to the late engine change from Toyota power to AER as reported on RACER, with the final LMP1 full season entry coming from ByKolles which is the “Lotus CLM” rebranded for 2015.
In terms of full season drivers, today confirmed a few additional names, so we know that Harry Tincknell who was part of Jota Sport’s Le Mans 24 LMP2 victory last year, is now with Nissan, and we also now know that Olivier Pla is confirmed with Nissan full season for the sister entry, whilst Marc Gene will be part of Nissan’s programme, whilst Simon Trummer makes the switch from GP2 to WEC with the ByKolles team. At Rebellion, Matias Beche and Nicolas Prost are confirmed as returning drivers.
In terms of LMP1 entries for Le Mans, the world knew before today, although officially confirmed that Audi, Porsche and Nissan will enter a third additional car for Le Mans, whilst Toyota will stay with two entries. Toyota have repeatedly said the reason for that is budget, but Toyota need to win Le Mans this year realistically, will having just two bullets in the chamber, compared to the rivals cost them? On the other hand, Will having two cars help them?
In terms of additional drivers confirmed for Le Mans, we know the additional Nissan will be led by Tsugio Matsuda, who is the reigning SuperGT (GT500) champion for Nismo. Whilst Porsche has previously confirmed Nico Hulkenberg, his team-mates Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber where confirmed, whilst Audi will run as confirmed previously Felipe Alberquerque, alongside Rene Rast and Marco Bonanomi for the third car.
Lots of changes for LMP2, firstly looking at the WEC, the obvious is the huge increase in entries, up to ten full season LMP2 entries, which is very good news for the WEC as for a variety of reasons, LMP2 in WEC really suffered in 2014, with four P2 chassis in total at some rounds.
As well as the obvious resurgence, 2015 does see the debut of several new chassis in P2 competition, last year we saw Ligier (Onroak) have its debut worldwide, for 2015 the WEC has three Ligier JS P2’s on the grid full season, two from G-Drive racing and a further from the actual OAK Racing team, all with Nissan Power. Whilst at Le Mans, OAK Racing will add a third Nissan powered LMP2 contender, whilst Krohn Racing, who are competing in ELMS, will field an additional Ligier JS P2, with Judd Power.
ESM bring two HPD ARX 04B’s full season in the WEC, following the debut of the chassis by the team during the Rolex 24 TUSCC race earlier in January, the team running a mixed programme, between WEC full season and the NAEC rounds over in the USA. Signatech Alpine move up from ELMS back to the WEC after winning the 2014 ELMS P2 championship, bringing with it the branded Alpine A450B. Whilst Team SARD Morand sees a partnership between ELMS team Morand Racing, who are stepping up to the WEC in partnership with Japanese renowned Le Mans Team SARD, the team will run the WEC full season in the “Morgan EVO” which is an updated version of the Morgan branded open cockpit Onroak P2’s seen in various championships for the past few years.
The Final two P2 entrants for the WEC come from Strakka, who are running the long awaited Strakka-Dome S103, whilst KCMG are the only full season WEC entry, to take the brand new Oreca 05. At Le Mans, a further Oreca 05 will be entered by ELMS team Thiriet by TDS Racing.
Also at Le Mans, ELMS team SMP Racing will bring its two developed in house BR01’s, whilst ELMS teams Greaves Motorsport (Gibson 015S) , Ibanez motorsport (Oreca 03R) and Pegasus Racing (Morgan Nissan) will join the class.
In GTE PRO, It’s business as usual for the WEC, with the usual two AF Corse entered Ferrari 458’s, alongside two Porsche Team Manthey entries, Whilst Aston Martin Racing have three entries in GTE PRO for 2015, whilst at Le Mans, Corvette Racing joins with two factory C7.R entrants in the class.
GTE Am sees a few differences; firstly a full season privateer Corvette C7.R is present in the WEC, with Larbre competition. Elsewhere SMP Racing, whose P2 entries have switched to ELMS, runs a singular Ferrari 458. Patrick Dempsey in partnership with Proton Racing, bring a Porsche 911 RSR, alongside the Proton Racing – Abu Dhabi sister entry. Meanwhile AF Corse brings one car, and Aston Martin Racing have two entries.
At Le Mans, the field is expanded with additional Ferrari 458’s; two from AF Corse, one from JMW Motorsport and one from TUSCC team, Scuderia Corsa. Additionally Team AAI will bring two Porsche 911 RSR’s from AsLMS.
Just a final thought on LMP3, the latest ACO class, which will be raced in the ELMS throughout 2015. Today the entry list confirmed Seven Ginetta-Nissan entrants in the class, which is a highly positive start for the class, especially with other manufacturers on the way. Interestingly Chris Hoy is racing among that class for cycling fans.