Super Season entry list: A look at the classes in more detail
Toyota headline 10-strong LMP1 category; BMW strengthens powerful GT World Championship to 10 challengers; Three constructors go head-to-head in LMP2 in hands of teams old and new; Multi-marque LMGTE Am class boosted to 9 for Super Season.
Toyota headline 10-strong LMP1 category
Six months ago, few imagined that 10 LMP1 cars would be lining up for the start of the 2018-2019 season, with a two-time F1 World Champion among the drivers!
Toyota Gazoo Racing’s commitment to the development of hybrid technology, and its dedication to making ever-better road cars using the knowledge and experience gained in the WEC, sees it extend its engagement in the World Endurance Championship for the full Super Season.
The Japanese manufacturer recently announced that Fernando Alonso would be joining the team for the duration, allowing the Spanish F1 champion to fulfil his desire to try and claim the Triple Crown in motorsport. His presence alongside the existing, super-strong, international driver line up will undoubtedly attract a host of new fans and media interest.
Facing the might of Toyota will be challengers from Switzerland, Austria, China, the USA and Russia. These private teams include LMP2 2017 champion Rebellion Racing which is making a return to the top category with an ORECA-built Rebellion R13 in the hands of an impressive driver line up including André Lotterer, Neel Jani and other former champions.
ByKolles Racing Team has worked hard in the months since it last competed in the WEC to upgrade and develop its ENSO CLM P1/01, and it joins CEFC TRSM Racing (formerly Manor) who move up to LMP1 with two new Ginetta G60-LT-P1 prototypes and a soon-to-be-revealed driver line up including talented British driver Oliver Rowland.
There will be no fewer than three BR Engineering BR1s on the grid, two – powered by AER – from SMP Racing which makes its return to the WEC for the first time since 2016, having competed in the ELMS last year, and one, with a Gibson engine, from championship debutant DragonSpeed – the American team also moving over from the WEC’s sister championship. Russian star drivers Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov will be representing their country in the SMP entries, while DragonSpeed has brought together a driver line up which is hungry for success but benefitting from the experience of drivers such as Renger van der Zande and Ben Hanley.
The LMP1 cars will all be Michelin-shod for the Super Season, but powered by five different engine suppliers including Toyota. Gibson, Nismo, Mecachrome and AER will all be on the grid in LMP1, all aiming to take their teams to LMP FIA World Endurance Championship success.
BMW strengthens powerful GT World Championship to 10 challengers
Boosted by the FIA World Endurance Championship titles for GTE Drivers and Manufacturers, the competition in the LMGTE Pro class will be hotter and tighter than ever with the addition of BMW to the ranks.
The German marque’s new BMW M8 GTE, with an experienced, race-winning but WEC-unproven crew of drivers, made its race debut just weeks ago and will be going head to head from April’s Prologue (Circuit Paul Ricard, 6/7 April) onwards with some of the world’s most prestigious luxury car marques.
These include an all-new Aston Martin Vantage AMR, in the hands of the established ‘Dane Train’ and two new drivers to the British factory line up, Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin. Lynn has competed in LMP2 but makes his debut in GTE Pro, while Maxime Martin joins Aston Martin Racing from BMW Motorsport.
Returning to challenge once again for championship victory will be two Ferrari 488 GTEs from AF Corse, looking to repeat the Italian manufacturer’s success of recent years with an unchanged driver line up including 2017 GT World Champions, James Calado and Alessandro Pier Guidi.
The two Ford GTs from Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK have achieved multiple triumphs in their two seasons in the WEC, and will be challenging for world titles with an unchanged roster of drivers. With 12 months of competition experience behind it, Porsche’s new generation 911 RSR will approach the Super Season with renewed enthusiasm and determination, benefitting from the return of former GTE Pro champion Gianmaria Bruni to the WEC.
Three constructors go head-to-head in LMP2 in hands of teams old and new
The LMP2 grid will consist of seven entries but, in contrast to last year, there are three different chassis constructors represented through the ORECA 07, Dallara P217 and Ligier JSP217. Signatech Alpine’s A470, while individually named, is an ORECA 07 design. The new LMP2 regulations introduced in 2017 offered customers a significant increase in performance which provided thrilling and close competition throughout the entire 2017 season – something which is sure to be repeated in the Super Season.
French teams, Signatech Alpine Matmut (2016 LMP2 champions) and TDS Racing, show continued loyalty to the WEC as do 2017 class runners-up Jackie Chan DC Racing. The British-run, Chinese-entered team returns to consolidate its claim on victory in the WEC with a two-car team – the only entrant in the class to do so.
Two new teams are welcomed to LMP2 from the ELMS ranks, DragonSpeed – this entry alongside its LMP1 prototype – and Racing Team Nederland with former F1 and WEC driver Giedo van der Garde among the drivers. A name familiar to both endurance and WEC circles, Larbre Competition, makes its return to the World Championship after sitting out 2017.
Multi-marque LMGTE Am class boosted to 9 for Super Season
The LMGTE Am class features three different brands among the nine entries, the number being a significant boost compared to previous seasons.
The competitors include the 2017 class champions from Aston Martin Racing, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda, plus a second Vantage entered by WEC debutant TF Sport.
Ferrari 488 GTEs will be in the hands of Clearwater Racing from Singapore, Spirit of Race from Switzerland – both of whom won races last year – and another new name, MR Racing. The Japanese-entered team’s Ishikawa Motoaki successfully took part in the 2017 Rookie Test in Bahrain which reinforced his desire to compete on the world stage.
Alongside the Aston Martins and Ferraris will be no fewer than four Porsche 911 RSRs, two from Dempsey-Proton Racing who challenged Aston Martin Racing so hard last year, one from Gulf Racing, and one from a further new name to the entry lists, Team Project 1.