Thursday 9 April 2015

Silverstone ELMS preview

Race start Silverstone 2014
With the opening round of the 2015 ELMS season at Silverstone this weekend, the European Le Mans Series looks healthier than ever.  After a thrilling 2014 season with 5 different overall winners in 5 races and Signatech Alpine claiming their second title in a row, 2015 kicks-off with a packed grid an the introduction of the new LMP3 class. 

31 cars feature the entry-list for Silverstone this weekend, a number that should increase during the season, especially in the LMP3 class. 

Krohn Racing Sebring 2015
11 entries, with 4 new teams form the first grid for the 2015 season. Jota Sport will be keen to have a strong home race, after welcoming back Nissan factory driver Harry Tincknell into their driver line-up. Last year's winners Thiriet by TDS made the switch back to Oreca with the new Oreca 05 chassis instead of the Ligier and are looking for new success this year. Pegasus Racing, Greaves Motorsport and Murphy Prototypes are also returning to LMP2 in 2015, while overall champions Signatech Alpine have stepped up to WEC.  

New teams like Eurasia Motorsport, AF Corse, Ibanez and Krohn Racing will also be looking to put in a strong performance in the first race of the season.  Krohn Racing (the only LMP not running a Nissan engine) already showed a strong pace at last months Sebring 12 hours in Florida, will they be able to keep that up in Europe ?

Ginetta LMP3 (team picture from their website)
The all new LMP3 class starts the season off with a 5 car field, a number that will increase during the season since only Ginetta has been able to deliver the first cars to their customers.  With more teams waiting for a chassis and 2 more manufacturers ( LAS and Riley Technologies ) coming up, LMP3 should give us some great racing throughout the season.  Certainly the Ginetta-Nissan of Sir Chris Hoy, who starts his road to Le Mans 2016 at Silverstone, will draw lost of attention during the first race weekend. 

Marc VDS at Estoril 2014
Marc VDS takes on the Ferraris and Porsches in the GTE class.  After a successful d├ębut at Estoril last year, the Belgian team will compete the whole ELMS season and have a go at the 2015 title with Andy Priaulx as leading driver. AF Corse who just missed the 2014 title will do everything possible to clinch the title this year.  Also on the grid is JMW Motorsport, AT Racing and Formula Racing with a Ferrari and the Porsches of Gulf Racing UK and Proton Competition. An impressive line up in GTE, able to give us some real door-to-door racing this year. 

Gulf GTC Porsche Estoril 2014
The GTC class hosts an impressive list of manufacturers with Ferrari, Aston Martin, BMW and Lamborghini.  The AF Corse Ferraris face the challenge by the BMW Z4 from TDS Racing, an Aston Vantage by Massive Motorsport and the Gulf Racing UK Lamborghini who had a great outing in Dubai earlier this year. 

The first practice session will be on Friday April 10th at 10.35, the season opening race is scheduled on Saturday April 11th at 14h30.  The race will be broadcast live on the ELMS website and on Motors tv. 

Kristof Vermeulen