Tuesday 2 February 2016

WEC 2016 - a look at the possible entry list

At the end of the week, the entry list of the 2016 World Endurance Championship will be presented in Paris, together with the Le Mans 24 Hours invités and the European Le Mans Series entry list. 

Ahead of the press conference, we'll take a look at the possible 2016 entry list.  This is certainly not a complete list, as we're still waiting on the 2016 plans of several teams and some new teams are rumoured to race in the WEC.  Here's what we know at this time : 

LMP1 won't change much compared to 2015.  Both Porsche and Audi already confirmed not to run 3 cars at Le Mans, it's believed that Toyota also won't run a third car at Le Mans.  Title defenders Porsche will enter 2 revised 919's for their 2016 campaign. They will be joined by Audi (2 new R18's) and Toyota with 2 new TS050's.

Rebellion racing already confirmed their return to the LMP1 privateer class, retaining the R-One with AER engine.  No confirmation yet of Kolles' plans for this season, although a return to the WEC looks quite sure.  It's just not clear whether they will enter one or two cars. 

Porsche held the advantage last year with a completely new car, will Audi and Toyota be able to close the gap with their all new prototypes ? 

The LMP2 class might look a bit different this year with Le Mans winners KCMG not returning to the series and it's still unclear whether  G-Drive Racing will defend their title (although it seems likely they will; an announcement should be made ahead of the presentation on Friday). 

Tequila Patron ESM Racing will continue their WEC effort with their two Ligier JSP2's. Signafield Alpine will also return and switch their Oreca03 for a brand new Oreca05. It is believed Strakka racing should also return and run the Gibson 015S again in 2016. 

Stepping up from the European Le Mans Series are Greaves Motorsport (Ligier JSP2) and Jota Sport (Oreca05) who will run a program in both championships.  SMP Racing (AF Racing) will field 2 new BR01's in the WEC (and discontinue their program in ELMS). 

Team Sard Morand sold both Morgans, and is believed to have bought a Ligier JSP2. Will they team up with Ricardo Gonzalez who is about to enter a Mexican backed team in the WEC ? 

There are rumours going on about new team(s) heading into LMP2, but we'll have to wait untill Friday to know more about that. 

The 2016 season will be all about the return of Ford in endurance racing.  At Daytona last weekend they already showed to have the pace, but missed the reliability to be really competitive. 

Ford joins the GTE-Pro class with 2 new Ford GT's.  They will face fierce competition from AF Corse with 2 new Ferrari F488 and 2 revised Aston Martin Vantage entered by Aston Martin Racing.  Porsche is having a sabattical in GTE-Pro this year but Proton/abu Dhabu racing will field one 911 RSR with factory support.  

AF Corse will return to the GTE-Am class with 2 Ferrari F458 Italia's.  As SMP racing is focussing on the BR01 entries in LMP2, they probably won't field any cars in the GTE classes.  Aston Martin Racing will have one car with Paul Dalla Lana.  Larbre Competition will also return with their Corvette C7.  Gulf UK could make the switch from ELMS to WEC, which hasn't been confirmed yet. Proton Competition has a car ready for the Am-class, but it's still unsure if they will enter it for a full season. 

More news on Friday, when we know the definite entry list for the 2016 World Endurance Championship.

Kristof Vermeulen.