Saturday 18 November 2017

FIA WEC: Dragonspeed to run customer BR1 next season

Dragonspeed to run a customer BR1 next season

During the launch of the BR1 at Bahrain yesterday evening, Dragonspeed has been announced as the team's first customer to run a second BR1 in the 2018/2019 FIA WEC superseason.

After securing the 2017 ELMS title in Portimao last month, Dragonspeed announced their intent to race in LMP1 next season. Initially they kept all options open towards chassis and engine manufacturer, but were looking into a collaboration with Oreca. Since Oreca couldn't give any assurance about a possible LMP1 project, contact were laid with Dallara and SMP Racing, resulting in the decision to opt for the BR1/Dallara chassis and a brand new Gibson LMP1 engine.

Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman have already been confirmed as drivers for next season, the third driver is yet to be selected and announced. Nico Lapierre, who is now racing with Dragonspeed in the ELMS and Signatech Alpine in the FIA WEC might be one of the main contenders for the third seat given his experience in LMP1 with Toyota.

It's also confirmed that the American based team will continue to compete in the European Le Mans Series with one of their Oreca 07's, for which they are looking to find a customer.

Dragonspeed will use the all new Gibson GL458 engine in their BR1. The new LMP1 engine supplied by Gibson will be based upon their successful LMP2 engine. Design, development and production of the new GL458 are taking place at Gibson’s Repton facility, with the first engine being scheduled for delivery to DragonSpeed in late February. All LMP2 WEC, ELMS and Le Mans 24 Hour teams are currently powered by Gibson engines, with over 500,000kms covered so far with the GK428 engines. The new LMP1 contract with DragonSpeed is a natural progression for Gibson’s highly motivated engineers to prove their reliability and success at the top level of endurance racing.

“I am delighted to forge this alliance with Gibson Technology” said Elton Julian, DragonSpeed team owner. “Having personally raced with their engines in the past and now winning our first LMP championship as a team owner with their power plant, I can’t think of a better partner for DragonSpeed’s next challenge. Reliability, support and the common desire to succeed make this the obvious choice for our programme”.
“Everyone at Gibson is thrilled that one of our most successful LMP2 engine customers has opted to remain with us to continue with this excellent partnership and we look forward to tackling the challenge of LMP1 together” said John Manchester, Gibson Technology’s Operations Director. “Work has been underway for a while on the new LMP1 power unit and we will aim to ensure that we can deliver the required combination of power, fuel efficiency and good reliability from the moment the DragonSpeed Dallara Gibson goes on track.”

Kristof Vermeulen.