Monday 8 April 2019

ELMS: 2019 season to kick off with the Official test at Paul Ricard today

The European Le Mans Series is ready for what promises to be another exciting season of endurance racing in 2019.  As last season, the season kicks off at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet with the 2-day official test ahead of the 4 hours of Le Castellet on Sunday.  All 41 full season entrants are at the track, setting up their garages and getting the cars through scrutineering yesterday. 

The weather has been pretty unpredictable in the south of France so far.  Sunday starting in glorious sunshine before the rain started pouring down, only to do so over and over again for a few times during the afternoon.  Today (Monday) appears to be the best day of the week, and probably the only dry one until next weekend.  Fingers crossed that all teams will make the most of the available track time without any major incidents. 

Setup day ahead of the official test is also the moment to take the annual group shot of all contenders.  A massive job this season with no less than 41 cars on the grid for the European Le Mans Series.  Luckily the sun stayed out just long in enough in the afternoon, after some heavy showers earlier to get all cars staged.  

So here's your ELMS class of 2019 with the three title defenders on front row: the #88 Proton Competition Porsche, the G-Drive Aurus and the RLR Msport Ligier JSP3.

"Funky" livery for Project1

Project1 expands its efforts in endurance racing beyond their FIA WEC campaign and will make their debut in the European Le Mans Series this week.  The team fields a new Porsche 911 RSR in a rather striking new livery. 

The drivers for the #56 Porsche will be Egidio Perfetti and Jörg Bergmeister, both also active in the FIA WEC with the team.  They will be joined by defending ELMS champion Giorgio Roda. 

Nigel Moore returns to the ELMS with Inter Europol

Inter Europol Competition have confirmed Nigel Moore as  their second driver for the #13 Ligier JSP3 in the LMP3 class.  Moore will join Martin Hippe who is in his third season with the Polish team.   Moore is obviously delighted to finally be able to sign with Inter Europol Competition and be part of the team for the ELMS series. "Hopefully we shall be competitive from the start of the season."  It's a return to the ELMS for the English driver after competing in LMP2 and LMP3 with Tockwith Motorsports in 2016.

Martin Hippe said : “I am really happy and proud to race another year with Inter Europol Competition in the ELMS. It will not be easy, but I hope we can better the great performance from the last ELMS with one place. I am really happy with my new teammate, Nigel, as has shown a stunning performance in Asia and I am really looking forward to work with him.”

Sascha Fassbender (Team Manager): “I am very happy to welcome Nigel in our team as one of the strongest drivers in LMP3. He has shown his speed in many LMP3 races. We have Martin for the third year running, a great constant in our team as well as the reigning champion in the Asia Le Mans Series and Vice champion of ELMS.”

New mascot

Meet Rooky, the new mascot of the European Le Mans Series.  Rooky will makes his "debut" at the 4 Hours of Le Castellet next weekend !   His name was chosen by the ELMS fans on facebook.

Babini, Fortuna and Frazza in the #80 Ebimotors Porsche

Ebimotors is set for its second season in the European Le Mans Series with their Porsche 911 RSR.  Fabio Babini returns as the lead driver for the Italian team after an impressive debut season with four podium finishes in six races and a sixth place finish in the GTE-AM class at Le Mans.

This season, Babini will be joined by Italian French driver Sébastien Fortuna and Italian Marco Frezza.  Fortuna has veen working together with Ebimotors for several years while Marco Frezza had a very succesfull season with the team in the 24 Hours series last year (wins in Imola, Navarro and Spa-Francorchamps). 

New Media Center at Le Castellet

The Official test and 4 Hours of Le Castellet is be the first time that the European Le Mans Series will use the new Media Center at Circuit Paul Ricard.  The new media center was created for the return of the F1 last year in June, and is located at the back of the paddock. 

The return of the infamous Felbermayer livery

No more grey liveries for the #77 and #88 Proton Competition Porsches this year, but 2 new designs.  One of our personal favourites is back in the paddock: the infamous Felbermayr Porsche.  Thanks to Horst Felbermayr Jr who is sharing the #88 Porsche RSR with Marco Seefried and Thomas Preining.  

More news, updates and new liveries to follow in the upcoming days leading on to the first race of the 2019 season.  But first there's the 2 day "Official test" which kicks off this morning.  Over the span of 2 days all contenders will have 18 hours of track time, including a "night practice" tonight from 19h to 21h. 

Kristof Vermeulen.