Wednesday 22 May 2019

FIA WEC: 2019/2020 season entry list updates

With the final race of the FIA WEC "Super Season" right around the corner, more news and updates about the forthcoming 2019/2020 season is being released in the past days/hours.  Some teams will leave the championship unfortunately others return or will make their debut on the world stage of endurance racing. 

Ginetta files request for 2 cars in LMP1

Ginetta Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson has confirmed that, following an intensive development and testing programme with the Ginetta LMP1 car, the Yorkshire, UK-based company has submitted a request for two entries with the intent to rejoin the FIA World Endurance Championship next season in the premier LMP1 class.

“I’m pleased to confirm that two entry requests have been submitted to the FIA WEC for our Ginetta G60-LT-P1 cars to contest the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship. If the entries are accepted, both cars will be powered by the AER P60B turbocharged V6 engine that we have been testing in recent months in a developed version of the Ginetta. Details of the team, drivers and other parts of the package will be released in due course.”

Ginetta has been testing at Spa-Francorchamps this week, as did Toyota and other teams preparing for Le Mans.  Following the statement made by the team, they have filed an entry request for 2 cars but haven’t found any customer to enter the cars for them so far.  If Ginetta would run the cars under their own flag, they actually would be a factory team and not eligible to run in the non-hybrid class.

Dragonspeed ends LMP1 program, returns to LMP2 on race-by-race basis

Dragonspeed decided to cut down on their sportscar efforts, confirming the ‘retirement’ of their LMP1 program after next months 24 Hours of Le Mans and a reduced LMP2 presence in the World Endurance Championship.

Elton Julian said “The Le Mans 24 Hours next month will be our final LMP1 and regular WEC outing, allowing us to ramp up our IndyCar efforts on both the technical and marketing fronts. We’re not leaving the WEC entirely, as we plan to enter our #21 LMP2 ORECA O7-Gibson in individual rounds, including Spa, Brazil, and Le Mans, with Le Mans, of course, subject to us earning or being granted an invitation. We’re also considering running Daytona and Sebring with IMSA again.”

The team will however stay active in the European Le Mans Series, which for Julian offers the best sportscar racing on the planet: “We’ll definitely continue in the ELMS, which we think offers the best sportscar racing on the planet and remains the ideal series for the top gentleman drivers. With the kind of competition you get from 19 regular LMP2 entries, we take pride in the fact that the last two ELMS victories with a Bronze driver, in 2016 and 2019, have been ours.”

The American team had a successful attempt to qualify for the Indy 500 last weekend, Ben Hanley securing 27th place on the grid for Sundays race.

Signatech Alpine Matmut continues in WEC

Current championship leaders in LMP2 Signatech Alpine Matmut have confirmed their entry in the 2019/2020 FIA World Endurance Championship.  Present in sportscar racing since 2013, the team will announce its driver line-up after the Le Mans 24 Hours next month.

“We are very proud to represent the sports programme of Alpine” said Régis Fricotté, commercial director of the Alpine competition division. “Our engagement in LMP2 gives us a global visibility , with great results since 2013.  The Alpine community supports our approach, and it’s just by going to Le Mans to realize what endurance racing means for Alpine and vice versa”.

It’s a fantastic opportunity to be able to work with a constructor which is active on track and in rally” added Philippe Sinault, manager of Signatech. We are proud to be representing Alpine in the FIA World Endurance Championship, working towards podiums, victories and world titles”.

Racing Team Nederland switches to Oreca next season 

Dutch Racing Team Nederland presented their 2019 Le Mans livery last week, a tribute to the Minardi F1 team which used to be Frits Van Eerd’s favorite team. Giancarlo Minardi, founder of the late F1 team attended the unveiling of the car.  The team also announced that Le Mans will be its last race with the Dallara P217 and Davytec.  As from next season they will switch to an Oreca 07 which will be run by French team TDS Racing.  Frits Van Eerd, Giedo van der Garde and Nyck De Vries will continue to race in the World Endurance Championship. 

Team owner and driver Frits Van Eerd explained why they will change to the Oreca next season: “We’ve been racing with the Dallara since our debut in 2017.  First in the European Le Mans Series, now in the FIA WEC. The Davytec crew has worked day and night for 2 years to improve the Dallara, and I’m very grateful for that as they have done a terrific job: we’ve been at the finish for 14 consecutive races.  The Oreca however has been the dominant car in the LMP2 class, which is why we decided to race an Oreca 07 in the world championship as from next season. This also implies we had to choose for a new technical partner which has experience with the car. With TDS we’ve managed to sign one of the best Oreca teams in the paddock.  But first we will focus fully on the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans where we’ll be out to give it our best and end our cooperation with Davytech in the best possible way. 

“I’ve got a special friendship with Frits Van Eerd” said Giancarlo Minardi “and I’m very honoured the Minardi team has always inspired him. It’s fantastic to see the colours of my Formula 1 cars back on the Racing Team Nederland car.  Frits and I will continue to see how we can intensify the connection with Minardi, and it will be a pleasure for me to keep guiding him - as a kind of godfather - with his raceteam, new talents and new projects”. 

Nyck De Vries added: “This will be my first 24 Hours of Le Mans, so I’m very curious about it. I really like to be able to combine my F2 programme with the races of Racing Team Nederland, of which Le Mans will definitely be a highlight. Continuing to race in 2019/2020 is also fantastic, since we’ve only grown stronger as a team in the past year. 

BMW ends WEC program

BMW announced this morning that they will bid farewell to the WEC at the end of the Super Season.  The upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the final race of the BMW M8 GTE in the championship.

BMW Group Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt talks about the strategy going forward of BMW’s Motorsport division. “Motorsport has always been an important pacesetter for the BMW Group, and a relevant testing ground for future development in the automobile industry as a whole – and that will remain the case.

“We will not compete in WEC going forward. Therefore, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June will be another highlight for us in drawing to a close – just like in 2018, when we celebrated the successful world premiere of the BMW 8 Series Coupe there. But in light of us sharpening our focus as part of our strategy for the future, continuing our WEC involvement in the coming years does not fit with our direction. 

The global presence of BMW M Motorsport is safeguarded by customer racing and the DTM in Asia and Europe, as well as the IMSA series in North America, even without competing in a world championship. We would like to thank BMW Team MTEK for its dedication over recent years and we wish WEC all the best and hope that it makes good progress.”

The Munich based manufacturer will however keep on racing in the IMSA series:  “The IMSA series plays a central role for us in North America and is developing well. The USA is the most important market for BMW M cars, so it is very fitting to build a direct bridge to our production models there with the BMW M8 GTE.” Said Jens Marquardt.

TF Sport to continue their effort WEC in GTE Am

TF Sport confirmed today they have submitted its entry for the forthcoming WEC season which gets underway at Silverstone in September.  The British team intends to enter the championship in the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE, which would be the first in the GTE Am class.

The 2018/19 Super Season is the team’s first in the Championship, having moved through the sportscar ranks with title-winning success in the Michelin Le Mans Cup and then the European Le Mans Series, before stepping up to the World Endurance Championship.

The Super Season has also been a successful one for TF Sport, with podiums in the #90 Aston Martin Vantage GTE at Spa Francorchamps, Silverstone, Fuji and again in Belgium heading to the conclusion of the current championship at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Further details of the programme and the driver line-up will be announced in due course. 

Tom Ferrier, TF Sport Director said:  “It has always been our intention to continue in the FIA World Endurance Championship and we have worked hard behind the scenes to ensure that we remain at the highest level of GT racing. We have high hopes that our entry will be accepted and that we can return to Silverstone in the new Aston Martin Vantage GTE.”

Kristof Vermeulen.