Following hotly on the tail of yesterday’s first-part Le Mans 24 Hours entry list revelations, the 2019 European Le Mans Series entry list has been released and shows a grid size of 41 cars, the maximum the series can accept.
The LMP2 grid expands to 18 cars this year and is comprised of 11 Orecas, six Ligiers and only a single Dallara.
Last year’s champions G-Drive racing lead the LMP2 field with a single Oreca 07 for Roman Rusinov, Jean-Eric Vergne and 2018 LMP3 champion Job Van Uitert. No second entry this year for the Russian team which was run by Graff last year.
United Autosports return with 2 Ligier JSP217’s. The #22 will be driven by Phil Hanson and Filipe Albuquerque who also step up to the FIA WEC in the 2019/2020 season. The #32 has a new driver line-up with Alex Brundle who returns to team and Ryan Cullen.
This season also we see five new teams entering the Series’ top class; Cool Racing, BHK Motorsport, Inter Europol & RLR MSport all step up from the previous year in LMP3 and a newcomer to endurance racing, but a ‘household’ name in single seaters, Carlin who are entering the grid’s single Dallara, believed to be the ex-SMP Racing chassis.
Speaking about the team’s entry into the sportscar paddock, Trevor Carlin said, “The whole team are very excited about our move into LMP2. It’s an exciting category and a move that we’ve been assessing for a while.
“We see a lot of great drivers now move up the single-seater ranks and aim for professional drives in endurance racing rather than Formula 1, which shows the high respect this category of racing is held.
‘For us, it’s another opportunity to hold onto and work with some great former Carlin drivers who are now at the professional level. In Jack, we have a very promising young British driver, right at the start of his career. We’re excited to work with him further and help him show his potential in LMP2.”
Continuing our look at the LMP2 entries, Algarve Pro Racing enters a two car effort again, although this season without support of Rebellion Racing on the second car. The Portuguese based team now fields 2 Oreca 07’s with 2 new driver line-ups; Mark Patterson returns to the #25 Oreca and will be joined by 2018 champion Andrea Pizzitola and John Falb, the 2017 LMP3 champion who will make his debut in the LMP2 class. The #31 Oreca has a promising line-up with young and talented drivers Henning Enqvist graduating from various LMP3 (and a single LMP2) drives in 2018, James French and Tacksung Kim.
GRAFF (who also fielded the second G-Drive sponsored car in 2018) enters just a single LMP2 car for ELMS regular Tristan Gommendy along with Alexandre Cougnaud, Jonathan Hirschi.
Due to the increased size of both the LMP2 and GTE grid it was perhaps obvious that the LMP3 grid would be squeezed to provide the space needed. The majority of the grid is composed of teams entering two cars with both 360 Racing and Nielsen Racing doubling their efforts this year.
Yvan Muller’s M Racing has dropped the #18 Ligier but the #19 ‘camo’ Norma returns for Laurent Millara (who joins from the #18) and Lucas Legeret with Jann Ehrlacher rumoured to be the third driver whilst Eurointernational has also dropped back to a single car entry.
A new name to the grid is Realteam Racing, a Swiss flagged team for David Droux and Esteban Garcia which will be operated by ELMS regular GRAFF. United Autosports and RLR MSport, LMP3 Champions in 2016 and 2018 respectively, both return running Ligiers.
Ligiers again remain the pick of the grid with ten of the 14 entries fielding them.
The GTE grid has expanded to nine cars this year with the addition of GT Open regular Luzich Racing, Project 1 and two Kessel Ferraris, one of which will feature an all-female driver line up.
Ferrari stalwarts JMW again field a single 488 GTE, this year naming Jeff Seagal. Swiss flagged, AF Corse run, Spirit of Race return with their usual #55 Ferrari for regular Duncan Cameron, whilst the Porsche 911 RSRs of Ebimotors (#80) and Dempsey Proton Racing (#77) / Proton Racing (#88) all return for 2019.
The full provisional entry list can be downloaded here.
Kristof Vermeulen contributed to this report.