Once again, 56 cars are due to compete at the historic twice-around-the-clock classic at Le Mans, and this year has the potential to be as exciting a race as any year in the past. With four major manufacturers in LMP1, four in GTE Pro and a plethora of privateer entries in the LMP2 and GTE Am classes, sportscar fans around the world are in for a treat.
LMP1, 14 cars
2x Toyota Racing – Toyota TS040 Hybrid
3x Audi Sport Team Joest – 7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro
3x Porsche Team – Porsche 919 Hybrid
3x Nissan Motorsports Nissan GT-R LM NISMO
Team ByKolles – CLM P1/01 AER
2x Rebellion Racing – Rebellion R-One AER
The 2015 LMP1 field is, in quality terms, exceptional. All the WEC entries from the manufacturers and the two privateer teams will of course be making an appearance, with the addition of three extra one-off entries from Porsche, Audi and Nissan. This means we have a grand total of 11 factory prototypes that will be in the running for the overall victory. It could turn into a colossal scrap!
We know that F1 star Niko Hulkenburg, Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber will make up the third car for Porsche Motorsport. While Filipe Albuquerque, Audi GT3 graduate René Rast and the up-and-coming Marco Bonanomi will make up the third R18 for Audi Sport. Nissan’s full line-up is yet to be announced.
Rebellion Racing’s pair of R-Ones and ByKolles’ CLM P1/01 make up the rest of the P1 class.
LMP2, 20 cars
2x G-Drive Racing – Ligier JS P2 Nissan
2x Tequila Patron ESM – HPD ARX-04b
2x OAK Racing – Ligier JS P2 Nissan
Signatech-Alpine – Alpine A450b Nissan
2x Team SARD-Morand – Morgan Evo SARD
Strakka Racing – Strakka-Dome S103 Nissan
KCMG – Oreca 05 Nissan
2x SMP Racing – BR01 Nissan
Krohn Racing -Ligier JS P2 Judd
Ibanez Racing – Oreca 03R Nissan
Thiriet by TDS Racing – Oreca 05 Nissan
Jota Sport – Gibson 015S Nissan
Pegasus Racing – Morgan Nissan
Murphy Prototypes – Oreca 03R Nissan
Greaves Motorsport – Gibson 015S Nissan
Once again, the race for the LMP2 win at Le Mans is set to be epic. 20 cars make up the class, with such variety up and down the field.
Team SARD-Morand (in it’s current merged guise), Tequila Patron ESM and Ibanez Racing will all be making their Le Mans debuts. The American team will notably be bringing the latest HPD chassis for its first run at the big race too, with the trio of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, and David Heinemeier Hansson joined by Ed Brown, Jon Fogarty and Johannes van Overbeek in the sister car. SARD and Ibanez will run Morgan (Evo) and Oreca chassis respectively.
SMP Racing and Strakka Racing will also be bringing brand-new chassis with them. If last year’s near-faultless runs by the Ligier teams is anything to go by, SMP’s BR01 and Strakka’s DOME may well be in the running for podium positions. Strakka in particular look to be strong after a successful and extensive testing programme for the S103 over the past year.
Last year’s winning team – Jota Sport – are back for another go at La Sarthe, with a heavily revised Zytek chassis, re-branded as a ‘Gibson 015S’. Only Simon Dolan is confirmed for the team, but we can expect that two other top-class prototype drivers will be joining him. Greaves Motorsport are also entered with a Gibson 015S.
Another notable name in the LMP2 field this year is Krohn Racing. No stranger to Le Mans, Tracy Krohn’s team will be entering in the prototype ranks for the first time with a Judd engined Ligier, only time will tell what they will be capable of achieving.
You could make a case for almost anyone in this field taking the win. And after the last few years, that’s exactly what everyone has come to expect from the cost-capped prototype class.
GTE-Pro, 9 cars
2x AF Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia
2x Corvette Racing – Corvette C7.R
2x Porsche Team Manthey – Porsche 911 RSR
3x Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage
Nine cars are entered into this year’s GTE Pro field, and all of them have a chance of winning. The seven-cars from the World Endurance Championship are set to be joined as usual by the Corvette Racing team, who will be looking to take yet another GT win after being in the running for almost the entire race the last couple of years.
Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin or Corvette, who will come out on top? Place your bets…
GTE-Am, 13 cars
Larbre Competition – Corvette C7.R
SMP Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia
2x Team AAI – Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
Dempsey Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR
Scuderia Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia
JMW Motorsport – Ferrari 458 Italia
3x AF Corse – Ferrari 458 Italia
Abu Dhabi Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR
2x Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage
The GTE Am field is made up of nine teams, combining for 13 cars, representing four marques like the Pro class. It’s a very healthy field, that incorporates teams from the ELMS, WEC, TUSCC and Asian Le Mans Series.
The biggest surprise comes from the Asian Le Mans Series as Team AAI have decided to use their two automatic entries, which they gained after their performance in the GTC class in during last year. They’ll enter two GTE Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs with Jun-san Chen and Han-chen Chen as the named drivers so far – No news yet on where the cars have been sourced though neither IMSA Performance nor Prospeed Competition are listed anywhere at present.
The other teams fielding more than one car, are unsurprisingly Aston Martin Racing and AF Corse. Aston, who won the class last year with the #95 which has moved to the Pro class this year, enter two Am Vantages. We know that Roald Goethe and Stuart Hall are confirmed in one (#96), and Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda are set for the other (#98). AF Corse have three Ferraris to add to their two entries in Pro.
Outside of the other full-season WEC runners, JMW Motorsport will, as usual, bring along a Ferrari with George Richardson confirmed. And TUSCC’s only other GTE team aside from Corvette – Scuderia Corsa – will make the trip from the States. The team will run a 458 with William Sweedler and Townsend Bell as the named talent thus far.
Reserves, 7 cars
Riley Motorsports – SRT Viper GTS-R
KCMG – Oreca 03R Nissan
Formula Racing – Ferrari 458 Italia
Gulf Racing UK – Porsche 911 RSR
Algarve Pro Racing – Ligier JS P2 Nissan
Proton Competition – Porsche 911 RSR
Ibanez Racing – Oreca 03R Nissan
The ACO have elected to just publish a single reserve list this year, rather than a separate one for prototypes and GTs. It features 7 cars, all in either GTE Am or LMP2.
At the top of the list is a Riley Motorsports entered SRT Viper GTS-R with Jeroen Bleekemolen driving. After their performance at Daytona, dominating their class, it would be great to see them get the chance to come along to La Sarthe for a crack at a class win.
KCMG and Ibanez Racing have second entries on this list, and Proton Competition their third. Meanwhile, Algarve Pro Racing, Gulf Racing UK and Formula Racing, who are entered for full ELMS campaigns will also have to play the waiting game to see if they can make the trip to France in June.