The big news for 2016, a two car Chip Ganassi Racing effort is confirmed for the full season, the FIA WEC effort run out of the UK with a Multimatic sourced race team under the guidance of ex Prodrive/ AMR head honcho George Howard Chappell.
The twin turbo V6 engined Ford GT is a simply extraordinary looking beast, aerodynamically unlike any GTE car we’ve seen before.
The WEC driver announcement is set to take place in the first week of January.
A pair of new AF Corse entered 488 GTEs looks a dead cert, likely with an unchanged driver squad from 2015 with the #71 duo having proved increasingly impressive.
A third car is possible, most likely in the hands of SMP Racing, though at time of writing a car had not been ordered, and even if and when it is, it might well feature in GTE Am.
No more than a pair of 2016 V8 Vantage GTEs are set to feature with the effort based on the current #97 looking most certain and the Young Driver AMR #95 looking most likely to join it.
The current driver line-ups will be mixed and matched – Darren Turner has a long-term contract whilst Jonny Adam, Marco Sorensen and Fernando Rees are also set to be in the mix.
Whilst the Porsche Team Manthey team look set not to return to the WEC in 2016 with the new version of the 911 RSR DSC now believes that a deal is close to confirm a single car effort in GTE Pro with the Proton Competition team, likely bolstered with Porsche personnel in and out of the car, looking set to provide the entry.
Jack Laconte at Larbre Competition has long harboured an ambition to enter GTE Pro and senior WEC sources now tell DSC that they currently expect to see a Corvette C7.R enter the Pro class in 2016.
Whether that is an additional car for the French team’s single car 2015 effort remains to be confirmed. DSC believes that the factory team already has two new cars built for their forthcoming 2017 IMSA (and Le Mans) commitments so any additional Larbre car would either be an updated 2015 ex factory car or another new build.
Larbre Competition’s stock is high with the factory team after their WEC car was loaned as a temporary replacement for the accident damaged #64 (#4 IMSA) car after Le Mans.
The least clear of all five WEC classes.
Roald Goethe’s effort in 2016 will be away from the FIA WEC so much depends on a decision from Paul Dalla Lana on a return or otherwise for his #98 effort. The fast and amiable Canadian was buoyed up by improving late season form. That seems, at present, to be the only likely full season entry from AMR though a couple of one-off WEC appearances from the full season ELMS Beechdean effort look possible.
It would be a surprise if we didn’t see an AF Corse entry or two in 2016, with high quality ex ‘factory’ cars available and the Ferrari having proved very competitive last season.
As reported above the decision of 2015 GTE AM Champions SMP Racing on the shape of, and indeed any, GTE programme for 2016, possibly with an ex AF Corse car or possibly with a new 488 GTE, is currently under review.
Proton Competition are working on a potential two car Am class effort with lots of questions yet to be answered – Will Patrick Dempsey return to the WEC. Will the team run a GTE Pro effort alongside, or instead of one Am entry – Hard work ahead for Christian Ried and co?
Larbre Competition have been attempting to draw together a two car effort. The options for the team are: remaining with a single car in either Pro or Am, a two car effort in Am, or a two car effort with a single car in each class. Much depends on the decision on a potential GTE Pro effort.
The announcement of a full season Viper GTD effort in IMSA for Ben Keating and co. puts to bed the potential for a WEC effort for the remaining available Viper GTS-R.