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What’s New In 2016? Part 2 LMP2 & DP

There’s relatively little major change to the packages we’ll see in any of the Championships welcoming LMP2 machinery, mainly as a result of the sweeping changes due in 2017 with the dawn of new regulations mandating just four chassis suppliers and a spec engine for the FIA WEC.

That’s not to say that there aren’t new cars and new efforts around as teams work towards the new era and work too towards their best opportunity to graduate to the Le Mans 24 Hours. There are, and in abundance too!

More than 30 LMP2 spec cars, plus a gaggle of DPs look set to be active this coming year, several of them running double programmes with ELMS/ WEC full season duties at the core but other races added as one-offs.

With such a spread the simplest way to review progress is on a Series by Series basis.

2015/16 Asian Le Mans Series, 4 Cars Confirmed

Algarve Pro Racing: Ligier JS P2 Nissan
Eurasia: Oreca 03R Nissan
Eurasia: Oreca 03R Nissan
Race Performance: Oreca 03R Judd

The pair of Orecas from Fuji were joined for the Series’ second round by the Algarve Pro Racing Ligier and the grid takes another step forward in January with the addition of a second Eurasia Oreca 03R, this the car that has, until now, been campaigning in the ELMS (the first car is the ex Boutsen Ginion car.

Eurasia-Oreca-Nissan

Oliver Webb replaces Shinji Nakano alongside Niki Leutwiler in the Series leading Race Performance Oreca Judd for the final two races of the season.

Asian_LM_FP1-8

The second Eurasia car sees Indonesian Sean Gelael joined by Italian Antonio Giovinazzi for the final two rounds, the Oreca liveried in Gelael’s regular KFC livery.

Sean-Gelael

European Le Mans Series, 10-15 cars

DC Racing: Ligier JSP2
Dragonspeed: Oreca 05 Nissan
Eurasia Racing: Oreca 05 Nissan
Greaves Motorsport: Ligier JS P2 Nissan
IDEC Sport: Ligier JS P2 Nissan
Jota Sport: Gibson 015S Nissan
Murphy Prototypes: Oreca 03R Nissan (but other chassis possible)
Pegasus Racing: (Morgan or Ligier)
So24!: Ligier JS P2 Nissan
Tech 1 (Panis/ Barthez): Ligier JS P2 Nissan
Thiriet by TDS Racing: Oreca 05 Nissan

Still to declare

Algarve Pro Racing: Ligier JS P2 Nissan
Ibanez Racing: Oreca 03R Nissan x 2
Krohn Racing: Ligier JS P2 Judd

Almost 50% of the grid confirmed thus far are teams new to the ELMS LMP2 class.

Back for another shot in their 2015 machinery are both Thiriet by TDS and Jota Sport whilst 2015 Champions Greaves Motorsport return but this time with a Ligier JS P2. Simon Dolan is confirmed in the Jota ELMS effort.

ELMS_Estoril_Race-09

Three other 2015 teams look set to return too, Murphy Prototypes initially looked set to return with their venerable but effective Oreca 03R Nissan but are still in negotiation with parties involved in other potential chassis making their way to the team. Greg Murphy’s team tested, and were impressed with, the BR01 coupe but initially looked set to pass on the potential for campaigning the Russian flagged coupe, could that move be back on, or is another alternative closer to the line?

ELMS_Estoril_Race-16

Eurasia return with a new Oreca 05 Nissan as their 2015 03R is diverted to Asian LMS duty.

Oreca-05-LMP2-first-run-1

Pegasus Racing look set to return but we await confirmation of whether Julian Schell et al return with their Morgan or with a newer Ligier.

WEC-Shanghai-Race-Pegasus

Still to publicly confirm their intentions are Krohn Racing, though a second year with the Ligier Judd looks likely.

Krohn-COTA-Test-2

Algarve Pro are another team who have committed to the 2015/16 Asian LMS but could add an ELMS effort to their calendar.

#25-Algarve-Pro-Racing-Team-Ligier-JSP2-Nissan-Coupe

There’s no word as yet on the potential return or otherwise from Ibanez Racing who ran a part season in 2015 with a pair of Oreca Nissans. A promise from the team to return for the final round of 2015 failed to materialise.

45 Ibanez Racing

Newbies

And so to the list of new teams to the ELMS, with five already having declared their intent to join in the fun.

David Cheng’s DC Racing effort that has dominated the Asian Le Mans Series in LMP3 is set to bring a Ligier to the ELMS.

oak-ligier-2

Elton Julian’s Dragonspeed was an early announcement for the 2016 ELMS as Henrik Hedman closes in on his ambition to race at Le Mans. He’ll be joined by Julian and by ex Peugeot and Toyota man Nicolas Lapierre for the full season.

Nicolas-Lapierre-Dragonspeed

IDEC Sport, regulars in the VdeV Series announced plans to enter the ELMS with a Ligier JS P2 Nissan some little time ago, no drivers have yet been announced.

Ligier_JS_P2

So24! is a new racing venture that will campaign both LMP3 and LMP2 in the ELMS this year, the LMP2 effort will be with another Ligier JS P2 Nissan with 2011 Le Mans LMP2 winner Olivier Lombard joined by ex Signatech Alpine man Vincent Capillaries.

oak-ligier

Finally (for now at least) Tech 1 Motorsport aka Panis-Barthez Competition will also field a Ligier JS P2 Nissan with ex Manchester United and French national team goalkeper Fabien Barthez confirmed in the car.

Ligier_JS_P2_06

FIA World Endurance Championship, c.10 entrants

AF Racing: BR01 Nissan
AF Racing: BR01 Nissan
Greaves Motorsport: Gibson 015S Nissan
Jota Sport with Arden: Oreca 05 Nissan
KCMG: Oreca 05 Nissan
Morand Engineering: Morgan/ Ligier
Signatech Alpine: Oreca 05 Nissan
Strakka Racing: Gibson 015S Nissan
Tequila Patron ESM: Ligier JS P2 Nissan
Tequila Patron ESM: Ligier JS P2 Nissan

Believed to be set to announce WEC programme

Manor Motorsport: TBA

Possible part season

Project Brabham: TBA

There are changes aplenty expected to the 2016 FIA WEC LMP2 entry, astonishingly only one team looks likely to return with an unchanged effort as Strakka Racing are set to bring their Gibson 015S Nissan back for another shot with the same driving trio once again.

WEC-Nurburgring-42-Strakka

KCMG’s time on the fence deciding whether to return after the unpleasantness of Fuji, seems to be moving more in the direction of a possible return with their very sparkly Oreca 05 Nissan. If it happens expect a significant change in the driving line-up.

WEC-Nurburgring-47-KCMG

AF Racing have declared their intention to bring a pair of BR01 Nissans to the WEC with ex Renault and Caterham F1 driver Vitaly Petrov set to join the effort as Mikhail Aleshin leaves for a full season in IndyCar.

37 SMP Racing

Greaves Motorsport return to the WEC with their 2015 ELMS winning Gibson Nissan one of a pair of British teams with dual efforts in the WEC and ELMS.

ELMS_Estoril_Race-17

The other is Jota Sport who have allianced with single seater specialists Arden to field a new Oreca 05 Nissan for the 2016 WEC, Jake Dennis has been announced for Spa and Le Mans but in the ELMS full season Gibson.

JOTA-Livery-2

Benoit Morand intends to bring his Morand Engineering effort back for another shot though the 2015 Morgan Evo should be replaced with a Ligier Coupe if the effort comes to fruition.

43 Team Sard Morand

Signatech Alpine are another Oreca 05 customer (though theirs will feature an Alpine moniker) ahead of a return to the WEC after a late season run in 2015 that saw ‘Les Bleus’ emerge as real race contenders.

ORECA05_Cporate_1

Tequila Patron ESM return with a two car effort once again though it’s believed they will switch to Nissan engines alongside a switch to both a French operating base and adopting the core of the Oak Racing technical team.

bahrain-race-30

On the driving front the departing Jon Fogarty and David Heinemeier Hansson are replaced by Pipo Derani and Chris Cumming.

Beyond those teams are a pair of other potentially significant additions.

It’s clear that Graham Lowdon and John Booth, late of the Manor Marussia F1 effort, are closing in on an LMP2 effort in the FIA WEC. The open question is when? Most paddock sources suggest the firm intention is a 2016 effort. They would be a significant addition to the grid.

manor-f1-spa

And Project Brabham are pushing on with their plans to join the WEC at some point in 2016 – A full season is looking unlikely but race by race in the season is a possibility, David Brabham and co targeting 2017 for full season.

david-brabham-bathurst

IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, 7 full season, c.13 for Daytona

Action Express: Corvette DP
Action Express: Corvette DP
AF Racing/ SMP Racing: BR01 Nissan, Daytona confirmed, other races possible
Chip Ganassi Racing: Riley Ford Ecoboost DP, Daytona Only
Chip Ganassi Racing: Riley Ford Ecoboost DP, Daytona Only
Delta wing: Daytona Only
Dragonspeed: Oreca 05 Nissan, Sebring only
50 Plus: Riley BMW DP, Daytona Only
Mazdaspeed: Mazda (Multimatic Lola) Mazda (petrol)
Mazdaspeed: Mazda (Multimatic Lola) Mazda (petrol)
Michael Shank Racing: Ligier JS P2 HPD
Tequila Patron ESM: Ligier JS P2 HPD, Daytona & Sebring Only)
Visit Florida Racing: Corvette DP
Wayne Taylor Racing: Corvette DP

Possible Additional Entries

HPD x 2 ARX 04b, cars available

The Prototype entry in North America is the very epitome of ‘transition’. There is exciting potential for the new LMP2 based ‘DPI’ grid in 2017 but that leaves this year with a rather static feel.

The full season entry sees a familiar looking seven though one change might see the form book turned around a tad.

Action Express’s pair of Corvette DPs returns of course with both cars retaining their full season driver pairings from last season, Barbosa/Fittipaldi returning to defend their title in the #5, Cameron/ Curran looking to mount their own title challenge in #31.

ms-tuscc-long-beach-pq-feature

The Champions will be joined by Audi factory driver Filipe Albuquerque for the four NAEC rounds, and by Scott Pruett for Daytona. Simon Pagenaud and Jonny Adam join the #31 effort for Daytona, Pruett switches to the Whelen sponsored car for Sebring.

Daytona-Test-Action-Express

The Visit Florida Corvette DP sees an entirely new full season duo as Ryan Dalziel and Marc Goossens replace Ford bound Richard Westbrook and dropped Michael Valiante. Ryan Hunter Reay is the additional driver for the three enduros (plus Long Beach where he will sub for cup-tied Dalziel (on WEC duty)

tuscc-cota-2015-race-90

Wayne Taylor Racing by contrast keep it in the family with brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor back again in the family team- run car. Max Angelelli is set to play third man once again at Daytona and Sebring.

tuscc-cota-2015-race-10

It’s a trio of LMPs alongside the quartet of full season DPs.

Michael Shank Racing bring a re-chassised Ligier Honda for Ozz Negri and John Pew back to the track after Petit Le Mans damage left the 2015 tub beyond repair. AJ Allmendinger once again joins the team for Daytona.

tuscc-laguna-qualifying-03

Finally there’s the potential Joker in the pack as Mazda bring a pair of Multimatic chassised LMPs to the track again. This year though the comprehensively outgunned SkyActiv diesel powerplants are replaced by petrol fuelled engines. And the speed the cars have shown in testing has been very encouraging.

Daytona-Test-Mazda-1

Once again there’s no change in full season driver line-ups here, Jonathan Bomarito and Tristan Nunez will crew the #55 with Tom Long and Joel Miller in the sister #70 car.

HPD’s planned return with PR1 Mathieson fell at a late fence but the ex ESM ARX04bs are still available if a team can be found with much effort having been expended on new aero to correct the original car’s shortcomings.

ARX-04b-revised-left-and-old-right-2

For Daytona there are set to be a number of additional entries (and a couple for Sebring too):

AF Racing/ SMP Racing. The world tour for the BR01 coupe continues, alongside the planned two car WEC effort and a search for customers in the ELMS.

SMP BR01

The factory team will race at Daytona with a single car and will decide based on form at the Rolex 24 Hours whether other North American outings are also to be added to the programme.

Marshall Pruett broke the story two weeks ago that Chip Ganassi Racing is to return and defend its overall win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona with two Riley Ford EcoBoost DPs. The 2015 winning driver crew of IndyCar champions Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, plus Ganassi’s NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray look set to return in the #02 car with 17-year-old Canadian Lance Stroll, a recent signing as a Williams Formula 1 test driver, could be in the #01 with CGR IndyCar driver Charlie Kimball and his recent teammate Sage Karam possible team-mates.

Rolex-24-2015-winners

The DeltaWing coupe looks set to mount a possible one-off effort at Daytona.

daytona-test-deltawing

DragonSpeed won’t race at Daytona but will field their newly acquired and ELMS-bound Oreca 05 Nissan at Sebring for Nicolas Lapierre, Nic Minassian and Henrik Hedman

The 50 Plus DP effort at Daytona will be handled this year by Starworks

Tequila Patron ESM will race a solo Ligier Honda for both Daytona and Sebring, the car sporting the specially developed 3.5 litre version of the twin turbo V6 HPD engine.

Le Mans 24 Hours

LMP2-Morgan-Audi-01Garage 56: SRT 41 Frederic Sausset, Morgan Nissan

The effort to show how technology can assist quad amputee Sausset to race brings a Morgan LMP2 chassis to Garage 56 with assistance from Audi Sport.

Auto Entries Le Mans

KCMG (1st, 24H Le Mans)
Greaves Motorsport (ELMS LMP2 Champion)
Team LNT (ELMS LMP3 Champion)
Michael Shank Racing (IMSA)

Four Automatic entries are already in place but we wait for confirmation from both KCMG and Team LNT that they will commit to a full ACO rules season before the entries can be confirmed.