Despite the increase in available grid spaces to 58, with the current build programme of new garages at Le Mans underway towards a planned total of 60 garages in 2017, and the reduction in expected LMP1 factory entrants in 2016, there looks set to be a tight squeeze on available grid slots for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.
15 Automatic entries have already been allocated for a variety of racing successes (plus a pair of IMSA nominations and the Garage 56 slot for Frederic Sausset).
Taking out the entries for both Marc VDS and Team LNT, neither team having a planned 2016 race programme in an ACO sanctioned series that leaves 45 slots available on the grid.
All full season WEC entrants receive an entry so lets allocate a notional 30 there (we believe total will be 30+ but one Porsche 919 and an SMP Ferrari are Auto entries).
That leaves 15 (or fewer) available slots.
Now add in the second factory Corvette (the sister car is an auto entry), the pair of IMSA entered Pro Porsche GTE’s and an additional part of IMSA entered Ford GTs
Now we are down to ten!
And that doesn’t take into account a known wish for Ferrari to field a stronger GTE Pro contingent from their customer teams with Risi Competizione, SMP Racing and/ or Scuderia Corsa (the latter two teams with possible additional entries ) also possibly in the mix.
We’re into single figures either way.
With the LMP2 entry for the ELMS likely to be in double figures, plus a likely 8 or so ELMS GTE entries for 2016 (and with only one from each of those totals with an auto entry, there looks set to be a relatively large number of disappointed teams in 2016!
Of the full season ELMS entrants we’re likely to see several LMP2 and GTE teams with relatively long standing ‘heritage’ in ACO rules racing.
The ACO’s views on the relative merits of full-season privateer entrants from the ELMS or elsewhere vs full season IMSA factory backed GTEs will be an interesting challenge for the Selection Committee!
The results of its considerations will come at the ACO’s entry list press conference on the 5th of February in Paris, there we will find out the full grid for the Le Mans 24 Hours, FIA WEC and ELMS in; dailysportscar will be there.