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Le Mans Preview, Part 3, LMP2, Can KCMG Win Again?

Le Mans swansong for the current era of P2s

A record-breaking 23 cars in the class (one up on the previous record in 2013), the biggest class in a record breaking 60 car grid, plus the SRT41 Garage 56 effort in an adapted Morgan Nissan.

It’s the final year before the 2017 regulations with restricted numbers of chassis suppliers and a stock Gibson V8 kick in but despite that there are plenty of efforts here that are pushing forward with serious 2016 programmes and an eye on the future.

#22 | So24 ! by Lombard Racing | Ligier JS P2 Judd | Dunlop |Vincent Capillaire, Erik Maris & Jonathan Coleman

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The new for 2016 team had a great start to its ELMS campaign with a debut podium at Silverstone, but struggled at Imola and since then has hit some financial difficulties that have forced Olivier Lombard to cede driving duties to pay driver Erik Maris. The additional funding required when a sponsor let the team down very badly.

The #22 has the sonorous Judd V8, a very pretty livery and the rapid Vincent Capillaire, but whilst both Maris and Jono Coleman are solid gentleman drivers this is not an effort that is expected to be at the sharp end of things on pace.

#23 Panis Barthez Competition | Ligier JS P2 Nissan | Dunlop | Fabien Barthez, Paul Loup Chatin & Timothe Buret

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A high-profile new effort featuring 1996 Monaco Grand Prix-winner, and ex-Oreca factory man Olivier Panis as team principal, and with ex Football World Cup winning French ‘keeper Fabien Barthez on the driving squad.

Chatin is certainly capable of running at the front, beyond that though perhaps more experience is needed.

The mercurial Paul Loup Chatin provides the pre-assured rapidity with young Timothy Buret and now ex-GT racer Barthez in support.

Chatin is certainly capable of running at the front, beyond that though perhaps more experience is needed to mount a real challenge of attrition elsewhere does not become the key.

#25 Algarve Pro Racing | Ligier JS P2 Nissan | Dunlop | Chris Hoy, Michael Munemann & Andrea Pizzitola

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If you live in the UK there’s little doubt that this is the LMP2 effort you are most likely to read about in your morning newspaper. That’s because the #25 Algarve Pro Ligier is the home for Le Mans-week for British Olympic Cycling legend Sir Chris Hoy.

Sir Chris is a simply fabulous ambassador for sport.

Chris appears here thanks to the preparation from, and backing of, the Nissan GT Academy.  He was fast and consistent enough last season to take the ELMS LMP3 title together with Charlie Robertson in a Team LNT Ginetta Nissan, and has shown steady improvement since starting his step up top LMP2.  Whatever happens it’s a great story line, and Sir Chris is a simply fabulous ambassador for sport.

It’s a big leap though and he’ll be looking for peers somewhat lower down than the top pros to measure his own progress against, a finish is the objective, as it is for car/team owner Michael Munemann who returns to the great race after an outing in 2014 for Greaves Motorsport.

Andrea Pizzatola meanwhile is set to impress, the Renault factory-backed single seater man won the chance to compete here with success in the Renault Sport Trophy last year; he also posted some impressive times in testing.

26 | G-Drive Racing | Oreca 05 Nissan Dunlop | Roman Rusinov, Rene Rast & Will Stevens 

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G-Drive Racing returns with a very different look to its effort in 2016, the Gazprom backing brought by Roman Rusinov transferred from Oak Racing to Jota Sport and here, the full-season FIA WEC Oreca Nissan effort.

The Oreca chassis proved to be the pick of the Test Day with the seven cars dominating the timing sheets, the #26 ending the day second fastest thanks to Rene Rast’s effort.

Rast is currently on loan from Audi Sport, part of the programme to ensure that its currently not very busy third LMP1 squad retain motivation and race readiness should the decision be made to reboot the effort.  Rast is currently due to finish his tenure with the team after the Nurburgring, but signs are showing that it could well be extended.

Rusinov’s pogoing up and down the driver rankings has been a story theme for a while, but his return to Silver driver status cannot be anything other than controversial.  He’s perfectly capable of very quick stints and that, as we all know, is often the key to a solid full-team LMP2 performance.

The lead in to the Test Day saw the departure from the team of Nathaniel Berthon, the ex-GP2 racer’s times had been disappointing, and instead the team now field Will Stevens for Le Mans only, moving over from the #44 Manor Oreca. The ex-F1 man is looking for the very best opportunity for a solid double points score, and, of course, a Le Mans class win.

This effort should be considered a real contender.

#27 | SMP Racing | BR01 Nissan | Dunlop | Nicolas Minassian, Mikhail Aleshin & Maurizio Mediani

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This will be the last chance for the current LMP2 BR01 to get a Le Mans result and its clear that the team are throwing what they can into the task.

If they do manage to do so it would be a pair of class wins in consecutive years after the GTE Am victory in 2015.

David Markozov misses Le Mans and is replaced by team returnee Mikhail Aleshin, the 2016 Indycar driver joins full season pairing Nic Minassian and Maurizio Mediani.

On pace and experience this is a trio that could be right there, but can the Russian-flagged coupe stack up with the more developed Ligiers, and the quicker and more developed Orecas and Gibsons?

#28 Pegasus Racing | Morgan Nissan | Michelin | Leo Roussel, Inés Taittinger & Remy Striebig

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Numerically the first of the Michelin runners in LMP2, #28 is an older car, not even the ‘Evo’ version of the tried, tested, and successful Morgan chassis, but the Pegasus Racing team has a little dash of fan-favourite on its side.

This is one of only two Michelin-shod runners this year, wet weather COULD make a difference, as Alex Brundle found in this very same car in Shanghai last year!

This is very much a family run team with Julien Schell and his father Claude at the helm.

Leo Roussel is one of a pair of Le Mans residents in the race, and he’s quick, he’s put the slightly elderly, but immaculately presented Morgan into the mix amongst far younger machines on several occasions.

Ines Taittinger is also one of just two female drivers in the race this year, and the only one in a prototype.  Part of the Taittinger Champagne dynasty she may have a high-society moniker, but she doesn’t lack for talent, and with the able assistance of mentor Philippe Alliot she could shine too.

Remy Streibig is the gentleman driver here.

The key for the #28 is reliability, and that has been an issue of late. It would be a major surprise to see this effort in the mix for a podium, but it could be fun watching them try!

30 | Extreme Speed Motorsports | Ligier JS P2 Nissan | Dunlop | Scott Sharp Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek 

31 Extreme Speed Motorsports | Ligier JS P2 Nissan | Dunlop Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani, Chris Cumming 

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The first thing to notice is the French regulation enforced livery change. The usually green and black Tequila Patron livery is not permitted (alcoholic drink promotion via sport is a no no in France) so after the 2015 Rolling Stone Magazine backing comes Paul Mitchell Hair Products for 2016 with a switch to a very smart white and black livery for both cars.

There have been a flurry of changes within the ESM team, no change in chassis this year after its hectic switcharoo in 2015, but a move for the FIA WEC from Honda power to the Nissan V8, and a move from a full in-house team, to Oak Racing’s base in Le Mans and a technical partnership that sees the effort with a substantial slice of French technical know how.

The Ligiers were not quick at the Test Day, a repeat of what we saw at Le Mans last year.

The team started its year in the USA and have already scored two massive results (still with HPD power), taking overall wins both at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Could Le Mans make it three?

If it is to happen then the team will have to overcome way more strength in-depth than was experienced in the North American enduros.

The Ligiers were not quick at the Test Day, a repeat of what we saw at Le Mans last year, but one of the ESM cars at least has prospects of getting in amongst the leading cars on pace.

For some reason the team has switched numbers around as well as engines, Scott Sharp stays in the #30 to be joined by Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek from last year’s #31.  That’s a solid rather than spectacular lineup in this company, they’ll be waiting to see what the race deals out to the competition.

The new driver lineup in the #31 though is a head-turner.  Canadian gentleman driver Chris Cumming is a quick driver in silver-ranked company, he needs to keep the Ligier out of trouble.

Ryan Dalziel returns to the team for a second full WEC season, he is a proven star in the class, but was in need of a foil for his talents.  That comes in 2016 from the man who starred for the team in the Daytona and Sebring double, Pipo Derani.

Derani is a star in the making, fast, smart and appropriately aggressive.  The Dalziel/Derani combo form one of the most likely non-Oreca combinations to get something else into the mix.

#33 | Eurasia Motorsport | Oreca 05 Nissan | Dunlop | Pu Junjin, Tristan Gommendy & Nico Peter de Bruijn 

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Fastest at the Test Day as Tristan Gommendy opened up his carefully stored can of whoop ass on the field, the Eurasia effort has been building steadily to an impressive attack. Its switch to the Oreca 05 coupe is the latest move up the ladder, the ELMS programme running alongside a comprehensive set of Asian activities from the team, including a new LMP3 effort destined for the Asian Le Mans Series.

Pu Junjin is a loyal customer, capable of impressive pace but also capable of an off day – who isn’t?

His regular partner in motorsport crime Nico Peter de Bruin got a major vote of confidence from the team after it appeared they might replace him with a commercial pay driver for the Le mans 24 Hours they then decided to stick with their own programme, the young Dutchman will no doubt be working hard to repay that loyalty.

The hammer man though looks set to be Gommendy, very quick, highly motivated and a man who can clearly recognise the opportunity here to shine on the biggest stage in his racing world – one to watch.

#34 | Race Performance | Oreca 03R Judd | Dunlop | Nicolas Leutwiler, James Winslow & Shinji Nakano

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One of five open-topped LMP2s on the grid in what is likely the last appearance at Le Mans for such beasts, the Race Performance car arrives still with the Judd power it has sported since it was shine and new, and a brand new Asian Le Mans Series title to its name!

Niki Leutwiler played a full part in that tile win, earning the team this slot in doing so, he’s the Gentleman driver of the piece.

Shinji Nakano too drove for the team in Asia, the ex-Prost and Minardi F1 driver knows this race well and should be a steady hand.

James Winslow meanwhile has been quietly, steadily building a reputation in sportscars as he works to kick start a career that scored multiple single seater championship wins before the inevitable fiscal pressures came to bear.

Realistically this effort will be of the ‘steady as she goes and see what happens elsewhere’ variety.

#35 | Baxi DC Racing | Alpine A460 Nissan | Dunlop | David Cheng, Ho-Pi Tung & Nelson Panciatici

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For ‘Alpine A460’ read ‘Oreca 05’ , the only difference between the two being a second chassis plate, a condition of the deal between the Renault offshoot and Signatech Racing being a homologated car.

That means that the Signatech squad have what we believe is the pick of the 2016 crop, the 05 proving again at the Test Day too be very rapid, and now very reliable too.

If Panciatici plays to his strengths this car could well feature in lead battles throughout the race.

The #35 is a customer car bringing David Cheng’s DC racing effort into the WEC in convincing fashion with Cheng’s outfit backed by team co-owner Jackie Chan!

Cheng is an able gentleman driver, Ho Pin Tung an able pro and driver coach to Cheng.

Panciatici moves over from the main Signatech effort for the season and adds real steel.  He’s another of the top LMP2 drivers, capable of race leading pace, and of the odd error too.  If he plays to his strengths this car could well feature in lead battles throughout the race

#36 | Signatech Alpine | Alpine A460 Nissan | Dunlop | Gustavo Menezes, Stephane Richelmi & Nicolas Lapierre

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The second Alpine is Signatech’s lead effort for the season.

Stephan Richelmi joins the team with a GT racing pedigree (with Audi Team WRT) and with single seater success too on his cv (including a GP2 race win).

He’s played a full part in the pace of the effort thus far in the FIA WEC this year, the team winning at Spa last time out.

The silver-ranked driver is another newcomer both to the team and to LMP2, American single seater racer Gustavo Menezes has his eye on a pro racing career and is one of ‘those’ drivers that have slipped the net designed to keep the silver ranking to no pro-talent.  Make no mistake he is capable of going toe-to-toe, and wheel to wheel with more than a few Pros on this grid.

The team leader though is a returning champion, Nico Lapierre was part of the winning KCMG effort last year at Le Mans and would love to double up in 2016 as he continues his reputation rebuilding efforts after the disappointment of the manner of his leaving the Toyota factory team.

This is a car that needs to be very firmly in the list marked ‘winning prospects.’

#37 | SMP Racing | BR01 Nissan | Dunlop | Vitaly Petrov, Viktor Shaitar & Kirill Ladygin

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The second BR01 features SMP Racing regulars Shaitar and Ladygin, joined for 2016 by ex-F1 man Petrov.

The BR01 is a neat, tidy and undeniably fast car, though thus far at least, not Oreca-fast.

On balance, if SMP Racing is to introduce a split strategy in search of success it’s this car that is more likely top fulfill the ‘tortoise’ role, the #27 the ‘hare’.

All three men are capable of the required, fast but consistent, pace, though likely not at the very sharp end.  Both Ladygin and Shaitar have raced here twice before with SMP, Krill always in the LMP2 effort, and Shaitar always in the GTE, bringing home a class win last year.

Petrov is thought by some to be a Le Mans rookie. Though it’s not so, he raced back in 2007, again in LMP2, in a Noel del Bello Racing Courage; he might find the contrast an interesting one!

#38 | G-Drive Racing | Gibson 015S | Dunlop | Simon Dolan, Giedo van der Garde & Jake Dennis 

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You know the script: older open-topped car, lots of new coupes, no chance for success, hoping for a finish etc etc.Not in this case!

This is the Mighty #38. The car, this very chassis, will start its fifth consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours chasing a second class win (after its victory in 2014, and a third consecutive podium, after second place last year).

Now sporting the all-orange livery, and the team moniker of G-Drive Racing the car is still real world fast, is again a real championship contender in the ELMS, and was the fastest non Oreca chassis in the class at the Test Day.

The car, this very chassis, will start its fifth consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours chasing a second class win.

Simon Dolan, team co-owner, has been an ever present and is as committed and capable a gentleman driver as can be found anywhere. On his good days he is blindingly, pro-standard quick, his bad days aren’t much worse but the odd  error can creep in. That needs not to happen if the Gibson is to have a shot.

He’s joined here and for the full-ELMS season by Giedo van der Garde, fresh from the traumas of the F1 paddock and legals against Sauber and keen to relaunch his career.  He made a great start at Silverstone, a blinding final stint securing the win for the team. He’ll perhaps need to reel in his enthusiasm just a little to adapt to the task in hand here.

Completing the trio is Jake Dennis, super sub for ELMS regular Harry Tincknell who is on Ford GTE duty at Le Mans.  Dennis is just the latest young hopeful to be given a shot by the team.  He started well with that fastest non-Oreca time at the Test Day.  He’s already fast here, and will likely get faster still as the days, and the laps, roll by.

Real contenders.

#40 | Krohn Racing | Ligier JS P2 | Michelin | Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson & Joao Barbosa

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A move from Judd to Nissan power, and a move from an in-house team to a berth in the Greaves Motorsport camp are the major changes for the very green Krohn Ligier this season.

A 12th consecutive season together for Messrs Krohn and Jonsson extends their all-time Le Mans record in that regard, they’re joined for a second consecutive Le Mans by IMSA Champ Joao Barbosa.

Barbosa is quick, Jonsson too capable of real speed and Tracy Krohn, on this day, knows how to bring it home. He’ll need to do exactly that if this team are to score a finish, a result beyond that is in the hands of their competitors.

#41 | Greaves Motorsport | Ligier JS P2 Nissan | Dunlop | Memo Rojas, Julien Canal & Nathaniel Berthon

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2015 ELMS Champions Greaves Motorsport has changed a huge amount of its playing pieces for the 2016 season.

The title-winning Gibson is parked, replaced by a new Ligier for the team’s ELMS and Le Mans campaign.

All three of the team’s championship-winning drivers have departed, Gary Hirsch the only one to be back on the Le Mans grid (#99 Aston Martin) this season.

Their replacements are 2015 LMP2 Drivers Champion (with G-Drive), and multiple Le Mans class-winner (with Larbre) Julien Canal and ex-Chip Ganassi DP regular, 2014 Sebring winner and three-time Daytona 24 Hours winner Memo Rojas.

The final seat had been due to be filled by Kuba Giermaziak but sponsorship woes for the very rapid Pole saw him replaced at the Le mans Test Day by team returnee Jon Lancaster. But whatever budget could be mustered by the 2015 ELMS Drivers Champ was trumped by G-Drive refugee Nathaniel Berthon, the ex-GP2 and Formula E driver keen to boost his bruised reputation.

It’s an interesting lineup, but is it a winning one?

42 | Strakka Racing | Gibson 015S Nissan | Dunlop | Nick Leventis, Jonny Kane, Danny Watts 

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The second Gibson is in the hands of Strakka Racing, the team racing the car at Le Mans for the first time with last year’s event becoming the swan song for the team’s troubled Dome coupe programme.

There’s no change in the driver lineup, but an encouraging change in the backers on the side of the car indicating that the team’s future plans are coming along nicely.

Nick Leventis needs a performance akin to that he produced during his team’s famous LMP2 class win here in 2010, and in the tenth anniversary year for his team that would be an excellent keepsake!

Danny Watts will be as fast as ever, still one of the fastest men in this class over a single lap, whilst his regular partner in crime Jonny Kane, the pair, plus Leventis have been together now since 2010 (with Leventis and Watts racing together the previous season too) is actually often faster over a full stint.

Nick Leventis needs a performance akin to that he produced during his team’s famous LMP2 class win here in 2010.

This is a team that knows that over the past season it has underperformed on track against its own expectations.

There’s no better time and place than right here and right now to put that right!

#43 | RGR Sport by Morand | Ligier JS P2 Nissan | Dunlop | Ricardo Gonzalez, Bruno Senna & Filipe Albuquerque 

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A new effort for 2016 utilising the previously troubled, but undoubtedly very able Morand Engineering backroom boys and the financial punch of Ricardo Gonzalez.

The results produced thus far include a win first time out at Silverstone for the Ligier Nissan, Gonzalez finding new pace with his new team, and his joint role in promoting the Mexico City WEC race for later this season.

He’s joined by a pair of standout stars, Bruno Senna loving his time back in an LMP car after success in GTE a couple of seasons ago with Aston Martin.  He is now the only man to have won races in three FIA WEC classes.

Filipe Albuquerque is one of the trio of Audi factory drivers who lost out thanks to the rumblings of its VW Group technical colleagues in VW Gate. The loss of the third Audi to this race though saw Wolfgang Ullrich assuring enquirers that he would not be releasing any of his factory driving talent.

Albuquerque was excellent last season with Jota Sport and looks set to continue that good work here.

If the Orecas stumble this is likely to be in the vanguard of those looking to take advantage!

#44 | Manor | Oreca 05 Nissan | Dunlop | Tor Graves, Matt Rao & Will Stevens

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One of THE stories of the 2016 FIA WEC season has been the arrival of Manor WEC, the unhappiness of F1 minnow stars replaced with the joy of real competition on the faces of team principals John Booth and Graeme Lowden.

There are two cars for the WEC 6-hour races but just one for the Le Mans 24 Hours  but the Manor boys have played a full part in the driver merry-go-round over the past couple of weeks  to such an extent that of the six drivers, just one, James Jakes, won’t be on the starting list for the 24 hours.

One of THE stories of the 2016 FIA WEC season has been the arrival of Manor WEC.

The #44 is the full-season car, but oddly only Tor Graves is still aboard for this one with Jakes presumably outbid by Matt Rao, Matt moving over from the absent #45 and Roberto Merhi getting a last minute chance thanks to the ripples left from the departure of Nathanael Berthon from G-Drive, Will Stevens taking up that drive and leaving an available slot for the impressive Merhi.

The team is new to the Le Mans challenge and only Graves has raced here before. There’s speed aplenty on tap, particularly from Merhi, with Rao little slower, but more than that will be required if an attacking drive is to be sustained for the full 24 Hours.

This race could well prove the quality, on track, on the pit wall, and potentially in pit lane, of the Manor outfit.

#46 | Thiriet by TDS Racing | Oreca 05 Nissan | Dunlop | Pierre Thiriet, Ryo Hirasawa & Mathias Beche

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So near but yet so far, so often from the Thiriet by TDS Racing team both at Le Mans and in the ELMS the seem to have the knack of digging for gold and finding something altogether more smelly.

They were, quite simply, gutted to lose out last year here to KCMG and spent some little time post Le mans trying to discover what caused the gap, even putting Nico Lapierre aboard, until then, regular pro Tristan Gommendy to see whether he might be the missing link, or indeed whether he could add any intel on what KCMG had managed to unlock!

Its 2016 effort retains the Oreca chassis, and of course major funder Pierre Thiriet, one of the quickest of the non-pro drivers in this field.

Joining the effort are ex-Japanese F3 Champ Ryo Hirakawa who has proved to have real speed already in the ELMS, and Rebellion Racing’s Mathias Beche, the Swiss driver coming along as part of a partnership between the two teams and in search of his smile after a trying couple of years in LMP1 privateer.

Beche is very quick, and very consistent, just the ticket for the task in hand. This effort should be real contenders.

#47 | KCMG | Oreca 05 Nissan | Dunlop | Tsugio Matsuda, Richard Bradley & Matt Howson

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The champions return, last year’s Le Mans class winners in the same car that took the win, but this is it’s only planned outing in 2016 as far as we are currently aware.

Tsugio Matsuda replaces Nico Lapierre from the winning lineup, the three time, and reigning Super GT Championship winning driver will be rapid.

2015-veteran Richard Bradley moves over from the #45 Manor Oreca, this the identical car that Manor have entered for the 6 hour WEC races but not at Le Mans, with fellow Brit Matt Howson rejoining the team too for a one-off run.

That means that Bradley keeps Drivers Title hopes alive with a potential double points score here. Though ironically it means that he is racing both ex-KCMG Orecas this year, the #45 car is the ex-KCMG spare, unharmed by the team before the sale to Manor.

This should be a very strong entry, all three men have proven form, and the Oreca, as was proved last year, and again at the Test Day this year, is pretty close to the ideal Le Mans LMP2 package.

#48 | Murphy Prototypes | Oreca 03R Nissan | Dunlop | Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen & Marc Goossens

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Murphys Men return with a new-look driver line up, an eye catching livery, but the same ‘old faithful’ Oreca 03-R that has featured in each of the team’s previous Le Mans adventures.

Gas Monkey Garage livery, with a very different shade of green from the Murphy norm, adorns the #48 with the TV-promoted lifestyle brand, now active not only in custom cars but in restaurants, music venues and energy drinks too, likely to catch the eye on the pitlane walkabouts as well as on track.

If the Oreca stays out of trouble this could be a sleeper.

The branding comes courtesy of the appearance in the team from Ben Keating, back for a second run at Le mans after his GTE Am Viper adventure last year; his transition to a downforce laden prototype will see a very steep learning curve but he’s brought a couple of experienced helpers.

Jeroen Bleekemolen and Marc Goossens are regulars in the Viper Exchange Dodge GTD effort in IMSA  and will work well with the gentleman driver here.

Keating is quick in the GTD Viper, winning last weekend in Detroit’s IMSA encounter, and both Bleekemolen and Goossens have acres of LMP experience.

If the Oreca stays out of trouble this could be a sleeper

#49 | Michael Shank Racing | Ligier JS P2 Honda | Dunlop | John Pew, Ozz Negri Jr & Laurens Vanthoor 

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The sole Honda engined car on the grid, the #49 is actually the chassis used by ESM to win at both Daytona and Sebring, albeit now fitted with a smaller capacity twin turbo V6 (IMSA regs allow a bigger engine).

The team had a very rough Test Day, Laurens Vanthoor put the #49 higher than any of the other Ligiers up the order before Ozz Negri suffered a major shunt on his out lap coming into the braking zone for the second Mulsanne Chicane.

Negri was mercifully OK and the Ligier happily suffered no significant tub damage with the team reporting that many of the components damaged beyond repair were set to be replaced before the race in any case.

Repairs are complete and the car tested on the Bugatti circuit on Tuesday.

As for race prospects, Vanthoor will certainly be in contention, and Negri is capable of keeping with the programme too. The Le Mans adventure for Pew now turns to a different and altogether more challenging chapter, the experienced gentleman racer will know more than most what is required of him, metronomic consistency, and no mistakes.

With 20 Nissan engined cars and a pair of Judd powered efforts the numbers game is against this effort  but there is potential for it to play a significant part in the story?

Garage 56, 1 car

#84 | SRT41 With Oak Racing | Morgan Nissan | Michelin | Frederic Sausset, Jean Bernard Bouvet & Christophe Tinseau

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2016’s Garage 56 car for a project featuring innovative technology looks at first sight to be a pretty bog standard Morgan Nissan LMP2 with a pair of long-time Le Mans 24 Hours veterans in ex-WR pilot Jean-Bernard Bouvet and ex-Courage and Pescarolo driver the still very rapid Christophe Tinseau.

Consider the third driver though and all becomes much clearer.

Frederic Sausset was a successful businessman who had the terrible misfortune to be struck down by a viral infection that led to the loss of the extremities of all four of his limbs.

The SRT 41 project, with the support of a hugely impressive range of technology partners including Audi Sport, Onroak Automotive and Oreca, aims to equip the otherwise standard LMP2 spec Morgan with control and safety systems that permit the disabled driver to compete on a level playing field with more physically able competitors.

It is a very significant statement that our sport is open to all, and we love it.

That includes a braking and throttle system controlled by Frederic’s thighs, and a steering system, still using the regular quick release hub, that connects to a tiller system controlled by a custom built prosthetic.

Fred is lifted into and out of the car in the garage by holding onto an overhead bar and the mandatory emergency exit time is assisted by a seat that effectively lifts him from the car.

All of this is achieved whilst the car is still able to be controlled normally by Bouvet and Tinseau.

The car has already raced in the opening ELMS race of the season at Silverstone with further race mileage at a VdeV event too.

This may not be the DeltaWing, or the ZEOD RC, but it is a very significant statement that our sport is open to all, and we love it.