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Mexico LMP2 Preview: A Home-Field Advantage For RGR?

Alpine continues its championship charge as the WEC ventures out of Europe

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LMP2 (11 Cars)

26 | D | G-Drive Racing | Roman Rusinov, Alex Brundle, Rene Rast | Oreca 05 Nissan
27 | D | SMP Racing | Nicolas Minassian, David Markozov, Maurizio Mediani | BR01 Nissan
30 | D | Extreme Speed Motorsports | Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek, Ed Brown | Ligier JS P2 Nissan
3 | D | Extreme Speed Motorsports | Ryan Dalziel, Pipo Derani, Chris Cumming | Ligier JS P2 Nissan
35 | D | Baxi DC Racing Alpine | David Cheng, Ho-Pin Tung, Nelson Panciatici | Alpine A460 Nissan
36 | D | Signatech Alpine | Gustavo Menezes, Nicolas Lapierre, Stephane Richelmi | Alpine A460 Nissan
37 | D | SMP Racing | Vitaly Petrov, Viktor Shaytar, Kirill Ladygin | BR01 Nissan
41 | D | Greaves Motorsport | Roberto Gonzalez, Bruno Junqueira, Luis Diaz | Gibson 015S Nissan
42 | D | Strakka Racing | Nick Leventis, Jonny Kane, Lewis Williamson | Gibson 015S Nissan
43 | D | RGR Sport by Morand | Ricardo Gonzalez, Bruno Senna, Filipe Albuquerque | Ligier JS P2 Nissan
44 | D | Manor WEC | Matt Rao, Richard Bradley, Alfonso Toledano Jr. | Oreca 05 Nissan

We gain one and lose one for this round, as Greaves Motorsport fields its 2015 title-winning Gibson Nissan for a one off appearance while Manor rests its race by race entered #45 Oreca.

The Greaves entry is one of three to feature Mexican drivers aboard, another boost to the local promotion for the event. The #41 though is the only entry to see a pair of Mexican drivers aboard. Roberto Gonzalez therefore joins his younger brother Ricardo on the grid.

He’s joined by ex-Lowes Fernandes Racing man Luis Diaz and the still rapid Brazilian Bruno Junquiera in a mature combination that could prove to be very interesting if the trio get to grips with the Gibson, the Thursday Test will be the second time they have had a chance to drive after a test earlier in the summer at Monza before the car was shipped to Mexico.

Manor meanwhile have shuffled the deckchairs fairly substantially.

Graeme Lowden is adamant that there is a very high likelihood of seeing the second Manor car back out for the rest of the season

The team’s public statement on the contraction to a single car for this race makes great play of the team’s continuing efforts to track down issues that dogged its points scoring form this year, the team has had pretty constant braking problems on its Oreca 05s, something we haven’t really seen amongst other users of the same package. Graeme Lowden is adamant that there is a very high likelihood of seeing the second Manor car back out for the rest of the season.

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After the dramas before the Nürburgring with the short-notice departures of Will Stevens and James Jakes the Mexican entry features none of the drivers that started the season in the #44.

Instead Matt Rao and Richard Bradley move over to the solo entry this time out and are joined by Mexican racer Alfonso Toledano Jr. for a one-off appearance, yet another man whose family has strong historic links with Manor.

There are no further changes from the lineup in Germany but one matter of note is that Lewis Williamson will remain aboard the Strakka Gibson for the remainder of the season now after what had initially been billed as a one-off at the Nürburgring, the team sit sixth in the Championship after a fighting run to fourth in Germany that saw them fall just short of a podium finish, Jonny Kane chasing down the #31 ESM Ligier in the final stages but not quite making it stick.

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The championship is led, now quite convincingly, by the #36 Signatech Alpine, the Nico Lapierre, Stephane RIchelmi, Gustavo Menezes combo proving a tough nut to crack; Menezes in particular proving to be an unsurprisingly pacy Silver!

The #36 crew land in Mexico beaten only once this season (at Silverstone’s opening round) and whilst their qualifying pace hasn’t matched their G-Drive rivals, the race pace has more than made up for it!

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The sister #35 Baxi DC entered Alpine by contrast has had a very trying season so far, David Cheng, Ho Pin Tung and Nelson Panciatici prop up the points standings with almost 100 fewer than the sister car! They have though found trouble, misfortune, and the odd bit of inconsistency on their way to the mountain they now have to climb!

Second in the points standings until Germany was G-Drive Racing, the Jota Sport-run effort with the #26 Oreca has a 100% qualifying record and was running very strongly in the early stages at the ‘Ring until a broken dog-ring ruined its day and gave it a major headache in the Championship.

It will be win or bust from here on in if Rene Rast, Roman Rusinov and the newly shaven Alex Brundle are to have a prayer of the title.

The DNF that resulted dropped them to third, now 45 points behind the #36 Alpine. It will be win or bust from here on in if Rene Rast, Roman Rusinov and the newly shaven Alex Brundle are to have a prayer of the title. They have the potential pace to mount a race by race challenge but need the Alpine boys to hit trouble somewhere!

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The #31 Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier sits fourth in the Championship with a consistent season thus far that has seen three podium finishes come the way of Messrs Derani, Dalziel and Cumming. The ‘Menezes factor’ looks set to make it tough for this crew to make the top step if the major contenders run trouble-free but the #31 should continue to score strongly for a team that has seen its form improve season on season after the major organisational changes over the winter.

The sister #30 car too has seen improved form but simply does not have the driving strength in depth to live with the major contenders here, a factor that may play a substantial role in ESM’s choices for next season!

SMP Racing’s 2016 season has not yet produced the results that the Russian flagged team hoped for from its new but time-limited BR01 prototypes.

WEC-Nurburgring-2016-035

A single podium finish (albeit at the double points scoring Le Mans 24 Hours) for the #37 car has been the highlight thus for for the two car effort and whilst the car’s development continues step by step. the reality seems to be that unless luck swings its way to a major degree the BR01 has just five World Championship races to run as a competitive prospect. It’s a real shame but we can hope for a fighting finish to the BR01 story in the flyaway races.

We can hope for a fighting finish to the BR01 story in the flyaway races.

Nic Minassian and Maurizio Mediani are joined by Devi Markozov once again after a somewhat on/off season for their erstwhile full-season team-mate.

Last but by no means least are the Silverstone race-winning RGR Sport squad. Very consistent scoring saw it overhaul the G-Drive effort in the points standings last time out after the #26 car’s retirement.

Much will be hoped for, and potentially expected, this weekend with race promoter Ricardo Gonzalez joined by Bruno Senna and Felipe Albuquerque. The trio will be pushing for a win, and realistically need one soon if they are going to stay in touch with the Championship leaders who currently hold a 28 point advantage. This should prove a very popular entry too with the expected large local audience.

Much will be hoped for, and potentially expected, this weekend with race promoter Ricardo Gonzalez joined by Bruno Senna and Felipe Albuquerque.

Whatever happens this weekend the #36 Alpine will take a points lead to CoTA next month!

Missed our GTE Mexico Preview? Read it HERE >>>