Following on from our look at the WEC’s LMP2 divison ahead of the new season, here’s a look at how the European-based programmes in LMP2 are forming up.
For 2017, the ELMS too is welcoming the new LMP2s with the surprise here being the likely complete absence of grandfathered 2016 cars, SMP Racing look the only possible full season takers there but difficulties with their 2018 LMP1 programme could well put an end to that prospect too.
Very healthy numbers of orders for new cars are in play but there is still plenty of work to come on filling the available seats!
A new build Oreca 07 is confirmed for the 2017 ELMS with an unchanged crew from the team’s 2016 effort.
It seems that the initial order for a second new car may no be parked but the team’s 2016 car, updated to 07 spec, may now be back in play but has an unconfirmed programme beyond the team’s Rolex 24 outing.
Mark Goddard’s operation has had a torrid time in the latter part of the European season, losing customer Pu Jun Jin to an eventually abortive attempt at a 2017 WEC entry by a team involving V8 Racing (at whose Dutch base the Eurasia effort was housed for the ELMS).
DSC believes that Goddard is still negotiating with a potential customer for a 2017 ELMS entry alongside his Asian Le Mans programmes in both LMP2 and LMP3.
Graff Racing have now announced a doubling up of their LMP2 plans to a pair of new Oreca 07s for the season (with a single entry at Le Mans being sought to) No news yet on drivers beyond the already confirmed Eric Troulliet.
Greaves are talking to potential customers (beyond the likely return of the Krohn racing effort) to fill a full season presence. Ligier and Dallara chassis are still in the potential mix.
The 2016 ELMS newcomers are to replace their Ligier Judd with a new Ligier for the 2017 season, Olivier Pla is apparently a part of this effort. IDEC may well field an LMP3 Ligier too in 2017.
One Oreca 07 (likely one of the team’s 2016 05 cars upgraded) has been confirmed to DSC with 2016 champion Simon Dolan set to race in a coupe for the first time in 2017!
Expected to field a new Dallara LMP2 for the ELMS in 2017, most likely still supported by the Greaves Motorsport equipe.
Still no news yet from Greg Murphy on any potential return after a fractured 2016 ELMS season saw a very fluid driver lineup for the team and their Oreca 03R, delays for the planned LMP3 debut of the Ave Riley didn’t help either!
A new Ligier to replace this season’s JS P2 in a full ELMS campaign in 2017 was one of the first orders known, no news yet though of a potential second car.
No conformation just yet of a new LMP2 from the Swiss team alongside their Asian Le mans Series programme with the Oreca 03-R Judd, they seem to be another squad biding their time and looking at testing form!
Racing Team Nederland
Early adopters of the new Dallara P217, the Dutch team have been out testing in Europe and the USA with all three full season drivers on parade at Dunlop’s Sebring test: Frits van Eerd joined by Jan Lammers and Rubens Barrichello.
RLR MSport will campaign a new Ligier JS P217 for the full ELMS season alongside their 2016 Ligier JSP3 in LMP3 plus, it is planned, a second LMP3 Ligier in the supporting Michelin Le Mans Cup. It’s going to be busy!
There is/was/may still be a plan for a BR01 or two to contest the ELMS as a grandfathered car. The current strength of numbers in ‘new’ LMP2, plus difficulties for the 2018 LMP1 Privateer programme may well put the final nail in this one.
After a mid-season 2016 debut with a Ligier JS P3 the Yorkshire-based squad announced the acquisition of a Ligier JS P217 for the 2017 ELMS, Phil Hanson and Nigel Moore will drive once again.
A continued LMP3 presence has yet been announced but it is looking more and more likely.
A late(ish) call to put together a full season in a new Ligier came as a direct result of the team’s LMP3 Championship winning season and the subsequent Invitation for an LMP2 entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
The team will again be fielding a two-car LMP3 effort too.
Another element in the fallout form the 2016 Eurasia campaign that COULD have seen a two car entry in the FIA WEC but now sees something of a scramble to salvage an ELMS programme with the ex-Eurasia Oreca.
The Italian team have announced a full season in LMP2 in the ELMS with their new Dallara P217. 2016 team LMP3 duo Roberto Lecorte and Giorgio Sernagiotto will return, teamed with ex Rebellion Racing man Andrea Bellicchi.
The team are seeking customers to retain a parallel LMP3 presence.
Still no firm news from Vincent Vosse’s squad on any full-season plans after a successful one-off adventure at Spa. Noises immediately following that race though looked positive. One to watch.
Other Unconfirmed programmes
At least one other as yet unannounced ELMS programmes is known to be in play with a Ligier JS P217 and potentially a supporting LMP3 programme.
Then there’s the Ben Keating owned Riley Multimatic Gibson Mk 30 Ben Keating:
There’s been no announcement yet of a race programme for the car, though Keating has made it clear he wishes to race at Le Mans.
If the LMP2 nominated entry via IMSA doesn’t go his way then a full season of racing is going to be required for an entry to be considered. Whilst there is currently an attempt to put together a Riley effort for the FIA WEC it isn’t clear where this car would be based. An ELMS entry for the Keating owned car is still a possibility.
Not Happening in 2017 in ELMS
A two-car effort in the Asian Le Mans Series is all that’s confirmed here at present with team sources consistently ruling out an early move to a 2017 LMP2, but other reports suggesting a 2018 shift to the FIA WEC.
The biggest question here is what the team will do for the season in 2017. Michael Munemann is not a fan of the ELMS but wishing to keep the Algarve Pro team busy with a full programme.
Reports that Nic Minassian’s long-desired shift into team ownership/ management might come in 2017 are understood to be somewhat premature.
He is certainly looking for a racing future beyond his tie at the wheel but the transition of the LMP2 rules looks set to mean that his plans with an as yet unannounced, but known to DSC, customer/ partner might err on the cautious side.
Will move to LMP3 for 2017 with a Ligier JSP3, and a drive to source customers for a second car.
Thiriet by TDS Racing
TDS Racing’s already announced FIA WEC entry, plus the increasingly likely move of Pierre Thiriet to the Signatech Alpine effort, look set to mean that we will see the long-time ELMS LMP2 contenders not featuring on this entry in 2017.