The opening round of the 2018 European Le Mans Series season at Paul Ricard later this month is set to feature a 45-car field, across the LMP2, LMP3 and GTE classes. The headline here is a quartet of guesting FIA WEC cars, a pair apiece in LMP2 and GTE, adding to the full-season efforts.
The meeting, which will follow the ELMS Prologue at the same venue, features the biggest ever LMP2 field, with 19 cars down to compete. Adding to the previously announced ELMS entries, are two WEC-bound ORECAs: one for former double ELMS champion Signatech Alpine (badged an A470) with Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet and a second G-Drive Racing example, the #26 of Roman Rusinov, Andrea Pizzitola and Alexandre Imperatori.
Elsewhere in the field, SMP Racing has revealed the full driver crew for its #35 Dallara P217, last year’s partial season, race-winning duo of Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Orudzhev joining Victor Shaitar.
Also of note is that United Autosports’ two-driver squad in its #22 Ligier features Bruno Senna alongside Phil Hanson, Senna set to compete for the first time at Ricard since the Daytona 24 Hours in January, after he sat out Sebring due to an illness.
In GTE meanwhile, Spirit of Race will run two Ferrari 488 GTEs, the WEC entry of Thomas Flohr and Francesco Castellacci adding to the Swiss team’s effort (the team’s third driver for WEC, Giancarlo Fisichella will sit the race out). And Gulf Racing makes a return to the ELMS for the first time since stepping up into WEC competition in 2016. Mike Wainwright, Alex Davison and Ben Barker make up the team’s Porsche 911 RSR trio.
The addition of the two globe-trotting cars makes it eight cars in the class.
JMW Motorsport’s full driver line-up for its 488 GTE has also been revealed, and features ex-Aston Martin factory driver Alex MacDowell (now a Silver), former British GT regular Liam Griffin and Ferrari factory ace Miguel Molina.
LMP3’s list features 18 cars, one fewer than the record LMP2 field. There’s numerous changes across the board, and a couple of entries worth noting. Ultimate spoke to DSC prior to the announcement, and confirmed that its Norma M30 LMP3 would be ready for the opening race, that car featuring Mathieu Lahaye, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and Francois Heriau.
And DKR Engineering’s M30 LMP3 has three drivers to its name, the Luxembourg-based team entering an asterix-marked, all-Silver line-up consisting of 2017 Le Mans Cup champions Alexander Toril and Jean Glorieux and Miguel Toril.
According to the entry, the line-up has been handed temporary dispensation “as per article 10.9.2 f” in the regulations. This though, does not accord with earlier guidance given to DSC by championship organisers, who suggested that the DKR entry was set to fully comply with driver ranking rules, without dispensation.
The 4 Hours of Le Castellet will take place on Sunday 15 April 2018 at the Circuit Paul Ricard. The race weekend will be preceded on Monday 9 and Tuesday 10 April by the official pre season test at the same venue.