After a dramatic Spa FIA WEC weekend there were several entries on the 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours entry list that were placed in some doubt, all of them from the LMP1 ranks.
After the revelation that Ginetta were unable to release their G60-LT-P1s to customers CEFC TRSM due to non-payment, work has been underway to secure the appearance of both cars at Le Mans, Ginetta now fully engaged in an effort both to secure a working package to allow both cars to race whilst still working alongside Manor who are still pushing to get frozen funds released after several Chinese partners entirely innocently became rather inconveniently embroiled in the fall-out from legal proceedings against CEFC’s Ye Jianming.
SMP Racing meanwhile look very confident that they will be present with both of their AER-powered BR1s after the spectacular blow over accident suffered by the #17 car in the hands of Matevos Isaakyan at Raidillon.
A well placed source at BR Engineering has told DSC that the cause of the accident is known and understood, DSC understands that an aerodynamic change to the team’s low drag package, which they ran on both cars at Spa, is set be made.
The team is understood to have a spare chassis to replace the car damaged in the incident, the team tested midweek after Spa at Magny Cours with Jenson Button getting his first opportunity to sample the #11 BR1 that he will share with Mikhail Aleshin and Vitaly Petrov.
Isaakyan meanwhile raced at the weekend for the team in their LMP2 Dallara P217 at Monza.
The worst incident from Spa befell the #10 DragonSpeed BR1 Gibson, driver Pietro Fittipaldi suffering two broken legs after the car suffered an apparent systems glitch through Eau Rouge/ Raidillon and made heavy contact with the barriers.
The chassis suffered heavy damage in the impact and with further damage done with the hydraulic equipment required to extract Fittipaldi from the wreck, the car is unrepairable.
As of the Spa weekend there was no spare chassis available to the team, the BR1 required substantial modification to accommodate the normally aspirated Gibson after being designed to run with the turbocharged AER. Team Principal Elton Julian was clear too that he would require fairly major reassurance from the inquiry into the accident before making a decision on the way forward.
The entry list shows clearly that the team are currently still entered in LMP1 – DragonSpeed do though have access to a second ORECA 07 Gibson LMP2 car, their full season ELMS car, in addition to their already entered full season WEC entry.
A ‘Force Majeure’ request for that switch, to cover the team whilst the investigation into the cause and effect of the Spa accident progresses is not out of the question, and for a full season WEC entrant might well be considered seriously by the race organisers in the absence of any other alternative.
The continuation of the LMP1 effort though is not, DSC believes, out of the question either, watch this space.
Success in making it to the race though would mean disappointment for the remaining reserve listed cars.
Of the original nine reserves several are known and/ or believed to no longer be in contention.
Both first reserve APM Monaco Team KCMG and fourth reserve Repsol Racing Engineering are believed to be out of time with their principal sponsors.
8th reserve ARC Bratislava publicly withdrew in the wake of their reserve listing whilst the driver squads from both Scuderia Corsa’s and Krohn Racing’s GTE Am 5th and 6th reserve listed efforts have found berths elsewhere with the JMW Motorsport squad accommodating both the main sponsor (WeatherTech) and drivers Cooper MacNeill and Jeff Segal, and Eurasia’s LMP2 Ligier welcoming the Krohn Racing trio of Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson and Andrea Bertolini.
IDEC Sport have also withdrawn their second initial entry, the #27 Ligier LMP2.
Ninth reserve BAR1 have seen their Riley Multimatic Gibson Mk30 put up for sale by the car owner after a disappointing run at the Rolex 24 Hours.
That leaves the current reserve list numbering two cars with the #55 Spirit of Race GTE Am Ferrari 488 of Duncan Cameron the effective first reserve ahead of the High Class Racing Dallara P217.
The official invitation for both of those cars to the Test Day came only today it seems.