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ELMS Post-Season News Notebook: Who’s Staying, Who’s Moving Up?

Teams plan for 2020, another bumper LMP2 crop expected

The ELMS season has only just come to a close, but most of the paddock is already hard at work preparing for next year. Here’s a rundown of all the prototype programmes that DSC has had updates on in the past week.

LMP3 teams looking to step up to LMP2

Multiple LMP3 teams are looking to move up to the LMP2 ranks next season.

The biggest movers here are likely to be French team Ultimate which is actively considering a move and now three-time Michelin Le Mans Cup Champions DKR Engineering who are understood to be taking a good look at LMP2 options too.

Earlier this week ultimate was out testing using Panis Barthez Competition’s ORECA and Ligier in back-to-back runs. DSC believes that Ultimate opted to run the Panis Barthez ORECA on 2019 Dunlop tyres and the Ligier on Michelin tyres, as it believes there could be a competitive advantage to running a JS P217 on French rubber.

“We are still aiming for the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Jean-Baptiste Lahaye. “We don’t know yet if we will do this in a GTE or an LMP2 car. First things first, we’ll test these new LMP2 cars and see how enjoyable they are to drive. We are realistic… we know we stand no chance of winning a P2 race so we will make sure to pick out a car that brings maximum pleasure. We also drove an older generation P2 car in Asia last season. That was really great!”

As for Asian Le Mans Series, Ultimate confirmed to DSC that it won’t be back in the Asian Le Mans Series this season. “It takes me a lot of time off my work,” Lahaye added. “I can’t afford to be out for weeks in a row like that. With that said, it was a terrific experience.”

In addition to Ultimate, Keo Racing too looks set to move up to LMP2. Currently, the Danish team runs in the Le Mans Cup with a Ligier JS P3 but is believed to have bought a Dallara P217 chassis from High Class Racing for use in the ELMS.

High Class Racing, DragonSpeed, Algarve Pro, United, RLR, Inter Europol, Cool Racing and BHK staying put in P2

There are plenty of teams in LMP2 that look to certain to return in 2020.

United Autosports is expected to bring at least one ORECA to the party. Both it’s cars were out testing this week ahead of next season, one of its cars (#22) involved in a Michelin WEC tyre test too.

DragonSpeed is also looking at returning, alongside its new for 2020 IMSA LMP2 programme which looks to be a full-season one. The question mark for Elton Julian’s team at this stage is tyres. Will it return with Michelin or change to Goodyear? In Portugal, the team has been sampling the latest Goodyear WEC offering this week.

Cool Racing is expected to be back, the French team, which has expanded into the FIA WEC (and won on its debut) may bring two ORECAs to the ELMS in 2020. Inter Europol is currently looking at bringing a second LMP2 car to the class in 2020 also, the Polish team acquiring a third Ligier JS P217 (from IDEC Sport).

Algarve Pro too is set to return to the ELMS with their pair of ORECA 07 Gibsons.

Currently, team owners Stuart and Sam Cox are working on getting a multi-car Asian Le Mans Series effort off the ground. On Monday DSC saw the team’s old-spec Ligier JS P2 testing with Matt Bell and a US customer, trying the car out on Asian Le Mans Series-spec Michelin tyres with other potential customers set to try out one of the team’s ORECVA 07s.

As for High Class Racing, RLR and BHK, all three teams are due to return in their current form (a single ORECA 07 Gibson apiece). High Class Racing’s customer driver Dennis Andersen has had another enjoyable season racing alongside Anders Fjordbach, telling DSC that he is relishing the competition which “gets tougher each year”. More on Andersen’s season in an upcoming feature right here on DSC.

Bradley ‘ok’ after big hit, Maini eager for more LMP2 action

Duqueine Engineering driver Richard Bradley spoke to DSC on Monday following his big off during Sunday’s 4H Portimao. Thankfully he was unhurt in the incident. He told DSC that the cause was an exploding brake disc.

“Thankfully,” he said. “I knew as soon as I braked for T1, it gave me enough time to brace myself for the impact.”

As for next season, Bradley is still working on plans, but he intends to continue racing in the LMP2 class of the ELMS.

Another driver with plans forming is Arjun Maini, the Indian driver has been out testing this week with G-Drive Racing and Panis Barthez, though he isn’t certain just yet where he will end up.

After speaking to him on Monday, it’s clear that despite his debut season in LMP2 being a challenging one with RLR, he has enjoyed it. “I love sportscar racing so much. I want to race at Le Mans every year now,” he said. As for his single-seater career, in which he reached the heights of F2, that looks to be on ice. “I don’t feel the need to continue,” he responded.

Oregon Plans As Yet Unknown

The status of Oregon Team’s LMP3 programme is an unknown at this point. The team campaigned a Norma M30 this year in LMP3 and is currently unsure whether to purchase a new LMP3 car for next season.

“We are heavily involved in the European Le Mans Series yet we also support the promotion of young drivers in other series,” Jerry Canevisio, Oregon’s Team Manager said to DSC.

“Renault and Lamborghini are important partners to us for these programs. My heart is most definitely in LMP3 and I would love to compete in the ELMS in 2020 yet I need to make sure we do not bite off more than we can chew. We need a new LMP3 car if we want to stay. It’s another financial effort which I would need to make and I am not entirely sure about it just yet.”

Panis Barthez looking at more ELMS. And IMSA?

Panis Barthez Competition is another team set to remain in the ELMS next season, but its LMP2 plans could take it further afield.

A Panis Barthez Competition spokesperson shared some thoughts about the French team’s prospects for the 2020 season:

“Of course, we intend to return to the European Le Mans Series in 2020,” they said. “We should have one car: an ORECA 07. We would love to have a second car yet nothing is definite at this stage. It could very well be one of the three Ligiers we have in our workshop (could this be a joint venture with Ultimate?). It’s a complex matter that relies on whether that second car is selected for the 24 Hours of Le Mans or not. That selection process won’t be easy for us, for sure.

“With regards to racing on other continents and other series, we know now that won’t return to Asia this year. It’s a shame as we were close to having a three-driver line-up completed.

“We are also working on a possible entry at Daytona and/or at Sebring. It was already something we were working on last year… stay tuned for more on this matter. We will also be competing with Lexus in SRO’s European Endurance and Sprint championships.”

David Droux to develop new Duqueine LMP3 car and test Duqueine’s ORECA 07

The new Duqueine LMP3 D08 LMP3 has been out testing this week, in public, alongside Ligier’s latest offering for 2020, the JS P320. (More on that in a separate piece.)

Realteam Racing’s David Droux revealed to DSC that he is working on the development of that car. “I should be part of the car’s development programme,” he said. “I shall also be testing Duqueine’s Oreca 07 next week.”

Droux is currently competing with RealTeam Racing in LMP3: “The team is partly staffed by people working for Graff Racing. My role is to support this team and ensure that we reach Le Mans with Esteban Garcia in the near future… hopefully in 2021. As for next year’s programme, it’s not totally final yet but the lead case is another season in LMP3 with a brand new car”.