Published on February 7th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
European Le Mans, 34 Cars On The Grid
The 2015 European Le Mans Series will feature an extremely solid base of 19 cars in the Le Mans Prototype categories and 15 GT cars. While some 2014 season competitors have chosen to move up to the next level by entering the World Endurance Championship the aim of many participants in the European series the ELMS series continues to attract many people keen to experience the thrills and atmosphere of European endurance racing.
Twelve LMP2 and seven LMP3 cars on the grid After an outstanding 2014 finale at the Estoril circuit in Portugal, the ELMS is delighted to welcome a Portuguese team to the 2015 grid. After having made an appearance in 2013 in LMPC, Algarve Pro Racing will this year return to race a Ligier JS P2 Nissan LMP2, with the driver line up led by Briton Rudolf Munemann.
On the back of its two 2014 ELMS titles in LMGTE and GTC and the WEC LMP2 World Championship, the Russian SMP Racing team is determined to continue to strengthen its experience in endurance racing. It is entering its new BR01 LMP2, led by former single-seater champion, Russian Mikhail Aleshin, in the No.27 and Italian Maurizio Mediani in the No.37.
2014 ELMS Vice Champion, JOTA Sport, returns this year with a new car now named a Gibson 015S, powered by a Nissan engine. Simon Dolan, the British team’s owner is the first driver named on the 2015 list.
Pegasus Racing returned to endurance racing last season and is determined to continue on this path, entering the only Morgan Nissan in LMP2. Among others, it will be driven by the fastest of the drivers entered by the team at last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, young Frenchman Léo Roussel.
New countries will be represented in LMP2 in the European Le Mans Series, including Eurasia Motorsport (Philippines) and its No.33 ORECA 03R-Nissan in the hands of Chinese driver Kevin Pu Jun Jin. Also on the grid will be the Ligier JS P2-Judd of the American Krohn Racing team and the two ORECA 03R-Nissans of Ibanez Racing (San Marino). The No.44 will be in the hands of Frenchman Pierre Perret, while the No.45 of the same team will be led by José Ibanez.
Loyal to European endurance racing, the British Greaves Motorsport team will be the second to race the new Gibson 015S Nissan chassis (No.41), and it will be driven by former ELMS GTE Champion Johnny Mowlem.
Always ready to take up a challenge, Thiriet by TDS Racing will be the first to compete in the ELMS with the new LMP2 closed prototype, the ORECA 05, which will be driven notably by Pierre Thiriet. Irishman Greg Murphy’s eponymous team will enter the No.48 Murphy Prototypes ORECA 03R.
A new car and new challenges – seven LMP3 Launched in July 2014 by the ACO, the new smaller LMP3 prototype will make its racing debut in 2015. While the chassis can be built by independent constructors – three have been announced to date – all cars are equipped by the same powertrain (the 420 bhp normally aspirated Nissan V8) with customer service being provided by ORECA.
Seven Ginetta Nissans are therefore being announced today for the new LMP3 grid, starting with the No.3 of Sir Chris Hoy, the British World and Olympic cycling champion, who revealed his participation in December of last year. He will be joined in Team LNT by Michael Simpson at the wheel of the No.2 car.
The Italian Cetilar Villorba Corse team will enter the No.5 for its driver Giorgio Sernagiotto while, from Great Britain, three further cars will be on the grid representing the University of Bolton (No.7, Rob Garofall), Lanan Racing (No.11, Alex Crave) and Rollcentre Racing (No.18, Martin Short).
Also featuring in the new LMP3 category will be the Spanish entry of the No.15 SVK by Speed Factory, driven by Lithuanian Konstantino Calko.
Fifteen cars in Grand Touring… 9 LMGTE and 6 GTC If the Le Mans Prototype categories are doing well in terms of quality and quantity, the same can be said of GT.
Three manufacturers are represented by the nine entrants announced today in LMGTE. While Ferrari still holds an important place in this class, BMW has made the step up from the GTC category in which it competed in 2013 and 2014. After winning its last race in GTC in 2014, BMW Sport Trophy Marc VDS moves up to LMGTE this year with a BMW Z4 (No. 52) in the hands of the very experienced Andy Priaulx, WTCC champion and USCC GTLM driver in 2014.
AF Corse Ferrari will enter three Ferrari 458 Italias with American Peter Mann in the No.51, the British 2014 Vice-Champion Duncan Cameron in the No.55, and Australian Stephen Wyatt in the No.81.
The team racing under the Austrian flag, AT Racing, (4th in LMGTE in 2014) will be determined to perform even better this year with the No.56 Ferrari 458 Italia of Alexander Talkanitsa, while the No.60 of Formula Racing (Vice-champion in GTC 2014) has chosen to move up a class for 2015. It will be driven by the Dane Johnny Laursen, among others, in LMGTE. The final F458 on the list, No.66) will be raced by the JMW Motorsport team (3rd in LMGTE in 2014), in the hands of George Richardson.
Two Porsche 911s will also be on the LMGTE grid. Gulf Racing UK will race the No.86 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, with Michael Wainwright being the first named driver, while the German Proton Competition team has this year taken up a full season entry with the No.88 Porsche 911 RSR of Christian Ried.
In the GTC category (Grand Touring Cars), AF Corse makes its presence known with four Ferrari F458 Italia GT3s. The No.61 will be driven by Italian Mario Cordoni, the No.62 will be in the hands of Switzerland’s Thomas Flohr and the No.63 for Giorgio Roda, while Dane Mads Rasmussen will drive the No.64 F458 Italia GT3.
Already involved in the operation of the Thiriet team in LMP2, TDS Racing will be running a dual programme in the ELMS this year by entering a BMW Z4 GT3 in GTC. The No.59 BMW will be in the hands of Frenchman Eric Dermont. Aston Martin will be the third manufacturer represented in the class, with No.68 Vantage GT3 of the Danish Massive Motorsport team, driven by Casper Elgaard.
The 2015 European Le Mans Series will begin with the official test at Paul Ricard on 23 and 24 March. The first race of the season, “The ELMS 4 Hours of Silverstone” will be held at the Silverstone circuit in Great Britain on 11th April as part of the first major European endurance racing festival weekends and alongside the WEC’s 6 Hours of Silverstone.