SMP Racing rejoins 36-strong European Le Mans Series grid


Credit: Gabi Tomescu/AdrenalMedia.com

The Russian SMP Racing team will rejoin the European Le Mans Series for the upcoming 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring, returning to the LMP2 class which they competed in last year and taking the total grid size to 36 cars.

Winners of the former GTC class in 2013, SMP Racing will compete in 2017 with a Dallara P217, with which they competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June. Their entry brings the number of LMP2 entries up to thirteen.

SMP Racing’s fortunes will rest on the shoulders of two rookie drivers, as Matevos Isaakyan and Egor Orudzhev both make their ELMS debuts in the #27 car; the duo currently race for the SMP-backed AVF team in World Series Formula V8 3.5, and will both be classified as Silver drivers.

A number of other changes will take place for the race in Austria, as experienced endurance racer Nicolas Minassian will cover for the absent Ryo Hirakawa at LMP2 championship leaders G-Drive Racing. Hirakawa will instead be returning to Japan to fulfil his Super GT duties at Sugo.

Maurizio Mediani remains with the #9 AT Racing outfit for its home event, partnering Alexander Talkanitsa Sr. and Jr. in the LMP3-class team.

Also in the LMP3 category, Yann Ehrlacher returns to the wheel of the #19 M.Racing Norma, as Ricky Capo misses the upcoming July 23rd round, while Swede Douglas Lundberg replaces Henry Hassid as the third driver of the #8 Duquiene Engineering Ligier.

Seven points separate the top five LMP3 teams in the standings, which is currently led by the French Ultimate team of Jean-Baptiste Lahaye, Matthieu Lahaye and François Heriau, who pilot the #17 car.

In the LMGTE class, JMW Motorsport returns with its new Ferrari 488, with which it secured a GTE-Am class victory at Le Mans. Rob Smith – who was part of the winning Le Mans team – will be once again partnered in the #66 with Jody Fannin and Jonny Cocker, the combination which took the class victory last time out in Monza.

The #66 JMW team currently sits behind the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin squad in the GTE standings; the trio of Nicki Thiim, Euan Hankey and Salih Yoluc took victory in the season opener at Silverstone.