Pairs of works hybrids from Audi, Toyota and Porsche lead the entry list for the full FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) season.
With the LMP1 cars running to new specification in 2014 the new Audi R18 e-tron quattro will face off against the Toyota TS040 Hybrid and the 919 Hybrid from the long awaited new comers to the LMP1 ranks.
Three cars from two teams represent the LMP1-L category, the sub-group reserved for the privateer teams in the premier class. After debuting their T128 LMP2 chassis in 2013 the German based Lotus team move up a class with an AER engined T129 and a driving line-up anchored by former DTM champion and F1 pilot Christijan Albers.
Rebellion Racing continue in the class, expanding to two entries for the first season with continuing drivers Nicolas Prost and Mathias Beche named as lead drivers.
The one class where, arguably, there is the most change is LMP2 where almost all of the leading teams from the 2013 season are absent from the entry including OAK Racing, focusing on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. One name that remains from the front of the 2013 is G-Drive Racing. However, while Russian Roman Rusinov remains as lead driver and Nissan remains the power behind the team it will lie in the back of a Morgan chassis this season, rather than the Oreca of the previous campaign.
Joining Rusinov and the G-Drive team in the class are Russian compatriots SMP Racing, Kiril Ladygin and Sergey Zlobin the lead drivers in the pair of Oreca-Nissans. The Japanese manufacturer remains the powerplant of choice in the class, also powering the KCMG entry, the Chinese team moving into the WEC full time after Silverstone, Le Mans and Fuji entries in 2013 alongside an Asian Le Mans Series campaign.
A new name in the class are StrakkaRacing, who drop down to LMP2 after several season as privateers in LMP1. While the driving trio of NickLeventis, DannyWatts and JonnyKane remains unchanged from their previous campaigns the switch from the HPD to the a Nissan powered Dome Strakka S103 chassis is a radical departure from previous seasons.
Another new name in the class are Millennium Motorsport, who have a pair of Oreca-Nissans on the entry list. Though an unfamiliar team name the squad has the appearance of a merge between the Gulf Racing Middle East squad and the Delta Motorsport – half (by name) of the Delta-ADR team from previous seasons. While Fabien Giroux and Stefan Johansson – both Gulf Racing stalwarts – lead the driving line-ups they are to be joined by John Martin, Oliver Turvey, Mike Conway and Shinji Nakano.
The look of the two GTE classes remains familiar.
The LMGTE Pro class will again host a battle between the works teams of AF Corse, Porsche Team Manthey and Aston Martin Racing. The lone privateer squad in the class are RAM Racing, the British team – led by Irishman Matt Griffin – putting a third Ferrari 458 Italia in the class.
RAM Racing – like fellow Ferrari team AF Corse and Aston Martin Racing – are also represented in the LMGTE Am class, Johnny Mowlem lead RAM’s Am line-up with Luis Perez Companc and Steve Wyatt lead AF Corse’s pair of entries.
There is further Ferrari representation in the class from defending class teams’ champions 8Star Motorsports. Having delivered Stuart Hall and Jamie Campbell-Walter to the drivers’ title last year Aston Martin Racing’s entries are led by Canadian Paul Dalla Lana and Kristian Poulsen.
The new shape Porsche 911 arrives in the class with Proton Competition and Prospeed Competition in the class.
“The World Endurance Championship also offers stability as we will visit the same eight circuits as we did in 2013, which is important for establishing the brand in these markets,” said Gerard Neveu, series CEO. “We also welcome our partners – Tudor, Michelin, DHL and Shell – and the manufacturers – Audi, Toyota, Porsche, Ferrari and Aston Martin – who are competing in this year’s championship.”
“We are very happy with this grid for the third season of the FIA WEC. It has a very good balance between manufacturers and private teams and representatives from over 20 different nationalities. This, along with the eight races in eight countries on four different continents, underlines the FIA WEC’s status as a true world championship.”
The 2014 WEC season begins with the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 20.