A total of 37 cars will head to Paul Ricard to start the European Le Mans Series year with a two day test session, starting in April 1.
For 2014 the series is comprised of three classes. The LMP2 category remains the premier class in the championship, 11 cars from the class with test at Le Castellet, the LMGTE and GTC class responsible for 14 and 12 cars respectively on the testing list.
Four different chassis manufacturers will be represented among the LMP2 testers, with Oreca, Alpine, Zytek and Morgan all involved, and with the new Ligier design set to join later in the year the class will host enviable variety.
2013 runners-up Thiriet by TDS Racing, with drivers Pierre Thiriet, Ludovic Badey and Tristan Gommendy at the test, are the team planning to enter the new JS P2 chassis in the championship. However, they start the season with a Morgan-Nissan, the Japanese manufacturer powering eight of the LMP2 cars due at the test, Judd powerplants lying in the rear of the remaining three.
British teams Greaves Motorsport and Jota Sport will be both be in action, the former with a pair of Zytek-Nissan, while Jota have a single similar car for drivers Simon Dolan, single-seater convert Harry Tincknell and Audi Sport man Filipe Albuquerque. Oliver Webb, another young British talent increasingly turning to sportscars is one of four drivers named for 2013 champions Signatech Alpine.
The testing entry list, however, is led – at least in terms of race number – by Sebastien Loeb Racing’s Oreca-Nissan due to be driven by Rene Rast and Laurens Vanthoor – both stars of Audi’s customer GT race program – and Frenchman Vincent Capillaire.
Loeb’s team also lead the test entry list in GTC, with an Audi R8 LMS for driver Henry Hassid.
Team Russia by Barwell are the only BMW Z4 slated to test, Leonid Machitski and Timur Sardarov joined by Jonny Cocker.
The McLaren MP4-12C GT3 will also make its ELMS debut, ART Grand Prix testing with two cars and a four drivers, including LMP2 WEC champion Ricardo Gonzalez.
However, the class is dominated by Ferraris with seven 458 Italia entered including a pair for AF Corse and a trio for SMP Racing.
Danish team Formula Racing will bring three Danish drivers to the test, led by Corvette works driver Jan Magnussen, while SOFREV–ASP will bring the combination of Pascal Gibon, Christophe Bourret and Jean–Phillipe Belloc back together, last having driven together in Larbre Competition’s LMGTE Am Corvette in the 2012 WEC.
LMGTE is similarly Ferrari dominated with eight 458 in the class led by two AF Corse cars featuring WEC regulars Piergiuseppe Perazzini, Marco Cioci and Matt Griffin. Griffin will share the second car with his regular GT Open and British GT co-driver Duncan Cameron.
Also testing a Ferrari is Fabien Barthez, the former goalkeeper – now the French GT champion preparing for the start of a season that should include a 24 Hours of Le Mans debut in June. He will share the lone SOFREV-ASP car in the class with Soheil Ayari and Anthony Pons.
Imsa Performance Matmut have a pair of Porsches in the class. Their fellow French team Crubile Sport, Belgian squad ProSpeed Competition and Gulf Racing UK make it five 911 GT3 RSR in the class.
The British team also have an Aston Martin Vantage due to test, Roald Goethe and Stuart Hall – both part of Aston Martin’s works WEC team last year – to test the car.
The ELMS season begins at Silverstone, supporting the WEC, on April 19.