All the world’s media swarmed to the 6 Hours of Bahrain paddock Friday evening to see the unveiling of the much anticipated SMP Racing BR1 LMP1 privateer car that will compete in the first ‘Super Season’ of the World Endurance Championship. Boris Rotenberg was there to pull the cover off the new LMP1 challenger ahead of it’s WEC debut at Paul Ricard for the Prologue of the 2018/19 championship.
Rotenberg was keen to be the first to unveil the new LMP1 car to the awaiting crowd, having made a three-day journey from a test in Aragon to bring the car the the WEC paddock. The car is a collaboration of innovative design from Russian specialist students and engineers, and Dallara technical designers to bring the SMP BR1 together. “This car, the next car, we decided to design together with Dallara which is a great company, one of the largest manufacturers of sports cars in the world. This one was joint work with our engineering and Dallara, meaning that Russian specialists students and Russian engineers plays a key part in designing the car.” Rotenberg said ahead of unveiling the car.
“This car has already been tested on a race track and we have a perfect impression about it. The drivers were impressed, they liked it, we had very good feedback.
“We have already other teams enquiring about this car.
“Started work on the simulator and continued onto the race track. Up until now, we have already completed more than 1,200km on the race track. This car will race in the world championship. You will see it on many race track around the world. I think now is the time to show it to everyone.”
Dallara’s head of Design Luca Pignacca was there for the unveiling of the car and to relish in the excitement about their new project. “This was a big effort and big teamwork with the BR engineers.” He said, stood in front of the carbon-covered LMP1 car. “We took this project very seriously. We are very happy with the outcome.
“[After the two day test] drivers were happy, the team were happy, we were happy. We tried to do the best we know and all we know has gone into this car. The car can accommodate other engines, this has a AER engine but the car can accommodate other engines like the Gibson engine. We are ready to go.”
The WEC and ACO were happy to welcome SMP back to the World Endurance paddock, with Gerard Neveu and Pierre Fillon having their own comments on the indication towards the new LMP1.
“It has been a long-term plan from the team.” Neveu said. “They’ve done a great job.
“It was virtual but now it is real and I think they will have a few good announcements in the coming days about this programme. It means that this is probably the first proof that this LMP1 grid next year will be very impressive.
“It is great news for the WEC and Le Mans. I look forward to seeing the car on the track and twice for Le Mans, with Spa with Silverstone, Fuji, Sebring. In LMP1 we will have a nice surprise when we have the real cars.” Fillon added after the car had been revealed.
The car has been exclusively tested and developed by Russian drivers, with the list of those having developed the car including Vitaly Petrov, Mikhail Aleshin, Sergey Sirotkin, Viktor Shaitar and Kirill Ladygin. It is rumoured that the two factory cars that will be run next year will be driven exclusively by Russian drivers, with Daniil Kvyat‘s name having been rumoured to be included in that list.
Petrov and Aleshin were there for the car’s big unveil and spared a few words of their opinion on the project. “It means a lot for us because we’ve done a lot of work already with the LMP2 car, so we did a lot of developing.” Petrov stated, barely able to take his eyes off the Russian machine. “We put everything in our LMP1 project. Last week we had a test and the test went really well. I cannot go into all the secrets of what we did there but we make a lot of mileage and the car looks really impressive.”
Aleshin added: “We I think it’s really a great car. You can see all the really nice shaping and all those things. First of all I want to thank all the people who were working on this car: I would like to thank Dallara, would like to thank the team that help us put our faith and build up the car. A special thanks to Boris because without him this would not be possible. This person likes motor sport and it’s a very big thing for Russia. I’m really happy to be a part of that.”
It was also dropped in the reveal that DragonSpeed, being promoted into the WEC after winning the European Le Mans Championship this season, would be a customer of the BR1. They will run the Russian car with a Gibson engine, the specifications of the engine yet to be released.