Ahead of the 2018 European Le Mans Series season, it has been announced that 41 cars will take on the six-race calendar. Unlike the parent series – FIA World Endurance Championship – the ELMS racing season remains contained to one calendar year.
17 LMP2s, 18 LMP3s and 6 LMGTEs will go wheel to wheel, representing 32 different teams, 13 different nation and feature championship-winning drivers from past and present.
The battle of the chassis remains in 2018 as team have selected from Dallara, Ligier and ORECA. G-Drive Racing remain in the field to defend the title they claimed in the 2017 season, still racing with the ORECA-Gibson V8 package they used last year. However, as G-Drive step back from a full season of WEC, 2015 LMP2 champion Romain Rusinov will lead the #26 team to fight for retention of the title.
United Autosports come back stronger than last year with a two-car line up. They will be hoping to put the pressure on G-Drive as they did last year and try to take the LMP2 crown. Alongside them, Dragonspeed, Panis Barthez Competition, Algarve Pro Racing, IDEC Sport, SMP Racing, Cetilar Villorba Corse and High Class Racing all return to the LMP2 field for more wheel-to-wheel battles.
Algarve has put in a second car that will be raced under the Rebellion Racing banner. The team will be seen as a junior team to run alongside Rebellion’s WEC efforts as they return to LMP1 after a single year in LMP2 where they took the championship.
Stepping up from LMP3, the French team of Duqueine Engineering take on the challenge of the LMP2 class. They will be joined as rookies in the class by series debutants Racing Engineering and AVF by Adrian Valles.
LMP3 is filled mostly with Ligier JS P3s whilst three entries will run the Norma M30s, with all 18 cars being powered by the same Nissan engine as the junior prototype series continues to be the perfect breeding ground for up and coming prototype racers.
Sean Rayhall and John Falb remained aboard one of the two United Autosports LMP3 machines as they will fight a new grid to defend their hard fought for title. Fan favourites of Cool Racing, Nefis by Speed Factory, 360 Racing, AT Racing, Oregon Team, EuroInternational, Inter Europol Competition, RLR MSport, Ultimate and M Racing-YMR will also be back on track to challenge Rayhall and Falb for the LMP3 championship.
New to this year, 2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup champions DKR Engineering join the grid along with the runners up Ecurie Ecosse/Nielsen. British team BHK Motorsport take the eighteenth spot on the grid as the third newcomers to the series.
LMGTE sees, once again, a battle of Porsche and Ferrari. Three Ferrari 488s will take on three Porsche 911s to be the best manufacturer in the final ELMS class. As TF Sport depart the series with their Aston Martin for WEC, JMW Motorsport have one less competitor from last year to worry about as they try and defend their title. But the competition becomes no easier, as fierce competition will come from last year’s entries of Spirit of Race and Proton Competition.
LMGTE gets new faces in the form of Michelin Le Mans Cup GT3 champions Ebimotors. They trade in their GT3 Lamborghini for a GTE Porsche 911, with champion driver Fabio Babini leading the team. Old face return as, after a short stint in the LMP2 class, Krohn Racing are back with a lime green Ferrari 488.
With the first race of the season just a few months away, the 2018 ELMS season is shaping up to be every bit as good as it was last year. Make sure you keep an eye on The Checkered Flag for all the latest updates and news on the series as we build up to the pre-season test at Le Castellet circuit on 10 April.