Flashback: WEC 2017 Season Analysis – LMP2

Although the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing car was favourite to take the LMP2 Endurrance Trophy, Bruno Senna and Julien Canal fought hard to bring it home for the Vaillante Relebbion team
Credit: Marius Hecker/World Endurance Championship

Consistency became the key to success in the LMP2 class of the 2017 World Endurance Championship. Three different teams had the mathematical chance to claim the 2017 World Endurance Championship LMP2 title at the final round of the season, but it was the #31 Vaillante Rebellion Racing team, that only missed appearing on the podium for one race out of the nine, who took home the Endurance Trophy. The #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing had been the favourites all year, but a loss of consistency after the summer break saw the LMP2 rookie team Rebellion claim the title at the final race of the year.

The season began strongly for the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing crew, who would go on to be the favourites to win the first official LMP2 Endurance Trophy. Winning three of the first four rounds of the championship in their class, it was the #38 crew who nearly took overall victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans when the LMP1 cars all hit issues during the prestigious endurance race. Vaillante Rebellion remained a strong competitor for the Chinese team, but before the summer break it looked like Oliver Jarvis, Ho-Pin Tung and Thomas Laurent would be unbeatable.

The flyaway races in the second half of the season began to chip away at the lead that #38 had built up. As they failed to end on the podium in both the 6 Hours of Mexico and the 6 Hours of COTA, Rebellion drivers Bruno Senna, Nicolas Prost and Julien Canal began to optimise, scoring maximum points on the top step of the podium. Their consistency in the second half of the season began to bring down the points gap that #38 had achieved in their Le Mans victory, meaning that the championship decider came down to the final race of the season.

Gustavo Menezes was the only driver to compete every round of the 2017 season in the reigning LMP2 champion car: #36 Signatech Alpine. Because of this, he was the only driver eligible in that car to be able to challenge for the LMP2 Endurance Trophy when the 6 Hours of Bahrain occurred. It was a long shot, but the Signatech team were ready to push to the maximum to try and bring Menezes the crown.

With strong performances again from the #38 and #31 crews, Menezes chances of retaining the championship title for Signatech faded quickly. It was a well fought battle by both teams in the last 6-hours of racing for the 2017 season, but with Rebellion claiming their fourth victory of the year they took the top step at Bahrain and the championship title.

Rebellion move back up to LMP1 for the 2018/19 Super Season, so are unable to retain the title they fought so hard for last season. Signatech look to come back stronger to reclaim the LMP2 Endurance Trophy this season, whilst Jackie Chan DC Racing will be aiming to take the championship they so nearly won last season.

With Privateer cars becoming more competitive in LMP1, a few of the LMP2 teams from last year have progressed up a class. But the LMP2 field promises another season of wheel-to-wheel action as seven cars will fill the class for full season. Jackie Chan DC Racing is the only team this year to be fielding two cars under the same racing banner.