Record 45 car entry set for European Le Mans Series opener


ELMS Le Castellet 2017
Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

The 2018 European Le Man Series is set for a record entry of 45 cars for the season opening 4 Hours of Le Castellet on Sunday 15 April, with a total of 121 drivers from 35 teams.

LMP2 – Nineteen entries make up largest ever grid

Reigning LMP2 FIA World Endurance Driver Champions Bruno Senna and Julien Canal return for 2018, this time they go head to head, Senna switches to United Autosports with Phil Hanson in the #22 Ligier and Canal moves to Panis Barthez Competition in their #23 Ligier alongside Timothé Buret and Will Stevens.

2013 FIA World Endurance Drivers Champion Loïc Duval lines up with Matthieu Vaxiviére and François Perrodo in the #33 TDS Racing Oreca, while 2015 LMP2 FIA WEC Drivers’ Champion Roman Rusinov joins Andrea Pizzitola and Alexandre Imperatori in the #26 G-Drive Racing Oreca for their ELMS LMP2 team title defence.

Two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Nicolas Lapierre heads back to the DragonSpeed squad with their #21 Oreca-Gibson as the 2017 line-up remains the same alongside Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley.

Ford factory driver Oliveir Pla joins Racing Engineering alongside Paul Petit and Norman Nato. Former ELMS Champion Paul Loup Chatin joins IDEC Sport alongside 2017 ELMS Champion Memo Rojas and Paul Lafargue, while Nelson Panciatici heads to Duqueine Engineering with Nicolas Jarmin and Pierre Ragues.

2014 ELMS team Champions Signatech Alpine return to the grid with their Alpine A470 being driven by André Negrão and 2012 ELMS Champion Pierre Thiriet.

LMP3 – Impressive eighteen entries for stars of tomorrow

United Autosports ELMS 2017
Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

Now in its fourth year, the LMP3 class is flourishing, a total of eighteen cars line up for the first race of the season, with a mixture of Ligier J3 P3 chassis and the Norma M 30, both powered by Nissan engines.

2017 LMP3 Champions United Autosports come back to defend their title with two cars, title wining trio Anthony Wells, Garret Grist and Matthew Bell return in the #3 car while American dueo Sean Rayhall and John Falb are back in the #2 car.

Flying the flag for France in the category are Ultimate, with Mathieu Lahaye, Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and Francois Heriau, while M Racing YMR brings two cars with Laurent Millara and Natan Bihal in the #18, and Nicolas Ferrer being joined by Swiss duo David Droux and Lucas Légéret.

Reigning Michelin Le Mans Cup Champions DKR Engineering make the move up to ELMS with reigning driver champions Alex Toril and Jean Glorieux being joined by Alex’s brother Miguel.

LMGTE – Porsche vs. Ferrari

JMW-Ferrari-ELMS-2017
Credit: Jakob Ebrey Photography

While LMGTE is the smallest of the three classes, it will still be very competitive with a total of eight cars lining up in a 50/50 split between Ferrari F488 GTE and Porsche 911 RSR machinery.

Reigning LMGTE champions JMW Motorsport lead the line up in their Ferrari with Liam Griffin, Alex MacDowell and Miguel Molina as they set out to retain the championship crown.

Spirit of Race have a pair of Ferrari’s with Thomas Flohr and FIA GT3 European Champion Francessco Castellacci in the #54 car and 2017 ELMS race winners Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin and Aaron Scott in the #55.

The bright green Krohn Racing 488 returns to the grid with Tracy Krohn and Niclas Jonsson being supported by by 24 Hours of Le Mans winner and former FIA GT1 World Champion Andrea Bertolini.

Proton Competition are back with two Porsche 911 RSRs, Christian Ried, Joel Camathias and Dennis Olsen take on driving duties for the #77 car, with Gianluca Roda, Giorgio Roda and Matteo Cairoli  in the #88.

British team Gulf Racing line up with Michael Wainwright, Alexander Davison and Ben Barker while 2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup GT3 Champions Ebimotors swap their GT3 Lamborghini for Porsche as they graduate to ELMS.

The full entry list can be viewed here.

A pre-season test will take place at the Circuit Paul Ricard on 9/10 April, with the season getting underway later that week on Sunday 15 April.