Countdown to Le Mans 2019: The LM GTE Am Class

by Alice Holloway
Meet the LM GTE Am class ahead of the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans

Matching the GTE Pro class, LM GTE Am sees 17 cars take to the grid. This class is the only class to see at least one entry come from every feeder series, as well as one 24 Hours of Le Mans-only entry.

The Keating Motorsport Ford takes the title as the Le Mans-only entry; the one car on the entire grid that has not come from a different series. This car will also act as a good test for Ford to see how they perform as a customer team for next season.

WeatherTech Racing come in as the only IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. After topping the class timing board during the Le Mans test, the trio of Cooper MacNeil, Robert Smith and Toni Vilander will be feeling good ahead of the 24-hour event.

They led the charge for the Ferrari-running teams, who looked to have the advantage on all the other manufacturers. Locking out the top six positions in class, Ferrari had a dominant showing at the Test Day. With very little shift to the Balance of Performance ahead of the blue-riband event, Ferrari teams will be feeling confident about their prospects next weekend.

The Gulf Racing #86 LM GTE Am entry for the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

Having won their class in the Asian Le Mans Series, the #57 Car Guy Racing earned themselves automatic entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and are the only ALMS representatives in this class. Alike the sole IMSA entry, they too are running a Ferrari 488 GTE for the 87th rendition of the event. Kei Cozzolino, Takeshi Kimura and Come Ledogar will share responsibility of the wheel.

Kessel Racing bring across two Ferrari’s from the European Le Mans Series, whilst other fan favourites of Proton Competition and JMW Motorsport also come from the European championship. The last of the six Am Ferraris races under the full season FIA World Endurance Championship banner MR Racing. Olivier Beretta, Eddie Cheever III and Motoaki Ishikawa will round off their Super Season together with the Super Finale at Le Mans. The trio sit tenth in the WEC Am championship standings, but although the title is out of reach for them there is still a battle at the top of the points board.

The Kessel Racing #60 LM GTE Am entry for the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

Team Project 1 lead the way in LM GTE Am, as they have since the 2018 6 Hours of Fuji where they took their maiden class victory. The Dempsey-Proton Racing WEC duo of cars had been running off into the distance with the championship, but after an investigation brought to light a data logger was transmitting false data the team was stripped of all points for their cars up to that moment in the championship. This meant that the teams lost all the points from their victory scored at last year’s Le Mans.

The Team Project 1 #56 LM GTE Am entry for the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

They will need a lot to go their way, but there is a very slim chance that Matt Campbell and Christian Ried in the #77 could still take the Am championship. If they did, it would be the comeback story of the season. They certainly are deserving of the title, having consistently ended on the podium and taken more victories than any other team in the class, currently sitting on a hat-trick of wins over the last three races.

Dempsey-Proton will once again field three cars in this class (two WEC cars and one ELMS car – the #99).

The Spirit of Race #54 sits just 23 points behind current leaders Jorg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti with the strongest chance of taking the battle to the Porsche-running #56. A Porsche-Ferrari fight between the pair for the championship would be a great story to bring to the 87th Le Mans and something that would definitely have us on the edge of our seats.

The Spirit of Race #54 LM GTE Am entry for the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

Last year’s class champions, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda sit 36 points behind the Team Project 1 trio. Like the #77 Dempsey-Proton Porsche (sitting 30 points behind the class leaders), the #98 Aston Martin Racing car would need a lot to go their way to take the Am crown from the German outfit, but it is still mathematically possible.

With five teams in with a chance of taking the class podium, and 17 cars ready to battle it out wheel-to-wheel for class honours, Am will definitely be one of the classes to keep an eye on the live points positions of all of the cars, as the championship positions could swing and change drastically throughout the 24 hours of racing.

Car NumberTeamDriver 1Driver 2Driver 3
54Spirit of RaceFrancesco CastellacciGiancarlo FisichellaThomas Flohr
56Team Project 1Jorg BergmeisterPatrick LindseyEgidio Perfetti
57Car Guy RacingKei CozzolinoTakeshi KimuraCome Ledogar
60Kessel RacingClaudio SchiavoniSergio PianezzolaAndrea Piccini
61Clearwater RacingLuis Perez CompacMatteo CressoniMatt Griffin
62WeatherTech RacingCooper MacNeilRobert SmithToni Vilander
70MR RacingOlivier BerettaEddie Cheever IIIMotoaki Ishikawa
77Dempsey-Proton RacingJulien AndlauerMatt CampbellChristian Ried
78Proton CompetitionVincent AbrillLouis PrettePhilippe Prette
83Kessel RacingRahel FreyMichelle GattingManuela Gostner
84JMW MotorsportRodrigo BaptistaWei LuJeff Segal
85Keating MotorsportsJeroen BleekemolenFelipe FragaBen Keating
86Gulf RacingBen BarkerThomas PreiningMichael Wainwright
88Dempsey-Proton RacingMatteo CairoliSatoshi HoshinoGianluca Roda
90TF SportCharlie EastwoodEuan HankeySalih Yoluc
98Aston Martin RacingPaul Dalla LanaPedro LamyMathias Lauda
99Dempsey-Proton RacingNiclas JonssonTracy KrohnPatrick Long

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