Countdown to Le Mans 2019: The LMP2 Class

by Alice Holloway
Meet the LMP2 class ahead of the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans

LMP2 usually sees the biggest increase at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with automatic entries more often than not joining this class. Holding 20 cars, it is the largest class in the 87th rendition of the blue-riband event.

With the Le Mans grid being extended to a record-breaking 62 entries, High Class Racing ‘s car and United Autosports‘ second entry were welcomed to the grid. They joined the other seven FIA World Endurance Championship, eight European Le Mans Series, two Asian Le Mans Series entries on the grid.

The battle for the WEC LMP2 championship has come down to Signatech Alpine and Jackie Chan DC Racing #38. The duo of cars has been in tight competition since the start of the Super Season, but Nicolas Lapierre, Andre Negrao and Pierre Thiriet‘s consistency seeing them always finish on the LMP2 podium, and taking class victory at last year’s Le Mans, has given them a four-point advantage going into the final round.

The Jackie Chan DC Racing #37 and #38 LMP2 entries for 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

DC Racing did have both of their cars in the fray for the championship, but when they switched out the full Malaysian line up from the sister #37, they dropped their second car out of a championship-fighting place.

Will Stevens, who has been in the #37 trio for the 2019 1,000 Miles of Sebring and 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps moves over to the #23 ELMS Panis-Barthez Competition Ligier with Rene Binder and Julien Canal for Le Mans, so Ricky Taylor fills the third seat of the #37.

The #31 DragonSpeed entry has a slim chance of taking the LMP2 Endurance Trophy at the end of the 24-endurance event with Pastor Maldonado and Roberto Gonzalez, but not Anthony Davidson as he missed the first two rounds of the Super Season due to Toytoa Gazoo Racing commitments.

TDragonSpeed #31 LMP2 entry for 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

The other WEC entries: Racing Team Nederland and TDS Racing retain their usual trio of drivers for Le Mans. The #50 Larbre Competition Ligier has had Erwin Creed and Romano Ricci as a stable duo throughout the Super Season, but the third driver has not stayed with the team for longer than one race. Nicholas Boulle breaks this trend, staying on board the #50 from Spa to complete the Le Mans line up.

After heavy debate with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, United Autosports got their second entry on the grid after having initially been placed seventh on the reserve list. The ALMS 2018 LMP2-winning car will see Filipe Albuquerque, Philip Hanson and Paul di Resta climb on board the cockpit, with the late added ELMS car being raced by Alex Brundle, Ryan Cullen and Will Owen at the prestigious event.

The United Autosports #22 LMP2 entry for 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

Inter Europol Competition and ARC Bratislava also join the Le Mans grid from the Asian feeder series. Nigel Moore, Jakub Smiechowski and James Winslow bring the ALMS LMP3-winning #34 Inter Europol slot to the LMP2 class. Smiechowski will be looking to his team mates, who have some Le Mans experience in LMP2, as he takes on his first outing at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

The #49 trio of Henning Enqvist, Miro Konopka and Konstantin Tereshchenko all go into the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans as rookies to the race and the circuit and will be aiming to get through the race and make it to the chequered flag with minimal incident.

Surprisingly, ELMS has the most entries in the LMP2 24 Hours of Le Mans class. 2018 series champions G-Drive Racing return as a well recognised team to the grid, with Romain Rusinov being joined once again by Jean-Eric Vergne and new-to-the-team Job van Uitert. After winning the race last year, but losing the victory due to a fuel rig infringement, the team will be racing hard come next Saturday/Sunday, seeking redemption for the class victory they felt was stolen from them.

Other recognisable teams from past Le Mans returning to the grid from ELMS include Algarve Pro Racing, Graff, Cetilar Racing Villorba Corse and IDEC Sport.

The INter Europol Competition #34 and High Class Racing #20 LMP2 entry for 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

Panis-Barthez makes its fourth Le Mans appearance this year. The team, establish in 2016 by Olivier Panis and Fabien Barthez, will be piloted by Le Mans patron Canal and Stevens, with new-to-Le-Mans Rene Binder being brought under their wing. Both Canal and Stevens raced with the team at last year’s race, so have good experience with the French outfit.

Arjun Maini has his first Le Mans experience with RLR M Sport/Tower Events after being signed by the team earlier this year for their LMP2 program in the 2019 ELMS championship. Le Mans will mark as his third race with the team, having competed with them in the opening two rounds of the European championship. Maini’s ELMS team mate John Farano will be in the car with him on his Le Mans debut, along with Frenchman Norman Nato who joins the team for this event.

The RLR M Sport/Tower Events #43 LMP2 entry for 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans
Credit: Race Photography

A strong mixture of rookies and circuit experts fill the LMP2 grid, which could lead to moments of heroism or amateurism. The pressure can mount at Le Mans, and as the night goes on fatigue can start playing a major factor in the racing. It is sure to be one of the most interesting classes to watch.

Car NumberTeamDriver 1Driver 2Driver 3
20High Class RacingDennis AndersenMathias BecheAnders Fjordbach
22United AutosportsFilipe AlbuquerquePhilip HansonPaul di Resta
23Panis Barthez CompetitionRene BinderJulien CanalWill Stevens
25Algarve Pro RacingJohn FalbAndrea PizzitolaDavid Zollinger
26G-Drive RacingRoman RusinovJob van UitertJean-Eric Vergne
28TDS RacingLoic DuvalFrancois PerrodoMatthieu Vaxiviere
29Racing Team NederlandFrits van EerdGiedo van der GardeNyck de Vries
30Duqueine EngineeringRomain DumasNico JaminPierre Ragues
31DragonSpeedAnthony DavidsonRoberto GonzalezPastor Maldonado
32United AutosportsAlex BrundleRyan CullenWill Owen
34Inter Europol CompetitionNigel MooreJakub SmiechowskiJames Winslow
36Signatech AlpineNicolas LapierreAndre NegraoPierre Thiriet
37Jackie Chan DC RacingDavid Heinemeier HanssonJordan KingRicky Taylor
38Jackie Chan DC RacingGabriel AubryStephane RichelmiHo-Pin Tung
39GraffVincent CapillaireJonathon HirschiTristan Gommendy
43RLR M Sport/Tower EventsJon FaranoArjun MainiNorman Nato
47Cetilar Racing Villorba CorseAndrea BelicchiRoberto LacorteGiorgio Sernagiotto
48IDEC SportPaul-Loup ChatinPatrice LafargueMemo Rojas
49ARC BratislavaHenning EnqvistMiro KonopkaKonstanin Tereshchenko
50Larbre CompetitionNicholas BoulleErwin CreedRomano Ricci

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