LMP1 Down to Five Cars for WEC 2019/20 Season Opener

by Alice Holloway
30 cars complete the entry list for the opening round of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship

Ahead of the start of the 2019/20 FIA World Endurance Championship, the entry list for the opening round has been released, seeing 30 cars confirmed for the 4 Hours of Silverstone in September.

The biggest reduction in numbers comes from the LMP1 class. Last season, the class started with ten cars on the grid, which dropped to eight after the first 24 Hours of Le Mans round with financial issues preventing Ginetta from returning to the grid. With SMP Racing, DragonSpeed and ByKolles Team Racing all leaving full season entries for the new season, the grid was already down by four cars.

Rebellion Racing recently confirmed that they will only run one car at the opening round, even though two will be on track for next week’s Prologue. However no drivers are currently confirmed for the sole Rebellion seat. With Andre Lotterer and Neel Jani both confirmed at Porsche Formula-E Team for Season Six of the FIA Formula E championship the duo may be focusing on the electric race series, rather than returning to the Swiss team.

Only Toyota Gazoo Racing have announced their full driver line-up in LMP1.

There has yet to be any talk of a customer team approaching Ginetta for the second car, so there is a possibility that one of the two listed will vanish from the entry list before the Silverstone event. Both Charlie Robertson and Michael Simpson are confirmed to have remained with Ginetta and each have one of the seats in each of the cars. If Ginetta drop to one car it is assumed that both Robertson and Simpson with race together, leaving only one seat left for the team to fill.

LMP2 holds eight cars for the opening round of the championship, with each team having one car racing under their banner. Jackie Chan DC Racing moves to one car this year, with the second car being run by Team JOTA. The strong trio of Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado and Anthony Davidson will pilot the JOTA car, looking to build on the promising end they had to the Super Season.

The only team to not be running an ORECA chassis in the LMP2 class is the AF Corse-backed Cetilar Racing. They run the sole Dallara in the pack after United Autosports made the decision to swap their Ligier chassis for an ORECA. This means that Ligier have no appearances in WEC this season.

LMP2 is the only class to have all drivers confirmed in the provisional entry list. Unearthed star from the 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans Job van Uitert joins the all-Dutch crew of Racing Team Nederland for the Silverstone race to stand in for WEC regular Nyck de Vries as de Vries has the Belgium Formula 2 round on the same weekend as the opening round.

LMP2 reigning champions, #36 Sigantech Alpine
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

After the departure of Ford and BMW from the championship, the GTE Pro class drops down to six cars – two from each manufacturer. The duo for the Aston Martin Racing, AF Corse and Porsche GT Team cars keep the same line-ups they had last season, with the only difference being the current disappearance of Sam Bird.

Bird – who is confirmed with Envision Virgin Racing for the next season of Formula E – could still be confirmed with the team, as he has been since 2014 (missing 2015 for an LMP2 drive with G-Drive Racing). However the current uncertainty of three Formula E/WEC clashes may mean that the Ferrari squad would prefer to have him as the third driver draft in instead of a full season racer.

Nothing is known for certain, but the removal of him from the provisional entry list leads us to believe here at The Checkered Flag that his Formula E commitments may be holding AF Corse back from resigning the Brit at the moment.

The largest grid in the championship this year comes in GTE Am, with 11 cars padding out the field. Growing from last year, class champions Team Project 1 have an additional Porsche on the field, with AF Corse and Red River Racing joining as new names to the class. AF Corse bring two Ferraris to the field, whilst Red River have a sole 488 GTE EVO.

The surprise on the Am grid is that Pedro Lamy and Matthias Lauda are missing from the entry list. They usually race alongside Paul Dalla Lana in the works Aston Martin #98. Lamy and Dalla Lana have been racing together in the Aston Martin since 2014, with Lauda joining them a year later in 2015. It would be odd to not see the trio together on the endurance grid.

Provisional entry list for the 2019 4 Hours of Silverstone.
Credit: FIA World Endurance Championship

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