Road to Le Mans 2016: The Non-WEC Drivers

Discussion in 'Motorsports' started by Jack Hunsley, Jun 16, 2016.

  1. Jack Hunsley

    Jack Hunsley

    Understandably many viewers find it hard to get to grips with the 'who's who' of the regular WEC. So when the 24 Hours of Le Mans decides to roll around and throw a spanner in the works by adding another 26 cars to the WEC's lineup, it very easy to quickly become daunted by the prospect of remembering who's driving what. So here's a quick run through of the non-WEC entrants to the 84th 24 Heures du Mans:

    SO24! by Lombard Racing

    Car Number - #22
    Drivers - Vincent Capillaire, Erik Maris, Jonathan Coleman
    Main Series - ELMS, 6th In Class

    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - A newcomer to the ELMS for 2016 SO24 have performed pretty well considering. However they've struggled at Le Mans so far this weekend so shouldn't be troubling the category leaders, they'll just be hoping to make the finish.

    Panis-Barthez Competition

    Car Number - #23
    Drivers - Fabien Barthez, Paul-Loup Chatin, Timothé Buret
    Main Series - ELMS, 10th

    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - Yes. This is the same Fabien Barthez who made his name for Manchester United and France as a goalkeeper. Since giving up the 'beautiful' game in 2007 he's made a name for himself in motorsport and has raced at Le Mans since 2014 with a best finish of 9th last year. With his and Olivier Panis' team 10th in the ELMS, they'll be hoping Le Mans can give them momentum going into the remainder of the season.

    Algarve Pro Racing

    Car Number - #25
    Drivers - Michael Munemann, Andrea Pizzitola, Chris Hoy
    Main Series - ELMS, 14th
    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - Another famous name gracing the Le Mans circuit is Britain's (well technically Scotland's but shush don't tell anyone) Chris Hoy. Since giving up competitive cycling in 2013 he's raced in the British GT Championship and now the ELMS where he won the LMP3 title in 2015. The switch to LMP2 has been harder though with only a single 10th placed finish to the team's name.

    Pegasus Racing

    Car Number - #28
    Drivers - Inès Taittinger, Léo Striebig, Rémy Roussel
    Main Series - ELMS, 15th
    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - The ELMS' current back marker, Pegasus Racing are in desperate need of a good result at Le Mans to save their season. The German/French outfit currently have just half a point to their name after two ELMS rounds which in all fairness is a rather impressive achievement. They do have the quirk of being one of the few teams running a female driver in Taittinger, but that's about all that can be said about the team.

    Eurasia Motorsport
    Car Number - #33
    Drivers - Pu Jun Jin, Tristan Gommendy, Nick de Bruijn
    Main Series - ELMS, 8th

    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - With team's competing across the Eurasia are a team who understand endurance racing well. Whilst that hasn't come to fruition in the ELMS this year so far, a 5th place at Imola is rather offset by a retirement at Silverstone. They could well spring a surprise at Le Mans

    Race Performance

    Car Number - #34
    Drivers - Nicolas Leutwiler, Shinji Nakano, James Winslow
    Main Series - ELMS, 9th

    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - With a former F1 driver and an endurance specialist in their ranks it's somewhat irking that Race Performance haven't performed better in 2016. Nakano made his name with Prost and Minardi in the late 1990's in F1, scoring two points at Montreal and the Hungaroring, whilst Winslow has competed in the ALMS and Le Mans prior with Greaves.

    G-Drive Racing

    Car Number - #38
    Drivers - Simon Dolan, Jake Dennis, Giedo Van Der Garde
    Main Series - ELMS, 1st

    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - The first of the true non-WEC contenders for the class victory on Sunday. G-Drive, the sister team of the WEC outfit, has performed admirably so far in 2016. Also with Simon Dolan of Jota Sport fame, former F1 driver and Sauber critic Giedo Van Der Garde alongside GP3 regular Jake Dennis, they arguably have the strongest driver lineup in the category. Expect big things.

    Krohn Racing

    Car Number - #40
    Drivers - Tracy Krohn, Niclas Jönsson, João Barbosa
    Main Series - ELMS, 4th

    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - As America's sole representative across the pond in the ELMS Krohn have a lot riding on them. Whilst they are joined by fellow tea party spoilers Mike Shank Racing, Krohn are the only American team who regular compete in the ELMS who will make the jump to Le Mans. Consistency has been the key so far this year, with their 4th place overall courtesy of a 4th and 6th place finishes at Silverstone and Imola, they'll be hoping to go one better at Le Mans

    Greaves Motorsport

    Car Number - #41
    Drivers - Memo Rojas, Julien Canal, Nathenaël Berthon
    Main Series - ELMS, 11th

    Category - LMP2
    Debrief - A Le Mans regular since 2007, Greaves Motorsport know Le Mans incredibly well. A race victor back in 2011 and having had the pleasure of actually leading the race overall in 2014, they have a reputation for springing a surprise. They could well be one to look out for come race day.

    Thiriet by TDS Racing

    Car Number -
    Drivers - Pierre Thiriet, Mathias Beche, Ryo Hirakawa
    Main Series - ELMS, 3rd
    Category - LMP2
    Debrief -
    Thiriet 3rd place overall is somewhat misleading. They won last time out at Imola, whilst a retirement at Silverstone after starting from pole has limited their potential. Make no mistake about it, Thiriet are dangerous.

    Murphy Prototypes

    Car Number -
    Drivers -Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Goosens
    Main Series - ELMS, 13th
    Category - LMP2
    Debrief -
    Ireland's answer to the 24 Hours of Le Mans returns. A regular since 2012 the Irish haven't had the best of luck with their current DNF, 6th, DNF, 5th record leading me to predict another DNF this year if they have any passion for consistency. An all new driver lineup for this years race will also cause teething problems, however with Bleekemolen's Blancpain experience and Goosen's 12 previous 24 Hours of Le Mans under their respective belts should give them a better chance this year.

    Michael Shank Racing

    Car Number -
    Drivers - John Pew, Oswaldo Negri Jr., Laurens Vanthoor
    Main Series - IMSA, 6th
    Category - LMP2
    Debrief -
    Finally, the only non-ELMS LMP2 entry. Based off Wednesday's Free Practice results Mike Shank seem to sit in the middle of the LMP2 pack, which is very respectable for a team who's never been to Le Mans before. Back in the land of Uncle Sam they've had a victory at Laguna Seca already this year with Pew and Negri Jr. at the wheel. Now with the very welcome addition of Laurens Vanthoor they could be in for a good result.

    Corvette Racing

    Car Number -
    #63 & #64
    Drivers - Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Ricky Taylor & Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Jordan Taylor
    Main Series - IMSA, 7th & 1st
    Category - GTE Pro
    Debrief -
    What more is there to say about Corvette. With 8 class victories since 2001 they have emerged as the Audi of the GT classes. Whilst the Gavin, Milner, Taylor entry heads the IMSA GT Le Mans class they have struggled for pace compared to the Ford's at Le Mans so far in 2016. But considering their historic good form here don't be surprised if one of the two cars are in the running come the checkered flag.

    Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA

    Car Number -
    #68 & #69
    Drivers - Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, Sebastian Bourdais & Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon
    Main Series - IMSA, 9th & 3rd
    Category - GTE Pro
    Debrief -
    Arguably the best GT lineup is found with Ford UK's American brothers. With talent from all over the globe, not many other teams can boast having an CART and an Indy Car legend within their ranks. The Ford GT is also working VERY well at Le Mans so far with an almost frightening top speed. No doubt these two cars will be eager to beat their own UK brother's.

    Risi Competizione (Image Courtesy of Risi Competizione)
    Car Number -
    Drivers - Giancarlo Fisichella, Tony Vilander, Matteo Malucelli
    Main Series - IMSA, 5th
    Category - GTE Pro
    Debrief -
    Another Le Mans regular, Risi Competizione have been coming to Le Mans since 2007, and with former Ferrari F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella alongside former AF Corse regular Tony Vilander, they should be in good stand come the race. A best finish of 3rd is what they have to show for their IMSA season, they should do well at Le Mans.

    Porsche Motorsport

    Car Number -
    #91 & #92
    Drivers - Patrick Pilet, Kévin Estre, Nick Tandy & Frédéric Makowiecki, Jörg Bergmiester, Earl Bamber
    Main Series - N/A
    Category - GTE Pro
    Debrief -
    A slightly odd one here. Technically this team doesn't compete in any championship after Porsche's decision to take a sabbatical year for their GT program in the WEC. They make their return for Le Mans however, and with two very experienced lineups they will be strong.

    AF Corse

    Car Number -
    Drivers - Duncan Cameron, Matt Griffin, Aaron Scott
    Main Series - ELMS, 4th
    Category - GTE Am
    Debrief -
    Another consistent finisher in the ELMS arrives at Le Mans. Whilst very easily confused with the regular WEC AF Corse these guys have made their name in WEC's baby brother. After finishing 3rd overall in the ELMS last year the #55 will be looking to make amends for their DNF at Le Mans last year.

    Team AAI

    Car Number -
    Drivers - Johnny O'Connell, Mark Paterson, Oliver Bryant
    Main Series - ALMS, N/A
    Category - GTE Am
    Debrief -
    Again. An odd on. At Le Mans courtesy of their exploits in the Asian Le Mans Series Team AAI have the rather unfortunate claim to fame of being the last placed finisher at Le Mans in 2015, although still beat both Nissan LMP1's despite completing fewer laps. They've also got some good experience behind the wheel of their Corvette. O'Connell has raced and finished at Le Mans three times whilst Paterson is a four time class winner, and has finished on the podium an impressive nine times out of his fifteenth appearances, mainly as a Corvette factory driver. They could yet spring a surprise.

    Formula Racing

    Car Number - #60
    Drivers - Johnny Laursen, Mikkel Mac, Christina Nielsen
    Main Series - ELMS, 9th
    Category - GTE Am
    Debrief -
    The all-Danish Formula Racing Team have a good reputation. With the daughter of former Le Mans racer Lars-Erik Nielsen, and a young ELMS protege in the form of Mikkel Mac, they stand in good steed coming into Le Mans. Whilst things haven't quite go their way in the ELMS in 2016, Le Mans should bring better results.

    Clearwater Racing

    Car Number -
    Drivers - Weng Sun Mok, Keita Sawa, Rob Bell
    Main Series - ALMS, N/A
    Category - GTE Am
    Debrief -
    Another ALMS entrant, Clearwater Racing took the title in Asia last season with a McLaren 650S, with two victories and a third placed finished at the Sepang finale. Meanwhile, Rob Bell has raced at Le Mans since 2007 (excluding 2014), and was briefly part of Aston Martin's factory team. Fingers crossed they can quickly get to grips with their Ferrari 458 and give the ALMS someone to cheer for.

    Scuderia Corsa

    Car Number -
    Drivers - Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Jeff Segal
    Main Series - IMSA, 4th
    Category - GTE Am
    Debrief -
    You guessed it, another odd one. Whilst technically another IMSA entrant, and the only one in GTE Am, their lineup is so vastly different from their regular IMSA team you could argue they're not even related. With their regular drivers of Nielsen and Rojas already taken for Le Mans, only Jeff Segal makes the jump straight from America. He's joined by Sweedler and Bell again for Le Mans, with the trio racing to third last year in the class. Here's hoping they can replicate a similar result this time out.

    Proton Competition

    Car Number -
    Drivers - Cooper MacNeil, Leh Keen, Marc Miller
    Main Series - ELMS, 5th
    Category - GTE Am
    Debrief -
    If Scuderia Corsa had trouble retaining their usual lineup then their problems pale in comparison to Proton Competition. Whilst they come to Le Mans from the ELMS none of their regular drivers will arce for them. Instead, they've hired an American lineup to fight their cause. Cooper and Keen are both very experienced endurance racers, whilst Miller is almost far more than competent.

    Aston Martin Racing

    Car Number -
    Drivers - Andrew Howard, Liam Griffin, Gary Hirsch
    Main Series - ELMS, 1st
    Category - GTE Am
    Debrief -
    Last but not least is Aston Martin. The front runners in ELMS they come the Le Mans as the form team of GTE Am, at least of those invited to race. They should run well, given they've already won at Silverstone this season. But all remains to be seen.

    Continue Reading
    Road to Le Mans 2016: LMP1
    Road to Le Mans 2016: LMP2
    Road to Le Mans 2016: GT Pro & Am
    Road to Le Mans 2016: The Non-WEC Drivers
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  2. Colin Knowles

    Colin Knowles

    Can't wait for this on consoles :inlove:
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