GP2 drivers Mitch Evans and Antonio Giovinazzi will make a one-off start in the European Le Mans Series at Silverstone later this month with the Franco-Russian SMP Racing LMP2 team.
Evans, who finished second in P2 at last year’s Le Mans 24 Hours with the Jota Gibson team, and 2015 European Formula 3 Championship runner-up Giovinazzi will share the Nissan-engined BR Engineering BR01 together with Sean Gelael.
The trio of drivers have close links: Evans and Gelael are teammates at Campos Racing for this season; and Giovinazzi and Gelael shared a Eurasia ORECA LMP2 in two rounds of last winter’s Asian Le Mans Series.
SMP Racing boss Benjamin Durand explained that Gelael had led an approach from the three drivers for the team to field an additional car at the Silverstone 4 Hours on April 16.
“They came to us wanting to do the race and asked us to put a car on the grid for Silverstone,” said Durand. “We were able to do that, but it is just a one-off at the moment.”
SMP’s regular car, which replaces the entry for a BR01 from the French Courage team, will be driven by Stefano Coletti, Julian Leal and Andreas Wirth.
Reigning ELMS champion Bjorn Wirdheim will stand in for Olivier Pla, who will be racing for Ford in the World Endurance Championship over the Silverstone weekend, at Krohn Racing. The Swede won the title with Greaves Motorsport last season and will share Krohn’s Ligier-Nissan JSP2 with Niclas Jonsson and Tracy Krohn.
The Murphy Prototype squad has yet to declare teammates for Michael Lyons aboard its ORECA-Nissan 03R. Marc Goossens will race the car at the Le Mans 24 Hours and is on the entry list for Silverstone but is not scheduled to drive.
Ex-Formula 1 driver Karun Chandhok, who has raced for Murphy at Le Mans for the past three seasons, is understood to be on stand-by should the Silverstone-based team be unable to find full-season drivers ahead of the championship opener.
Aston Martin Racing will also field an additional car on a one-off basis in the GTE class. Roald Goethe, a regular with AMR in the WEC in 2013 and ’15, will share an Aston Martin Vantage GTE with factory driver Richie Stanaway and Stuart Hall.
Scot Rory Butcher has been confirmed for a full season with the JMW Ferrari squad.
The winner of two British GT Championship rounds last season and alongside four ELMS races with the JMW last season, Butcher will share the British team’s 458 Italia with Ferrari factory driver Andrea Bertolini and Rob Smith.