American ELMS championship-winning team 10Star DragonSpeed will campaign the 2018/19 FIA WEC “Super Season” with a Dallara BR1 LMP1 chassis, powered by Gibson’s new LMP1 engine.
This news follows the launch of the new Dallara BR1 at the Bahrain International Circuit today, where SMP Racing confirmed its LMP1 FIA WEC program.
“After looking carefully at an impressive range of options to enter the LMP1 class, we’ve concluded that a combination of the new Dallara BR1 chassis and a purpose-designed Gibson V8 normally aspirated engine will give DragonSpeed the best opportunity for racing success,” DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian said.
However Julian revealed to RACER that DragonSpeed was pursuing an ORECA LMP1 program prior to committing to Dallara.
“Our first choice was ORECA,” he said. “We have the cars already and we have plenty of experience dealing with them so that was a clear first choice. It has to be said though that their decision-making has been slow, they have never said ‘no,’ or ‘yes’ for that matter, but we were getting messages like, ‘It’s not a red light, but it’s not a green light either.'”
“That got to a point where it was going to be difficult for us to progress at the rate we needed to.
“While that was going on I asked [DragonSpeed Sporting Director] Nic [Minassian] to introduce me to SMP Racing.
“I was already in touch with Dallara by Le Mans this year, I was interested in working with them in LMP2 to get their car fixed (issues which were eventually dealt with as part of the “Joker” process at the end of the season).
“I was told that there was a car available with the AER engine but made it very clear, very quickly that I wanted a normally aspirated engine. That’s simply to get as much opportunity as possible for getting the effort up to speed as soon as possible.
“We were still looking at other options, including taking on a pretty left-field project and completing it ourselves, or updating the ORECA ourselves, by Shanghai we were wanting to make the decision and were still waiting on ORECA.
“Dallara then said that they would convert the available car from the AER to a normally aspirated engine and better still that SMP had offered to foot the bill for the changes.”
This choice makes DragonSpeed the second Dallara LMP1 customer team, and the first for Gibson and its new engine.
The newly announced Gibson GL458 engine is a 4.5-liter development of the UK-based company’s highly successful “global” LMP2-spec 4.2 liter V8 with design, development and production of the new engine taking place at Gibson’s Repton facility in Derbyshire. The first engine is scheduled for delivery to DragonSpeed in late February 2018.
“I am delighted to forge this alliance with Gibson Technology,” said Julian.
“Having personally raced with their engines in the past and now winning our first LMP championship as a team owner with their power plant, I can’t think of a better partner for DragonSpeed’s next challenge.
“Reliability, support and the common desire to succeed make this the obvious choice for our program.”