A record 36-car full season entry for the 2018-19 season of the FIA World Endurance Championship sees the championship hit back after the disappointment of losing the Porsche factory LMP1 team after the 2017 season, this hot on the heels of the end of Audi’s factory LMP1 era the previous year.
The WEC also switches this season to a calendar cycle that will end with the Le Mans 24 Hours in June, the interim ‘Super Season’ features an eight-race calendar which includes both the 2018 and 2019 Le Mans 24 Hours as well as a new 1,500-mile race at Sebring, starting two hours after the 2019 IMSA 12 Hours of Sebring event is completed.
The top LMP1 class will see an impressive 10 cars competing with two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso headlining the remaining factory effort for Toyota Gazoo Racing, the Japanese squad fielding a pair of Toyota TS050 Hybrids for the full season.
They’ll be joined on the grid by a varied eight-car field of Privateer LMP1s. The eighth car revealed today as a second Ginetta G60-LT-P1 for the CEFC TRSM squad (pictured above, image courtesy of the team), previously known as CEFC Manor. Britons Oliver Rowland and Charlie Robertson are the first named drivers for the Ginetta squad which features Mecachrome turbo V6 power.
Russian squad SMP Racing also field a pair of LMP1s, this time its own Dallara-designed-and-built BR1s with twin turbo AER power, ex-IndyCar driver Mikhail Aleshin and ex-F1 man Vitaly Petrov are the first named drivers for the squad.
A further BR1 chassis, this time with a normally aspirated Gibson V8 engine, is entered by the sole U.S.-flagged Prototype team in the championship. Rolex 24 At Daytona polesetter Renger van der Zande is listed against this entry together with Ben Hanley and Pirelli World Challenge veteran Henrik Hedman.
Rebellion Racing, five-time WEC Championship winners in LMP1 Privateer and last year title winners in LMP2 return to LMP1 this season with a pair of new ORECA-designed Rebellion R13s, again powered by Gibson’s new LMP1 spec V8. Ex Audi and Porsche Factory driver Andre Lotterer is joined by fellow ex Porsche LMP1 man Neel Jani, Rebellion long-time driver Mathias Beche, 2017 LMP2 Champion and ex F1 driver Bruno Senna, 2016 WEC LMP2 Champion Californian Gustavo Menezes and 2017 WEC Rookie of the Year Thomas Laurent.
The LMP2 class lists seven cars, with the DragonSpeed squad represented in both Prototype classes, Mexican driver Roberto Gonzales the first driver listed for the No.31 ORECA 07 Gibson.
The WEC’s GTE Pro class for factory-backed efforts sees 10 cars listed for the eight-race season.
AF Corse (Ferrari), Aston Martin Racing (with the new for 2018 Vantage GTE), BMW Team MTEK (with the new M8 GTE) Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Porsche Team all field a pair of cars each in what is set to be a hugely competitive field.
The field is rounded out by a nine-car GTE Am entry for Pro-AM driver squads. Ex-IMSA driver Patrick Lindsey features in the new Project 1 Motorsport Porsche 911 RSR alongside Porsche factory man and fell Park Place Motorsports racer Jorg Bergmeister, while Rolex 24 entrant (with Spirit of Daytona Racing) and NASCAR Whelen Euro Series race winner Eddie Cheever III, son of retired F1, CART and IndyCar racer Eddie Cheever, is named in an MR Racing-entered Ferrari 488 GTE.
The full entry list: (click on thumbnail to view in PDF format).