Ginetta LMP1 returns for Fuji; entry changes in all four classes

Image by LAT

Ginetta LMP1 returns for Fuji; entry changes in all four classes

Le Mans/WEC

Ginetta LMP1 returns for Fuji; entry changes in all four classes

The entry list for the 6 Hours of Fuji on October 14-16 is out and features multiple key changes in all four classes following the final European round of the 2018 calendar year for the FIA WEC runners at Silverstone last month.

The entry features 34 cars. Nine of those are entered in the LMP1 class, which boosted by the return of a single Ginetta LMP1 G60-LT-P1 (pictured) after the team was forced to sit out of the round in the UK. The team will race once again under the CEFC TRSM banner, with a re-engineered chassis featuring an AER engine. Driving the car will be three drivers that took part in the team’s competitive LMP1 debut back Le Mans — Alex Brundle, Ginetta factory driver Mike Simpson and Oliver Rowland.

Since its last race appearance the team has been testing the Ginetta LMP1 in the UK with the new AER engine, which replaces the Mecachrome unit. RACER understands that it’s already shown some encouraging results.

For Rebellion Racing, Bruno Senna returns in the No. 1 R13 after missing the Silverstone race due to injuries suffered in an accident during practice. Russian driver Matevos Isakkyan too returns to his full-season slot, this time in the No. 17 SMP Racing BR1-AER after he focused on the team’s LMP2 effort in the ELMS at Silverstone during the doubleheader.

Dragonspeed BR1. (Image by JEP/LAT)

DragonSpeed has also made a change to its line-up, the American outfit racing with just two drivers: LMP1 debutant James Allen and Ben Hanley. Team patron Henrik Hedman and Pietro Fittipaldi are stepping back after both being initially slated to race.

“It’s no secret we struggled with the BR1 Gibson at Silverstone,” DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian said. “This was a weekend of abnormalities and we move forward with a better understanding of our package looking to show more of the potential so often shown in individual sessions throughout the season thus far.

“We will race with a new line-up at Fuji, continuing with our team primary driver, Ben Hanley, and putting our trust in young James Allen, one of the best LMP2 performers over the last one and a half seasons in the ELMS. James has put in some very impressive drives over the last season and has been able to secure P3 in the ELMS championship last year in his rookie sports car campaign. I have no doubt he will settle in nicely within the more complex LMP1 program and work closely with Ben, our engineers and the entire team to bring us the results this program deserves. I think we’ve got something here.”

Allen added: “I’m very excited about this amazing opportunity to race in the WEC 6 Hours of Fuji with Dragonspeed and I’m very grateful to Elton Julian and his team for putting their faith in me.

“From my experience in racing in ELMS (with Graff in LMP2), Dragonspeed have consistently shown that they are a very professional, well-run team and Ben Hanley has always been one of the top drivers of the championship. I’m really looking forward to driving with him and working with the team at Fuji.”

ByKolles, meanwhile, listed only Oliver Webb in the No. 4 ENSO CLM-NISMO with other slots – one of which was filled by Rene Binder at Silverstone – now TBAs.

In LMP2, ex-F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne will ride in the No. 28 TDS Racing ORECA, replacing Loic Duval, who will be racing in DTM at Hockenheim that weekend.

 Vergne already has an LMP2 win in the WEC this season after his full-season ELMS car – the No. 26 G-Drive Racing ORECA (also prepared by TDS) – won the Spa 6 Hours as a guest entry.

Elsewhere, Larbre Competition has a TBA alongside full-season drivers Romano Ricci and Erwin Creed in the team’s No. 50 Ligier JS P217.

The GTE Pro class sees just one change, with the aforementioned DTM fixture clash seeing Briton Tom Blomqvist stepping into the No. 82 M8 GTE in place of Augusto Farfus.

GTE AM, meanwhile, sees Gianluca Roda’s usual slot in the No. 88 Dempsey Proton Porsche listed currently as a TBA.

At Gulf Racing, Australian ace Alex Davison has been replaced aboard the team’s No. 86 Porsche 911 RSR by Austrian Porsche Junior Thomas Preining, who is currently the points leader in Germany’s Carrera Cup.

Although the Fuji race also clashes with the IMSA finale at Petit Le Mans, both Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Mike Conway and Ford’s Harry Tincknell (Action Express and Mazda Team Joest in IMSA), will race with their WEC teams in Japan.

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