The 2019 running of the Le Mans 24 Hours entry list is almost complete; the ACO having released an updated list of 185 drivers and a record 62-car entry.
The only gap that currently remains to be filled is the third driver at Inter Europol Competition. The Polish team is searching for a late replacement for the injured Léo Roussel, who was hurt in an off at Parabolica during practice ahead of last weekend’s European Le Mans Series race at Monza while driving the team’s Ligier JS P217. The Frenchman sustained a fractured vertebra and remains in hospital in Milan, where he is expected to undergo surgery in the next 24 hours.
Former Grand-Am racer and Le Mans stalwart Mark Patterson was also injured last week at Monza when he crashed while driving one of Algarve Pro Racing’s ORECAs. The 66-year-old was due to start this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, but pelvic fractures from the impact have left him out of racing for the foreseeable future. His replacement at Algarve Pro Racing was named earlier today; Frenchman David Zollinger drafted in for what will be his third start in the French classic.
“We are delighted to be welcoming David to the Algarve Pro Racing fold for what is the highlight of our season – the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” said Algarve Pro Racing Team Principal, Stewart Cox.
“Of course, we are sad and disappointed that Mark Patterson can’t take up his seat at Le Mans and we will miss him greatly, but it’s comforting to have found a strong and experienced substitute who will undoubtedly represent Algarve Pro Racing well at Le Mans next month.”
In addition to Roussel’s set being filled, RACER expects further driver changes before race week begins.
In addition to the full entry list, the ACO has also issued the Test Day entry.
Toyota has opted to nominate five drivers apiece across its two TS050 HYBRIDs, with Sebastien Buemi and Mike Conway nominated for both cars together with new signing for the 2019/20 FIA WEC Brendon Hartley. The former Toro Rosso and Porsche LMP1 racer will therefore, get a chance to turn his first laps in public with the team before the opening round of next season in Silverstone in August.
Algarve Pro and Panis Barthez also add a fourth driver apiece for the Test Day. Timothe Buret will drive in the No. 23 Ligier and James French will pilot the No. 25 ORECA. Patrice Lafargue similarly joins the No. 28 IDEC Sport line-up for the test only, and Alexandre Cougnaud is named at GRAFF for the test, his regular ELMS seat having been handed over to Vincent Capillaire for the race.
In GTE Pro both BMWs M8s have five drivers apiece entered, with Nick Catsburg and Augusto Farfus the only drivers in the crew named against one car.
Up-and-coming Aston Martin factory man Ross Gunn is also named as an additional driver against both factory Aston Martin Vantage AMRs.
Ford, meanwhile, has neither Jonathan Bomarito nor Sebastian Bourdais listed for the test in the No. 67 (UK) or No. 68 (USA) Ford GTs respectively. The pair are still set to compete in the race, though.
In GTE Am, new BMW factory man Nick Yelloly named as a fourth driver for the championship-leading No.56 Project 1 Porsche team.
One final snippet is that the reserve list is now down to just three cars. The Eurasia and IDEC Sport Ligiers, as well as the TF Sport/ Red River Sport Aston Martin, make up the depleted list, with the second Panis Barthez Ligier and Project 1 Porsches now withdrawn.