SMP Racing has withdrawn its pair of AER-powered BR1 LMP1 cars from the 2019/20 FIA WEC season.
In a surprise statement issued on Monday, the Russian team, which finished third overall in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, said that it had achieved the best results possible in “the given circumstances” racing as part of the privateer LMP1 pack, and will therefore bow out.
“For us, it was a difficult season,” Boris Rotenberg, the team’s founder, said. “We worked a lot on our BR1 prototype. As a result, we were able to show and prove to everyone that the Russian team, Russian drivers and the Russian car are capable of achieving the highest results in the most difficult world championships, and in such a prestigious race as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“This is a well-deserved success of everyone who participated in this ambitious project – drivers, SMP Racing and ART GP, BR Engineering and Dallara. Our goal has always been only a victory, and we believe that we achieved this victory with the highest possible result in the given circumstances.
“After the final race at Le Mans, we decided that SMP Racing will leave the FIA WEC. Our team will not race in the 2019-2020 season.”
This news reduces the LMP1 field to six full-season cars for next season. As it stands a pair of Toyota Gazoo Racing TS050 HYBRIDs, Rebellion Racing R-13s and Team LNT Ginetta G60-LT-P1s remain.
Rebellion is believed to have committed resources for one car whilst it seeks commercial partners to enable its second car to run for the full season.
Team LNT, meanwhile, will be on track at Paul Ricard this week testing as it works towards finalizing details for its full-season entry.
ByKolles and DragonSpeed, both of which competed in the ‘Super Season’ in LMP1, don’t feature on the entry for the 2019/20 season either. However ByKolles has stated it will attempt to compete in the upcoming campaign with its ENSO CLM as a race-by-race entry. The Austrian outfit has shifted its focus to developing a new car for the Hypercar ruleset which will form the top class in the WEC from the 2020/21 season onwards.