SMP Racing has chosen to pull the plug on their LMP1 programme with immediate effect.
The Russian team, who built a brand new LMP1 car in collaboration with Dallara for the FIA World Endurance Championship 2018/19, announced their decision in a press release, that they have nothing more to win the FIA WEC at the moment.
The goal for them was to win, and they feel that the third place finish in the 24 Hours of Le Mans a month ago, was just like a victory for them, since they don’t see any possibility in beating Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Other than the Le Mans podium finish, the team also had top three finishes in Great Britain, China, USA and Belgium.
The announcement came as a big surprise, since it’s less than a month ago that the team was announced on the FIA WEC 2019/20 entry list. That’s a big kick in the guts for the series, bringing the LMP1 entry down to 6, with at least one of those in a bit of doubt due to budget, at least until recently. We have to see if today’s announcements will have positive or negative influence on that.
There are just two weeks until the 2019/20 season starts with the Prologue at Circuit de Catalunya, and one and a half month until the race debut at Silverstone. So unless the drivers got informed about this some time ago, there will be six drivers without jobs for the next 12 months – Vitaly Petrov, Mikhail Aleshin, Sergey Sirotkin, Egor Orudzhev, Matevos Isaakyan, Stéphane Sarrazin, and Stoffel Vandoorne. Jenson Button was a part of the programme in 2018, but chose to focus on the Japanese Super GT Championship and family life instead of the endurance races.
The French ART Grand Prix team has run the LMP1 cars in the FIA WEC 2018/19 season.
SMP Racing has previously participated in the European Le Mans Series plus FIA WEC with an LMP2 car, either built by themselves or a bought Dallara, but that programme closed after the 2018 season.