The FIA World Endurance Championship 2019/20 will slowly be starting up in the coming week, with two days of Prologue at the Spanish Circuit de Catalunya.
That results in more and more teams announcing their programmes for the new season. There has come a few additions since we mentioned some of them last week.
High Class Racing #33 has announced all three drivers for their new FIA WEC LMP2 programme. As previously mentioned, it will be Anders Fjordbach and Mark Patterson, and it’s just been announced that Japanese driver Kenta Yamashita will be the third driver in the car. Yamashita is part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing junior programme. He won the Japanese Formula 3 Championship in 2016, and currently leads the Super GT GT 500 Championship for Lexus. Toyota has a lot of faith in him, but don’t have any space left for him in the LMP1 team, where Thomas Laurent currently is their reserve driver. The GT500 and LMP2 cars are quite similar in speed and level of technology, so that’s another thing that fits well.
The team has also released their car design, which looks a bit like Duqueine Engineering in the European Le Mans Series – at least it’s black and blue in both designs.
Racing Team Nederland #29 already announced their three drivers a lot time ago – Giedo van der Garde, Frits van Eerd, Nyck de Vries. They car design has been revealed today, without any chocks. Yellow and black are the colours, with large Jumbo stickers – surprise surprise.
Jackie Chan DC Racing #38 has finalized their LMP2 team too. Ho-Pin Tung and Gabriel Aubry will be joined by Will Stevens, who drove the second part of the 2018/19 season in car #37. That’s a line-up is easily able to fight at the very front of the field, as long as they avoid accidents and mechanical woes. Those three drivers can easily sit in an LMP1 car, but they are lucky that Aubry has remained a Silver ranked driver for another season, before he most likely will be upgraded for the new year. But such upgrade won’t have any impact on any ongoing programmes, so they can continue with that line-up without any worries.
Aston Martin Racing have confirmed their two GTE Pro cars. Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørensen will continue in #95, while Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin continues in #97.
AF Corse haven’t yet decided who will join Davide Rigon in #71. Miguel Molina will join him for the Barcelona Prologue, but he isn’t confirmed for Silverstone just yet. All depends on what Sam Bird decides – Ferrari or Formula E, as it stands with three calendar clashes between the two series.
Team Project 1 has nailed a few more names down. Championship winning driver Egidio Perfetti will be joined by David Heinemeier Hansson and Matteo Cairoli in #56. That’s three drivers with quite a lot of Porsche experience (DHH started his racing career in a Porsche, plus he raced one in the FIA WEC 2016), and they should have very good chances of defending the Championship. It it wasn’t for their teammates in #57, who might bring just as strong a line-up. Patrick Lindsey is named in the car for the Prologue, but not Silverstone yet. It’s the other way around for Jörg Bergmeister. Lindsey and Bergmeister paired up with Perfetti to win the title last season. The third driver in #57 is still unknown.
Red River Sport Ferrari #62 has had Johnny Mowlem and Bonamy Grimes listed against the entry all the time, but they are now officially joined by Charlie Hollings. Hollings is 37 years old, and has been racing driver and coach for many years, but still has status of a silver ranked river, so he fits perfectly into a GTE Am car.
It’s no surprise to see Christian Ried listed against Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #77, where he will be joined by Matt Campbell. Their third member is yet unknown, since Julien Andlauer has been upgraded from Silver to Gold driver. They MUST have a Bronze or Silver ranked driver more in the car, to be able to race in GTE Am.
Thomas Preining i #88 is the sole confirmed driver so far. He also needs to be joined by a Silver and Bronze driver.
TF Sport Aston Martin #90 have the full team set in stone. Salih Yoluc and Charlie Eastwood gets another season, and they will be joined by Jonny Adam throughout the full season. Adam was a bit in and out of the team last year, being the third driver on #97 in GTE Pro – but this time he will do the full season in #90.
There could be a surprise waiting at Aston Martin Racing #98. It’s no surprise to see Paul Dalla Lana being listed again in the car – he owns the car. The surprise is that his teammates are named TBA and TBA at Silverstone. Darren Turner, Ross Gunn, Mathias Lauda and Matthieu Vaxiviere will all try the car at the Barcelona test, next to Dalla Lana. While Gunn and Lauda are Silver drivers, Turner and Vaxiviere are Platinum and Gold respectively. So we are likely to find the two remaining drivers amongst those four. Pedro Lamy has been a solid member of #98 for many years, but is nowhere to be seen on neither the Barcelona nor the Silverstone entry list.
Since we last mentioned AF Corse Ferrari #83 in a separate news piece, they have revealed their livery, as you can see above.
We will finish off with the LMP1 category. Not much news here, other than Thomas Laurent being allowed to try out the car for real in the Barcelona test. The full season drivers will however be back in place at Silverstone, with Mike Conway, Kamui Kobayashi and Jose Maria Lopez in #7, plus Sebastien Buemi, Kazuki Nakajima and Brendon Hartley in #8. Laurent has a full season to do at Signatech Alpine Elf #36 in LMP2.
Team LNT still haven’t named four of their six drivers, but Charlie Robertson remains in #5, and Mike Simpson in #6.
Rebellion Racing has just entered one car for Silverstone, which confirms the rumours regarding #3. The team don’t have any drivers listed for neither Silverstone nor Barcelona. It’s a shame for the LMP1 category to currently just consist of 5 cars at Silverstone, with 8 cars being named at the entry list presentation just a month ago. But SMP Racing has pulled out since then. We have however seen good racing between 5 cars only in the past, so it will probably be good racing once again this time around.
The FIA WEC Prologue runs Tuesday and Wednesday next week.