32 cars in Portimao

The FIA World Endurance Championship will have 32 entries for the second round of the 2021 season, which will run at Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal.

There has been a few additions and some absentees compared to the Spa Francorchamps entry list, a month ago.

The Hypercar category will see the addition of Glickenhaus Racing, with one of their brand new cars. The team had a successful 30 hour test, where they used the first constructed car (708) for that part, while the Portimao car – which is chassis number 709 – had a shorter Shakedown, to check all systems. The cars will compete with their respective chassis numbers during the FIA WEC 2021.

Toyota Gazoo Racing and Alpine Elf Matmut are back with the same drivers. That brings the field up to four cars in the top category this time.

The LMp2 category remains unchanged regarding the 11 teams entered. There is however changes to the driver line-up at United Autosports USA #22, where Filipe Albuquerque is absent at his home race, due to his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship commitments in Detroit on the same weekend. He will be replaced by Paul Di Resta, who was teammate with Hanson and Albuquerque throughout the 2019/20 season. Di Resta will once again race with Phil Hanson, while Fabio Scherer is the full season third driver for UA in the FIA WEC this year.

Alpine Elf Matmut #36
Photo: JJ Media

This a substitute in play at Inter Europol Competition #34, with Renger van der Zande being on IMSA duties too. He will be replaced by Louis Deletraz, who currently leads the European Le Mans Series in the LMP2 category with Team WRT. So he will be in a direct battle with his ELMS team. Deleltraz will share the car with Alex Brundle and Jakub Smiechowski.

ARC Bratislava #44 will run team owner Miroslaw Konopka, who will be joined by Oliver James Webb, who most recently has been active in the ByKolles Racing Team programme, but with LMP2 experience prior to that. Webb and Konopka will have Thomas Jackson as their teammate. Jackson was present at Spa Francorchamps too, but never got to do the actual race, since the car had a fuel leak on the recognisance lap, on the way to the grid.

Realteam Racing #70 had to call up a reserve too, to team up with Esteban Garcia and Norman Nato. Their regular teammate, Loic Duval, is on IMSA duty, so he will be replaced by Mathias Beche. Beche has plenty of LMP1 and LMP2 experience, having raced with teams like Rebellion in both categories.

ARC Bratislava #44
Photo: JJ Media

The GTE Pro will consist of the four regular full season teams. Two cars from AF Corse, who will run two drivers in each car.

Porsche has a different plan. They will enter their full Le Mans line-up, which is Gianmaria Bruni and Richard Lietz plus Frederic Makowiecki in #91, while Kevin Estre and Neel Jani will be joined by Michael Christensen in #92. That’s two very different approaches to the 8 hours race.

The GTE Am category has 13 entries, but not the same 13 cars as for Spa. Team Project 1 Porsche #46 still isn’t ready, following the crash at the Prologue prior to the race weekend at Spa Francorchamps. The team was hit double, with their #56 crashing out in the Qualifying. So the team has opted to get one car fully ready.

The reason for us maintaining the same number of cars, is due to the addition of Car Guy, who will run their Le Mans line-up. They will run under the Kessel Racing banner, but it is the same yellow Ferrari 488 GTE as always. Takeshi Kimura will be joined by Scott Andrews and Mikkel Jensen.

Michelle Gatting gets her first real FIA WEC outing, other than Le Mans. She will be onboard the Iron Lynx Ferrari #85 with Rahel Frey and Manuela Gostner. The trio is racing together in the European Le Mans Series, and Gatting will replace Katherine Legge in the FIA WEC, since the Brit will race in IMSA in Detroit.

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88
Photo: JJ Media

Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche #88 only has a single returnee, in the shape of Marco Seefried. He will be joined by Julien Andlauer and Dominique Bastien. Bastien took the record of being the oldest driver starting the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2020, where he smashed the old record by being 74 years old. He could very well be going for another improvement of that for this year, with this warm up race in Portugal.

The 8 Hours of Portimao will run on 13 June 2021.

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