41 cars have entered the third round of the European Le Mans Series, which will run this weekend at Paul Ricard near Le Castellet, in the south of France.
There have been a few changes to the field, partly due to the FIA World Endurance Championship running next weekend in Portugal, and partly due to date clashes with other events.
DragonSpeed USA #21 won’t enter their LMP2 car this time. Their ELMS title fight is already over, following retirement only a few laps into the Barcelona race, and finishing 7th in LMP2 Pro/Am at Red Bull Ring. They will move their focus to the FIA WEC race next weekend.
IDEC Sport #17 has swapped Ryan Dalziel for Gabriel Aubry, since the Scottish driver has a date clash with GT World Challenge America, where he currently sits third in the standings. IDEC Sport #17 is currently 6th in the LMP2 Pro/Am Championship. Aubry is a bit of super-sub in LMP2, while he is doing his IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship programme too.
Jean-Eric Vergne is back in the ELMS, but not with G-Drive Racing, with whom he raced for so many years. He will be replacing Patrick Pilet in IDEC Sport #28, with his countryman being busy for Porsche in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. The team is placed 11th in the LMP2 Championship, but with an upward trending results curve in Austria, and Vergne is never really a bad addition to any sportscar team.
Harry Tincknell is back at Racing Team Turkey #34, as has some enormous shoes to fill, with his replacement Logan Sargeant grabbing Pole Position in Austria. But Tincknell did however grab Pole on the same weekend in Mid-Ohio in the IMSA series.
The rest of the LMP2 field is unchanged, with Team WRT #41 trying to grab their third win out of three this year, or at least do defend their championship lead.
The LMP3 field is almost the same as normal. DKR Engineering #4 is reduced to a to-am team, with Laurents Hörr and Jean-Philippe Dayraut, since Leo Weiss will be doing the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
Eurointernational #11 has the well-known driver TBA as their third person in the car. It as Turkish driver Cem Bolukbasi in Austria, so it will be exciting to see, whoever the 2019 Champions show up with this time.
Cool Racing #19 is leading the standings, with a massive 23 points gap to Inter Europol Competition #13 in second. But it’s very close behind them, to expect a lot of changes to the standings for anybody other than Matt Bell, Niklas Krütten, and Nicolas Maulini. Their competition surely hopes for a bit of bad luck for that trio, so they don’t ride too far off into the distance.
The GTE category consists of the 9 usual cars. Proton Competition Porsche #77 has shaken up the line-up once again, with Christian Ried and Cooper MacNeil being joined by Gianmaria Bruni. The latter replaces Matt Campbell, who is going to race at the Nürburgring this weekend. There is a change to the #93 too, with Michael Fassbender and Richard Lietz being joined by Jaxon Evans, replacing Felipe Laser, who also will be racing in the green hell.
The John Hartshorne, Ross Gunn, and Oliver Hancock trio are back at TF Sport Aston Martin #95, after Gunn had to rush off to the USA during the Austria weekend, for IMSA duties.
Iron Lynx Ferrari #80 currently leads the GTE standings, but it’s very closely fought. Their teammates in #83 will be trying to fight back, after their unfortunately end to the Austria race, being pushed off the track on the very last lap, scoring zero points. But the girls wants their revenge, and Paul Ricard is traditionally a very good circuit for them, having finished on the podium every single time that Manuela Gostner, Rahel Frey and Michelle Gatting has raced there as a trio.
Association SRT41 #84 is back again with Takuma Aoki, Nigel Bailly and Pierre Sancinena. The hand controlled LMP2 car (at least by Aoki and Bailly) will be running outside regular competition, since the driver changes takes quite a bit longer. They will use this second race of the year as preparation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in August.
The Qualifying for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet will run on Saturday afternoon 13.40 CET, while the race will start on Sunday at 11.00 CET.