FIA WEC: 2016 silly season update – LMP2
With the 2015 FIA World Endurance Championship having wrapped up last weekend in Bahrain, silly season is already in full swing as drivers, teams and manufacturers prepare for next year’s expanded nine-round season.
Sportscar365 takes a look at the confirmed and possible entries for the LMP2 class.
Tequila Patron ESM – The Scott Sharp-owned organization has confirmed a return with two Ligier JS P2s next year, although it’s understood to instead be the ex-G-Drive Nissan-powered cars to go along with its link-up with OAK Racing. Both Jon Fogarty and David Heinemeier Hansson will not continue with the team, with Pipo Derani poised to join from G-Drive and Chris Cumming reportedly the new Silver-rated driver in the No. 30 car. (2 cars)
Morand Racing – The Benoit Morand-led squad is set to upgrade to a Ligier JS P2 Nissan next year, for a potential increased alliance with OAK Racing amid the G-Drive fallout. It’s understood both Bruno Senna and Ricardo Gonzalez are close to confirming a deal, in what could result in an all-new driver lineup for the Swiss team. (1 car)
AF Racing/SMP – A pair of BR01 Nissans will take part for the entire season for the Russian-backed effort from SMP. Nic Minassian, Maurizio Mediani and Mikhail Aleshin are expected to be among the drivers. The team tested a host of others recently, including Memo Rojas, who is seeking a LMP2 drive in either WEC or IMSA. (2 cars)
Signatech Alpine – The French squad is planning a return next year, but with a new Oreca 05 Nissan, to run under Alpine badging. Multiple prospective drivers, including Matthew Rao and Gustavo Menezes, tested this past week in Bahrain. Tom Dillmann, who took part in the last two races, is likely ruled out due to his jump to Gold status. (1 car)
JOTA Sport - The ELMS front-runners will run an Oreca 05 Nissan next year for a to-be-determined set of drivers. It’s understood the British squad is in discussions with multiple open-wheel aces, through its new partnership with Adren. Talks with Roman Rusinov, who would have brought G-Drive backing to the team, have broken down. (1 car)
KCMG - Runner-ups in 2015 after a controversial end to the season, the Hong Kong-based team has yet to commit to a return, or potentially expanded effort with its Oreca 05 Nissans. With the target of defending its Le Mans class win, its season-long options in other series could be limited. (1 car?)
Strakka Racing - After a challenging season that saw a mid-season switch to the Gibson 015S Nissan, Strakka is set to continue with the open-top car for one final year. Look for a similar lineup of Danny Watts, Nick Leventis and Jonny Kane to continue, while the team is exploring a possible second entry. (1-2 cars)
G-Drive Racing - Roman Rusinov is known to be exploring options to keep his Russian-backed project in the WEC LMP2 ranks. However, it’s understood Rusinov could end up departing the WEC if a deal does not come together with his 2015 team, OAK Racing. That could be a challenge, given the French squad’s recent deal with Tequila Patron ESM. (1 car?)
Projected 2016 Car Count: 9-12 entries