Top Class Competition in Store across 2017 WEC Grid
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02.02.2017 - 16h45

Top Class Competition in Store across 2017 WEC Grid

 

 

  • Toyota take the fight to Porsche in LMP1 in battle of hybrid technology
  • LMP1 Privateer ByKolles looking for competitive 2017 season
  • ORECA 07s go head-to-head in LMP2 in hands of teams old and new
  • Porsche GT returns in strength to contest GT World Championship with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Ford
  • Singapore-based team makes WEC debut in multi-marque LMGTE Am class

The full-season entry list for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship was today revealed during an online press conference broadcast from the home of endurance racing, Le Mans.

The 2017 grid will be made up of 28 cars from 11 different nations, offering proof that the WEC continues to attract teams from across the globe wishing to compete at the highest level in endurance racing.  A well balanced, stable calendar is one of the keys to this magnetic appeal for manufacturers and teams, as are regulations which promote strong technological competition and innovation, at the same time as controlling any escalation of expenditure. 

Toyota take the fight to Porsche in battle of hybrid technology

Two-time World Champion in the top LMP1 category, Porsche, never sits back on its laurels – no matter how successful it is, and the German manufacturer will be more than prepared for the battle ahead with Toyota in 2017. The highly-sophisticated prototypes which feature complex, state-of-the-art hybrid systems will see drivers of the highest calibre in both teams, and the level of competition will be intense and unrelenting.  The widely differing technology and operating systems developed and used by Porsche and Toyota for their motorsport programmes form part of the crossover of technology to the manufacturers’ production vehicles, reinforcing the relevance of the WEC within today’s world of motorsport.

LMP1 Privateer ByKolles looking for competitive 2017 season

Joining the factory competitors will be the Austrian ByKolles Racing Team which shows great fidelity to the WEC. After a challenging 2016, the team has worked hard over the winter on chassis developments and mechanical reliability, and has forged a new partnership with NISMO to power the ENSO CLM P1/01-Nismo. 

ORECA 07s go head-to-head in LMP2 in hands of teams old and new

The LMP2 grid will, for the third year in succession, consist of 10 entries but in contrast to previous seasons there is one chassis of choice from the teams entered: the ORECA 07.  For 2017 the regulations offer a significant increase in performance to entice competitors, and there are names across the category both familiar and new to the WEC. Joining 2016 LMP2 champions Signatech Alpine Matmut will be multiple-WEC-championship-winning Rebellion Racing, the Swiss team this year re-named Vaillante Rebellion.  Manor returns to consolidate its claim on victory in the WEC, planning to use all it learned in its debut year and operating two cars under the name of CEFC Manor TRS Racing.  Also returning and strengthening China’s presence in the WEC is Jackie Chan DC Racing team which increases its commitment to the WEC with a two-car team.  A new team is welcomed to LMP2 from the ELMS ranks – TDS Racing from France, and it will be collaborating on an operational level with Russia’s G-Drive Racing.

Porsche GT returns in strength to contest GT World Championship with Aston Martin, Ferrari and Ford

Boosted by the creation of the FIA World Endurance Championship for GTE Drivers and Manufacturers, the competition in the LMGTE Pro class will be hotter and tighter than ever.  Porsche’s new generation 911 RSR is a mid-engined design, a big evolution in the history of the marque’s top GT model, and there is much anticipation about the yet-to-be announced drivers who will be joining Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen. Returning to challenge for championship victory will be two Ferrari 488 GTEs from AF Corse, looking to repeat the Italian manufacturer’s success of recent years, two of the radical Ford GTs from Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK which were introduced in 2016 and which achieved several triumphs in their debut year, and two Aston Martin Vantages from the British manufacturer for the model’s final year before a new one is introduced in 2018.  All are experienced WEC race winners.

Singapore-based team makes WEC debut in multi-marque LMGTE Am class

The LMGTE Am class features three different marques among the five entries, and includes Clearwater Racing from Singapore which has moved to the WEC from the Asian Le Mans Series and which will run a Ferrari 488 GTE. Alongside Aston Martin Racing, Gulf Racing and Dempsey-Proton Racing (both racing Porsche 911 RSR 991s), one further new name will be seen on the entry lists.  The AF Corse-supported Spirit of Race team will also compete with a Ferrari 488 GTE.

The WEC calendar features nine rounds across five continents, with the third round being the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the jewel in the crown of international endurance racing.   The season opens with the 6 Hours of Silverstone on 16 April, moves on to Spa-Francorchamps (6 May), Le Mans (17-18 June) and the Nürburgring (16 July) in Europe before heading overseas to Mexico (3 September), Circuit of The Americas, Austin (16 September), Fuji (15 October), Shanghai (5 November) and Bahrain (18 November) for the second half of the season.

Key Facts and Figures on 2017 FIA WEC Grid

  • 28 entries representing 11 nations: Germany (5), Austria (1), Japan (2), Switzerland (3), Russia (1), USA (2), China (4), France (3), Great Britain (4), Italy (2), Singapore (1)
  • 5 entries in LMP1, 10 in LMP2, 8 in LMGTE Pro and 5 in LMGTE Am
  • 5 manufacturer entries with Porsche represented in both LMP1 and GTE Pro
  • Close co-operation between Promoter, regulators and manufacturers to maintain consistency and stability, with working groups focussed on safety, new energy technologies and cost controls
  • Three-time World Touring Car champion José Maria Lopez joins Toyota
  • 2015 Le Mans 24 Hours winner Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber move from Porsche GTE competition to LMP1
  • New ORECA 07 is the chassis of choice in LMP2, all 10 entries being on Dunlop rubber
  • All LMP2 cars will be powered by the new Gibson GK428 4.2 litre, V8 engine
  • Championship-winning Rebellion Racing ready for new challenges in LMP2 with two entries and a famous French racing name!
  • France’s TDS Racing moves up from European Le Mans Series and collaborates with G-Drive Racing; TDS line-up includes 2016 LMGTE Am champion drivers Perrodo and Collard
  • 2016 LMP2 Champions Signatech Alpine looking to retain title via two Alpine A470 entries
  • Commitment from Jackie Chan DC Racing sees two Chinese entries in LMP2, joined by CEFC Manor TRS Racing
  • New Porsche GT 911 RSR lining up with Aston Martin Vantages, Ferrari 488 GTEs and Ford GTs for World Championship title
  • Both Michelin and Dunlop tyres being used in LMGTE Pro offering open tyre competition
  • Dempsey-Proton Racing, Gulf Racing and Aston Martin Racing show loyalty to LMGTE Am, joined by Swiss Spirit of Race and Singapore-based Clearwater Racing

Quotes on 2017 WEC grid:

Jean Todt, President of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile: “The 2017 season will be the sixth of the successful partnership between the FIA and the ACO which has seen the FIA World Endurance Championship grow to the prominent position it holds today in world motor sport.  The strong grid announced today will strengthen this position further and will undoubtedly be the focus of some intense battles and drama over the coming nine races.

“In LMP1 Porsche will defend their world and 24 Hours of Le Mans titles, while Toyota is looking to build on the successes of 2016.  In addition, four manufacturers will be competing for the new FIA World Endurance Championship for GTE and LMP2 is revitalised with the new technical regulations coming into effect this season.

“I would like to thank Pierre Fillon, Lindsay Owen-Jones and Gérard Neveu for their continued hard work. The great cooperation of the teams at the FIA and the ACO is what makes the FIA World Endurance Championship the success it is today. I am looking forward to what is sure to be another exciting season.” 

Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest: “Endurance is in very good health and the 2017 season looks full of promise. Today, we discovered the three great entry lists for the ELMS, the FIA WEC and of course the Le Mans 24 Hours. The on-track spectacle will be absolutely fantastic with duels among top-class drivers and all-out rivalry between the competitors. All the ingredients that make up the DNA of endurance have been combined for 2017. The field for the Le Mans 24 Hours is particularly rich with 16 nationalities from the four corners of the world and a host of teams, most of which race in our continental series in Europe, the United States and Asia thanks to the Asian Le Mans Series, which has really taken off! It is all proof of the success of the endurance pyramid so dear to the ACO. The 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours promise us a great spectacle on the track as well as a week’s festivities to be enjoyed to the full!”   

Sir Lindsay Owen-Jones, President of the FIA Endurance Commission: “As the FIA World Endurance Championship begins another exciting season the announcement of another large grid is testament to the job the regulations are doing in attracting the best teams and drivers to compete in a championship that encourages the advancement of new technologies, promotes safety in all areas and controls costs. There is a new world championship for GTE with Porsche competing with the new 911 to take on Aston Martin, Ferrari and Ford and BMW has announced its participation in 2018. This season we will see the implementation of the new LMP2 technical regulations, with four chassis manufacturers and one single engine suppler that will increase performance and intensify competition between the teams.”

Gérard Neveu, CEO of the World Endurance Championship:“We approach our sixth WEC season in a very good position, with a solid base of manufacturer and stakeholder support, world-class partners and teams, and the best sportscar drivers in the world.  The stability of our calendar offers relevance to the manufacturers in terms of their key markets outside Europe, such as North and Central America, China, Japan and the Middle East.  It also allows us to continue growing our fan base around the world, as witnessed already by the number of fans who have already purchased tickets in advance of the season. Motorsport enthusiasts know there will be entertainment for the whole family, great access to the cars and drivers and that, no matter where in the world they are, they will witness non-stop drama and competition on track.”

Fiona MILLER