elms

ELMS: the Largest LMP grid ever seen on track
The 2018 European Le Mans Series grid has been revealed two weeks ago and shows one of the biggest “LM” prototype grid ever seen in the championship. This season 35 prototypes will be fighting on track for the European glory.

17 LMP2 and 18 LMP3 will take the start of the six 4-hours races of the season and this grid of 35 prototypes is the biggest ever seen in ELMS and larger than the combined LMP1 and LMP2 grid at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in recent years.

Since the renewal of the Series in 2012, the size of the prototype grid has fluctuated. In 2012 the grid was made of 26 prototypes: 22 LMP2 and 4 LMPC. From 2013 and 2015 the grid included between 14 and 19 prototypes. In 2016 10 LMP2 and 18 LMP3 were fighting for the class titles and last season a total of 26 prototypes (10 LMP2 and 16 LMP3) took the tracks all season long.

In 2018, it will be a total of 35 prototypes divided into two classes that will take the start of the six 4-hour races. With 17 LMP2, the European Le Mans Series has the biggest LMP2 grid in the world and with renowned teams as United Autosports, G-Drive Racing, Panis Barthez Competition and Cetilar Villorba Corse the show promises to be amazing for the fans that will come to the track or those following the races live on TV or on the Internet. Three manufacturers, Oreca, Ligier and Dallara will once again be represented on the 2018 LMP2 grid, demonstrating the attractiveness of the Series.

The LMP3 grid comprises of 18 cars run by 14 teams which is also one of the biggest LMP3 grids in the world. The 14 teams have chosen between two chassis manufacturers: Ligier and Norma. United Autosports, the 2017 LMP3 champions, DKR Engineering, the 2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup champions, M Racing- YMR or Ecurie Ecosse/ Nielsen will be among the top teams racing head to head to win the right to be called European Champions at the end of the season.

The cars will be on the track on the 9th and 10th of April at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France for the 2018 Official Test. Those two days of testing will be followed by the first round of the season, the 4 Hours of Le Castellet on Sunday 15 of April.

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Di Alessio Mazzocco
41 Cars for 2018 ELMS Season
Today, Thursday 8 February, the grid for the 2018 European Le Mans Series has been unveiled with 41 cars competing in the three classes in Europe’s leading endurance racing series. The strong grid comprises of thirty-two teams representing thirteen different nations and also features championship winning drivers and teams both past and present.

LMP2 – More Cars, Stronger Competition

The premier class of the European Le Mans Series will count more cars than ever before with 17 LMP2 including 4 Dallaras, 6 Ligiers and 7 Orecas entered for the 2018 series.

2017 champions G-Drive Racing return to defend their title and will, for the first time, enter two cars that will race under the Russian flag.  The no26 Oreca-Gibson will have the 2015 FIA WEC LMP2 World Champion Roman Rusinov as the lead driver. After a successful debut season in LMP2, 2017 ELMS Vice Champions United Autosports will enter a second car in 2018.

Dragonspeed, Panis Barthez Competition, Algarve Pro Racing, IDEC Sport, SMP Racing, Cetilar Villorba Corse and High Class Racing all return to fight for LMP2 honours. French team Duqueine Engineering move up to LMP2 from LMP3, while Spanish teams Racing Engineering and AVF by Adrian Valles will make their ELMS debuts in Le Castellet in April.

A second Algarve Pro Racing run Oreca 07 will be in the colours of Rebellion Racing (APR – Rebellion Racing), the Swiss outfit running a car in LMP2 class as a junior team to its efforts in the WEC.

LMP3 – Same Level of Competition, New Season

18 LMP3 cars have been entered for the 2018 ELMS season, the junior Le Mans Prototype class continuing to provide a great platform for teams and drivers to compete. The grid will feature fifteen Ligier JS P3 and three Norma M30s, all powered by the same Nissan engine.

Reigning champions United Autosports will, once again, field two Ligier JS P3-Nissans with 2017 driver champions Sean Rayhall and John Falb teaming up to defend their hard-won title.

2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup champions DKR Engineering will contest the 2018 European Le Mans Series, with Vice Champions Ecurie Ecosse/ Nielsen also moving up to the ELMS.

Cool Racing, Nefis by Speed Factory, 360 Racing, AT Racing, Oregon Team, Eurointernational, Inter Europol Competition, RLR MSport, Ultimate and M Racing-YMR all return for another season and are joined by British team BHK Motorsport.

LMGTE – Ferrari v Porsche

6 cars will once again make the LMGTE a class of quality with three Ferrari 488s and three Porsche 911s.

2017 ELMS LMGTE Champions, and 24 Hours of Le Mans class winners, JMW Motorsport will return to defend their title against some stiff competition from Spirit of Race and Proton Competition.

2017 Michelin Le Mans Cup GT3 Champions Ebimotors have moved up to the LMGTE class in the ELMS, the Italian outfit swapping their GT3 Lamborghini for a Porsche 911 RSR with 2017 drivers champion Fabio Babini as the lead driver.

American team Krohn Racing return to the ELMS and to the LMGTE class after a brief flirtation with LMP2.  Texan team owner Tracy Krohn returns to head the driver line up in the bright green Ferrari.

Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO: “The European Le Mans Series continues to strengthen its position as the world’s leading continental endurance race series and we are extremely pleased to see this 41 car entry for the 2018 season. LMP3 continues to attract large numbers, LMP2 is stronger than ever before and LMGTE keep attracting quality teams and drivers to compete in the ELMS. With six of the most challenging race tracks in Europe on the calendar and some of the best teams and drivers in the world competing, the European Le Mans Series will be exciting to watch in 2018.”

Gérard Neveu, CEO European Le Mans Series: “The 2018 grid is full of star teams and star drivers from all over the world and underlines the importance of the ELMS in endurance racing.  In 2018 the grid has grown to 41 cars, which is a good indication to the health of the series. This is why we will continue to strive to improve all aspects of the events and make the ELMS the best possible continental Series for everyone involved – teams, drivers, partners, fans and the media.”

The official pre-season test for the 2018 European Le Mans Series will take place on the 9th and 10th of April at the Circuit Paul Ricard in France, which will be followed by round 1, the 4 Hours of Le Castellet, at the same circuit on Sunday 15 April.

The Michelin Le Mans Cup will also stage round 1 of the 2018 season at Le Castellet. The entries for the series are still open and the entry list will be unveiled in March just ahead of the start of the new season.

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Di Alessio Mazzocco