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Old 2 Dec 2014, 19:49 (Ref:3481176)   #1
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Le Mans 2015 Entry List with Updates

It's never too early to speculate, and this year it seems we're starting a little later than usual! Let's take a look at where we are so far.

Perhaps the most interesting point of speculation at the moment is to start with LMP1 and ask who will be joining Hulkenberg in the third 919. It seems a pretty safe bet that Porsche will be taking one of Makowiecki, Christensen and Tandy, but that's not to say they will take two of those three. Is there another high-profile signing waiting in the wings?

And then there's Nissan, who will also be after a big name. Strangely enough, McLaren's driver announcement could hold the key on both fronts - logic would suggest that if Button loses his F1 seat, that a full-time role at Nissan would be his next more. But links with Porsche refuse to die down.

We should be looking at just under a dozen factory LMP1 cars with two or three privateers joining them, assuming Nissan will bring three cars. The situation continues to look bleak on the privateer front with SARD and OAK confirming they won't be there next year, but with so many factory cars, we're hardly going to lose much sleep over that. For next year, at least.

LMP2 will be very interesting. With the 32-car cap in the WEC, the emerging school of thought suggests that this will result in around 8-10 full-season entrants, and no more. KCMG, Strakka-Dome, SMP, G-Drive and ESM are the dead certs, and depending on how many cars those teams bring, that could be all that's guaranteed for the class in terms of the WEC entrants. That means there could be a lot of high quality LMP2 entrants which won't make the cut. Jota, Signatech-Alpine, Thriet by TDS, Greaves, Sebastien Loeb and Morand - somebody could well miss out here. If there's going to be any controversy, it's going to be here.

Another interesting point to make about LMP2 is that we could see as many as nine different chassis models in this class in the form of the Orecas (03R and 05 Coupe), DOME, HPD, SMP, Ligier, Zytek, Morgan and Pilbeam.

GTE-Pro should be predictable. Manthey haven't confirmed they'll be in the WEC next season, but expect them to confirm two cars for the 2015 season soon. So we should have the 6 cars from AF Corse, Manthey and AMR, with Corvette to join them. At this stage, the only level of intrigue will come from whether Risi will throw their hate into the ring.

GTE-Am should include the usual line-up of Proton, Prospeed, AMR and various AF Corse conglomerates. We could see two new brands in the class though. V8 Racing are being linked with an entry with their Corvette into the WEC and the SRT Vipers could find themselves in the ELMS. I'd expect the ACO to look favourably on those entries for the sake of variety - if they come together and those teams want to go to Le Mans, they should get an entry.

And last but not least, Garage 56. Any potential G56 projects have done well to keep themselves quiet up to now and you suspect there's not likely to be anything realistic here if nothing's been announced yet.

I'm sure I've missed plenty out here, and feel free to correct me with any mistakes I've made.

Last edited by Gingers4Justice; 2 Dec 2014 at 19:54.
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 20:14 (Ref:3481186)   #2
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Pontlieue should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridPontlieue should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
LMP1:
Unless there are any surprises, the following LMP1 entries will be at Le Mans next year:

3x Audi
3x Porsche
3x Nissan
2x Toyota
2x Rebellion
0-1x CLM
Total: 13-14 entries

LMP2:
I really hope that they won't split it 50/50 between Prototypes and GTs next year, as there's so much quality and variety in LMP2 at the moment. Either way, there are going to be at least 14 spots available for LMP2. As confirmed WEC entries, the following should be safe:

2x SMP Racing / BR01
2x ESM / HPD Arx 04b
1-2x G-Drive / Ligier JSP2
1-2x KCMG / Oreca 05 and/or 03R
1x Strakka / Dome S103

Which leaves at least 5-7 additional LMP2 entries. Alpine, Jota and Morand should be safe, the rest is difficult to predict. There are a number of high-quality ELMS teams, and none of them would deserve to miss out.

GTE Pro:
GTE Pro is looking set to be a very thin grid next year. GTE desperately needs new manufacturers, and if it wasn't for Le Mans, the category would have lost against GT3 by now. Likely, it will just be the regular 6 entries joined by the Corvettes. Additional entries are pure speculation.

GTE AM:
Honestly, I don't care much about this class. Sure, the Gentleman drivers are doing their best, but for me as an outside observer, this class has neither great drivers nor a nice variety of cars to create interest. AMR, AF Corse, Proton and Prospeed will be back, joined by a bunch of ELMS entries.

Edit: I completely forgot about Garage 56. With just 6 months left until the test day, it seems unlikely that something revolutionary will be announced for 2015. A return of the DeltaWing or a TUSC Mazda would be possible if they desperately want a Garage 56, but I guess the more likely option will be that the 56th Garage will go to a regular entry.
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 20:35 (Ref:3481199)   #3
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Remember we already have 11x auto entries (not necessarily to be taken, but still given) awarded from 2014 success

LMP1
Audi Sport Team Joest (duh)

LMP2
Jota Sport
Signatech-Alpine
OAK Racing Team

LMGTE

AF Corse (PRO)
AF Corse (PRO/AM)
SMP Racing (PRO/AM)
SMP Racing (AM)
Aston Martin Racing (AM)
AAI Motorsports (AM)
AAI Motorsports (AM)

+2x unnannounced USCC at-large for pro/am classes

If one looks particularly at 2008-2010, the proto-GT entry percentage was done in favor of LMP due to higher demand. Now with (factory-) interest growing back in P1 and P2 boosting high as per usual it would be a crime if they enforced that 50-50 split between prototypes and GTE.

But unfortunately due to force-fed WEC participants + LM/ELMS/(useless-)AsLMS/USCC auto entries + "other quarantees" + mandatory AF Corse & AMR add-on armadas there's gonna be bunch of GTE-(AM) entries there before they even decide how big they want that class to be. So it's gonna take space from LMP2 quite a bit.

If only did they start constructing those new garages already...

Anyway, LMP1 and LMP2 are gonna be great

Last edited by Chiana; 2 Dec 2014 at 20:50.
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 20:59 (Ref:3481209)   #4
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Oh and maybe marginal change in tire variety prospects

LMP1 - Unless surprises all- 1) Michelin
LMP2 - 1) Michelin & 2) Dunlop & (subject to entry / programs taking off) 3) Yokohama
LMGTE-PRO - Unless surprises all- 1) Michelin
LMGTE-AM - 1) Spec-tires TBA / likely Dunlop

Speaking of, has Nissan announced if they're gonna be using borin' old Michelins like all the rest? Their G56 efforts have used Mics for sure, but in GT500 their teams also use Bridgestone and Yokohama. I think most of their GT3 series for GT-R use spec-tires so can't tell there (or bother to look into). Would be great opportunity to take rubber from some of the other Japanese makes
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 21:00 (Ref:3481211)   #5
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Hindy and Graham said in the Brazil comms that we likely won't get a G56 entry this year - which will open up another garage for someone.

So much intrigue around P1 drivers. I think we'll still get another bit of big news. It's definitely going to be a race for the ages!
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 21:04 (Ref:3481215)   #6
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It's about time for the ACO to become more transparent: determine, publish and apply the criteria necessary to obtain an entry - especially when it's looking to become a shoot-out again.

Awarding auto invites to sanctioned racing series on life support (AsLMS) should be cancelled, starting right now.

And I don't know if I understand the 2 'AM-invites' awarded to the best AM drivers in PC + GTD in TUSC, anybody cares to explain? (This doesn't come into play until next year and effects the 2016 auto invites.)

Anyway, let's hope the GTE-Am entries will be restricted, both at LM and in the WEC. This would also be a good time to merge the two GTE categories back together again...

Last edited by Coach Ep; 2 Dec 2014 at 21:11.
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 21:22 (Ref:3481221)   #7
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LMP1 will be a giant fight next year, glad I have my tickets in place to witness this fight.
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 21:52 (Ref:3481239)   #8
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Anyway, let's hope the GTE-Am entries will be restricted, both at LM and in the WEC. This would also be a good time to merge the two GTE categories back together again...
No that would conflict with the global agenda for pro-am.

But seriously, the last ever GT2 class with 18 participants in 2010 was so much harder to win than any of the splits that have came after. With the possible exception of 2011 PRO, but even there teams in the back could've opted for concervative AM

That was the last year I got enjoyment from GT at LM (for other reasons as well), now it's only seeing how couple of teams are doing every once in a while. Well it gives more time for LMP
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 22:27 (Ref:3481258)   #9
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That was the last year I got enjoyment from GT at LM (for other reasons as well), now it's only seeing how couple of teams are doing every once in a while. Well it gives more time for LMP
Half-serious question - how sad would the ACO be to see GT disappear entirely? They've hardly been concentrating on it much recently other than in the form of BoP.

Le Mans has done fine without GTs in the past. In fact its last golden era didn't involve them at all.

I'd personally be very sad to see them go. It's just a thought.
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 22:58 (Ref:3481268)   #10
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Here's my shot at it!

couple of assumptions:
- IMSA invites: 1x P2 + 1x GTE-Am (Krohn and Dempsey resp.)
- no room for possible 2nd KCMG and G-Drive cars in WEC* but still rewarded LM entry (* because of 32 car entry cap)

P1  
Audi3auto, WEC
Toyota2WEC
Porsche3WEC
Nissan3WEC
Rebellion2WEC
3rd Toyota?1LM
14  
   
P2  
Jota1auto
Signatech/Alpine1auto
OAK2auto, WEC
Krohn?1IMSA
Strakka/Dome1WEC
SMP2WEC
G-Drive1WEC
KCMG1WEC
Morand/SARD?1WEC
ESM2WEC
KCMG #21WEC parttime
G-Drive #21WEC parttime
Thiriet TDS1ELMS
Loeb1ELMS
Race Performance1ELMS
Greaves1ELMS
Murphy/Eurasia1ELMS/AsLMS
20  
   
reserves P  
CLM/Lotus?1 
Pegasus #11ELMS
Graf1ELMS
Ibanez #11ELMS
RSR?1WEC parttime?/ELMS?
Signatech/Alpine #21ELMS
Greaves #21ELMS
Pegasus #21ELMS
Ibanez #21ELMS
CLM/Lotus? or Strakka/Dome? #21 
10  
   
GTE-Pro  
AF Corse3auto, WEC
AMR2WEC
Manthey/Porsche2WEC
P&M/Corvette2TUSC
9  
GTE-Am  
AF Corse/8Star3auto, WEC
AMR/Craft-Bamboo3auto, WEC
SMP2auto
AAI2auto
Proton/Dempsey?2WEC, IMSA
Prospeed1WEC
13  
reserves GTE  
IMSA #11ELMS
JMW1ELMS
Kessel #11ELMS
Gulf #11ELMS
Sofrev1ELMS
AT Racing1ELMS
Prospeed #21ELMS
IMSA #21ELMS
Kessel #21ELMS
Gulf #21ELMS
10  

It'll be a though one (or two) to swallow for Pegasus, JWA and especially IMSA but that's what you get when the organizers likes to please manufacturers and 'powerhouses' (AF Corse, AMR mainly) over rewarding loyalty and acknowledging privateers.

Shoot!

Last edited by Coach Ep; 2 Dec 2014 at 23:04.
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Old 2 Dec 2014, 23:34 (Ref:3481277)   #11
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Hawkwood should be qualifying in the top 5 on the gridHawkwood should be qualifying in the top 5 on the grid
Would the Craft-Bamboo Aston move down from Pro (where they're currently holding their own pretty well), to Am?

Would Aston replace the lost Pro car with another like they had before?
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Old 3 Dec 2014, 01:53 (Ref:3481294)   #12
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Coach, there are only 5+5 reserves, not 10+10... sadly

Don't believe in third Toyota for a second.

Since Pegasus and Ibanez are both committing two cars to the regional series, surely ACO isn't just gonna ditch all of them to the reserves (or out of it completely). That woul be absurd... think at the very least Pegasus gets one for their support.

Pillbeam could get entry for P2, if only for reserves, but I think the ACO would demand them to run elsewhere than just in Africa...

Dempsey's entry is technically mostly Proton so that doesn't need USCC at-large entry - and ACO is gonna give them entry regardless of what happens - so I think in addition of Krohn they'll give it to Risi if they're interested. Or some GTD team

Sofrev should get another AM entry because of that celebrity French football player... of course...


-----
Gingers: The only reason to kick out GTs completely would be if the (current limited 56 car) grid was overwhelmingly filled with LMPs, but even if for 2015 ACO said that every prototype team requesting an entry gets one I doubt the number would reach 40. Maybe if they allowed LMP3 as well it could rise a little bit, as well as over the years gradually rise certainly in LMP2, but initially there'd be no reason not to have ACO GTs there filling the leftover positions. Especially since they're not wanting to listen GTA's hopes of fielding Super GT cars at LM...

Anyway, even though I don't enjoy the LMGTE - nor it's sister GT3 - as it is today, in all of it's 'entertainment racing' glory nonsese, they do give variety in contrast to prototypes, as well make for slower traffic obstacles. And who knows maybe in 10 years time GT racing is all great again, so keeping the presence is likely beneficial

Building more garages, extending the pitlane would help a lot in any case. That would be actual circuit upgrade improvement, not pouring needless asphalt runoffs next to straights and other areas as well as constructing more hospitality zones

Last edited by Chiana; 3 Dec 2014 at 02:06.
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Old 3 Dec 2014, 07:15 (Ref:3481354)   #13
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Giba should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
Looking at that potential entry list is incredible, that prototype field could be the best in a decade or more.

Couple of thoughts, If lotus apply for an entry to WEC and Le Mans, then surely they will be accepted as the WEC is the only place that they can race?

Also, when did Af Corse announce they were runnning 3 cars in pro, as that would be a first for them wouldn't it?

If I have time I might have a go at predicting the entry list.
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Old 3 Dec 2014, 09:16 (Ref:3481384)   #14
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Originally Posted by Gingers4Justice View Post
Half-serious question - how sad would the ACO be to see GT disappear entirely? They've hardly been concentrating on it much recently other than in the form of BoP.

Le Mans has done fine without GTs in the past. In fact its last golden era didn't involve them at all.

I'd personally be very sad to see them go. It's just a thought.
I doubt it will ever get this far, but it's not hard to see why the ACO have been chasing the factory P1 teams at the expense of the other classes. That combined with GT3s never coming to LM means the GT field feels like it's stagnated over the past couple of years. It does seem like the ACO are doing just enough to keep the factory GTs placated.

Personally I've become used to seeing GTs round La Sarthe, so I wouldn't want them gone completely.
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Old 3 Dec 2014, 13:40 (Ref:3481468)   #15
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GTE seems to just be in a holding pattern until we get new regs. That's understandable.

If the much-rumoured works Ford programme comes to pass then I'm sure it will pick up again. The biggest frustration is the likes of BMW and Corvette confining their programmes to Stateside. At least P&M will come to Le Mans - but it is getting a bit stale. I just hope Porsche/Manthey re-commit next year.
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