Manor to run Ginetta in LMP1
A STRONG LMP1 GRID FOR NEXT YEAR’S LE MANS 24 Hours and the 2018/19 World Endurance Championship ‘superseason’ looks assured after a spate of announcements by privateers in the past 10 days. The combined news means that there should be a minimum of seven non-hybrid independent cars in the field when the WEC reconvenes at Spa next May.
The British Manor squad, a WEC player in LMP2 over the past two seasons, has firmed up its intention to graduate to P1 with a Ginetta. The current plan is for one car, but the team is saying that it could expand its assault to two entries before the start of the season. What it isn’t saying is whether it will use the Mecachrome twin-turbo around which the British P1 machine has been designed.
US entrant Dragonspeed, winner of this year’s European Le Mans Series title with an ORECA run under the G-drive banner, has also announced plans to step up to the top class in the WEC. It hasn’t disclosed its chassis-engine package, only that two of the drivers will be Briton Ben Hanley, who made his return to car racing with the squad in 2016, and team patron Henrik Hedman.
Manor and Dragonspeed have joined the already confirmed programmes from SMP Racing with its new BR Engineering chassis, series stalwart Bykolles, and a two-car Ginetta squad whose identity has yet to be revealed. There are signals that more teams could be swayed to join by the promise of lap time parity with any factory hybrid cars on the entry list. That means Toyota, which is edging towards recommitting.
Rebellion Racing, which stepped down to P2 for this season, hasn’t ruled out a return to the P1 privateer ranks, which it dominated from the rebirth of the
WEC in 2012. And Jackie Chan DC Racing, P2 class winner at Le Mans this year, is saying that it has ambitions to step up, though not for the superseason.
The new Ginetta-mecachrome LMP1 will be on display at January’s Autosport International at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.