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European Le Mans Series

41 Cars Listed for Paul Ricard Season-Opener

Large entry for ELMS season opener at Circuit Paul Ricard later this month…

Photo: MPS Agency

A total of 41 cars, including 18 LMP2 entries, will line up for the opening round of the 2019 European Le Mans Series in two weeks’ time.

The entry list for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet is essentially the same as the full-season list issued in February but with several driver additions across the three classes.

In LMP2, defending drivers’ champions Roman Rusinov and Andrea Pizzitola will be driving for different teams, with Rusinov continuing with G-Drive Racing and Pizzitola signing for Algarve Pro Racing.

Thirteen teams are confirmed to run three-driver lineups, while High Class Racing, Panis-Barthez Competition, BHK Motorsport and the two United Autosports entries are running two drivers only.

BHK is one of four teams making its LMP2 debut at Paul Ricard, along with Cool Racing, Inter Europol Competition and Thunderhead by Carlin Racing.

There is also an even nine-car split in the number of teams operating on Dunlop and Michelin tires after the majority of teams ran with Dunlop last season.

LMP3 features 14 cars, with 10 Ligier JS P3 Nissans and four Norma M30 Nissans set to take part.

Drivers include FIA World Touring Car Cup racer Yann Ehrlacher, and two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Tommy Erdos who is making his first race appearance in five years in a United Autosports Ligier.

The nine-car GTE field includes five Ferraris and five Porsches, while Paul Ricard will mark the debuts of Luzich Racing and Team Project 1, which still has a driver to confirm.

Porsche factory ‘Young Professionals’ Matteo Cairoli and Thomas Preining will each drive one of the two Proton-entered Porsche 911 RSRs.

Cairoli was initially named in the No. 88 car on the provisional season entry list but will move across to the No. 77 car to take the place of works driver Richard Lietz.

Vergne Replaced by Nato for Two Rounds

Reigning 4 Hours of Le Castellet winner Norman Nato will return to defend his 2018 victory as part of an adjusted G-Drive Racing LMP2 driver lineup (en Français).

Nato, who drove for Racing Engineering last year, has been called up to replace Jean-Eric Vergne in the TDS-run team’s Oreca-based AURUS 01 Gibson next to Job van Uitert and Roman Rusinov.

Vergne will miss the opening two rounds of the ELMS at Paul Ricard and Monza because of clashes with the ABB FIA Formula E Championship races in Rome and Monaco.

GP2 race winner Nato will step in for both events, as well as the 6 Hours of Spa FIA World Endurance Championship round where he will replace the DTM-tied Loic Duval in parent team TDS Racing’s full-season Oreca.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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