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European Le Mans Series

Robichon, Gidley in GTE Field for Paul Ricard Season-Opener

IMSA racers Zach Robichon, Memo Gidley among names on entry list for ELMS opener…

Photos: Rick Dole/IMSA, AI Motorsport with JDC

IMSA GT Daytona class champion Zach Robichon and American racer Memo Gidley will take part in this month’s European Le Mans Series season-opener at Paul Ricard.

According to the 42-car entry list, Robichon is set to make his GTE debut in a Proton Competition Porsche 911 RSR-19, alongside the actor Michael Fassbender and Porsche factory driver Richard Lietz.

Gidley, meanwhile, is confirmed to drive one of Rinaldi Racing’s Ferrari 488 GTE Evos in the 4 Hours of Le Castellet on April 17.

The Californian, who is eyeing a 24 Hours of Le Mans drive this year, will team up with Rinaldi regulars Pierre Ehret and Nico Varrone in the No. 32 car. Team principal Michele Rinaldi confirmed to Sportscar365 that Gidley’s deal is currently for the first race only.

Gidley sustained serious injuries in a crash at the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona but made his return to the track in recent years, and also sampled one of Proton’s GTE Porsches during the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue at Sebring.

Other confirmed lineups include the No. 77 Proton crew featuring the addition of Italian GT champion Lorenzo Ferrari with the returning Gianmaria Bruni and Christian Ried.

Cooper MacNeil drove the No. 77 car last season under the WeatherTech Racing banner.

There has been a change to the No. 33 Rinaldi Ferrari lineup with Oscar Tunjo replacing Patrick Kujala. Tunjo piloted a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in SRO racing last year.

Italian GT regular Sean Hudspeth and Toyota Racing Series champion Matthew Payne join Bronze competitor Giacomo Petrobelli in the JMW Motorsport Ferrari, meanwhile.

Kessel Racing’s planned No. 74 Ferrari entry with Polish racer Michal Broniszewski is not due to race at Paul Ricard after being included on February’s full-season entry list.

Its absence has been offset by the arrival of a second Ligier JS P320 Nissan from Eurointernational, plumping the LMP3 field to 13 cars and reducing GTE to a dozen.

Glenn van Berlo, Xavier Lloveras and Tom Cloet will drive the Italian team’s extra Ligier.

In LMP2, Augusto Farfus will not make his category debut at Paul Ricard due to being prioritized in the clashing Super GT season-opener at Okayama, where he is driving a Team Studie BMW M4 GT3.

Farfus has been replaced in the BHK Motorsport Oreca 07 Gibson by Markus Pommer, who drove for Francesco Dracone’s team last year.

G-Drive Racing’s pair of full-season entries are now being independently run by its 2021 operational partner Algarve Pro Racing, after the Russian outfit stepped back from its racing programs in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and related sanctions.

As announced last week, Bent Viscaal and Sophia Floersch are sharing the No. 19 Algarve Pro Oreca 07 Gibson that was previously the No. 53 G-Drive entry.

The other Algarve Pro car is being driven by Alex Peroni, Rene Binder and John Falb, which was the original G-Drive Pro-Am lineup.

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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