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FIA WEC

2015 Silly Season Update 1: LMP1/LMP2

A look at the confirmed, possible LMP1/LMP2 entries for 2015 FIA WEC…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

While the 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship still has three rounds remaining, teams are already planning for 2015, which could see a capacity grid in the globe-trotting sports car series.

Sportscar365 takes a look at the confirmed and possible entries for the LMP1 and LMP2 classes.

LMP1:

Audi Sport Team Joest — Despite rumors of a possible move to F1 in 2016, Audi has already confirmed a return for next year with a pair of updated Audi R18 e-tron quattros. Work continues to have the diesel-powered entries compete in the 4MJ hybrid subclass, although not yet confirmed. Three cars are again likely for Le Mans, while a relatively unchanged driver lineup expected. (2 cars)

Toyota Racing — The current FIA WEC points leaders will also have a similar program in 2015, with two updated Toyota TS040 Hybrids already confirmed for the entire season, while targeting a step up to the 8MJ category. A third car for Le Mans has been ruled out. Toyota’s driver lineup, which should announced in the next week, could feature one or two changes, with rumors of Stephane Sarrazin and/or Nicolas Lapierre departing for new rivals Nissan. (2 cars)

Porsche Team — Porsche will again field two 919 Hybrids, although being all-new cars built around fresh tubs. The German manufacturer is understood to be fielding three cars for Le Mans, although that’s yet to be confirmed. There’s also no official decision on drivers, although word has circulated that discussions have taken place with F1 stars Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg, the Force India driver possibly for Le Mans-only. Porsche has also recently tested five of its factory GT drivers. (2 cars)

Nissan NISMO — The “bad boys” of endurance will step up to LMP1 with the new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO, which has yet to break cover. A three-car entry is confirmed for Le Mans, with at least two for the entire season. Car specs or drivers have yet to be announced but it’s believed to feature a V6 turbo gasoline powerplant. Olivier Pla, Nick Heidfeld, Stephane Sarrazin, Nicolas Lapierre, Bruno Senna, Jann Mardenborough, Lucas Ordonez, Mark Shulzhitskiy, as well as various Nissan Super GT pilots have all been rumored as possible drivers. (2 cars)

Rebellion Racing — The Anglo-Swiss squad is expected to return with its pair of ORECA-built Rebellion R-Ones, although no confirmation has come if the team will continue to use Toyota power, or potentially look elsewhere. With the possibility of Nick Heidfeld going to Nissan, the Bart Hayden-led team will likely be looking for at least one new driver. (2 cars likely)

Lotus — It’s unclear what will happen to the mysterious Romanian-badged, German-based team that carries the colors of the famed British constructor. It’s understood there are plans for a return with at least one CLM P1/01 AER, with the possibility of a second lightweight prototype, although given the team’s late start to 2014, nothing is likely set in stone. (1-2 cars possible)

OAK/Onroak — While yet to secure a deal with a partner, prospects of an Onroak Automotive-built LMP1 car appear to be in question for 2015. The French constructor, however, has a fully designed car ready for build, should a deal come together in the coming weeks. (unknown)

SARD — The legendary Japanese squad was originally touted to field an entry next year, although a deal with a prospective partner recently fell through. There’s been no further update since, leaving questions whether this program has been abandoned. (unknown)

Other Teams — At least two LMP2 teams have evaluated a possible move to LMP1, with a customer Rebellion R-One being one of the options. (1-2 cars possible)

Estimated Car Count: 10-13 entries

LMP2:

SMP Racing — The Russian squad will return next year with a pair of brand-new prototypes, designed by Peugeot 908 creator Paolo Catone. Nicolas Minassian and Maurizio Mediani are expected to play a key role in the car’s development, and thus likely return as drivers for 2015 as well, alongside the usual contingent of Russian drivers, including team boss Sergey Zlobin. (2 cars)

KCMG — The Hong-Kong-based has revealed plans for expansion into a two-car operation, likely with the new Oreca 05 alongside its existing Oreca 03R. No word has been given on drivers although its current crop would be leading candidates. (2 cars likely)

G-Drive Racing — The OAK Racing-run operation is likely to return again next year with the Ligier JS P2, although potentially featuring a different and new powerplant to the category. With Olivier Pla potentially off to Nissan, the Frenchman may need to be replaced by another Platinum-rated driver to join Roman Rusinov and a Silver-rated driver. (1 car likely)

Morand Racing — Benoit Morand’s squad is planning to step up to the world’s stage next year, with up to two Onroak Automotive-built prototypes. The team competed in the ELMS this year with a Morgan-Judd, which took Christian Klien, Pierre Ragues and Gary Hirsch. (1-2 cars likely)

Extreme Speed Motorsports — While yet to officially announce its 2015 program, the Florida-based squad could be preparing for a two-car full-season entry next year with its brand-new HPD ARX-04bs. Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Ryan Dalziel and Johannes van Overbeek are all expected to return, with further driving talent likely to be brought in. (2 cars likely)

Strakka Racing — While yet to debut the new Strakka-Dome S103 Nissan, the British squad plans to compete in the entire 2015 season with the Japanese prototype. It would seem logical for the lineup of Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis to continue. The car is scheduled to debut in this year’s season finale at Interlagos. (1 car likely)

RSR Racing — The Paul Gentilozzi-led squad is close to confirming a single-car entry with a leased Oreca 03 Nissan. If the program is given the green light, Bruno Junqueira could very well be part of the lineup for the American effort. (1 car possible)

Delta Motorsport — After multiple failed starts this year with the Millennium-backed effort, Delta’s Simon Dowson is working to return to the grid next year with his Oreca 03 Nissans. (1-2 cars possible)

Brabham — The new crowdfunding project could see the legendary name return to the world’s stage next year. The target is for the David Brabham-led squad to enter LMP2 ranks next year, with funds currently being raised at a rapid rate. (1 car possible)

Signatech-Alpine — The two-time ELMS champions have nothing more to prove in Europe, so a step up to the world’s stage would seem logical. However, the budget will decide the fate of the French squad, led by Philippe Sinault. (1-2 cars possible)

Estimated Car Count: 9-14 entries

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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