With the third season of the globe-trotting sports car racing series now in the books, Sportscar365 takes a look at the confirmed, likely and potential entries for next year’s FIA World Endurance Championship with its second “Silly Season” update for 2015.
Confirmed Entries (10 cars):
Toyota Racing — The newly crowned FIA WEC champions will have a similar program in 2015, with two updated Toyota TS040 Hybrids, possibly running in the 8MJ category. A third car for Le Mans has been ruled out. Expect Mike Conway to replace Nicolas Lapierre as a full-season driver, with no other changes to the lineup expected. (2 cars)
Audi Sport Team Joest — Audi will roll out with a pair of updated R18-etron quattros, with the target of also competing in a higher hybrid energy subclass. Three cars will again be entered for Le Mans, with Oliver Jarvis replacing the retiring Tom Kristensen in the second entry and Rene Rast getting a chance in the third car for Le Mans and Spa. (2 cars)
Porsche Team — Two all-new Porsche 919 Hybrids have been entered for an unchanged full-season driver lineup from 2014. The German manufacturer will add a third, Le Mans and Spa-only entry for Nico Hulkenberg and two yet-to-be-determined co-drivers. Porsche’s factory GT pilots Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki and Michael Christensen are in the running for the final two seats. (2 cars)
Nissan NISMO — While yet to officially break cover, the new Nissan GT-R LM NISMO has already been racking up testing miles in Arizona. A three-car entry for Le Mans has been confirmed, with two of the reportedly mid-front engine designed car for the entire season. Olivier Pla, Bruno Senna, and Jann Mardenborough appear to have already been signed, with the likes of Marc Gene, Nicolas Lapierre, Nick Heidfeld, Lucas Ordonez and other Nissan Super GT pilots all rumored for possible drives. (2 cars)
Rebellion Racing — The Anglo-Swiss squad will return with its pair of ORECA-built Rebellion R-Ones, although a switch from Toyota to AER power is possible. With the possibility of Nick Heidfeld going to Nissan, the Bart Hayden-led privateer squad will likely be looking for at least one new driver. (2 cars)
Possible Entries (1-2 cars):
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 — The French constructor has called off plans to debut its new LMP1 car next year, with the focus now towards a roll out in 2016.
SARD — The legendary Japanese squad will instead join forces with a LMP2 squad in 2015, with an eye towards a top-level prototype program in the future.
Estimated Car Count: 10-12 entries
Confirmed Entries (7-9 cars):
SMP Racing — The LMP2 World Champions will return next year with a pair of brand-new prototypes, dubbed the BR01. Nicolas Minassian and Maurizio Mediani are expected to again lead the driving force alongside the usual contingent of Russian drivers, but with newly crowned champion Sergey Zlobin moving to the team’s new Ferrari entry in GTE-Am. (2 cars)
KCMG — The Hong-Kong-based squad is expected to be the first customer of the new Oreca 05 chassis, with plans to campaign the closed-top car alongside its existing Oreca 03R next year, potentially as a two-car full-season lineup. Matt Howson and Richard Bradley are poised to return, with Alexandre Imperatori also likely to be in the mix. (1-2 cars)
G-Drive Racing — The OAK Racing-run operation is set to return next year with at least one Ligier JS P2, potentially powered by a new engine from an exotic auto manufacturer. With Olivier Pla reportedly off to Nissan, look for one of the team’s standout drivers from 2014 to replace the Frenchman, alongside Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal. A second entry could still be possible. (1-2 cars)
Extreme Speed Motorsports — The Florida-based team will step up to the world’s stage next year with two brand-new HPD ARX-04b cars for Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, David Heinemeier Hansson, Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty. ESM could end up being the only team representing Honda Performance Development in the FIA WEC full-time. (2 cars)
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, with Danny Watts, Jonny Kane and Nick Leventis all having been retained for next year. (1 car)
Likely Entries (2-4 cars):
Morand/SARD — Benoit Morand’s squad is poised to join forces with SARD for a two-car attack with Judd-powered Morgans, potentially badged as Toyotas. The Swiss/Japanese effort is expected to have a mix of drivers from both existing teams, including a few of Morand’s pilots. (2 cars likely)
OAK Racing — Team principal Jacques Nicolet could return to the wheel in an all-gentlemen driven Ligier JS P2 fielded by the French squad. While the team has vowed not to race against its customers, this entry would unlikely fight for class wins. (1 car likely)
Greaves Motorsport — The British squad is reportedly close to finalizing a single-car effort with an updated Nissan-powered Gibson LMP2 chassis, formerly known as a Zytek Z11SN. (1 car likely)
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, although a full-season program looks unlikely at this stage. Multiple chassis options are being explored but it appears the HPD ARX-04b is the front-runner. (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)
RSR Racing — While having worked towards a FIA WEC program, the status of the Paul Gentilozzi-led LMP2 effort is unclear at this point.
Estimated Car Count: 7-13 entries