In the latest “Silly Season” update, Sportscar365 takes a look at the current confirmed, likely and possible entries for GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes in the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship.
Confirmed Entries (8 cars):
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing – The Multimartic-run, UK-based operation will return for its second season campaigning factory Ford GTs, with a likely unchanged full-season lineup of Stefan Muecke, Olivier Pla, Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx. Marino Franchitti, who was dropped from the lineup mid-season, is unlikely to be back. (2 cars)
Porsche GT Team – Porsche will return to GTE-Pro with two brand-new factory Manthey-run 911 RSRs. Richard Lietz, Michael Christensen and Fred Makowiecki are three of the likely four confirmed full-season drivers. While not having been announced as a factory driver at its end-of-year dinner, Ferrari ace Gianmaria Bruni is understood to still be in contention for the final seat. Otherwise, it could go to Romain Dumas and Sven Mueller, two other Porsche GT works drivers without full-season assignments. (2 cars)
Aston Martin Racing – After winning the 2016 driver and team titles, the British manufacturer is expected to return with a two-car Vantage GTE program at a minimum. Drivers have yet to be confirmed but it would seem logical for World Champions Nicki Thiim and Marco Sorensen to continue, as well as longtime AMR factory driver Darren Turner. (2 cars expected)
AF Corse – The Italian squad will return with two Ferrari 488 GTE cars, but still with a to-be-confirmed driver lineup. Former class champion Bruni is at the center of the lineup uncertainty, with the Italian potentially moving to Porsche. 2016 AF Corse drivers James Calado, Sam Bird and Davide Rigon, however, are all expected to be back, with Lucas Luhr rumored to potentially replace Bruni, should the Italian driver depart for the German manufacturer. (2 cars)
Larbre Competition – Despite having laid out plans of fielding a Corvette C7.R in the GTE-Pro class, the Jack Leconte-led team has reportedly not gotten a green light from GM, and its requested funding to make the factory supported program a reality. The French squad could be left without a full-season WEC entry, in any class, as a result.
Confirmed/Likely Entries (4 cars):
Aston Martin Racing – At least one Aston Martin Vantage GTE will be on the GTE-Am grid next year, for Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda. A decision on whether the car will run to 2016 or 2014/15-spec has yet to be made. The possibility of a second entry, run for Khaled Al Qubaisi, has fallen through as the Emirati is set to take a sabbatical from the series due to business commitments. (1 car)
Clearwater Racing – The Asian Le Mans Series regulars will step up to a full-season WEC effort with Matt Griffin, Keita Sawa and Mok Weng Sun in an AF Corse-run Ferrari 488 GTE car. (1 car)
AF Corse – A second Ferrari 488 GTE car will be on the grid in GTE-Am, in a sister AF Corse entry fielded for the team’s ELMS graduates Thomas Flohr, Francesco Castellacci and a to-be-announced third driver. (1 car)
Proton Competition – After fielding three Porsche 911 RSRs across GTE-Pro and GTE-Am this year, the German squad is likely to be reduced to a singe-car effort, with Al Qubaisi and David Heinemeier Hansson not returning. Team boss Christian Ried is likely to continue with a car for himself and a to-be-determined remaining lineup. (1 car)
Larbre Competition – With its Corvette C7.R reportedly having been purchased by Yutaka Yamagishi, it’s unclear how that could affect the team’s potential GTE-Am return, amid failed efforts to step up to the GTE-Pro class with a factory supported effort. (1 car?)