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Cool Drops Off Bahrain Entry; Several GTE-Am Driver Updates

24 cars set to contest WEC finale; Endurance Cup clash leads to changes in GTE-Am crews…

Photo: MPS Agency

Cool Racing’s Oreca 07 Gibson has been withdrawn from next weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship season finale while a handful of GTE-Am driver changes have also been confirmed on the updated 24-car entry list for the 8 Hours of Bahrain.

The No. 42 LMP2-class Oreca that has been driven for most of the 2019-20 season by Nicolas Lapierre, Antonin Borga and Alexandre Coigny appeared on the original edition of the entry list but is no longer shown on the updated version published on Tuesday.

Cool Racing’s decision to forgo Bahrain was driven by the “latest restrictions concerning COVID-19 combined with a compact schedule”, according to a team statement.

Its absence brings the number of LMP2 cars down to six for the final round of the season.

Cool Racing drivers Lapierre and Borga won the 4 Hours of Silverstone curtain-raiser back in September 2019, while their best result with Bronze-rated competitor Coigny was second in this year’s Total 6 Hours of Spa.

The trio also contested the European Le Mans Series which concluded last weekend with the 4 Hours of Portimao.

The updated Bahrain entry list also confirms several driver updates, including three for WEC regulars who are set to be engaged in the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season finale at Paul Ricard on the same Nov. 14-15 weekend.

SRO Motorsports Group has yet to release an entry list for the Paul Ricard 1000km, which is set to go ahead under France’s new nationwide lockdown restrictions.

2018-19 GTE-Am champion Joerg Bergmeister will return to Team Project 1 as a replacement for Matteo Cairoli, who is battling for the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup title.

Cairoli drives a Porsche 911 GT3 R for Italian outfit Dinamic Motorsport in SRO’s European long-distance series.

Bergmeister, who officially retired from his Porsche factory driver role at the end of last year, will team up with his 2018-19 co-champion Egidio Perfetti and Larry ten Voorde.

Matt Campbell will be absent from his WEC drive in Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 77 Porsche 911 RSR as the Australian focuses on his GT3 endurance role with GPX Racing.

GPX reserve driver Dennis Olsen will step in for Campbell alongside Christian Ried and Riccardo Pera, for what will be the Norwegian’s first WEC appearance outside the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The third driver skipping Bahrain is Andrew Watson, whose seat next to Mike Wainwright and Ben Barker in the Gulf Racing Porsche has been taken up by recently-crowned ELMS GTE champion Alessio Picariello.

Watson drives for Garage 59 in GTWC Europe and is expected to be behind the wheel of the team’s Silver Cup-class Aston Martin Vantage GT3 next weekend.

On the other hand, fellow Garage 59 driver Jonny Adam is signed up for the 8 Hours of Bahrain with TF Sport which currently leads the GTE-Am championship standings.

Endurance Cup points leader Felipe Fraga is also listed for WEC duty in Team Project 1’s No. 57 Porsche.

Ferrari factory team members Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado, Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon and Nicklas Nielsen – all of whom represent the Italian marque in GTWC Europe – are shown on the Bahrain entry list.

It’s understood that Ferrari still intends to field both of its factory-supported Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020s at Paul Ricard despite the date clash impacting five of its drivers.

Additionally, Marco Holzer and Khaled Al Qubaisi have been confirmed in Dempsey-Proton Racing’s No. 88 Porsche which has had a rotating lineup throughout the season.

Holzer is set for his first WEC outing in six years while Al Qubaisi joined Dempsey-Proton at last year’s Bahrain event.

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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