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DragonSpeed Confirms BR1 Gibson for WEC

DragonSpeed has confirmed it will race with a Gibson-powered BR1 LMP1 car when it moves into the FIA World Endurance Championship…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

DragonSpeed has confirmed it will race with a Gibson-powered BR1 LMP1 car when it moves into the FIA World Endurance Championship for the 2018/19 ‘Super Season’.

The American team announced last month it would be stepping up to the LMP1 class for next year’s WEC campaign with a single car, but did not confirm at the time what chassis or engine it would be using.

At the BR1’s unveiling in Bahrain on Friday, it revealed confirmed DragonSpeed would be the first customer team to race with the chassis in the WEC next year.

“We all know the timeframe for chassis building, decisions and packages and everything, so it was a few months process of deciding which way to go and an overnight decision what we were going to do,” DragonSpeed team boss Elton Julian told Sportscar365.

“I’m happy. We’ll have a different engine package than they do, we’ll have a Gibson. It’s not exactly the same.”

Julian said they plan to start testing in March, giving SMP Racing time to have put in plenty of miles in private running before delivering the chassis.

“It’s good for us because the car will have done 8,000 to 10,000 km by then. So brakes, transmission and chassis will be sorted,” Julian said.

“Then we went with Gibson knowing the reliability and it was tried and proved and something we already have an association with. Normally-aspirated is important for me, because our job is to finish.”

The Gibson GL458 engine that will be used is a 4.5 liter development of the UK-based company’s highly successful global LMP2 spec 4.2 liter V8.

DragonSpeed named Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman as two of the three drivers for its LMP1 entry next year, with Julian confirming a number of options remained under consideration.

“It’s a short shortlist obviously. Some of them have already been with us, some of us have not,” he said.

“Tire [partner] and driver will come next, but not in a rush for those two.”

DragonSpeed Planning to Continue LMP2 Program

As well as moving up to LMP1 full-time, Julian is keen to keep its presence in the European Le Mans Series, where the team is set to cut ties with G-Drive Racing for 2018, but said a WEC LMP2 entry was not part of its philosophy.

“I would like to do LMP2 within ELMS. We would probably continue with one car there and one car in WEC,” Julian said.

“We want to learn, we want to do a good job first like we did in ELMS, and then if we have an opportunity to come with two cars in the second year, we’ll do that.

“First we need to do the job right, like we did in ELMS. Same thing.”

Luke Smith is a British motorsport journalist who has served as NBC Sports’ lead Formula 1 writer since 2013, as well as working on its online sports car coverage.


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