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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.



  1. Tyler Sanders

    November 17, 2017 at 11:47 am

    This is great news they have confirmed this. Hopefully this means a bright future for LMP1 in the future and the ACO learns a lesson from this.

  2. KW

    November 17, 2017 at 1:33 pm

    Slowly the new LMP1 platform is developing, and it looks fairly healthy. With now 5 entries confirmed (2 SMP, Dragonspeed, ByKolles, Manor/Ginetta) it becomes more likely that Toyota will also continue. If Rebellion and Alpine/Signatech both decide to split their programs into one LMP1 (Oreca 09) and one LMP2 entry, there might be 9 permanent LMP1 entries for the 2018/2019 season. Hopefully we will also have Ligier (Graff?) and Dallara entries in LMP2 to finish the one-make cup, and GTLM is expanding anyway, both in Pro (with the arrival of BMW) and Am. So finally it seems that everything is not looking as bad anymore as it was after the announcement of Porsche’s withdrawal from LMP1.

  3. jason

    November 17, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    Its amazing how LMP1 privateer is growing so much despite the prospects of Toyota sticking around. I thought teams like Dragonspeed would enter only if Toyota announced they have left. Of course the Toyota deal is not confirmed yet.

  4. dougjp

    November 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I’m having trouble getting my head around how going from 4.2L to 4.5L is going to make an LMP1 car anywhere near quick enough so that we don’t continue to have “2 classes within 1” in LMP1. Put another way, how can LMP1 have a bright future just because a few new entrants come in.

    • Andrew

      November 17, 2017 at 2:35 pm

      I’m curious myself, but I’m guessing the 4.2L leaves a LOT on the table for season-long reliability sake. LMP1 runners will probably have a much shorter duration between rebuilds I’d guess.

      • AudiTT

        November 17, 2017 at 2:41 pm

        The P2 is built to deliver a solid, unstressed, 600bhp.

        In P1 form they can rev higher and bump power upto 700bhp+. A P1 car is also 100kg’s lighter than P2.

        • Max

          November 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm

          Yup, and they can adjust cam timing and cam shaft profiles to make it more aggressive. It’s the same way a GM LS engine can run anywhere from 300HP to 1000 HP depending on how long you want it to live and how much fuel you want to burn.

        • Antonio Desmond Miles

          November 17, 2017 at 4:51 pm

          Correct me if I’m wrong but doesn’t increasing displacement decrease an engine’s redline? Or is that just with production engines?

          • Scuba Steve

            November 17, 2017 at 6:37 pm

            You are correct

  5. Degner

    November 17, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    DragonSpeed has been a good supporter of prototype racing and I applaud their continuing in the category.

    However, let’s face it – they are no more than field filler. That’s it. Their driver lineup alone ensures that they’ll run at the back of the field whatever size it actually is.

    That’s their choice and they’re free to make it. But I don’t really understand it. I guess Henrik Hedman has the money to do this but it seems like a waste. Why not work to become competitive in the class you’re running in now before moving to a faster class?

    Additionally, don’t get overly excited by the ACO hype. We’ll see how many of these machines actually show up for the first race. And then how many do the full calendar.

  6. southcoce

    November 17, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    Count me as one who has questions (and perhaps a short memory for what the ACO might have said about non hybrid P1 engine packages)… either normally aspirated or not, the new P1’s have to come a lot closer to 1000hp than a closer to P2 600+… even w hybrid not having that power all the time, the acceleration off corners, etc is dramatically different and the getting up to ultimate speed that much quicker (despite this year P2 having longer legs on the Mulsanne).

    I was talking this over with my son and he said right off, why not NASCAR tvpe V8s for a couple of years to build up the class, somewhere around 835hp, right? (yeah, I know its american iron and that wouldn’t fly w ACO/Fia)

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