Interest is growing in the LMP1 Privateer ranks, with two additional teams evaluating programs that could result in up to a half-dozen non-hybrid prototypes on the FIA World Endurance Championship grid by as early as next year.
Both KCMG and a Swiss-based group led by Benoit Morand have expressed recent interest, joining the previously announced two-car SMP Racing effort with Dallara-built BR1 prototypes, Manor’s all-but-confirmed program with Ginetta’s new LMP1 customer car and the likely return of ByKolles Racing with an all-new prototype.
While absent from the WEC paddock this year, representatives from the Hong Kong-based team were in Silverstone last weekend to attend the launch of Ginetta’s yet-to-be-named LMP1 non-hybrid.
“KCMG has not drawn a line in endurance racing,” Head of KCMG Composites Philippe Charissoux told Endurance-Info. “Several programs are under consideration for 2018, including LMP1 non-hybrid.
“We are thinking about defining the best program for the team.”
Morand, meanwhile, was also in Silverstone, as the longtime prototype team owner/manager is looking to help lead a yet-to-be-announced team that is also working on an entry for the top prototype class.
“We were working on a LMP2 program,” Morand admitted, “but investors didn’t want to take up the challenge because it’s difficult to sell.
“LMP1 non-hybrid is not simple but the category offers interesting prospects.”
Should Morand’s program get the green light, he said it would likely be announced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.
“It’s an exciting project that takes a long time,” he said. “The key is the engine and we’re working on this subject. Development has already begun with a chassis around the engine.”
It’s understood Morand’s project involves a fourth different constructor in LMP1 non-hybrid, which would join the previously announced or currently operated efforts from ByKolles, Dallara/BR Engineering and Ginetta.
Ginetta Chairman Lawrence Tomlinson, meanwhile, is bullish of being able to ultimately sell up to six of his new cars, which will go on sale for $1.67 million a piece, plus a $750,000 per year engine lease and support program.
“The dream would be three two-car teams, which would be absolutely fantastic,” Tomlinson told Sportscar365.
“Is that possible over the course of the project? Absolutely. Is that possible during the 2018 season? I think it’s optimistic but not impossible.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt in Year One there will be three-plus cars, from the interest out there.”
Manor is poised to add at least one Ginetta to its already existing Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 program, while LMP1 Privateer stalwarts Rebellion Racing has not ruled out a return to the class by as early as 2019, depending on the level of competition.
Work, meanwhile, continues on the joint Dallara-BR effort, with the Russian-backed prototype set to begin testing later this year, which is likely to follow a similar timeline to the Ginetta.
An extension of the current LMP1 non-hybrid regulations through the end of 2022, although with some engine modifications expected for next year, is understood to be triggering the movement from teams.