SMP Racing will not defend its world title in GTE-Am, with the Russian squad set to focus on the LMP2 class with its BR Engineering BR01 prototypes in the FIA World Endurance Championship this year.
Sporting director Sergey Zlobin confirmed to Sportscar365 they will not enter a Ferrari in either the GTE-Pro or GTE-Am ranks, despite initially evaluating a step up to the Pro class with the new Ferrari 488 GTE.
The team debuted the new twin-turbo Ferrari in last weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, which Zlobin said is likely to be SMP’s only outing in the GT ranks this year. The Daytona effort was largely run by AF Corse.
SMP’s decision to forgo the GT ranks this year leaves both 2015 GTE-Am champions Andrea Bertolini and Aleksey Basov without rides in the WEC, with Victor Shaytar moving up to its two-car LMP2 effort.
Zlobin confirmed that Kirill Ladygin will complete the lineup in the No. 27 BR01 alongside Nic Minassian and Maurizio Mediani.
Both David Markosov and Russian GP2 driver Sergey Sirotkin, meanwhile, could fill the third seat in the No. 37 car with Shaytar and Vitaly Petrov for the regular season races.
Mikhail Aleshin, who scored the Prototype class pole at Daytona last weekend, will take Ladygin’s seat in the No. 27 car for Le Mans, and Ladygin instead being placed in the No. 37 entry for the French endurance classic.