Collaborating organizations Prema Powerteam and Iron Lynx are set to enter both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the European Le Mans Series with their joint LMP2 program next year.
The Italian race teams – Prema from single-seaters and Iron Lynx from sports cars – joined forces earlier this year before announcing a prototype racing venture with confirmation of at least one Oreca 07 Gibson for the 2022 WEC campaign.
At the time, the outfit indicated that it was considering a second LMP2 entry that was yet to be determined.
Iron Lynx team principal Andrea Piccini has told Sportscar365 that the Prema-badged effort is also set to compete in the top LMP2 class of the ELMS next season.
The strategy to split its efforts between the world championship and the European series resembles the option taken by Team WRT for its first full season of LMP2 this year.
“The idea is to focus on one car in WEC and one car in ELMS,” said Piccini.
“Both championships with two different cars. Because we will need to send a car to the United States quite early to do Sebring, so the idea is to have a car that stays in Europe and can continue testing, and a car that goes [internationally].
“We also bought a spare car. We bought all the materials from Racing Engineering because they were running the car two years ago and had a very good package.
“So we can have a spare chassis that we can send over to the States, and bring back to Europe. So we can always have two cars that we can run.”
The Prema-Iron Lynx program will operate under the Prema banner, but with shared input between the two parties which are based roughly two hours apart in eastern Italy.
Iron Lynx is set to continue its GTE program in parallel with the LMP2 entry, with the organization’s senior staff such as Andrea and Giacomo Piccini working across both.
“The car will be run as Prema, so the colors and livery will be Prema, with the support of Iron Lynx,” Piccini explained.
“We feel like a family now. The two brands are together: we could decide whether to run it as Prema or Iron Lynx.
“We consider LMP2 similar to single-seaters, and in single-seaters Prema is the main team. So it was natural for us to think that Prema was the right identity to take over this program.
“The car will be run at Grisignano in the Prema facilities. We have a new structure there just to run the LMP2.
“The team will be built with some key personnel from Prema, who can bring the method and the winning system from Prema into the program.
“And then we will build up the team with people who have a lot of experience in LMP2 like new mechanics and new engineers entering the program.
“The most important thing is not to weaken Prema: it needs to stay strong in Formula 2 and 3. But also get some key people from Prema to implement their methods, and have a lot of people who have experience in LMP2 so that we can quickly build the team.”
Iron Lynx crew members will be assigned to Prema to complete the LMP2 squad.
“Iron Lynx will be there – myself and Giacomo will be looking after the program,” said Piccini.
“Some of our strategists and engineers will be supporting the program. We will be always on track together, because we will be running GTEs and the LMP2 will be beside us.
“We will be working as one team with two different names, basically.”
The Prema sports car program is set to carry out a test at Paul Ricard near the end of this month, which it will use to evaluate Silver-rated drivers for the LMP2 outright entry.
It’s understood that five young drivers are currently in line for the test, while the remainder of the crew is yet to be determined.
“The world is getting difficult, with COVID bringing so many delays in everything,” said Piccini.
“Whatever you need, whether you have money or not, it is difficult to get it. We should be able to get two cars there so that we can, on one side, start on the development of the car, and on the other side testing drivers. They are both very important.”
Partnership Eyeing Hypercar Future
The launch of the Prema LMP2 program comes at a time when teams and drivers are trying to position themselves as candidates to run LMH and LMDh cars in the top classes of the WEC and IMSA from 2023.
Prema and Iron Lynx form part of that movement, with Piccini explaining that the outfit views Hypercar as a key arena in terms of the wider endurance racing landscape.
“Of course we are interested in the LMDh/Hypercar category,” he said.
“That is the future of sports car racing. The idea is to be there and ready to take opportunities. If you want to continue in this work, you need to be there somehow.
“Even if you want to run GT cars in the future, at Le Mans there will be no more space for as many cars as there are now. Most likely you will have to be running a Hypercar or LMDh otherwise there’s no space for you.
“The idea is to show how good we can be in LMP2 and attract the manufacturers to develop the team and maybe enter in the future.”
Piccini confirmed that Iron Lynx and Prema have spoken to Ferrari about the possibility of running the manufacturer’s upcoming four-wheel-drive hybrid LMH prototype.
He indicated that the team would only be interested in entering the top category as a factory squad. AF Corse has been confirmed to run the two works Ferrari LMHs in 2023.
“Of course we have spoken to Ferrari,” Piccini said. “It’s our partner at the moment. It would for sure be nice to run a Ferrari in Hypercar.
“We have been talking around. At the moment, most of the brands have decided to enter but still don’t have clear 100 percent ideas about what it will be.
“We want to be there and show what we can do. We can do that in LMP2, and [then] be the team to run a Hypercar for a manufacturer.”