The FIA World Endurance Championship has released a 33-car provisional entry list for the 2021 season including five cars for the new Hypercar top prototype category.
Large fields in LMP2 and GTE-Am compensate for the reduced four-car GTE-Pro grid, while the Hypercar division bears similar numbers to LMP1 in the early stages of last season, but with a different makeup as the new Le Mans Hypercar formula makes its arrival.
The Hypercar entry includes four LMH cars split between two Toyota GR010 Hybrids and two non-hybrid Glickenhaus SCG 007s, plus the grandfathered ORECA-based No. 36 Alpine A480 Gibson LMP1 car for the Signatech-run Alpine Elf Matmut operation.
Former Rebellion LMP1 driver Gustavo Menezes and Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Ryan Briscoe are the first two full-season drivers for Glickenhaus Racing’s Hypercar project.
Two-time 24 Hours of Le Mans class winner Andre Negrao will return for a fourth season with Alpine and his debut in the top class, while his co-drivers have yet to be announced.
The LMP2 grid has grown to 11 cars while five include Bronze-rated drivers who will be eligible to compete for the newly-introduced LMP2 Pro-Am classification.
Team WRT is the headline addition to the LMP2 grid, with the decorated Audi GT3 outfit set for its first full campaign in the WEC and in prototypes.
The Belgian squad, which secured its third GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS overall teams’ title last year, has enlisted Audi DTM ace Robin Frijns as its first driver.
Like all but one of the teams on the LMP2 entry, WRT will field an Oreca 07 Gibson on the spec Goodyear tire.
ARC Bratislava is the only non-ORECA entrant, with the Slovakian team run by owner-driver Miro Konopka bringing its Ligier JS P217 Gibson into the mix.
United Autosports will seek to defend its LMP2 title with a single car after previous suggestions that the team could expand to a two-car operation for 2021.
Also continuing are Racing Team Nederland, High Class Racing and JOTA, while DragonSpeed makes its series return with an entry involving Juan Pablo Montoya.
WRT, ARC Bratislava, Richard Mille Racing, Realteam Racing and Inter Europol Competition are all new faces in the WEC LMP2 division.
The GTE-Pro grid features the expected four cars split between the two-car factory entries from Porsche and Ferrari.
Both manufacturers have shuffled their lineups from the 2019-20 campaign, with former LMP1 star Neel Jani joining Porsche and double Le Mans class winner Daniel Serra coming into the AF Corse Ferrari full-time squad.
GTE-Am is the largest category with 13 cars entered, marking an increase of two from the previous season.
Three entries, including two for TF Sport, will be running Aston Martin Vantage GTEs.
This will herald the British marque’s only representation in the WEC following the withdrawal of its world title-winning factory GTE-Pro team at the end of last year.
Paul Dalla Lana will return in the third Vantage GTE prepared by Aston Martin Racing.
Dempsey-Proton Racing and Team Project 1 are both back with the German teams both running a pair of new Porsche 911 RSRs.
Christian Ried and Julien Andlauer have been named as the first drivers for Proton, while 2018-19 champion Egidio Perfetti will again team up with Matteo Cairoli at Project 1. Joerg Bergmeister is the firs confirmed member of Project 1’s other lineup.
Michael Wainwright has also returned, with the British driver’s team now known as GR Racing having competed under the Gulf Racing banner over the last few years.
Like Porsche, Ferrari has five cars entered in GTE-Am including two 488 GTEs for European Le Mans Series graduate Iron Lynx and one for former LMP2 squad Cetilar Racing.
“There is no doubt that the future of endurance racing looks very bright and this is perfectly demonstrated by the strength and variety of teams on the entry list,” said WEC CEO Frederic Lequien.
“Not only do we have a brand-new Hypercar category which is set to grow even bigger from next year, but it’s extremely encouraging to see record numbers of entrants in the LMP2 and LMGTE Am classes.
“To have six females join the grid [with Richard Mille Racing and Iron Lynx] also highlights the diversity in our championship and endurance racing as a whole. The 2021 WEC season will definitely be one to watch.”