The 2014 FIA World Endurance Championship will be all about change in LMP1, with new regulations, new cars and new teams joining the premier prototype category, in what could end up being a game-changing year in terms of technology.
A new energy-based formula, which incorporates more powerful hybrid systems and fuel flow limiters instead of conventional air restrictors, will see the factory squads roll out with state-of-the-art technology, including exhaust energy recovery systems.
Although LMP1-L, the defacto privateer category, will not allow the expensive hybrid systems, the class has still struggled to attract entries, with only one team confirmed thus far.
Sportscar365 takes a look at the confirmed and possible entries for LMP1 and LMP1-L next year. (en Français)
Audi Sport Team Joest – The German manufacturer will return with two all-new Audi R18 e-tron quattros, featuring both a flywheel and exhaust-based energy recovery systems to compliment the turbodiesel-powered V6. While the car was officially unveiled earlier this month, Audi’s driver lineup has yet to be announced.
It’s clear, however, there will be at least one change, due to Allan McNish’s retirement. Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler, along with Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval are all expected to continue as full-season drivers. Lucas Di Grassi and Marco Bonanomi are believed to be in contention for the final full-time seat. (2 cars)
Toyota Racing – Toyota is set to mount its first full-season program as a two-car effort. The new Toyota TS040 Hybrid will feature two supercapacitor energy recovery systems, installed on each axle, to produce power alongside the conventional normally aspired V8 engine.
All six of its drivers from 2013: Alex Wurz, Nicolas Lapierre, Kazuki Nakajima, Sebastien Buemi, Stephane Sarrazin and Anthony Davidson, are set to return and will be joined by newly appointed test and reserve driver, Mike Conway, who could get a race outing or two in the No. 7 car due to Nakajima’s other commitments. (2 cars)
Porsche AG – Porsche makes its highly anticipated return to prototype racing with its new 919 Hybrid, which is understood to utilize a V4 turbo along with a battery and exhaust-based hybrid systems. Newly retired F1 driver Mark Webber leads the all-star driver lineup, which includes Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Neel Jani, Brendon Hartley and Marc Lieb. (2 cars)
Rebellion Racing – The Anglo-Swiss squad has joined forces with ORECA to launch the new Rebellion R-One, the first privateer non-hybrid LMP1 car expected to race next year. Featuring a development of the 2013-spec 3.4-liter Toyota V8, Rebellion will be competing in the LMP1-L sub category but hope to still fight for overall victories.
Only Nicolas Prost has been confirmed on the driving squad, although it’s believed that Nick Heidfeld, Mathias Beche and Andrea Belicchi will all return in some capacity. (2 cars)
OAK Racing – The future of OAK Racing’s LMP1 program remains unclear, as the French squad continues to search for an OEM to partner with for its all-new coupe. With time running out, it’s confirmed the car will not debut at the season-opener at Silverstone, leaving a full-season entry in doubt. (1 car)
Level 5 Motorsports – While having been evaluating a program since the summer, the Scott Tucker-owned team still hasn’t ruled out a potential LMP1-L effort for 2014, which would run alongside its new customer program in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. It’s understood the team is looking at a few different scenarios, including running a grandfathered LMP1 car, such as a HPD ARX-03c or Lola B12/60 Toyota. (1 car)
WR – The longtime Le Mans stalwarts are building a LMP1 car of their own, with the hope of making Le Mans in the future. However, like OAK, Welter Racing is also hoping to align with an auto manufacturer for the project. The team has now targeted to be on the grid in 2015 or 2016.
Perrinn – The British firm, run by former F1 engineer Nicolas Perrin, is working to find the funding to build its new customer-based prototype, which would have the capability of energy retrieval from all four wheels. It’s unlikely the project will be ready for next year, with a focus towards 2015 instead.
Confirmed Entries: 8 cars
Possible: ~1-2 additional cars