On the 9th of February the Automobile Club de l’Ouest will launch the 2018/2019 FIA World Endurance Championship Super Season. The launch will include the full season FIA WEC entries, and the entry list for the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Super Season is the biggest shake up we’ve seen in ACO endurance racing for a long time. But the biggest change isn’t really the move to a winter season. It’s the influx of new LMP1 teams and cars.

When Porsche announced that they’d be following in the footsteps of their Audi cousins, the ACO had to act fast. The LMP1 privateer entries, which had been neglected for so long, were not crucial to survival of the WEC as we know it. The ACO was forced into bolstering the LMP1 class, or risk having only Toyota run in the class.

To the ACO’s credit, it worked. We’re approaching 2018 with what looks to be a healthy LMP1 class. With such a sizable shakeup, we thought it’d be fun to play a game of guess the grid. This is my best guess at the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans entry list. Keep in mind that this is all speculation and just a bit of fun, and we’ll compare it to the announced list later this week.

LMP1

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  • Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050
  • Toyota Gazoo Racing – Toyota TS050
  • ByKolles Racing Team – CLM P1/01 Nissan
  • Rebellion Racing – Oreca 09 Gibson
  • Rebellion Racing – Oreca 09 Gibson
  • SMP Racing – Dallara BR1 AER
  • SMP Racing – Dallara BR1 AER
  • DragonSpeed – Dallara BR1 Gibson
  • Manor TRS Racing – Ginetta G60-LT-P1 Mechahcrome

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9 cars.

Despite being the biggest change, LMP1 is actually the easiest one. Toyota have announced the driver lineups, and with Davidson being relegated to a test driver role to make way for Alonso, it’s obvious they are planning on going back down to two cars.

ByKolles have been developing the CLM P1/01, and announced their intention to sell chassis to privateers. As far as we’re aware, none have been sold thus far, which leaves ByKolles as the only CLM entry.

As this article was published, Oreca and Rebellion confirmed their plans. The Rebellion R13 will be built by Oreca and run a Gibson engine.

SMP have jumped from LMP2 to LMP1 and taken Dallara along for the ride. AER engines are confirmed for the Russians. DragonSpeed are taking a single Dallara to LMP1 and putting the same Gibson engine that Rebellion have into the back of it.

The biggest surprise is that it’s likely that there will only be one Manor, which means only one Ginetta. It’s the LMP1 car that’s had the most attention, but, along with the CLM, it will be the least represented. Manor have stated they would like to run a second LMP1 car, but it’s looking quite unlikely.

9 cars makes a healthy LMP1 class, and there is the possibility of 10 should Manor find a way to fund a second Ginetta.

LMP2

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  • Jackie Chan DC Racing Jota – Oreca 07
  • Jackie Chan DC Racing Jota – Oreca 07
  • Signatech Alpine – Oreca 07
  • Signatech Alpine – Oreca 07
  • Manor TRS – Oreca 07
  • Graff Racing – Oreca 07
  • TDS Racing – Oreca 07
  • G-Drive Racing – Oreca 07
  • G-Drive Racing – Oreca 07
  • DragonSpeed Racing – Oreca 07
  • JDC Miller Motorsport – Oreca 07
  • KCMG – Oreca 07
  • United Autosports – Ligier JS P217
  • United Autosports – Ligier JS P217
  • Algarve Pro Racing – Ligier JS P217
  • Panis Barthez Competition – Ligier JS P217
  • Cetilar Villorba Corse – Dallara P217
  • Racing Team Nederland – Dallara P217
  • High Class Racing – Dallara P217

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19 cars.

LMP2 is a difficult one because we don’t currently know who is with who. We know JCDC Jota will be back as the team discounted a late jump to the LMP1 class. It is unlikely that the team will take up more than 2 invitations.

We can also assume that Signatech Alpine will be back, despite the politics surrounding the Alpine brands eligibility to run in LMP2. Signatech will almost certain return with an Ore….sorry, Alpine A470. Some good old fashioned sticker engineering going on there.

Manor have announced an intention to run an LMP2 car alongside the LMP1 Ginetta. It seems up for debate whether that car will be ELMS or WEC, but either way it will probably get a Le Mans entry.

Graff are rumoured to be in talks to run the G-Drive branded car for 2018, but that’s all speculation as well. However, with DragonSpeed moving one car to WEC in LMP1, and keeping one in ELMS in LMP2, it would make sense that G-Drive would need to find someone else to operate the car. Are Graff going to run the G-Drive ELMS entry? If so, it seems reasonable that Graff will get a Le Mans entry for both cars.

TDS are returning to WEC, and it appears that the G-Drive branded entry will continue despite a rough 2017 season. But really, nobody knows what Roman Rusinov will do until he does it – he likes change and isn’t afraid to move his brand and money around if he feels he’ll get a better shot elsewhere. So similar to 2017, G-Drive could get another entry through a WEC entry.

JDC Miller Motorsport have an invitation via IMSA, the question is will we see the Red Dragon, or the Banana Boat? Or a Banana Dragon?

KCMG missed out on an automatic invitation after being beaten to the AsLMS LMP3 title by Jackie Chan DC Racing. However given the teams history, and Jackie Chan DC Racing not taking up the invitation, there’s a chance that KCMG will get the nod.

United Autosports have one automatic entry from winning the ELMS LMP3 class, and realistically they should get a second entry based on the ELMS performances.

Racing Team Nederlands gets an entry after committing to WEC for the full superseason. The Dutch team are the first to commit to a full season of WEC LMP2 with a car that isn’t an Oreca. The only previous team to run another car was Tockwith, who ran a partial season.

After that, things get a little more difficult. Panis Barthez, Algarve Pro, Cetilar Villorba Corse and High Class Racing are all potential entries, but by no means safe. There’s also IDEC Sport, ARC Bratislava, Eurasia and BBT who could all realistically run cars. Larbre are returning to full time racing, but in LMP3. They want to run in LMP2 at Le Mans, but is a full time entry in the Michelin Le Mans Cup enough to give them a slot at the big event when there’s so many full time cars elsewhere?

LMP2 is oversubscribed, that’s the gist of it. Also note the lack of a fourth chassis in the form or a Riley.

GTE-Pro

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  • Ford Chip Ganassi UK – Ford GT
  • Ford Chip Ganassi UK – Ford GT
  • Ford Chip Ganassi US – Ford GT
  • Ford Chip Ganassi US – Ford GT
  • Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR
  • Porsche GT Team – Porsche 911 RSR
  • Porsche GT Team US – Porsche 911 RSR
  • Porsche GT Team US – Porsche 911 RSR
  • Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage GTE
  • Aston Martin Racing – Aston Martin Vantage GTE
  • BMW Motorsport – BMW M8 GTE
  • BMW Motorsport – BMW M8 GTE
  • Corvette Racing – Corvette C7.R
  • Corvette Racing – Corvette C7.R
  • AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • AF Corse – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • Risi Competizioni – Ferrari 488 GTE

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17 cars.

Factory teams ahoy! GTE-Pro is a pretty easy one to figure out. All the factory teams have 2 entries each, except Ford and Porsche who have brought over the IMSA crews for the event.

The only real question is if Risi will enter GTE-Pro. Last we heard, it all depended on if Ferrari wanted to bring additional support for a third car. The Risi car is included on this list purely through hope, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t make it on.

GTE-Am

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  • Clearwater Racing – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • Keating Motorsports/Risi – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • JMW Motorsports – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • Krohn Racing – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • Spirit of Race – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • MR Racing – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • Team FIST AAI – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • Team FIST AAI – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • Ebimotors – Ferrari 488 GTE
  • Dempsey-Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR
  • Proton Racing – Porsche 911 RSR
  • Gulf Racing UK – Porsche 911 RSR
  • Project 1 – Porsche 911 RSR
  • Beechdean AMR – Aston Martin Vantage
  • TF Sport – Aston Martin Vantage

15 cars.

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This was a hard one. Firstly, here’s what we know about Ferrari entries. Keating Motorsport got an IMSA invite, and Risi is assisting, so that means it will most likely be a Ferrari 488 that is run. Teams such as Clearwater, MR Racing and Spirit of Race are expected to return to WEC full time, so will be on the grid. Tracy Krohn has announced his return to ACO competition and will be in a AF Corse run Ferrari in ELMS, with the intention of a Le Mans entry.

JMW Motorsports were awarded two invites (which should make up for being dropped to make way for the Ford army a couple of years ago), but will most likely only take up one. Team FIST AAI received two invites for the AsLMS GT title and GT runners up spot. The team has run a Corvette at Le Mans before, but given the AsLMS entries were with a Ferrari, BMW and Mercedes, a Ferrari is the most likely. Ebimotors won their title with a Lamborghini, so the car listed here is a complete guess – but the line of least resistance would be an AF Corse run Ferrari.

Dempsey-Proton and Proton in the non-Dempsey form are expected to return, as is Gulf Racing. Project 1 announced a Super Season entry as well.

The Aston Martin effort that is normally staffed by Paul Dalla Lana and his faithful companions Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda may sit out the Super Season in favour of some other events. Paul, who funds the entry, wants to be competitive the the new Aston isn’t available for the Am class yet. The break would also allow him to pursue other events for 18 months.

Aston Martin will still be represented in the Am class however, as Beechdean and TF Sport look almost certain to file entries.

Reserves

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  • BAR1 – Riley Mk 30
  • IDEC Sport – Ligier JS P217
  • ARC Bratislava – Ligier JS P217
  • Eurasia – Ligier JS P217
  • BBT – Ligier JS P217
  • Larbre Competition – Ligier JS P217
  • Duqueine Engineering – Oreca 07
  • M.Racing – YMR – Ligier JS P217
  • A Porsche team I’ve probably forgotten about – Porsche 911 RSR
  • A randomly branded AF Corse Ferrari – Ferrari 488 GTE.

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10 cars.

I think a lot of LMP2 teams will be disappointed. Teams like IDEC Sport, ARC Bratislava, Eurasia and BBT all deserve entries, but there are simply too many cars. Larbre hoping for an entry off the back of an LMP3 season is hopeful too.

The Riley is simply not ready for Le Mans. It wasn’t ready last year, and from what we’ve seen at Daytona it still isn’t ready now. Although many would like to see it on the grid, there’s a good chance that it won’t make it.

What may change all of this is if politics come into play. Does the ACO want the fourth chassis represented? Does the ACO want more Ligier to try and balance our the WEC Oreca-fest? It wouldn’t be unheard of.

How right are wrong am I going to be? Let me know in the comments. We’ll find out what percentage I get right by the end of the week.

Engineering student, lover of all things technical and lifelong motorsport fan. Employed in the Oil & Gas Industry, developing Major Emergency Management simulations. Owner of the best beard on the site.