Thursday, 8 March 2018

Michelin Le Mans Cup expands to 29 car grid

The Michelin Le Mans Cup continues to grow with another big increase in the number of full season entries for the 2018 season. No less than 29 cars will be on the grid for the first race at Le Castellet in April. 23 LMP3's and 6 GT3's will battle it out for this years title.

© Michelin Le Mans Cup

The LMP3 class grows up to a massive 23 cars this season, showing the success and importance the class has reached in the endurance racing ladder. Several teams are returning for their second season in the championship, many of them with multi-car entries. Other new teams are also joining the championship for six races around Europe, including the season highlight at Le Mans. For the first time, three manufacturers will be present in the Michelin Le Mans Cup with Ligier, Norma and the return of one Ginetta.

DKR Engineering returns to defend its 2017 title, although with a new driver line-up. Last years champions Jean Glorieux and Alexander Toril are moving up to the European Le Mans Series this year, chasing down the European title. They will be replaced by Dutchman Léonard Hoogenboom and Jens Petersen from Germany. 2017 Vice Champions Tony Wells and Colin Noble return for a second shot at the title, in a 2-car effort by Nielsen Racing. 

United Autosports also returns and will lead the field with no less than three Ligier JSP3's. Matt Bell and Wayne Boyd will be joined by American James McGuire and Briton Richard Meins, with American Najaf Husain and Colin Braun in the third entry. French team Graff will also enter three cars, split between two Ligiers and one Norma. Swiss outfit Cool Racing is stepping up their efforts with a two-car entry. Motorsport 98 and Spirit of Race are both returning with an unchanged line-up. RLR M Sport also expands to two cars this season. Ross Warburton and Alex Kapadia will be joined by John Farano & Job Van Uitert.

A new face on the grid will be Japanese team TKS, which was invited for the Road to Le Mans race in 2017, and now enters the Michelin Le Mans Cup, bringing in the only Ginetta P3-15 on the 2018 grid for Shinyo Shano. Also new on the grid will be British teams Brookspeed International (Ligier) and Lanan Racing (Norma), both teams with on single car. There are also two new French teams: DB Autosport and CD Sport who are both racing Normas M30/Nissans. French teams Duqueine Engineering, N’Race and Spanish team SPV Racing complete the LMP3 grid for this season.

Despite the growth in LMP3, the GT3 grid stays on the same level with 6 cars confirmed for a full season campaign. Last season saw 4 manufacturers on the grid, in 2018 it's a battle of a lonely Porsche against 5 Ferrari's. 2017 champions Ebimotors return to defend their title but will switch their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for a brand new Porsche 911 GT3 R. A return for the team to Stuttgart's finest after racing with Porsche in the past. Paolo Venerosi and Alessandro Baccani will share the wheel of the 911. Kessel Racing arrives with 3 Ferrari F488 GT3's, with two Italian and one British driver crews. Spirit of Race are back for a third season in the Michelin Le Mans Cup with Christoph Ulrich and Maurizio Mediani in the #51 Ferrari. AF Corse complete the six-car line up with Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini sharing the #71 F488.

Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO: “Three years after announcing the Michelin Le Mans Cup I am very happy to see the grid significantly increase in size once again. The 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup will feature some of the top teams and drivers from the world of endurance. The series also gives bronze drivers the maximum amount of track time on some of the best circuits in Europe and the fact the grid has increased by nearly 50% in 2018 is testament to appeal of the Michelin Le Mans Cup. The Road to Le Mans also attracts drivers and teams looking to compete on the full circuit at La Sarthe, giving them the opportunity to showcase their talents.”

Gérard Neveu, CEO of the Michelin Le Mans Cup: “The Michelin Le Mans Cup continues to grow stronger and we are extremely pleased to see a healthy 29 car grid for the 2018 season. The LMP3 class is the endurance racing success story and with 18 cars in the European Le Mans Series there will be 41 LMP3 cars from three different manufacturers at each of the race meetings in 2018, which will be a phenomenal sight. More than ever the Michelin Le Mans Cup turns out to be a great platform to move up the Endurance ladder; to compete in the European Le Mans Series and, for the best, race in the WEC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There promises to be some great racing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup this season.” The 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup will start at the Circuit Paul Ricard with the collective test on 11 April followed by round one at the same venue on the 14 April.

Download the 2018 entry list here !

Kristof Vermeulen.

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