Huge contingent at the prologue of the WEC 2018/19
The private competition from Manor and SMP brings two cars as well as the Toyota factory team. The Japanese have to do without three regular riders for the prologue: Fernando Alonso is missing in the prologue, Kazuki Nakajima and Kamui Kobayashi are also on the road at the Super GT season opener in Okayama.
“When it was clear that we would miss three riders in the prologue, we didn’t have to look far,”says a Toyota spokesman,”Alex has a lot of experience and he is still fully involved in the processes and developments. In his role as LMP1 consultant, he is present at all races and almost all tests. He also often attends technical meetings. He’s perfectly qualified to jump back into the car and do a good job.”
Spare driver Anthony Davidson, who had to leave his fixed place in the squad for Fernando Alonso, is also scheduled to be a test driver in Le Castellet. Sebastien Buemi and Mike Conway were named for both vehicles. While DragonSpeed has completed its LMP1 squad with Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Renger van der Zande, there are still many gaps in competing top-class private teams.
At SMP there are no drivers on the provisional entry list. However, one can safely assume that newcomer Stephane Sarrazin in Le Castellet will do a lot of work in the new Dallara BR1-AER. Oliver Webb will act for ByKolles, for the two Manor ginettas only Charlie Robertson and Oliver Rowland are named. It’s no secret that we are talking and that I’ve already tested,”says the Pole, who is a substitute driver for the Williams 2018 Formula 1 team.
In the LMP2 class, it is noticeable that a Jackie Chan DC vehicle – at least in the prologue – is manned by three drivers from Malaysia. The Oreca-Gibson with the start number 37 will be controlled by Jazeman Jaafar, Weiron Tan and Nabil Jeffri, in the sister car (“Mighty #38”) Ho-Pin Tung and the Frenchman Gabriel Aubry will act. In addition to Roberto Gonzalez, DragonSpeed has also called ex-Formula 1 pilot Esteban Gutierrez.
In the GTE-Pro class, the new cars from BMW (M8 GTE) and Aston Martin (Vantage AMR) will meet the new version of the Ferrari 488 GTE EVO and the familiar cars from Porsche (911 RSR) and Ford (GT). The factory teams in the heavily manned category are named with full staff for testing purposes. In the GTE Am class, Proton has registered for the two 911 RSR Matt Campbell (#88) and Christian Ried and Matteo Cairoli (#77).
For the first time the teams are allowed to use the prologue for a long distance test over a total of 30 hours. Not all teams will actually make use of this possibility. The LMP1 class has been renamed a Toyota, the Rebellion Oreca, the ByKolles car and both SMP cars for the night-time endurance race. In the GTE-Pro, both Porsche 911 RSRs as well as one BMW and one Aston Martin each will run for over 30 hours. From the amateur class all Ferraris as well as the Porsche of Project 1 were registered for the endurance test.
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