The grid for the European Le Mans Series has received a huge boost ahead of the 2014 season with a massive 42 full season entries received from teams representing 12 different nations.
In LMP2 reigning champions Signatech Alpine have increased their presence with a two car entry for the teams Nissan powered Alpine A450. 2013 drivers champion Nelson Panciatici will head the driver line up in the first car and LMPC Champion Paul-Loup Chatin in the second.
2012 champions Thiriet by TDS Racing have switched chassis in 2014, running a Nissan powered Ligier JS P2 for former champion and 2013 race winner Pierre Thiriet. British team Jota Sport, who also notched up a race win in 2013, are one of three teams using the Zytek Z11SN chassis with Nissan power and Simon Dolan will be the lead driver once again. The other two Zytek teams are Caterham Racing, with Chris Dyson, and Greaves Motorsport with Tom Kimber-Smith.
The Morgan chassis will also be used by three teams. Two -Newblood by Morand Racing and Larbre Competition – will have Judd power, while the third, Pegasus Racing, will have a Nissan engine in the back of the LMP2 class car.
Boutsen Ginion Racing, Sebastien Loeb Racing, Race Performance and Murphy Prototypes will complete the 13 car grid and will all run the Oreca03 chassis with Nissan power.
In LMGTE Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin are represented. In total there will be 8 Ferrari 458 Italias on the grid in Silverstone and AF Corse will run two for Piergiuseppe Perazzini and Duncan Cameron. Austrian team, AT Racing will run a single 458 entry, as will Team Sofrev-ASP, JMW Motorsport and 2013 ELMS GTC Champions SMP Racing for 2010 FIA GT1 World Champion Andrea Bertolini. Kessel Racing will complete the Ferrari line up in LMGTE with a two car entry for the Swiss team.
Four Porsche 911 GT3 RSRs will be on the LMGTE grid, with IMSA Performance Matmut running two 911s for Erik Maris and Raymond Narac. Crucible Sport will enter one 911for Francois Perrodo and Gulf Racing will run a single Porsche 911 for Michael Wainwright and also an Aston Martin Vantage for Roald Goethe.
The GTC class will be the largest of the three in 2014 with the majority of the grid will be made up of Ferrari 458 Italia GT3s. However there will also be an Audi R8, BMW Z4 and a pair of McLarens.
Danish team Formula Racing will field a single Ferrari 458 for four times 24 Heures du Mans class winner Jan Magnussen while 2013 class champions SMP Racing return with three Ferrari 458s for Fabio Babini, Boris Rotenberg and Stephane Ortelli. AF Corse go one better and will run four cars in the GTC class, with Yannick Mallegol, Mads Radsmussen, Per Nielsen and Adrien De Leener being named as the lead drivers in each of the cars.
Team Sofrev-ASP will run a GTC spec 458 alongside their LMGTE Ferrari in 2014 with Christophe Bourret heading the driver line up. Team Ukraine make up the Ferrari grid in GTC with a two car entry for two Ukrainian drivers, Andriy Kruglyk and Rusian Tsyplakov.
One Porsche will be racing in GTC, Franck Perera will be the first driver of the Pro GT By Almeras French team. Sebastien Loeb Racing are running the single Audi R8 LMS ultra entry for Henri Hassid, while Team Russia by Barwell will run a BMW Z4 GT3 for former British GT3 Champion Leo Machitski. ART Grand Prix will run a pair of McLaren GT3 MP4 12c with Mexican Ricardo Gonzalez and Estonian Kevin Korjus.
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO, said: “The European Le Mans Series is a very important category in the world of endurance and, as the promoter,the ACO is very pleased to see such a big number of entries for the 2014 season. The ACO will offer the overall winners in each class automatic entry to the 2015 24 Heures du Mans, a prize that is of significant interest to all competitors in the European Le Mans Series. We look forward to seeing who will be the champions at the end of the 2014 season.”
Gerard Neveu, CEO of the European Le Mans Series, said: “This is an incredible grid for the second season of the relaunched European Le Mans Series and we are extremely happy that the teams and drivers have decided that this series offers what they want from a European endurance championship. It means that at every race in 2014 the ELMS will offer the fans the most incredible spectacle on track as 42 cars battle it out over five 4-hour races to see who will become a European champion at the end of the 2014 season.
“The five races are on some of the best tracks in Europe. Four are the same as in 2013 – Silverstone, Imola, Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard – and we are very happy to be taking the ELMS back to Estoril for the season finale in October. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our partners, especially Michelin, for their continued support. We hope you will join us in 2014.”
The 2014 European Le Mans Series will get underway at Silverstone on the 19 April but before then the teams and drivers will travel to the South of France for the official test at Circuit Paul Ricard on the 1st and 2nd April.