The European Le Mans Series in the WEC aspiration

The European Le Mans Series displays an ever-larger and more attractive field for its new season between young guns from single-seaters and regulars in the discipline, including well-known faces from the WEC. Presentation of the 2024 season of the continental championship.

Published on 14/04/2024 à 10:10

Valentin GLO

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The European Le Mans Series in the WEC aspiration


The LM P2 category is going well, thank you for it. If this class was removed from the FIA WEC to leave more room for manufacturers, it will remain the main attraction of the European Le Mans Series this season. Oreca 07 fans will be able to continue to appreciate the prototypes from the Signes (Var) firm in the six rounds of the European championship as well as in the 24 Hours of Le Mans (June 15-16), where 16 places are allocated to them. In ELMS, 22 will be there: 14 in LM P2, 8 in Pro-Am.

Title holder, the Algarve Pro Racing team will be there, but has considerably changed its victorious crew in 2023. Alex Lynn, Cadillac driver in the World ChampionshipEndurance of the FIA, is the only one still present, James Allen now wearing the colors of Duqueine while Kyffin Simpson now plays across the Atlantic, in IndyCar. The Briton will now be associated with Matthias Kaiser and Olli Caldwell in the Portuguese team's only car entered in LM P2 Pro.

Chatin replaces Habsburg at Barcelona

The Swiss COOL Racing team will once again be one to watch with two high-level crews. In the No. 37, Lorenzo Fluxá (19 years old), Malthe Jakobsen (20 years old) and Ritomo Miyata (24 years old) will form a very young trio, but formidable with its burst of speed. Two of them are also reserve manufacturers in Hypercar, Jakobsen at Peugeot and Miyata at Toyota, and each had the opportunity to sit behind the wheel of an LMH. The second car, number 47, should be driven by the Mexican Alejandro García, the Dane Frederik Vesti, reserve Mercedes en Formula 1, and the Frenchman Paul-Loup Chatin, who will replace the Austrian Ferdinand Habsburg, due to his accident during a test session in Aragon (Spain) with Alpine for at least the 4 Hours of Barcelona, ​​opening round of the season.

Two other drivers from the A arrowed firm are expected in Barcelona for the opening of the season, since Charles Milesi will play for Panis Racing (now supported by TDS), accompanied by Manuel Maldonado, cousin of Pastor, and Arthur Leclerc, younger brother by Charles. Matthieu Vaxiviere will support François Perrodo alongside Alessio Rovera at AF Corse in LM P2 Pro-Am.

Delétraz and Kubica inseparable

Several other names from the WEC Hypercar category will double up with the ELMS this year. Robert Kubica (AF Corse) will compose a high-flying crew at AO by TF with his inseparable friend Louis Delétraz and the Briton Jonny Edgar. The Pole and the Swiss will aim for a second title after the one acquired in 2021 at WRT by being associated with Yifei Ye. Paul di Resta remains loyal to United Autosports in parallel with his commitment to Peugeot and will have as teammates the winner of the 24 2023 Hours of Le Mans in LM P2 with Inter Europol Competition (IEC), Fabio Scherer, as well as the American Bijoy Garg. Will Stevens, second in Qatar with Hertz Team JOTA, will form an interesting crew at Nielsen Racing with the experienced David Heinemeier Hansson and the young British-licensed Chilean, Nico Pino.

A former Vanwall driver at the senior level, Tom Dillmann will represent Inter Europol Competition in the No. 43 alongside Mexican Sebastian Alvarez and Franco-Russian Vladislav Lomko. Another tricolor will be present on the No. 34 of the Marki team (Poland) in the person of Clément Novalak, who will have Oliver Gray and Luca Ghiotto at his side. Winner at Le Mans with IEC last year, Spaniard Albert Costa has found refuge with Nielsen Racing in LM P2 Pro-Am where he will be accompanied by John Falb and Colin Noble in the No. 24. Another notable headliner in LM P2: Felipe Drugovich. The Brazilian, reservist Aston Martin F1, will start in place of Frenchman Gabriel Aubry at Vector Sport, alongside Ryan Cullen and Monegasque Stéphane Richelmi, winner of the 24 2016 Hours of Le Mans (LM P2) with Signatech-Alpine and who marks his return to Endurance for the first time since 2019. Grégoire Saucy will make his debut in sport-proto and will be able to learn from the experienced Rodrigo Sales and Mathias Beche at Richard Mille by TDS.

Endurance, a new outlet

Like the Brazilian and the Swiss, pilot McLaren-United Autosports in the WEC, many young drivers from the car saw the ELMS as a way out, hoping to get a ride in Hypercar later. Proof that the new golden age of Endurance does not only concern the highest level of the pyramid, but also trickles down to the lower levels, opening new perspectives to those who see the path to Formula 1 closing. Even some who have experienced this Holy Grail find opportunities to stretch the thread of their career, like Nelsinho Piquet (28 Grands Prix, 1 podium), a newcomer to Virage.

To the 22 LM P2s will be added 10 LM P3s and 11 cars in the new LMGT3 category for a total of 43 cars on the starting grid, which constitutes a new record for the continental championship.

Manu Collard still present

The first list of LMGT3 cars in ELMS will be mainly composed of Ferrari 296, with no less than six racing cars bearing the Prancing Horse logo. The double category winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (GT in 2003, LM P2 in 2009), Emmanuel Collard (53 years old) will ride in the AF Corse n°51 alongside Charles-Henri Samani and Ulysse de Pauw. The young Esteban Masson, who races in the WEC in a Lexus, will reunite with Kessel Racing as well as Takeshi Kimura and Daniel Serra with whom he drove at the 8 Hours of Bahrain (WEC) last November. Two Aston Martin Vantages will be in the running, notably Frenchman Valentin Hasse-Clot in the #59 Racing Spirit of Léman alongside Derek Deboer and Casper Stevenson. The only Lamborghini Huracán GT3 will be operated by Iron Lynx with the GTP driver in IMSA Andrea Caldarelli.

The women's team will be counted on the fingers of one hand this year with only four representatives. The Iron Dames trio does not change and will still be made up of Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting and Rahel Frey, but unlike the WEC (where Dorian Pin replaces the Swiss) or in IMSA where they represent the firm of Sant'Agata Bolognese (Italy), it is on a Porsche 911 GT3 that the three will evolve. In LM P3, we will find the Spaniard Belén Garcia. The second Porsche will be operated by Proton Competition with another Hypercar driver at the wheel in the person of Julien Andlauer. Like all other Endurance championships, the European Le Mans Series, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year (taking into account its former names) has never been so popular.

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Valentin GLO

Journalist. Endurance reporter (WEC, IMSA, ELMS, ALMS) and sometimes F1 or IndyCar.

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