Endurance championships started their season with the traditional press conference held in the luxurious headquarters of Potel & Chabot, well known hosting and catering firm in Paris.
The glamorous event in Cambon Capucines pavilion gave also the opportunity to clear up some rumours that had livened up past months, even if the final entry list will be confirmed only at the eve of the first race.
Starting from ELMS, after three years the series comes back to four categories with the addition of P3: at the present moment all the 7 cars listed are Ginetta-Juno, the only prototype that suits rules, but in the next months the homologation of new models could attract new entries. Good news also from P2 category with twelve entries: while Alpine and Morand team upgrade to WEC, Krohn Racing, Algarve, both with a Ligier JSP2 each, and Ibanez Racing with an Oreca 03R probably rebranded Wolf GB08, will join the championship. The last one will race under San Marino flag and under the technical profile the car will be managed by Bellarosa family.
Among the new entries also the Gibson 015S, an evolution of the old Zytek that required a new homologation, and the BR01, a completely new project by Paolo Catone for SMP team.
Another reason for interest is the arrival of Eurasia team with an Oreca 03R after his experience in ALMS, while the first Oreca 05 will be raced by TDS, which in search of more competitiveness has recently changed different models.
GTE category will continue with nine cars, among wich six Ferraris, while GTC lists 6 cars: nevertheless in the past year this class lived thanks to one shot entries, and probably, the same thing is also expected during this year.
By the way, the race calendar is a photocopy of the previous season one, and 34 entries in a championship that recently was considered already dead, are a good result. (2015 ELMS entry list)
The great news about WEC is the return of P2 cars, after a substantial absence during the past season: in effect from three-five cars in 2014, the class jumps up to ten announced cars for this season, listing well-known racing brands as Ligier, HDP, Morgan, Dome and Oreca, ready to battle in the championship.
Excellent the quality of entries in P1 class, with the new Nissan GT—LM Nismo, unveiled same days ago during Superbowl, joining the ranks of the powerful prototypes.
During the press conference the team made official his drivers with Pla, Tincknell, Matsuda and the already announced Gené.
In Audi team Jarvis replaces Kristensen, while in Toyota Conway takes over the seat of Lapierre. Among not-hybrid prototypes, team Rebellion decided to replace Toyota engine with the AER one, following the path traced during previous year by CLM: this one should carry on his P1 program with a widely modified, even if doubts endures about Kolles management.
GTPro is expected to live on another episode of the challenge between Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin, with the British team lining up the two driver crews of the past and a third one for the Danes that in the last season raced in GTAm. In this class it is welcome the return of team Larbre with a Corvette, after the flash in the 2014 season with a P2 car. SMP team reduces his commitment, racing in the world championship with a Ferrari in GTAm, while for the first time Dempsey races in the championship, always in partnership with Proton team.
The calendar is a little different with the replacement of Sao Paulo date with a race at Nurburgring scheduled at the end of August. (2015 WEC entry list)
Obviously, a large part of the press conference was devoted to the main event of the season: the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There is not any entries of cars with new technologies, since Aco judged not sufficiently interesting the received dossiers. Furthermore, the reserves are not split for category, but there is only one list and team will be asked to possible replacements in the assigned order.
In P1, one Audi, one Nissan and one Porsche will join the group of cars already listed for WEC. During the press conference, Bamber and Tandy were officially named as Hulkemberg’s team mates in the third 919. All these three cars will be admitted to race in Spa-Francochamps event as training. Toyota confirmed the only two entries of the past years, being short of resources to manage a third car.
P2 lines up an amazing list of twenty cars, coming both from WEC and ELMS. The class enjoys the return of Nicolet, manufacturer and driver who hasn’t resisted to the impulse of coming back to race after a one year stop, this time with a Ligier.
GtPro lists nine entries, with the addition of two semi-official Corvette to those already listed for WEC, while in GTAm thirteen cars will contend the class, among which two outdated Porsche 911 Gt3-RSR raced by Taiwaneese AAI team. (2015 Le Mans 324 Hours entry list)
Among the other news communicated during the conference, also the decision to appoint Kristensen, who retired from his race career in 2014, as Grand Marshal of 2015 24 Hours. News also from the front of security, with great improvements in the section from Mulsanne to the first Porsche bend, with a wider way of escape and further protections for near inhabited areas. Particularly interesting the decisions about the Slow Zone, one of the most appreciated measures introduced during past year event: their number will be risen in order to reduce the length, while the speed will be limited from 60 to 80 Km/h.
Finally, ACO in the context of his effort to reduce costs, decided to reduce the number of tyre sets for each car, especially in P1 class.