The full-season entry list for the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship was today revealed during an online press conference broadcast from the home of endurance racing, Le Mans.

 

The 2017 grid will be made up of 28 cars from 11 different nations, offering proof that the continues to attract teams from across the globe wishing to compete at the highest level in endurance racing.  A well balanced, stable calendar is one of the keys to this magnetic appeal for manufacturers and teams, as are regulations which promote strong technological competition and innovation, at the same time as controlling any escalation of expenditure. 

 

Two-time World Champion in the top LMP1 category, Porsche, never sits back on its laurels – no matter how successful it is, and the German manufacturer will be more than prepared for the battle ahead with Toyota in 2017. The highly-sophisticated prototypes which feature complex, state-of-the-art hybrid systems will see drivers of the highest calibre in both teams, and the level of competition will be intense and unrelenting.  The widely differing technology and operating systems developed and used by Porsche and Toyota for their motorsport programmes form part of the crossover of technology to the manufacturers’ production vehicles, reinforcing the relevance of the WEC within today’s world of motorsport.

 

 

Joining the factory competitors will be the Austrian ByKolles Racing Team which shows great fidelity to the WEC. After a challenging 2016, the team has worked hard over the winter on chassis developments and mechanical reliability, and has forged a new partnership with NISMO to power the ENSO CLM P1/01-Nismo. 

ORECA 07s go head-to-head in LMP2 in hands of teams old and new

 

The LMP2 grid will, for the third year in succession, consist of 10 entries but in contrast to previous seasons there is one chassis of choice from the teams entered: the ORECA 07.  For 2017 the regulations offer a significant increase in performance to entice competitors, and there are names across the category both familiar and new to the WEC. Joining 2016 LMP2 champions Signatech Alpine Matmut will be multiple-WEC-championship-winning Rebellion Racing, the Swiss team this year re-named Vaillante Rebellion.  Manor returns to consolidate its claim on victory in the WEC, planning to use all it learned in its debut year and operating two cars under the name of CEFC Manor TRS Racing. 

 

Also returning and strengthening China’s presence in the WEC is Jackie Chan DC Racing team which increases its commitment to the WEC with a two-car team.  A new team is welcomed to LMP2 from the ELMS ranks – TDS Racing from France, and it will be collaborating on an operational level with Russia’s G-Drive Racing.

 

 

Boosted by the creation of the FIA World Endurance Championship for GTE Drivers and Manufacturers, the competition in the LMGTE Pro class will be hotter and tighter than ever.  Porsche’s new generation 911 RSR is a mid-engined design, a big evolution in the history of the marque’s top GT model, and there is much anticipation about the yet-to-be announced drivers who will be joining Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen.

 

Returning to challenge for championship victory will be two Ferrari 488 GTEs from AF Corse, looking to repeat the Italian manufacturer’s success of recent years, two of the radical Ford GTs from Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK which were introduced in 2016 and which achieved several triumphs in their debut year, and two Aston Martin Vantages from the British manufacturer for the model’s final year before a new one is introduced in 2018.  All are experienced WEC race winners.

 

The LMGTE Am class features three different marques among the five entries, and includes Clearwater Racing from Singapore which has moved to the WEC from the Asian Le Mans Series and which will run a Ferrari 488 GTE. Alongside Aston Martin Racing, Gulf Racing and Dempsey-Proton Racing (both racing Porsche 911 RSR 991s), one further new name will be seen on the entry lists.  The AF Corse-supported Spirit of Race team will also compete with a Ferrari 488 GTE.

 

The WEC calendar features nine rounds across five continents, with the third round being the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the jewel in the crown of international endurance racing.   The season opens with the 6 Hours of Silverstone on 16 April, moves on to Spa-Francorchamps (6 May), Le Mans (17-18 June) and the Nürburgring (16 July) in Europe before heading overseas to Mexico (3 September), Circuit of The Americas, Austin (16 September), Fuji (15 October), Shanghai (5 November) and Bahrain (18 November) for the second half of the season.

 

Images: FIA/WEC