The Michelin Le Mans Cup continues to grow with another big increase in the number of full season entries for the 2018 season across the LMP3 and GT3 classes: 29 cars will fight on track to win the title.
The LMP3 class has attracted a massive 23 car entry, underlying the importance of the category in the endurance racing ladder. There are several teams returning for a second season, many fielding multi car entries, with new teams joining the grid to take up the challenge on six of the toughest race tracks in Europe. The large field will see Ligier, Norma and Ginetta go head to head.
2017 Champions DKR Engineering are back to defend their title with the n°3 Norma M30 – Nissan driven by a brand new driver line up of Léonard Hoogenboom from the Netherlands and Germany’s Jens Petersen.
2017 Vice Champions Tony Wells and Colin Noble return to try and win the title they lost out on last season. Nielsen Racing will be racing under the Ecurie Ecosse / Nielsen banner in 2018 with a two car effort. Tony Wells will be in the no2 Ligier with James Littlejohn and Colin Noble in the no79 Ligier with fellow Scot Alasdair McCaig.
United Autosports will return with an increased three car entry with Matt Bell and Wayne Boyd being joined by American James McGuire and Briton Richard Meins, with American Najaf Husain and Colin Braun in the third entry. RLR M Sport will field two cars in 2018 with Ross Warburton and Alex Kapadia also returning this season.
French team Graff are entering three LMP3 in the 2018 series, while Swiss outfit Cool Racing are stepping up their efforts with a two-car entry. Motorsport 98 and Spirit of Race are both returning with an unchanged line-up.
Japanese team TKS, which raced at Road to Le Mans in 2017, will enter the only Ginetta P3-15 on the 2018 grid with Shinyo Sano as the lead driver.
New on the grid will be British teams Brookspeed International and Lanan Racing, both with a one car full season effort with Brookspeed running a Ligier and Lanan a Norma M30. There are also two new French teams: DB Autosport and CD Sport who are both racing Normas M30-Nissans.
The LMP3 grid is completed by single car entries from N’Race from France and Spanish team SPV Racing.
The GT3 grid sees the return of 2017 champions Ebimotors, the Italian team opting to swap their championship winning Lamborghini for a Porsche 911 GT3 R with Paolo Venerosi and Alessandro Baccani sharing the driving duties. The Italians will defend their title against a brace of Ferrari 488 GT3s.
Swiss team Kessel Racing will enter no less than three 488s with two Italian and one British driver crews. Giacomo Piccini and Sergio Pianezzola will race the no8 Ferrari, with Andrea Piccini and Claudio Schiavoni in the no77 car. Ollie Hancock and John Hartshorne will team up in the no50 F488.
Spirit of Race are back for a third season in the Michelin Le Mans Cup with Christoph Ulrich and Maurizio Mediani in the no51 Ferrari. AF Corse complete the six-car line up with Marco Cioci and Piergiuseppe Perazzini sharing the no71 F488.
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO, said: “Three years after announcing the Michelin Le Mans Cup I am very happy to see the grid significantly increase in size once again. The 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup will feature some of the top teams and drivers from the world of endurance. The series also gives bronze drivers the maximum amount of track time on some of the best circuits in Europe and the fact the grid has increased by nearly 50% in 2018 is testament to appeal of the Michelin Le Mans Cup. The Road to Le Mans also attracts drivers and teams looking to compete on the full circuit at La Sarthe, giving them the opportunity to showcase their talents.”
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, said: “The Michelin Le Mans Cup continues to grow stronger and we are extremely pleased to see a healthy 29 car grid for the 2018 season. The LMP3 class is the endurance racing success story and with 18 cars in the European Le Mans Series there will be 41 LMP3 cars from three different manufacturers at each of the race meetings in 2018, which will be a phenomenal sight. More than ever the Michelin Le Mans Cup turns out to be a great platform to move up the Endurance ladder; to compete in the European Le Mans Series and, for the best, race in the WEC and at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. There promises to be some great racing in the Michelin Le Mans Cup this season.”
The 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup will start at the Circuit Paul Ricard with the collective test on 11 April followed by round one at the same venue on the 14 April.
CLICK HERE to download the 2018 season entry list.
Photo : Le Mans Cup