Four AMR cars confirmed for WEC and Le Mans

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Having now let the dust (or rather the snow in this case) settle after yesterdays ACO/FIA WEC announcements from Paris, what was first feared that a distinct downward turn in endurance racing would ensue following the withdrawal of the Porsche LMP1 team but actually that transpired into being any but..........!!

Starting with Thursday's European Le Mans Series confirmation that there would indeed be no Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GTE competing amongst it came as no real surprise as Salih Yoluc and his TF Sport team had already publicly declared their ambition to step up to the world stage in 2018.

For the ELMS, they had clearly and successfully served their purpose as being a stepping stone in the endurance racing ladder for those with aspirations - one that an ambitious Turk has grabbed with both hands.

For Beechdean AMR, their British GT announcement of this week clarified their position, being prepared to take a short GTE racing sabbatical but step back into the GT3 arena to maintain their skill sets whilst business commitments temporally keep team boss Andrew Howard away and otherwise from potentially stepping up into the world arena as well.

Then Friday's FIA WEC's announcements may not have raised any surprises in terms of Aston Martin Racing's and their customer team's participation, but maybe raised an eyebrow or two in the absence of any team confirmation.

Starting with those already mentioned, it was great to see the ACO and the WEC reward Yoluc's ambition with a confirmed full season entry into what will be an ultra competitive GTE Am field of nine cars and as part of that full season entry they also get a second year at Le Mans in what will be an incredible thirteen car GTE Am entry. As already announced by the team, that car will see a driver line up of Salih Yoluc, Euan Hankey and Charlie Eastwood or the WEC at least.

Staying in GTE Am, it was also great to see that team stalwart and reigning WEC GTE Am Champion Paul Dalla-Lana will indeed be sticking with the Banbury team for this evolutionary season having seen him compete most recently at Daytona and Bathurst in other OEM equipment.

Publicly disappointed not to be able to race the team's new GTE from the off in 2018, the lure of swapping over to the new chassis this time next year was obviously enough for the Canadian to commit to the team following his tests in the new car at Sebring late last year.

Again as a full season WEC entrant, their Le Mans entry is confirmed for himself and fellow GTE AM Champions Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda.

The two factory GTE Pro entries is where the eyebrows started to twitch. It was said to us at the official launch of the new GTE way back in November last year that the Le Mans winning #97 car would have a new driver appearance for 2018/19 and yesterdays announcements went part of the way to confirm that.

With the factory team also having active in the driver markets over the winter with the acquisition of two new big GT names coming into the fray, the continuation of a teams two driver line up preference was always going to generate 'casualties' within.

With 2018 now confirmed as starting at the Prologue (official test) in April, the first round proper will this time be at Spa Francorchamps and as this race will also be the pre-cursor to Le Mans it is fully expected that the #95 and #97 cars will field a triple driver squad going into that event and into Le Mans. After that is where we expect one name to be dropped from each car going into the next round at Silverstone in August before increasing again for the 12hours at Sebring, Spa and Le Mans again in 2019.

Yesterdays events confirmed that 2017 Le Mans winner Darren Turner would again become Danish and would rejoin the Dane Train of Marco Sorensen and Nicki Thiim (as he did at the start of 2016) in the #95 car whilst fellow Le Mans winner Jonny Adam would lead team newcomers Alex Lynn and Maxime Martin in the #97. For two Le Mans winning British drivers to potentially miss out at their 'home event' at Silverstone in August is disappointing for them and the fans if that were to be the case.

That is all we know at present, other than all GTE entrants into the WEC/LM24 have now made their way to Motorland Aragon in Spain for an intensive 4 day test. Hopefully social media will again play its part with the drivers and teams keeping us updated!

Photo credits - social media/AMR

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