WEC: the 2016 calendar has been recently approved by the FIA World Motor Sport Council with a minor change for the 6 Hours of Mexico City, now set for September 3 instead of September 4. ACO President Pierre Fillon is continuing to push for giving the World Championship status to the GT Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ Titles, which have been awarded as FIA Endurance Cups so far. In these days the 2015 ELMS GTE Champion Team Formula Racing has confirmed it will take part in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTE AM category with a Ferrari 458 Italia GTC. The crew will be made up of the reigning ELMS GTE Champions Mikkel Mac and Johnny Laursen, who will be joined by Christina Nielsen. For the Danish female driver this will be the second programme with a Ferrari squad after that with Scuderia Corsa in the IWSC. This weekend Porsche has announced that its factory-supported and Proton Competition-entered 991 GT3 RSR will be present in the Championship in the GTE PRO class under the Dempsey Proton Racing banner and with the defending GT Drivers’ Champion Richard Lietz and Michael Christensen at the wheel. The German Manufacturer has also revealed that at the 24 Hours of Le Mans there will be the addition of the two Porsche North America cars competing in the IWSC. At the French marathon Lietz and Christensen will be flanked by Wolf Henzler. In the GTE AM ranks Dempsey Proton Racing is expected to have at least one 991 GT3 RSR for all the season, while Aston Martin Racing has said that its V8 Vantage GTE will be in the hands of Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda and Paul Dalla Lana.
Blancpain GT Series: with Marc VDS Racing Team leaving Auto Racing, Rowe Racing switched from Mercedes to BMW. After this move it has become a works-supported Team of the Bavarian Constructor and will line up two M6 GT3s in next year’s Blancpain GT Series. Although its drivers have not been defined yet, Rowe Racing is expected to join the GT3 PRO category. Car Collection Motorsport will abandon Mercedes as well, moving to Audi, and is evaluating a programme in the series that could see the Team enter two R8 LMS GT3s in one or two different classes. Lamborghini has confirmed that Barwell Motorsport will be one of its factory-supported squads. Currently the Italian Manufacturer and the Russian Team are working together to arrange a project in the series. Attempto Racing and AH Competiçoes Team Brasil, after interrupting their collaboration with McLaren and BMW respectively, have planned to race in the Championship alongside Lamborghini too, managing two Huracàn GT3s each. A decision about the category in which they will run their cars has yet to be made. In closing ROAL Motorsport is likely to compete with two BMWs.
Blancpain Endurance Series: ARC Bratislava has not hidden its intention of being part of the Championship with a Lamborghini. More details about the chosen class will be revealed later. The same can be said for Konrad Motorsport, which has manifested the purpose of bringing on track at least one Lamborghini. The 2015 GT3 PRO AM Champion squad AF Corse and 2015 GT3 PRO AM Runner-up Team Kessel Racing still have to announce their plans.
IWSC: Ferrari, Ford, Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche and BMW will take part in next year’s series in the GTLM ranks. Every Constructor except Ferrari will certainly count on a two-car effort. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will be on the grid with two Ford GTs, Corvette Racing will operate two Chevrolet Corvette C7.Rs, Porsche North America will line up two 991 GT3 RSRs and BMW Team RLL will enter two BMW M6 GTLMs. On the contrary the situation of Ferrari is still evolving. For sure Risi Competizione will participate with a Ferrari 488 GTE and a second Maranello car will be run at the 24 Hours of Daytona by the three times WEC GTE PRO Champion squad AF Corse under the SMP Racing banner; the crew has already been presented and will be made up of Gianmaria Bruni, Toni Vilander, Andrea Bertolini and Victor Shaytar. A third 488 GTE could race at the Floridian marathon thanks to Scuderia Corsa and may potentially turn out to become a second-car effort of the Italian Manufacturer for all the season. What is certain is that this eventual GTLM programme of the 2015 GTD Champion Team will not affect that planned in GTD, in which Scuderia Corsa will have at least one Ferrari 488 GT3 with Nielsen among the selected drivers. In these days Aston Martin has reached an agreement with IMSA to be an official Automotive partner, thus TRG-AMR will bring on track two V12 Vantage GT3s both at the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring and Aston Martin Racing will be present in these two events as well with an additional GTD entry. TRG-AMR will announce at a later date its plans for the rest of the Championship, maybe trying to achieve the GTD Manufacturers’, Team and Drivers’ Titles, lost this year against Ferrari. Stevenson Motorsport has confirmed it will be at the start of the 2016 IWSC with two Audis instead of one, while Park Place Motorsports has finally agreed to take part in the challenge with a 991 GT3 R. O’Gara Motorsport could expand into a two-Lamborghini operation later in the season. An AF Corse Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 will be at Daytona and Sebring and it will be driven by Marco Cioci, Matteo Cressoni, Raffaele Giammaria and Peter Mann at the twice-around-the-clock and by Cressoni, Giammaria and Mann at the once-around-the-clock. According to Sportscar365, Mercedes will not be represented in the first races: “the German Manufacturer does not have the immediate capacity to support customer entries” in GTD. Of note Brumos Automotive, which used to compete in the most important North American Championships as Brumos Racing, have been sold, with Brumos name which could be replaced by Fields.
ELMS: as happens in the Blancpain GT Series, ACO will provide prize money to the winners of each of the categories after every event and additionally at the end of the season. Dunlop will remain the only tyre supplier in GTE and no adjustments will be made to the composition of crews. The 2015 GTE Champion squad Formula Racing will return to the European series next year, lining up a Ferrari 458 Italia GTC for Mac, Laursen and Nielsen – the same crew designated for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Mac and Laursen make a very competitive Pro-Am pairing and they have shown it this year, winning the GTE Drivers’ Title together with Andrea Rizzoli. Nielsen, who is one of the best Silver-rated drivers and definitely the most valid female in Endurance, will be allowed to participate in both the IWSC and ELMS thanks to the fact that there will not be any clash between the two Championships. In the 2016 season Formula Racing will continue to commission the technical management of its car to AF Corse. Chevrolet Corvette will be back to ELMS for 2016. In fact a C7.R, based on the 2015 regulations and used in the 2015 Tudor USCC by Corvette Racing, will be entered under the Team AAI banner by ProSpeed Competition, involved with Porsche in the ELMS and Blancpain Endurance Series in the last years – but absent from racing in 2015. Team AAI would like to be at the start of the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans not only for its AsianLMS programme with BMW, but also through its new ELMS project with Chevrolet Corvette and ProSpeed Competition. So far we can say four different Constructors may animate the 2016 series: Ferrari, Chevrolet Corvette, Porsche and Aston Martin. With Ferrari and Chevrolet Corvette certain to join the ranks, Porsche is expected to be among the GTE Team and Drivers’ Titles contenders and Aston Martin is planning to support Beechdean AMR.
Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup: the new GT3 Championship organized by the ACO, which substitutes the GTC class of the ELMS, will accept only crews composed of two drivers, with one of them who will have to be Bronze-rated. Five of the six rounds in calendar, those to be held in the same weekend of the ELMS at Imola, Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard, Spa-Francorchamps and Estoril, will last two hours, while the sixth, which will take place at the Circuit de la Sarthe together with the WEC before the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be of one hour and will also allow the participation of the LMP3 cars. Michelin will obviously be the tyre supplier and a prize money will be awarded at the end of the season to the Champions. FF Corse will compete in the series with a Ferrari 488 GT3, which will be shared by the 2013 ELMS GTE Champion Johnny Mowlem and Ivor Dunbar. Currently Car Collection Motorsport, Barwell Motorsport and ROAL Motorsport, representing Audi, Lamborghini and BMW respectively, are evaluating a programme not only in the Blancpain GT Series, but also in the Michelin GT3 Le Mans Cup.
*We have to advise that two mistakes were reported in the “Quick” news article published on November 11. In fact the 2016/2017 AsianLMS calendar will feature four rounds of 4 hours each – not of 2 or 3 hours – while the Intercontinental GT Challenge event alongside Pirelli World Challenge at the Circuit of The Americas was subjected to a change that has brought its duration from 3 to 6 hours – we did not mention this in our piece.