Chicago, IL As part of its annual press conference at Le Mans on Thursday, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest unveiled the 55 entries and 10 reserves for this year’s twice-around-the-clock June classic. Led by a continued strong factory contingent of manufacturers with Peugeot, Audi and Aston Martin in the premier LMP1 ranks, three automakers – BMW, Jaguar and Ford – make their return to Circuit de La Sarthe in the production-based categories.
Peugeot and Audi will again square off with three cars each in the twice-around-the-clock French marathon.
Defending Le Mans winners Team Peugeot Total lead the way with three Peugeot 908 HDi-FAPs, while Audi Sport Team Joest return with a trio of Audi R15 ‘Plus’ TDIs. Aston Martin Racing is again represented but with two Lola-Aston Martins instead of the three entered last year. Team ORECA Matmut gains two entries – one being the customer Peugeot 908 and the other for its AIM-powered ORECA 01.
Following their solid run at Le Mans last year, Kolles returns with two entries for its customer Audi R10 TDIs, while Rebellion Racing steps up with two cars in the premier prototype category. Signature Plus fields a customer Lola-Aston Martin, while Nigel Mansell will make his Le Mans debut as a driver of the Beechdeen-Mansell Motorsport Ginetta-Zytek 09S.
The Dome S102 Judd returns to Le Mans after a one-year absence, while the two automatic invitations from Pescarolo Sport and Sora Racing have been taken up under a joint effort from Charouz Racing System.
American Le Mans Series fans will have two teams to cheer for in P1, with Drayson Racing and Autocon Motorsports both securing invites for its Lola prototypes.
And it doesn’t stop there. Highcroft Racing will make its debut at Circuit de La Sarthe in the LMP2 category with its HPD ARX-01C. Joining the Duncan Dayton-led group in P2 will be HPD customer entries from Strakka Racing and RML. Other contenders for the class win include defending LMS P2 champions Quifel-ASM Team, Racing Box and a two-car OAK Racing program.
The Matech Concepts-built Ford GT will make its Le Mans debut with no less than two Blue Ovals on the grid. (FIA GT/DPPI) Eight cars from five manufacturers make up the GT1 category, with the notable return of Ford to the 24-hour classic for the first time since 1983. Two FIA World GT1-specification Ford GTs have been entered for Matech Competition and Marc VDS Racing, respectively.
Existing GT1 machinery, which have been grandfathered into the new-look category for 2010, include two Corvettes for Luc Alphand Aventures, a single Pratt & Miller-built C6.R for PekaRacing, and an Aston Martin DBR9 for Young Driver AMR. JLOC’s Lamborghini Murcielago, which gained an automatic invite for winning the Asian Le Mans Series, joins a Saleen S7R from Larbre Competition, which rounds out the class.
Two manufacturers not included this year are Maserati and Nissan, which were both expected to gain entries in GT1. It’s unclear whether the teams were rejected or they simply didn’t request invites, as the ACO doesn’t disclose turned down entries.
With 17 entries representing seven manufacturers, GT2 at Le Mans has never been stronger. Defending race winners Risi Competizione return with two Ferrari F430 GTs and lead the strong contingent of American teams in this year’s race. A trio of ALMS regulars – Corvette Racing, BMW and RSR – make their Le Mans class debuts.
Two GT2-spec Corvette C6.Rs and BMW Motorsport-entered E92 M3s have been invited, as has the brand-new Jaguar XKRS from the Paul Gentilozzi-led RSR stables. ALMS fans must also not forget Flying Lizard Motorsports, which return with their Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
Other Porsche entrants include IMSA Performance Matmut, Prospeed and Team Felbermayr-Proton and 2009 runner-ups BMS Scuderia Italia, while AF Corse, Hankook-Team Farnbacher and Modena Race Group will all race Ferraris.
The intense battles seen in the ALMS will move over to France in June, with factory entries from Corvette and BMW debuting in GT2. The Aston Martin Vantage returns, but this time under the JMW Motorsport banner, while a single Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2R rounds out the impressive GT2 field.
Ten reserve entries, now divided into LMP and GT groups, feature notable teams in the GT2 ranks. Team Felbermayr-Proton’s second car of 2009 LMS GT2 champions Marc Lieb and Richard Lietz was not accepted, nor was the second AF Corse entry for Formula One star Ginacarolo Fisichella and Dempsey Racing driver Joe Foster. It’s believed once a driver is nominated to a particular entry he/she cannot move to another car. This could make things interesting, especially with the star power assembled in reserve entries that may not get a chance to race.
“There’s confidence because endurance racing is a form of motorsport that pleases everybody and is becoming increasingly successful by it’s continuity and technical progress,” said ACO President Jean-Claude Plassart during the announcement. “I think the major manufacturers, and even the small constructors, have had a great investment in Le Mans because a lot of new technology has been tested here. It’s going to be a really great field.”
Plassart confirmed there were 84 entry requests, a remarkable number considering the challenging economic times. He also revealed changes in the traditional Le Mans week schedule. Scrutineering in the town center has been moved forward one day to Sunday, June 6 and Monday, June 7. Track action on the 9th will now kick off with a four-hour practice session from 4-8 p.m. and one round of qualifying from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. Two final qualifying sessions the following evening will set the field.
2010 Le Mans 24 Hours Entry List (with nominated driver)
Team Peugeot Total – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP – Alexander Wurz
Team Peugeot Total – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP – Nicolas Minassian
Peugeot Sport Total – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP – Sebastien Bourdais
Audi Sport North America – Audi R15 TDI – Mike Rockenfeller
Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R15 TDI – Andre Lotterer
Audi Sport Team Joest – Audi R15 TDI – Tom Kristensen
Aston Martin Racing – Lola Aston Martin – Harold Primat
Aston Martin Racing – Lola Aston Martin – Darren Turner
Signature Plus – Lola Aston Martin – Pierre Ragues
Team Oreca Matmut – Peugeot 908 HDi FAP – Olivier Panis
AIM Team Oreca – Oreca 01 AIM – Soheil Ayari
Kolles – Audi R10 TDI – Christian Bakkerud
Kolles – Audi R10 TDI – Christijan Albers
Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60 Rebellion – Andrea Belicchi
Rebellion Racing – Lola B10/60 Rebellion – Nicolas Prost
SORA Racing – Pescarolo 01 Judd – Christophe Tinseau
Pescarolo Sport – Pescarolo 01 Judd – Ho-Pin Tung
Beechdean Mansell Motorsport – Ginetta-Zytek Z09R – Nigel Mansell
Dome Racing Team – Dome S102 Judd – Sebastien Philippe
Drayson Racing – Lola B09/60 Judd – Paul Drayson
Autocon Motorsports – Lola B06/10 AER – Michael Lewis
Highcroft Racing – HPD Acura ARX-01C – David Brabham
Strakka Racing – HPD Acura ARX-01C – Nick Leventis
RML – Lola B08/80 HPD – Mike Newton
OAK Racing – Pescarolo 01 Judd – Richard Hein
OAK Racing – Pescarolo 01 Judd – Jacques Nicolet
Quifel-ASM Team – Ginetta Zytek 09S Zytek – Miguel Amaral
Racing Box – Lola B08/80 Judd – Luca Pirri
Team Bruichladdich – Ginetta Zytek 07S Zytek – Karim Ojjeh
Gerard Welter – WR Zytek – Philippe Salini
Luc Alphand Aventures – Chevrolet Corvette C6.R – Stephan Gregoire
Luc Alphand Aventures – Chevrolet Corvette C6.R – Luc Alphand
PekaRacing NV – Chevrolet Corvette C6.R – Anthony Kumpen
Young Driver AMR – Aston Martin DBR9 – Christoffer Nygaard
Matech Competition – Ford GT – Natacha Gachnang
Marc VDS Racing – Ford GT – Eric de Doncker
JLOC – Lamborghini Murcielago GT1 – Yogo Atsushi
Larbre Competition – Saleen S7R – Roland Berville
Risi Competizione – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Jaime Melo
Risi Competizione – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Tracy Krohn
Corvette Racing – Chevrolet Corvette C6.R – Oliver Gavin
Corvette Racing – Chevrolet Corvette C6.R – Jan Magnussen
BMW Motorsport – BMW M3 GT2 – Andy Priaulx
BMW Motorsport – BMW M3 GT2 – Jörg Müller
RSR – Jaguar XKR GT2 – Paul Gentilozzi
Flying Lizard Motorsports – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Seth Neiman
AF Corse – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Luis Perez Companc
Hankook Team Farnbacher – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Dominik Farnbacher
IMSA Performance Matmut – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Raymond Narac
Team Felbermayr-Proton – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Horst Felbermayr
BMS Scuderia Italia – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Matteo Malucelli
JMW Motorsport – Aston Martin Vantage GT2 – Rob Bell
Spyker Squadron – Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2R – Tim Coronel
Modena Group Racing – Ferrari F430 GT2 – Roman Rusinov
ProSpeed Competition – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Paul van Splunteren
Pegasus Racing – Norma Judd – Julien Schnell (LMP2)
Tokai University TGH Power – Courage-ORECA YGH – Shigekazu Wakisaka (LMP1)
KSM – Lola Judd – Jean de Pourtales (LMP2)
Jose Ibanez – Lola Judd – Jose Ibanex (LMP2)
Kaneko Racing – Courage Judd – Yutaka Yamagishi (LMP1)
Team Felbermayr-Proton – Porsche 997 GT3 RSR – Marc Lieb (GT2)
Team Hong Kong Racing – Aston Martin Vantage – Phillip Ma (GT2)
AF Corse – Ferrari F430 GT – Gincarolo Fisichella (GT2)
Matech Competition – Ford GT – Thomas Mutsch (GT1)
Spyker Squadron – Spyker C8 Laviolette – Tom Coronel (GT2)
written by John Dagys