24 Hours Mans LMP2: The tyre battle continues

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LMP2 – The tyre battle continues
20 of the 23 LMP2 cars are using Dunlop tyres and in 2016 Dunlop is looking for a sixth consecutive Le Mans class win.

 

The last five wins have all been with different teams: KCMG, Jota Sport, Oak Racing, Starworks and Greaves Motorsport. With the biggest field since the class began in 2004 it promises to be the class to watch for excitement and battles. This is the final year before a major regulation change with controls on chassis and engine. For the race on 18th June, seven different chassis will compete with three different engine providers.

Tyres are a major element of a racing ‘package’ which can be used to gain advantage on track with pace. Reducing time in the garage by having tyres capable of multiple stints is also a big advantage in endurance racing. Tyre wars brings the advantage of tyre manufacturers continually improving to try to ensure that their teams win. It also brings advantage to the tyre manufacturers themselves with new technologies created in motorsport cascading into one-brand championships, track day and even road products.

Dunlop’s endurance developments from Le Mans, the Nürburgring racing, the FIA World Endurance Championship and European Le Mans Series are key to the all-new 2016 tyre range for LMP2. The wider operating temperatures and improved grip, performance and handling should add to a great battle for honours.

Who are the contenders?
Teams choosing Dunlop

• #22 SO24! By Lombard Racing: The new Le Mans based squad emerged from the ACO’s driving school and the line-up includes track coach Vincent Capillaire and former Signatech-Alpine race winner.
• #25 Algarve Pro Racing: The Portuguese team includes LMP3 champion (and Olympic cycling  legend) Sir Chris Hoy.
• #26 & #38 G-Drive Racing: The Russian backed squad is run by Jota Sport, 2014 Le Mans winners with #38 featuring Simon Dolan, one of the fastest ‘gentleman’ drivers in the industry.
• #27 AF Racing: Nicolas Minassian is competing in his 17th Le Mans in the BR01. The Frenchman has stood on the overall podium at Le Mans but is yet to take a victory. This year has potential for victory after good form in the opening rounds.
• #30 & #31: Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM): The USA #31 team includes platinum graded Scot Ryan Dalziel and Brazilian former WEC race winner Pipo Derani. The team finished second at Silverstone and Spa.
• #33 Eurasia Motorsport: Former Thiriet by TDS racer, ELMS race winner and previous Le Mans leader and runner-up Tristan Gommendy has proved to be strong on pace at the last ELMS round in Italy.
• #34 Race Performance: The Swiss team is fielding an Oreca 03, a proven but older chassis and one of just two Judd powered entries.
• #35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine: Nelson Panciatici is the platinum driver for the Chinese squad having previously raced the Signatech Alpine to a podium finish at Le Mans in 2014.
• #36 Signatech Alpine: A new driver line-up since the 2014 Le Mans podium finish features Nicolas Lapierre, one of the KCMG 2015 Le Mans LMP2 winners.
• #41 Greaves Motorsport: Greaves is a long-time Dunlop partner having won the European Le mans Series in 2015 and 2011 also winning the Le Mans race that year.
• #42 Strakka Racing: The ultra-British squad features Nick Leventis, Danny Watts and Jonny Kane – an unchanged line-up since 2010.
• #43 RGR Sport by Morand: Previous Jota ELMS race winner and ex-Audi factory driver Filipe Albuquerque lines up with F1/Formula E driver Bruno Senna and eponymous Ricardo Gonzalez.

• #44 Manor Racing: The new to WEC team shows promise after a podium place at the Spa round in May.
• #46 Thiriet by TDS Racing: The 2015 ELMS runners-up have added Mathias Beche, a Rebellion driver, to their line-up.
• #47 KCMG: 2015 Le Mans winners and 2015 WEC runners-up. The only 2016 line-up change is Tsugio Matsuda in for Lapierre.
• #48 Murphy Prototypes: The Irish team finished fifth in 2015 at Le Mans. The line-up features drivers with a total of 23 Le Mans attempts with results including an LMP2 win for Jeroen Bleekemolen in 2008.
• #49 Michael Shank Racing: The American team are new to Le Mans but have gathered some strong results in the USA in the Ligier.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, the third round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, starts at 15.00 CEST on Saturday 18th June.

James Bailey

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