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Already a good amount of FIA WEC, Le Mans entry list details are known

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The release of the FIA World Endurance Championship and 24 Hours of Le Mans entry lists on Thursday provide full details and car numbers to what have trickled out in announcements over the last couple months.

So while there’s designated drivers that are listed today, that doesn’t mean they’re the only drivers that are known.

By class, here’s a breakdown of what drivers are known for the FIA WEC and Le Mans. Bold drivers are the designated ones from the Le Mans entry list.

LMP1

All that’s left to fill here is the third seat at ByKolles and second and third seats in the third Toyota. For the first time since its WEC arrival in 2012, Toyota has the majority of the entries in LMP1.

1-Porsche LMP Team-Neel Jani/Andre Lotterer/Nick Tandy, Porsche 919 Hybrid
2-Porsche LMP Team-Timo Bernhard/Brendon Hartley/Earl Bamber, Porsche 919 Hybrid
4-ByKolles Racing Team-Robert Kubica/Oliver Webb, ENSO CLM P1/01 NISMO
7-Toyota Gazoo Racing-Mike Conway/Kamui Kobayashi/Jose Maria Lopez, Toyota TS050 Hybrid
8-Toyota Gazoo Racing-Sebastien Buemi/Anthony Davidson/Kazuki Nakajima, Toyota TS050 Hybrid

9-Toyota Gazoo Racing-Stephane Sarrazin, Toyota TS050 Hybrid

LMP2

Gustavo Menezes (Signatech Alpine) and Renger van der Zande (Keating) are two of the names you’d expect to see added here. Manor was a round-robin last year of drivers, while the Jackie Chan DC Racing team now has a technical partnership with Jota Sport.

13-Vaillante Rebellion-Nelson Piquet Jr./Mathias Beche/David Heinemeier Hansson, Oreca 07 Gibson
31-Vaillante Rebellion-Nicolas Prost/Bruno Senna/Julien Canal, Oreca 07 Gibson
24-CEFC Manor TRS Racing-Tor Graves, Oreca 07 Gibson
25-CEFC Manor TRS Racing-Roberto Gonzalez, Oreca 07 Gibson
26-G-Drive Racing-Roman Rusinov/Pierre Thiriet, Oreca 07 Gibson
28-TDS Racing-Francois Perrodo/Emmanuel Collard/Matthieu Vaxviere, Oreca 07 Gibson
35-Signatech Alpine Matmut-Stephane Richelmi, Alpine A470 Gibson
36-Signatech Alpine Matmut-Nicolas Lapierre, Alpine A470 Gibson
37-Jackie Chan DC Racing-David Cheng, Oreca 07 Gibson
38-Jackie Chan DC Racing-Ho-Pin Tung, Oreca 07 Gibson

17-IDEC Sport Racing-Patrice Lafargue, Ligier JS P217 Gibson
21-DragonSpeed-10 Star-Henrik Hedman, Oreca 07 Gibson
22-G-Drive Racing-Memo Rojas, Oreca 07 Gibson
23-Panis Barthez Competition-Fabien Barthez, Ligier JS P217 Gibson
27-SMP Racing-Mikhail Aleshin, Dallara P217 Gibson
29-Racing Team Nederland-Jan Lammers/Rubens Barrichello/Fritz van Eerd, Dallara P217 Gibson
32-United Autosports-William Owen/Hugo de Sadeleer, Ligier JS P217 Gibson
33-Eurasia Motorsport-Chris Hoy, Ligier JS P217 Gibson
34-Tockwith Motorsports-Nigel Moore, Ligier JS P217 Gibson
39-Graff-James Allen, Oreca 07 Gibson
40-Graff-Enzo Guibbert, Oreca 07 Gibson
43-Keating Motorsports-Ben Keating, Riley Mk. 30 Gibson
45-Algarve Pro Racing-Mark Patterson, Ligier JS P217 Gibson
47-Cetilar Villorba Corse-Roberto Lacorte, Dallara P217 Gibson
49-ARC Bratislava-Miro Konopka, Oreca 07 Gibson

GTE PRO

Sam Bird (AF Corse Ferrari), Fred Makowiecki (Porsche) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Risi) are expected back at those places, with Corvette Racing’s Le Mans lineup also rumored to be similar in nature to past ones. Porsche has a number of GTE works drivers it could plug-and-play to fill its two works cars. Gianmaria Bruni’s status within the category arguably remains its biggest question mark at the moment.

51-AF Corse-James Calado, Ferrari 488 GTE
71-AF Corse-Davide Rigon, Ferrari 488 GTE
66-Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK-Stefan Muecke/Olivier Pla/Billy Johnson, Ford GT
67-Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK-Andy Priaulx/Harry Tincknell/Pipo Derani, Ford GT
91-Porsche GT Team-Richard Lietz, Porsche 911 RSR
92-Porsche GT Team-Michael Christensen, Porsche 911 RSR
95-Aston Martin Racing-Nicki Thiim/Marco Sorenson, Aston Martin Vantage
97-Aston Martin Racing-Darren Turner/Jonny Adam, Aston Martin Vantage

63-Corvette Racing-Jan Magnussen, Corvette C7.R
64-Corvette Racing-Oliver Gavin, Corvette C7.R
68-Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA-Joey Hand/Dirk Mueller/Sebastien Bourdais, Ford GT
69-Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA-Ryan Briscoe/Richard Westbrook/Scott Dixon, Ford GT
82-Risi Competizione-Toni Vilander, Ferrari 488 GTE

GTE AM

Quite a lot remains to be filled in in the GTE-Am class, with only a handful of cars having more than just the designated driver listed.

54-Spirit of Race-Thomas Flohr/Francesco Castellacci, Ferrari 488 GTE
61-Clearwater Racing-Mok Weng Sun/Keita Sawa/Matt Griffin, Ferrari 488 GTE
77-Dempsey Proton Racing-Christian Ried, Porsche 911 RSR
86-Gulf Racing-Michael Wainwright, Porsche 911 RSR
98-Aston Martin Racing-Paul Dalla Lana/Pedro Lamy/Mathias Lauda, Aston Martin Vantage

50-Larbre Competition-Ricky Taylor, Corvette C7.R
55-Spirit of Race-Duncan Cameron, Ferrari 488 GTE
60-Clearwater Racing-Matt Griffin, Ferrari 488 GTE
62-Scuderia Corsa-Cooper MacNeil, Ferrari 488 GTE
65-Scuderia Corsa-Christina Nielsen, Ferrari 488 GTE
83-DH Racing-Riccardo Ragazzi, Ferrari 488 GTE
84-JMW Motorsport-Robert Smith, Ferrari F458 Italia
88-Proton Competition-Wolf Henzler, Porsche 911 RSR
90-TF Sport-Salih Yoluc/Euan Hankey/Rob Bell, Aston Martin Vantage
93-Proton Competition-Patrick Long, Porsche 911 RSR
99-Beechdean AMR-Andrew Howard, Aston Martin Vantage

Schmidt Peterson aiming high with Hinchcliffe, Wickens

Photo: IndyCar
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The new Schmidt Peterson Motorsports duo of James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens expressed a high amount of confidence during Wednesday’s confirmation of Hinchcliffe’s return and Wickens’ signing, as the pair looks to return the Sam Schmidt and Ric Peterson co-owned team to prominent status within the Verizon IndyCar Series.

“We’re hoping to give Toronto and Ontario and Canadian sports fans in general something to cheer about over the next season,” Hinchcliffe quipped during a teleconference on Wednesday.

Granted, there are likely to be several challenges to overcome, notably for Wickens, who returns to single-seater competition for the first time since 2011, when he was a champion of the Formula Renault 3.5 series and served as test driver for the now defunct Manor Racing (then known as Marussia Virgin Racing).

Having spent every year since then in DTM, where he won a total of six races and finished as high as fourth in the championship (2016), Wickens knows returning to open wheel competition will be an adjustment. However, he explained that the history of Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, specifically its Indy Lights history, speaks to their ability to help a driver adapt, and he rates the program they’re putting together very highly.

“I think Schmidt Peterson Motorsports have a fantastic driver development program. They showed that in their multiple Indy Lights championships along the way. I think we will have a strong program in place. I have a feeling that the simulator will be my new best friend,” Wickens said when asked about getting reacquainted with an open-wheel car.

Of course, having an experienced teammate like Hinchcliffe to lean on will undoubtedly help the transition, something Wickens readily admitted.

“I’m very fortunate that I have James as my teammate because he’s so experienced, I can learn off him. Because we already have such a good off-track relationship, I feel like you can just take his word, trust him, kind of move forward with it,” he revealed.

They’ve been teammates before, both in karting where they first met in 2001, and then in the now-defunct A1 Grand Prix series in 2007-2008, a series that pitted nations against each other in spec open-wheel cars. Funnily, that A1GP type of vibe returns as Schmidt Peterson Motorsports now has that with its “Team Canada” mantra while all four of Andretti Autosport’s full-season drivers are American.

For Hinchcliffe, Wickens’ background, even if it hasn’t been in the single-seater realm since 2011, was a big selling point in adding him to the team.

“In Robby, we have a proven winner at a very high level. The level of technical expertise that he comes with from his time in DTM is very impressive,” he said of Wickens’ technical background.

Hinchcliffe added that Wickens’ ability to analyze the car and its setup was evidenced in two outings: one at Sebing International Raceway in March, in part of a “ride swap” between the two longtime friends, and a second at Road America, when he subbed on Friday practice for Mikhail Aleshin.

Wickens sampled Hinchcliffe’s No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda earlier this year. Photo: IndyCar

Hinchcliffe revealed that Wickens’ feedback to the team and his ability to quickly adapt to the chassis took everyone somewhat by surprise.

“We did our ride swap. He had two hours in the car, hardly anything even resembling a test day, and his performance was pretty impressive. No doubt the time in Road America helped because that really gave us a better sense of his technical feedback, integrated with the team a little bit more. Everybody was happy to work with him on that day,” said Hinchcliffe.

Further still, Hinchcliffe is firm in his belief that the 2018 aero kit and its reduction in aerodynamic downforce will fall right into Wickens’ wheelhouse, based on Hinchcliffe’s own take after sampling Wickens’ DTM Mercedes earlier this year.

“In all honesty, I was saying earlier today, the 2018 car is probably better suited for him than the 2017 car because of the experience he’s had the last handful of series,” Hinchcliffe asserted.

“The (aero kit) was such high downforce, it would be a big change coming out of DTM. But with the loss of downforce that we’ve seen, the car is moving around a little bit more, brake zones, things like that, it won’t be as big a transition I think. Just based on the experience that I got in our ride swap, I think he’s going to adapt very quickly, be comfortable very quickly, and as a result be competitive very quickly. So it’s going to be exciting.”

As for expectations heading into next year, team co-owner Schmidt did not mince words and expects the team’s performance to resemble what they did in 2012, 2013, and 2014, when they won a total of four races (with driver Simon Pagenaud) and finished in the top five in the championship each year.

“We had a stint in ’12, ’13, ’14 where we finished fifth in the points (or better. I think we want to get back to that level of competition,” Schmidt added. “We felt like we were missing things in having two cars with equal funding and equal drivers and equal capabilities. We think this gets back there.”

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