Le Mans, WEC, ELMS entry lists released

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Thursday’s press conference in France revealed several key items for the 2014 endurance sports car season.

Remember the numbers 56, 42 and 31. 56 is the number of entries for the 24 Hours of Le Mans – per usual – 31 of which are from the FIA World Endurance Championship. And 42 is the number of entries received for the European Le Mans Series, which has surged back in entries after a pair of challenging seasons.

24 HOURS OF LE MANS

There’s an even split of 28 prototypes (10 LMP1, 17 LMP2 and the Nissan ZEOD RC) and 28 GTs (12 GTE Pros, 16 GTE Ams).

The top LMP1 (now LMP1-H for hybrid technology) arms race features new 2014 regulations, and a three-way bout between Audi, Toyota and Porsche for the overall win. The privateers have their own subcategory, LMP1-L, and will have minor bragging rights with that.

In LMP2, ORECA 03 Nissans appear popular, but there’s also Dome, Morgan, Ligier, Alpine and Zytek chassis, as well as HPD and Judd engines. Nissan though has the bulk of the engines, powering 14 of 17 cars in class.

GTE Pro will see your Ferrari-Aston Martin-Porsche battle joined by the American muscle from Corvette and Viper. Always an entertaining show.

And GTE Am, often the hardest class to project simply due to the driver requirements (LMP2 requires only one Silver or Bronze-rated driver; GTE Am requires at least one Bronze to go with a Silver), has a heavy Ferrari base but also entries from Porsche (notably Dempsey Racing) and Aston Martin.

Here’s the full entry list.

FIA WEC

Take the above copy, look at the entry list to see which cars have the FIA WEC logo next to them, and there’s your field of 31.

LMP2 takes the biggest drop in WEC, with only 7 full-season cars compared to the 17 at Le Mans. GTE Pro drops to 7 from 12; GTE Am is cut in half to 8 from 16. Meanwhile there’s only one LMP1 addition for Le Mans, and that’s the third Audi R18 e-tron quattro.

ELMS

The ELMS has 42 entries received during Thursday’s presentation in Paris. Both the LMP2 and GTE classes have 13 cars listed, with the GTC class (GT3-based) featuring 16.

Cars set to compete in the LMP2 ranks include: Alpine A450 Nissan, ORECA 03 Nissans and Judds, Morgan Nissans and Judds, Ligier Nissans and Zytek Nissans.

The GTE field includes eight Ferraris, four Porsches and a solitary Aston Martin. Meanwhile in GTC, there are primarily Ferraris but also entries from McLaren, Audi and BMW.

Here is the ELMS entry list.

Helio Castroneves: ‘I have nothing to lose’ Sunday in bid for 4th Indy 500 win

All photos: IndyCar
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You might say Helio Castroneves comes into Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 with a “less is more” philosophy than he’s had in years past:

* No pressure

* No worrying about points

* No worrying about winning a championship

Take away all those things and the very popular Brazilian driver could be in the best position he’s ever been to achieve the biggest goal of his career:

Winning a fourth Indy 500, making him a member of motor racing’s most exclusive club, joining legendary drivers A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only drivers to conquer the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway four times each.

Like his car number, Castroneves has won the Indy 500 three times. He wants to change that number to four times in Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. Photo: IndyCar.

“For sure, I definitely don’t have much to lose in terms of points, championships, and things like that,” Castroneves told MotorSportsTalk earlier this week. “I don’t have to think that I don’t have a car to win, I’m not going to risk that much because there are still championship points (to earn if he was still racing full-time in the series).

“Not that I did that before, but if the situation occurs, people just need to know I have nothing to lose this time.”

Castroneves three prior triumphs in the 500 came in his first two years in the field – 2001 and 2002 – and again in 2009. In addition, he has finished twice in the last four editions of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing in 2014 and 2017.

Coming so close last year, losing to Takuma Sato by .201 of a second, is something Castroneves hasn’t forgotten about. To come so close to No. 4 has only made him more hungry to get it done on Sunday.

“Yeah, but if it were easy, we would likely have had more than four wins by now,” he said. “We’ve had opportunities in the past, the last four years we were really competitive, we were right there, especially in ’14 and ’17, we were right on it.

“Last year, I thought it was going to be the hardest 500 for me and look what happened: we were battling to the end for a victory,” Castroneves said. “It’s not just about trying hard, it’s about being there at the right place at the right time.

“And this place, Indianapolis, I’ve always said the track winds up choosing who is going to be the winner. Hopefully, with safety and luck, we’ll be part of it and be on the right side.”

Team owner Roger Penske decided after last season to put Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya as the chief drivers of Team Penske’s new two-car effort in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship sports car series.

When the announcement was first made, many feared that Castroneves had run out of chances to get that elusive No. 4 at Indy.

But Penske sweetened the deal for Helio to go sports car racing by promising he’d field a car for him at Indy. And Penske has proven to be a man of his word, giving Castroneves everything he needs to finally win No. 4.

“I feel we’ve prepared as much as a team, we’re doing everything possible in relation to preparation,” Castroneves said. “The preparation we had in the previous year helps us tremendously to give us an opportunity fighting there for a win, and that’s what we’re looking for.”

Castroneves has taken to the new style Indy car with aplomb. During the first week of practice leading up to last weekend’s qualifying, he was consistently one of the fastest drivers in the field.

The 43-year-old even topped the speed charts in the Fast Nine last Saturday before ending up eighth in the following day’s pole qualifying.

As a result, he’ll start Sunday’s race from the middle of Row 3, anchoring Team Penske’s four-man Top 8 starting lineup effort in the 500. When the green flag drops, to his left will be Danica Patrick and to his right will be four-time IndyCar champ and former 500 winner Scott Dixon.

And millions of others right behind him, so to speak.

“I feel the sense that everyone wants it to happen,” he said of winning No. 4. “We’re talking about being part of history here. The last guy to do it was Rick Mears in the ‘90s (1991).

“I mean, how cool would that be if I would be in the position and to see No. 4 in my era. I hear a lot of the fans, even those supporting different drivers, all saying ‘Man, I want to see you win No. 4.’ That just shows how special this place is.

“(The Indy 500) is part of a lot of people’s lives. I just would be very fortunate to hopefully to have this generation see someone do No. 4.”

While he’d rather not think about missing out on a fourth win at Indy for a ninth straight year, Castroneves is using reverse psychology somewhat.

He’s going into Sunday’s biggest race in the world fully believing he will finally win No. 4.

And if he does, forget the idea that he would never come back to race at Indy again.

“Not at all. Why? You’re so close to getting four, and then when you get four, you stop it? It doesn’t make sense.

“I think I still have at least four or five more years, there’s no question about it. As long as Roger (Penske) gives me the opportunity, I’m going to be going for it, for sure.”

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