Le Mans: GTE stunners and spoilers

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We’re taking a look through the field ahead of this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans at the manufacturers and teams entered. Next up is GTE, with both the GTE-Pro and GTE-Am classes (race action from 2014 pictured right).

ENTRY LIST

GTE-Pro: What the class lacks in manufacturer diversity it still has in quality. We say this every year seemingly, but take your pick of a Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche or Corvette.

  • AF Corse Ferrari: The defending class champions of Vilander, Bruni and Fisichella will be going for broke once again. Rigon, Calado and Beretta seek to upend their more successful teammates, or at least provide rear gunner support.
  • Corvette Racing: Corvette got back to P2 last year with the C7.R in its race debut, and nothing less than a win is the goal this year. If Magnussen, Garcia and Briscoe pull it off, they’ll be a perfect three-for-three at Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans, and the story that could provide is an incredible one. But I’m sure Mssrs. Gavin, Milner and Taylor would like a win themselves…
  • Porsche Team Manthey: With the focus on the overall win for Porsche, it remains to be seen whether the factory GTE program will suffer any. Still very good lineups and preparation, and while a win wouldn’t be a surprise, they’re not the first pick this year.
  • Aston Martin Racing: Three all-pro lineups and the lone three-car entry in class does give Aston Martin a much better fighting chance than it had a year ago. Still, the veteran trio of Turner, Mucke and Bell is the team’s best bet above either of the young guns in the Nos. 95 and 99 car. Consider Aston the Audi of GTE-Pro, with one veteran trio and two cars with young chargers.

GTE-Am: Ferrari, Porsche and Aston are joined by the full-season Larbre Corvette, back in the class after a year’s hiatus, and the SRT Viper, now a privateer effort and also back after a year’s hiatus.

  • Larbre Competition: Larbre went back-to-back in the first two Le Mans with GTE-Am in 2011 and 2012, and with a great GTE-Am lineup of Roda, Ruberti and past Le Mans winner Poulsen, this car should contend in the Corvette C7.R’s class debut.
  • Riley Motorsports-TI Automotive: Bound to be a fan favorite, the ground-pounding V10 Viper will be in good hands with Bill Riley leading the charge and another very good for GTE-Am lineup of Bleekemolen, Keating and Miller.
  • AF Corse: AF is the favorite in GTE-Pro… it is not in GTE-Am. Other than Matt Griffin in the No. 55 car and Emmanuel Collard in the No. 83 car, it’s less than stellar lineups across the board in the team’s three cars.
  • Scuderia Corsa: A lineup of Townsend Bell, Jeff Segal and Bill Sweedler pushes the limit of what should be legal in GTE-Am, which is to say Giacomo Mattioli and his team have given themselves the best possible opportunity to win in their race debut.
  • JMW Motorsport: Always one of the sneakier entries in class because the Jim McWhirter-led team has a propensity to punch above its weight. This year should be no different with a very solid trio of Kuba Giermaziak, Michael Avenatti and Abdulaziz Al Faisal.
  • Team AAI: The surprise team with two cars via Asian Le Mans Series automatic entries, it will be a surprise if either of these Porsches factor in the class.
  • SMP Racing: While SMP’s two P2 cars don’t have a realistic shot, this one could be decent in GTE-Am. Watch Andrea Bertolini in his stints.
  • Dempsey Racing-Proton: Dempsey’s single focus on the WEC and Le Mans this year will guide this team’s ultimate result. He’s had two races to prep in Europe, compared to being a U.S.-based entrant just coming over now. Long and Seefried will be fine but it’s how Dempsey stacks up against the fellow Bronze drivers that likely will determine the finish.
  • Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing: Of four Porsches in class, this is likely one with the best chance of a result. Ried, Al Qubaisi and Bachler is a solid GTE-Am lineup.
  • Aston Martin Racing: We come last to the defending GTE-Am winners. The team’s No. 98 car must be considered favorite with a gaudy GTE-Am lineup of Lamy, Dalla Lana and Lauda. The sister No. 96 car has potential but is not as strong on paper.