WEC grid continues to shape up ahead of Paul Ricard Prologue


The field for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship is continuing to shape up ahead of the collective pre-season ‘prologue’ test at Paul Ricard later this month following a series of announcements in the LMP2 class.

The WEC paddock will come together for the first time in 2016 at Paul Ricard on March 25 and 26 for five sessions of running ahead of the opening race of the year at Silverstone on April 17.

Here’s a run-down of the recent WEC news as the countdown to the beginning of the new season continues.


Defending LMP2 WEC champion Julien Canal has moved from G-Drive to Greaves Motorsport for the 2016 European Le Mans Series campaign.

Canal won the LMP2 title last year alongside Sam Bird and Roman Rusinov, but will not defend it this year after his move into ELMS. However, he will still race at Le Mans alongside Memo Rojas.


Following Canal’s move to Greaves and Bird’s switch to AF Corse in GTE Pro, G-Drive announced earlier this week that Audi driver Rene Rast would be joining its line-up for the full WEC season.

Rast enjoyed an impressive outing in the third Audi LMP1 car at Le Mans last year, but the German marque has cut back to two entries for 2016. Rast joins Nathanael Berthon and Rusinov in the no. 26 entry.


Former GP2 driver Stephane Richelmi will make his debut in the FIA WEC this year with Signatech Alpine after the French team completed its line-up for 2016.

Richelmi left single-seaters at the end of 2014 and spent much of last year racing in the Blancpain GT Series, but will now move into endurance racing full-time.

The Monegasque racer will race alongside Nicolas Lapierre and Gustavo Menezes in the no. 36 entry this year, while the outgoing Nelson Panciatici has moved to the no. 35 DC Racing team.


The entry list for the pre-season Prologue at Paul Ricard has been released by the FIA, featuring 29 of the 32 cars signed up for the full WEC season.

Audi and Toyota are both only taking one LMP1 car to Paul Ricard, while Aston Martin Racing is doing the same in GTE Pro with its Vantage car.

“The Prologue has now become an established part of the WEC calendar and is greatly anticipated by both media and fans alike,” series CEO Gerard Neveu said.

“Our manufacturer partners and teams take this opportunity to reveal their 2016 cars to a growing number of international media each year, and of course it is the first chance for all the competitors to test themselves against their rivals.

“For fans in France and beyond it is a fantastic event, with an open paddock, autograph session and pit walk on Saturday. The friendly and open spirit of the WEC begins here at The Prologue and we welcome everyone.”

You can see the full entry list here.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.



Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III