A handful of driver swaps and additions have been confirmed as part of the near finalized entry list for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Chief among them is Toyota Gazoo Racing switching two of its drivers around between two of its three Toyota TS050 Hybrids. The recovering Jose Maria Lopez is shifted to the No. 9 entry with Yuji Kunimoto and Nicolas Lapierre, while Toyota veteran Stephane Sarrazin is slotted in alongside Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi in the team’s No. 7 car.
“Our circumstances have changed over the last few weeks as a result of the injury to José María,” Toyota team president Toshio Sato said in a release. “He is in the unfortunate position of having completed very few racing laps this year in WEC, so we all felt it was appropriate to adjust the driver line-up.
“I am very confident that Stéphane will fit well into a No. 7 line-up which can fight for the win. José María, like Yuji, will learn a lot at Le Mans this year, familiarizing himself with the track and the event in general, and this is an important step for the future as well.”
Elsewhere the ByKolles lineup retains the same trio of Oliver Webb, Dominik Kraihamer and James Rossiter, Jose Gutierrez joins the DragonSpeed-operated G-Drive entry in LMP2 replacing Leo Roussel, Graff Racing has finalized its LMP2 lineup and a handful of others have been swapped around in GTE-Am, notably at JMW Motorsport (in Will Stevens) and Proton Competition. Only the third seat in the No. 88 Porsche 911 RSR for Proton remains to be filled.
Breaking down the entry list a bit, Porsche looks for its third straight win and Toyota its elusive first.
Three full-season IndyCar drivers are set to participate in Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais and Mikhail Aleshin, the three of them all set to miss the Le Mans Test Day at June 4 (will be racing in Detroit) and will then fly after the Texas race (June 10, 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN) for scrutineering early in the week. NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell is also set to compete. Bourdais (GTE-Pro) and Bell (GTE-Am) will seek to defend their class wins last year in the same team and driver lineups with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Scuderia Corsa, respectively.
A trio of Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires veterans – Gutierrez, Felix Rosenqvist and Will Owen – enter into a highly competitive 25-car LMP2 field for their debuts. Their runs will be interesting to watch.
From an American entry standpoint, there are seven teams and 12 cars, listed below:
- 21-DragonSpeed-10-Star, Oreca 07, Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley, Felix Rosenqvist
- 32-United Autosports, Ligier JS P217, Will Owen, Hugo de Sadeleer, Filipe Albuquerque
- 43-Keating Motorsports, Riley Mk. 30, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Ben Keating, Ricky Taylor
- 63-Corvette Racing, Corvette C7.R, Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor
- 64-Corvette Racing, Corvette C7.R, Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler
- 66-Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK, Ford GT, Olivier Pla, Stefan Mucke, Billy Johnson
- 67-Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK, Ford GT, Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, Pipo Derani
- 68-Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA, Ford GT, Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller, Sebastien Bourdais
- 69-Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA, Ford GT, Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon
- 82-Risi Competizione, Ferrari 488 GTE, Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, Pierre Kaffer
- 62-Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari 488 GTE, Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Cooper MacNeil*
- 65-Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari 488 GTE, Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan, Bret Curtis
*Only all-American driver lineup in the field.
There are 18 American drivers entered. They are, Will Owen, Gustavo Menezes, David Cheng, Ben Keating, Ricky Taylor, Mark Patterson, Matt McMurry (LMP2), Jordan Taylor, Tommy Milner, Billy Johnson, Joey Hand (GTE-Pro), Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Cooper MacNeil, Bret Curtis, Tracy Krohn, Patrick Long and Mike Hedlund (GTE-Am).