Thursday, June 20, 2019

Track Walk: Road America 2019

IndyCar is back to a natural-terrain road course and it is Road America
The tenth round of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season takes the circus to Road America, the longest track on the IndyCar schedule. This will be the 29th IndyCar race to take place at Road America and there have been eight different winners from the last eight races held at the 4.048-mile road course. Last year, Team Penske picked up its fifth Road America victory and second in three years. The team is halfway to Newman/Haas Racing's record of ten Road America victories. Through nine races in 2019, there have been six different winners, five different pole-sitters, eight different drivers to set fastest lap and seven different drivers to lead the most laps in a race.

Coverage
Time: Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday June 23rd with green flag scheduled for 12:50 p.m. ET.
Channel: NBC
Announcers: Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy will be in the booth. Kevin Lee, Jon Beekhuis, Marty Snider Dillon Welch and Robin Miller will work pit lane.

IndyCar Weekend Schedule 
Friday:
First Practice: 12:05 p.m. ET (45 minutes)*
Second Practice: 4:00 p.m. ET (45 minutes)*
Saturday:
Third Practice: 11:00 a.m. ET (45 minutes)*
Qualifying: 4:00 p.m. ET (Taped-delayed coverage on NBCSN at 5:00 p.m. ET)
Sunday:
Race: 12:50 p.m. ET (55 laps)

* - All practice and qualifying sessions are available live with the NBC Sports Gold IndyCar pass.

Alexander Rossi Needs a Win
For the second consecutive year Alexander Rossi heads to Road America second in the championship and within touching distance of the championship lead but Road America has not been kind to Rossi in his first three attempts.

Rossi's average finish is 14.667 with finishes of 15th, 13th and 16th. Last year, he started fourth but in his first two attempts he started on the eighth row.

It is not that Rossi has not had good races. In 2017, while he started toward the back, Rossi employed a four-stop strategy and it appeared it would result in a top five finish but then he suffered wing damage on a restart and took away a good finish. In last year's race, Rossi was in contention for a podium finish before he was forced to make a pit stop when the left front chamber shims fell out and that relegated him to 16th.

Road America is one of three tracks Rossi has multiple starts at but has not lead a lap at with the others being Sonoma, which is no longer on the schedule, and Toronto.

Rossi has three runner-up finishes in the last four races. Before this season Rossi had only two runner-up finishes in his entire IndyCar career. While Rossi has not been in IndyCar long, he has never had multiple victories in the first ten races of a season.

The biggest reason Rossi needs a victory is because the man ahead of him in the championship, Josef Newgarden, has won two of the last three races, and the man behind him in the championship, Simon Pagenaud has won twice since Rossi's lone victory this season at Long Beach. On top of all of it, all three of Rossi's runner-up finishes have been to either Newgarden or Pagenaud.

While Road America has not been kind to Rossi, Newgarden has found great success in the last three years. The Tennessean went from 20th to eighth in 2016 with a broken clavicle and wrist. In 2017, he started third and finished second. Last year, he won from pole position and led 53 of 55 laps.

The only track Newgarden has won at in consecutive years is Barber in 2017 and 2018 and the only time he has won consecutive races was in 2017 when he won at Toronto and Mid-Ohio, which was also apart of a period of three victories in four races.

Pagenaud has finished in the top ten the last two years at Road America but he has only led two laps in his four starts at the track and his best starting position and his best finishing position at the track is fourth.

Will Power Needs a Win
For the second time in Will Power's IndyCar career Power heads into the tenth race of the season without a victory. The only other time Power has not had a victory at this point of the season was in 2013. That year he had only one podium finish in the first nine races and that was a third at Milwaukee in the ninth race. His best finish this season is third, which occurred at St. Petersburg and the second Belle Isle race.

On top of all that, both of Power's teammates have won multiple races this season. Power has only been the top Penske finisher in one of the first nine races. Since the start of the DW12-era in 2012, Power has won 20 races but only six of those victories have come on natural-terrain road course races and three of those six victories were the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The other three victories came at Barber in 2012, Sonoma in 2013 and at Road America in 2016.

Power has been sixth in the championship after the last six races.

Ryan Hunter-Reay Needs a Win
While Ryan Hunter-Reay has won more recently than Will Power, like Power, if he wants to keep his championship hopes alive he will need a victory and last year, Hunter-Reay was on Newgarden's heels for the entire Road America race but was unable to pass Newgarden on the track and he was unable to jump ahead of him through pit strategy.

For the last two seasons, Hunter-Reay has been very consistent. Last year, he had seven top five finishes through the first nine races. This year, he only had five top five finishes but he has seven top ten finishes. His only retirement from the first nine races was his engine failure at the St. Petersburg season opener.

In five Road America starts, Hunter-Reay has three top five finishes and four top ten finishes. Last year was his first podium finish at the track. Hunter-Reay has also started in the top ten four times at the track but he has never led a lap at the track.

Hunter-Reay has been the top Andretti Autosport finisher twice this season with the first time being at Austin when Hunter-Reay finished third after Rossi was shuffled back because his final stop had to make a pit stop after caution. In the second Belle Isle race, Hunter-Reay finished fourth, one position ahead of Rossi, who spun in the race, which allowed Hunter-Reay to get ahead of his teammate.

Graham Rahal's Throwback
There will be a familiar look for a familiar name this weekend as Graham Rahal's #15 GEHL Honda will sport the livery of his father Bobby's 1994 Miller Genuine Draft livery. This livery is also in honor of Honda's 25 seasons in IndyCar.

Bobby Rahal used Honda engines in 15 of 16 races in that 1994 season. The one race Rahal did not use a Honda engine was the Indianapolis 500 when he used an Ilmor engine and finished third. However, Rahal's best finish that season came with a Honda engine and it was a runner-up finish at Toronto.

Bobby Rahal has made 17 Road America starts, tied for the second most all-time with Al Unser, Jr. and behind only Michael Andretti, but despite Rahal's terrific record of 10 top five finishes, 15 top ten finishes at the track and 13 lead lap finishes, records in all categories, he never won at Road America.  Rahal had six podium finishes at Road America with runner-up finishes in 1984, 1988 and 1996.

Graham has continued the strong results for the Rahal family at Elkhart Lake. In four starts, Graham Rahal has two podium finishes and two top ten finishes. He has started in the top six on three occasions with his worst starting position being ninth. He has only led two laps at the track. Rahal is coming off a third place finish at Texas, his first podium finish in over a year. He has not had a podium finish on a road/street course since Mid-Ohio in 2017 and he has not had consecutive podium finishes since he swept the Belle Isle doubleheader in 2017.

Rahal is eighth in the championship and his championship position has improved after each of the last three races.

Can Scott Dixon Make a Championship Comeback?
It is the start of another summer and this is when Scott Dixon finds another level. Twenty-five of Dixon's 45 victories have come during summer, of those 25 victories, 13 have come between the first day of summer and the end of July.

Dixon has won five championships before but this year he heads into the final eight races fourth in the championship and 89 points behind Newgarden.

How does this deficit compare to Dixon's previous five championship seasons with eight races to go?

In three of Dixon's five championship seasons he was not the championship leader with eight races to go. During his first championship season in 2003, Dixon was second in the championship, 31 points behind Tony Kanaan for the championship lead with eight races to go. Dixon did not win any of the final eight races that year but he had five runner-up finishes. He took over the championship lead after Michigan with six races to go but lost it after the next race at Gateway, falling to fourth. Dixon did not retake the championship lead until after the penultimate round at Fontana.

In 2008, Dixon took the championship lead after winning the Indianapolis 500, his fifth start of the season. He would lead the championship all the way through Chicagoland but his gap went from +43 points with eight races to go after Richmond to a championship margin of 17 points over Hélio Castroneves after Chicagoland.

Five years later, Dixon entered the final eight races fresh off his victory at Pocono but he was fourth in the championship, 65 points behind Castroneves. Dixon would sweep the Toronto doubleheader the following weekend and jump up to second. Dixon would not take the championship lead until the penultimate race at Houston. He entered that doubleheader weekend trailing Castroneves by 49 points but turned into an eight-point advantage heading into the season finale at Fontana. Dixon would go on to win the championship by 27 points over Castroneves.

Juan Pablo Montoya famously never trailed in the 2015 championship and with eight races to go, Montoya had a 63-point advantage over Dixon in third. Dixon was third in the championship from the sixth race of the season at the Indianapolis 500 all the way through the penultimate race at Pocono. Dixon entered the final race trailing Montoya by 47 points but in the double points paying finale Dixon won the race and led the most laps while Montoya finished sixth. This left the two drivers level on points but Dixon's three victories to Montoya's two victories won him the title on tiebreaker.

While Dixon has won the championship while being fourth with eight races to go, he has never had to overcome a deficit as large as the one he currently holds. Since 1979, there have been 21 previous occasions where a champion was trailing with eight races to go but the largest deficit overcame with eight races to go was 75 points by Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2012 and on only two other occasions was the eventual champion trailing by more than 50 points with eight races to go. Greg Ray overcame a 70-point margin to win the title in 1999 and Sam Hornish, Jr. was 61 points behind the championship leader entering the final eight races in 2002.

The Rest of the Field
Graham Rahal has a respectable track record at Road America but his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing teammate Takuma Sato has not had the same type of success. Sato finished fourth last year after starting seventh but in Sato's previous two starts at the track he has started 15th or worse on each occasion his finishes were outside the top fifteen and off the lead lap.

Both Dale Coyne Racing drivers are in the top ten of the championship and Sébastien Bourdais won at Road America in 2006. In his last two starts at the track he has failed to finish in the top ten each time. This will be Santino Ferrucci's first trip to Road America. Dale Coyne Racing has never had a top five finish at Road America with the team's best finish coming in 2004 when Oriol Servià finished sixth.

James Hinchcliffe heads to Road America without a top five finish in his last 14 starts. Hinchcliffe has one top ten finish in his last five starts. Last year, Hinchcliffe finished tenth at Road America, his best career finish in three starts and his best starting position at the track is ninth. Marcus Ericsson has been the top Schmidt Peterson Motorsports finisher in the last two races and he will make his Road America debut this weekend.

As for the other rookie drivers, Felix Rosenqvist has one top ten finish in his last four starts while Colton Herta has an average finish of 20.714 in his last seven starts and Patricio O'Ward returns in the #31 Chevrolet for Carlin. Herta had three consecutive podium finishes at Road America in Indy Lights with him winning the first race at last year's weekend. O'Ward made four starts at the track between Pro Mazda and Indy Lights. He had finished in fourth position three times and he was runner-up to Herta in the first Indy Lights race last year. O'Ward did win at Road America in IMSA's Prototype Challenge class in 2017.

Road to Indy
For the third time this season, all three Road to Indy series are together and every series is back on track after a month off. The last time we saw the three divisions they were all contesting ovals in the greater Indianapolis-area.

There are still 11 races remaining in the Indy Lights season and Freedom 100 winner Oliver Askew has an 11-point lead over Rinus VeeKay. Askew defeated Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Norman   by 0.0067 seconds to win the Freedom 100 nearly a month ago. It was Askew's third victory of the season after sweeping the Austin weekend and it was his fifth consecutive podium finish.

VeeKay has won twice and he has finished in the top five in all seven races this season. Askew's teammate Robert Megennis is 44 points back with Toby Sowery 53 points back and Norman rounding out the top five, 60 points behind Askew.

Between U.S. F2000 and Pro Mazda, Askew's four finishes at Road America are 17th, third, ninth and eighth while VeeKay swept the U.S. F2000 races there in 2017 and he was fifth in both Pro Mazda races last year. Megennis has never finished better than seventh in six Road to Indy starts at the track. Sowery ran both Pro Mazda races last year and he finished second in both races. Norman has two top five finishes in four starts at Road America.

David Malukas swept the Pro Mazda races at this track last year. Aaron Telitz will be back in the #4 Belardi Auto Racing Mazda this weekend and he swept the 2016 Pro Mazda races at his home track and he finished third in the second Indy Lights race last year.

Lucas Kohl and Dalton Kellett round out the nine-car entry list for Indy Lights.

Indy Lights will race at 2:50 p.m. ET on Saturday June 22nd and 9:50 a.m. ET on Sunday June 23rd.

Rasmus Lindh continues to lead the Indy Pro 2000 championship but Daniel Frost cut the gap to nine points after Frost won the Freedom 90 at Indianapolis Raceway Park. Lindh sits on 142 points to Frost's 133 points. Both drivers have four podium finishes from the first five races with their worst finish being fourth.

Sting Ray Robb has finished in the top five of all five races with three trips to the podium including runner-up finishes in the last two races. Robb is 21 points behind Lindh. Parker Thompson had a rough Freedom 90 finishing tenth and he is 27 points behind Lindh. Kyle Kirkwood rounds out the top five on 97 points.

Kirkwood swept the U.S. F2000 races at this track in 2018 with Lindh finishing fourth and 18th in the two races. Thompson has made six Road to Indy starts at Road America and he has finished in the top five in all six races but his only trip to the podium was the second U.S. F2000 race in 2016 when he finished third. Robb has finishes of fourth, 11th, 11th and ninth in four starts.

There are 13 cars entered this weekend in Indy Pro 2000.

Pro Mazda's first race will be at 1:55 p.m. ET on Saturday June 22nd with race two scheduled for 11:05 a.m. ET on Sunday June 23rd.

After winning the first four races of the season, Braden Eves finished fifth in the Freedom 75 from Indianapolis Raceway Park but he did extend his championship lead to 44 points over Hunter McElrea, who finished 11th in the only oval race on the U.S. F2000 schedule.

Darren Keane still has only one podium finish this season but he is up to third in the championship, though he trails Eves by 67 points. Keane and Cameron Kaminsky are tied on 86 points but Keane holds the tiebreaker with his best finish being second in the second race on the IMS road course and Kaminsky's best finish was third in the Freedom 75.

Alex Baron is a point behind Keane and Kaminsky and Freedom 75 winner Cameron Shields is two points back on 84 points. Manuel Sulaimán has dropped to seventh in the championship on 83 points.

Eighteen cars are entered for the U.S. F2000 weekend from Road America. Notable names include Christian Rasmussen, Eduardo Barrichello and Jack William Miller, who all ran at Road America last year in Formula 4. Wisconsin-native Yuven Sundaramoorthy will also be contesting this weekend's races.

The first U.S. F2000 race will be at 1:00 p.m. ET on Saturday June 22nd and the second race will be at 9:00 a.m. ET on Sunday June 23rd.

Fast Facts
This will be the 11th IndyCar race to take place on June 23rd and the last IndyCar race to take place on June 23rd was in 2013 and James Hinchcliffe won that race at Iowa.

Michael Andretti won on June 23, 1991 at Portland.

This year's Road America race falls on the 23rd anniversary of Alex Zanardi's first career IndyCar victory, which occurred at Portland.

Seven drivers have picked up their first career victory at Road America. Those drivers were Héctor Rebaque, Jacques Villeneuve, brother of Gilles Villeneuve; Jacques Villeneuve, son of Gilles Villeneuve, Dario Franchitti, Christian Fittipaldi, Bruno Junqueira and Alex Tagliani.

Josef Newgarden could became the fourth driver to win consecutive Road America races joining Mario Andretti, Michael Andretti and Jacques Villeneuve.

American drivers have not won consecutive Road America races since Danny Sullivan won in 1989 and Michael Andretti went on to win the following two years.

The average starting position for a Road America winner is 3.571 with a median of three.

The pole-sitter has won three of the last four Road America races.

The only time the Road America winner started outside the top ten was in 2004 when Alex Tagliani won from 13th.

The last ten IndyCar races have been won from inside a top ten starting position.

The average number of lead changes in a Road America race is 4.074 with a median of four.

The final lead change has come in the final ten laps of a Road America race on 11 occasions.

There have been three Road America races decided on a last lap pass. Héctor Rebaque won the first race in 1982 after Al Unser ran out of fuel on the final lap. The same thing happened in 1989 but this time Danny Sullivan took the victory while Michael Andretti ran out of fuel. Seven years later, Al Unser, Jr. lost an engine on the final lap and that allowed Michael Andretti to get the victory.

The average number of cautions in a Road America race is 2.111 with a median of two. The average number of caution laps is 6.777 with a median of five.

Last year's caution-free race was the tenth Road America race not to have a caution and first since 2000.

On three previous occasions there has been consecutive caution-free races at Road America.

The last track to have consecutive caution-free races was Mid-Ohio in 2012 and 2013.

Last year's Road America race was the third fastest in the track's history at 132.101 MPH behind 1999 (137.697 MPH) and 2000 (136.457 MPH).

Possible Milestones:
If Tony Kanaan takes the green flag he will make his 370th start, moving him into second all-time for  starts in IndyCar history.

Sébastien Bourdais needs to lead 48 laps to reach the 2,700 laps led milestone.

Ryan Hunter-Reay needs to lead 55 laps to reach the 1,600 laps led milestone.

James Hinchcliffe needs to lead 44 laps to reach the 800 laps led milestone.

Takuma Sato needs to lead 53 laps to reach the 700 laps led milestone.

Graham Rahal needs to lead 16 laps to reach the 400 laps led milestone.

Predictions
I think this could be the season we remember for the head-to-head battle between Josef Newgarden and Alexander Rossi and the start of a decade-long rivalry and I think we will see these two driver go at it again at Road America. I think Rossi takes the victory but Newgarden finishes second. At least five American drivers finish in the top ten. At least one driver in the top five of the championship does not make it out of the first round of qualifying. There will be at least three different leaders in this race. Sleeper: Marcus Ericsson.


Monday, June 17, 2019

Musings From the Weekend: 2019 NTT IndyCar Series Halfway Report

Toyota won the 24 Hours of Le Mans but it wasn't without any drama. Mike Conway was magnificent in defeat. Fernando Alonso continues to make history. The hypercar regulations have been released and Aston Martin will join Toyota in the top class in 2020-21. Elsewhere, there was two-wheel racing in Barcelona and a pair of brothers made the Catalan crowd proud. Sébastien Ogier lost the World Rally Championship lead after a retirement in Sardegna. Team Penske is on fire. There was rain in Iowa and Ross Chastain was disqualified from the Truck race after finishing first on the road. Here is a run down of what got me thinking.

2019 NTT IndyCar Series Halfway Report
Summer begins in a few days and eight races remain in the IndyCar season. The two Indianapolis races, the two Belle Isle races and the Texas race has shifted the championship into another gear. We are starting to see how the championship fight will shape up, who is in contention and who are starting to lose ground to the front-runners.

After having four different winners from four different teams in the first four races of 2019, only three different drivers from two different teams won the five races of the second quarter of the season.  Where do the teams stand after spring?

1. Team Penske
Four victories from five races including a sweep of the Indianapolis races with Simon Pagenaud keeps Team Penske on top and if anything the gap is growing between Team Penske and the rest of the field.

Josef Newgarden continues to lead the championship, though his advantage has been decreased from 28 points after Long Beach to 25 points after Texas, he has won two of the last three races, was the first driver to three victories for the third consecutive seasons, is tied for the most podium finishes, top five finishes, has led the most laps this season, has led the most races this season and he is the only driver with multiple fastest laps this season. The second race ended in disaster when Newgarden ended up in the tire barrier after a collision with James Hinchcliffe in turn three. Pit strategy worked to Newgarden's favor in Texas and making a third stop under yellow allowed him to run aggressive and leapfrog from seventh to first. Again, he had Rossi on his heels but the Chevrolet power of the American kept the Andretti Autosport Honda at bay and earned Newgarden his third victory of 2019.

Pagenaud got all the glory at Indianapolis when he won the Grand Prix of Indianapolis after charging down Scott Dixon in wet conditions, a dominant performance in the Indianapolis 500 that ended with the Frenchman besting Alexander Rossi in a dash to the finish and Pagenaud continued his positive second quarter with a pair sixth place finishes at Belle Isle and Texas. Pagenaud jumped from 11th in the championship after Long Beach, 79 points off Newgarden to third after Texas, 48 points behind his teammate.

Will Power had four top ten finishes from the last five races but this stretch was more remembered for the mistakes the Australian made. Power was penalized in the Indianapolis 500 for hitting a crew member during a pit stop and he had to rally to finish fifth. In the first Belle Isle race, not securing the right front tire on the lone pit stop of the race unraveled a promising result and in the second race he stopped on circuit due to a gearbox issue but came back to finish third. Power spent most of the Texas race off the lead lap but through attrition climbed to a ninth place result.

Pagenaud may have won the Indianapolis 500 but this has been Newgarden's team this year. Newgarden has held the championship lead after eight of nine races with the lone exception being after the Indianapolis 500 when he was second to Pagenaud. Newgarden has been the top Penske finisher in six of nine races with the only times Pagenaud finishing on top being his two victories and Power's third in the second Belle Isle race is the only time the Australian led the team. Power was the top Penske qualifier in the first five races but Pagenaud and Newgarden have split the last four races while Pagenaud on top at the top ovals and Newgarden being the quickest in both Belle Isle races.

2. Andretti Autosport
The team might not have won a race in the second quarter of the 2019 season but boy was Andretti Autosport knocking on the door and Alexander Rossi led the way.

Rossi had three runner-up finishes in the second quarter of the season and he finished fifth in the second Belle Isle race after a spin in an evasive action kept him from making it three wounded race cars in the turn three incident that ended the day of Newgarden and significantly hampered Hinchcliffe. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis was stolen from him at the start when Patricio O'Ward ran into the back of Rossi coming to the green flag.

After that, Rossi was on fire. He pushed Pagenaud in the Indianapolis 500 and without that final caution Rossi very well may have pulled away and taken his second Indianapolis 500 victory in comfortable fashion, instead he finished second. In the next race, Rossi started on pole position and led from the get-go but he was caught out when Ed Jones got into the turn seven tire barrier and it forced him to shuffle behind Newgarden. Rossi spent the remainder of that race on Newgarden's heels but the wet track off line made it very difficult for Rossi to make a pass and again he settled for second. He might not have been the best car at Texas but he was ahead of Newgarden all night until Newgarden made his final pit stop. Like Indianapolis, when put in a late dash against a Penske, Rossi pushed but couldn't pull out a victory.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was the best car at Texas but the lack of tire degradation made it possible for the race to be completed in three stops. Hunter-Reay was on a four-stop strategy and it painted him into a corner. He always had to make an extra pit stop and instead of making it under the first caution, Hunter-Reay made it late and had to rally to a fifth place finish. Prior to Texas, Hunter-Reay hit a good run of form. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis aside, he turned an average car in the Indianapolis 500 to an eighth place finish and he finished fifth and fourth at Belle Isle.

The other two Andretti Autosport drivers continue to struggle. Marco Andretti got the setup wrong in the Indianapolis 500 and was off the lead lap for nearly 400 miles and his strategy to switch to slicks at Belle Isle backfired when the field did not pack up and instead of vaulting Andretti into the top ten, he remained at the back. In the second Belle Isle race, Andretti worked his way into the top ten and finished sixth but at Texas, he was not that competitive after a bobble in turn two ruined a promising qualifying attempt. He may have finished tenth but it came with some attrition.

Zach Veach was the top Andretti finisher at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis when he finished 12th but he had two retirements in the oval races after accidents. The good news for Veach is he picked up his first two top ten finishers of the season at Belle Isle when he finished eighth in both races.

On top of the full-time drivers, Conor Daly started 11th and finished tenth and spent a fair amount of the race in the top ten as the second best Andretti car behind Rossi.

3. Chip Ganassi Racing
The team tied Newman-Haas Racing for second most victories for a team in IndyCar history but the second quarter was full of ups and downs.

It appeared Scott Dixon would be onto glory in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis but Pagenaud chased down Dixon and overtook the New Zealander in turn nine with two laps to go. Dixon would finish second. Dixon worked his way into the top ten but he suffered damage in the turn three accident that took out Bourdais, Veach, his teammate Felix Rosenqvist and Graham Rahal to name a few. He had to settle with a 17th place finish. In the first Belle Isle race, Dixon threw away a podium finish after clipping the barrier in turn seven and it put him in the barrier, his first retirement in over two years. Of course, Dixon rebounded and won the second race after going off-strategy early while his biggest rivals all stubbed their toes. He was running at the front of Texas and he looked to have another podium finish, if not possible victory in his grasp, but an accident with Colton Herta gave him his third finish outside the top fifteen in four races.

Felix Rosenqvist started the second quarter of the season on a high with his first career pole position at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis but he lost ground early and was not able to factor in that race while Dixon controlled the race. A practice accident during Indianapolis 500 practice put him behind the eight-ball but he made up ground and could have been challenging for a top ten finish before he was caught up in the turn three accident with Bourdais, Veach and Rahal. The first Belle Isle race saw Rosenqvist on Dixon's heels and he slid up to a fourth place finish after Dixon's race ended. Rosenqvist was in the top ten for race two before an accident in turn one ended his race. Texas was a rough race but he made it home in 12th.

4. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
No change for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's positioning after the second quarter and the team had both its drivers keeping up the results.

Takuma Sato had a surprising third place finish in the Indianapolis 500 after losing a lap early in the race and for a moment it appeared he was replicating his 2012 and 2017 races with late charges leading to contention for race victory. He wasn't able to mix it up with Pagenaud and Rossi but he was in the frame in case someone slipped up. Sato was spectacular in the wet on Saturday at Belle Isle. He was braking deeper than anybody and made up a ton of ground. Once dry, Sato was in third and got his third podium finish of the season.

Unfortunately for Sato, he had a few missed opportunities to close out spring. He was in the top ten in the second Belle Isle race before a cut tire forced an extra pit stop and a pit lane error, sliding too fast into his pit box and clipping a crew member, derailed his Texas race where he started on pole position and led the entire opening stint without any challenge from behind.

Graham Rahal had four top ten finishes from the five races in the second quarter of 2019. He likely would have finished in the top five and possibly the top three in the Indianapolis 500 had he and Bourdais not made contact in turn three. Both cars were on the move and the superior efficiency of the Hondas gave Rahal and Bourdais the advantage over the Chevrolets of Pagenaud, Carpenter and Newgarden, who were all directly ahead of those two.

After finishes of ninth and a pair of sevenths at Belle Isle, Rahal had a strong Texas race. He wasn't at the front from the drop of the green flag but he improved over the night and when the race turned into short sprints due to cautions, Rahal made up ground and ended up in third, his first podium finish since the 2018 season opener at St. Petersburg.

5. Dale Coyne Racing
The four teams above have a driver in the top ten of the championship. Dale Coyne Racing has two and it moves up one spot since Long Beach.

Santino Ferrucci had a breakout second quarter with finishes of tenth in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, seventh in the Indianapolis 500, earning him the Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year, tenth in the second Belle Isle race after going off strategy and leading 20 laps and fourth at Texas, his first career top five finish.

Ferrucci is the top rookie in the championship in ninth, up eight positions from after Long Beach. He has completed 989 of 991 laps this season, more than any other driver. There is still room for improvement as the Nutmegger's best start in the second quarter was 14th and he has started outside the top twenty in two of the last five races.

Sébastien Bourdais finds himself three points behind his teammate and rounding out the top ten. He finished behind his teammate three times in the last five races. Bourdais had a great race going in the Indianapolis 500 before the accident. He did well in the wet in the first Belle Isle race but could only get up to 11th. Bourdais was ahead of Ferrucci most of the night in Texas but the cautions shook up the results.

Bourdais has righted some of the qualifying woes for Dale Coyne Racing with five top ten starts in the last six races and he leads his teammate in head-to-head qualifying 7-2 but only 5-4 in race finishes.

6. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Up a spot is Schmidt Peterson Motorsports but it was not the greatest second quarter for the team.

James Hinchcliffe had one top ten finish in the second quarter, ninth in the first Belle Isle race. He had an impressive day in the Indianapolis 500, driving from 32nd to 11th but he had two accidents in the last two races cost him great results. He likely would have finished in the top five in the second Belle Isle race had he not gotten into Newgarden and then lose power and he coughed up a top ten finish at Texas after he brushed the wall exiting turn two.

The brightest spot in SPM's second quarter was Marcus Ericsson, though he too had his moments. Ericsson was out of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis after 11 laps. He was running well in the Indianapolis 500 and was the top rookie, fighting for a top ten position, when he spun entering the pit lane. The good news is he had a strong drive in the second Belle Isle race to finish second to Dixon and he was clean all night at Texas, stayed on the lead lap and finished seventh.

Both drivers are outside the top ten in the championship, though Hinchcliffe is on the outside because Bourdais owns the tiebreaker. Hinchcliffe enters summer 2019 without a top five finish in his last 14 starts.

7. Meyer Shank Racing
Meyer Shank Racing only ran two races and it jumps up one spot! How could it be?

Jack Harvey's Grand Prix of Indianapolis performance, that's how! Harvey was at the front and really in podium contention all race. At one point, he was in second and chasing down race leader Scott Dixon. Harvey wasn't able to pull out a remarkable victory but a third place finish behind Pagenaud and Dixon was an outstanding showing for him and this team.

The Indianapolis 500 was not Harvey's greatest day and he was not really mentioned once during the race after starting 25th and finishing 21st.

The team has not contested the last three races but Harvey has only dropped from 13th to 21st in the championship. He is ahead of Patricio O'Ward, who has started six races and Max Chilton, who has started seven races. He is only 17 points behind Matheus Leist, who has started every race. Based on points per start, Harvey is ahead of Marco Andretti, Marcus Ericsson, Colton Herta, Tony Kanaan, Zach Veach and Leist; drivers that have started all nine races.

MSR and Harvey will be back for Road America but the only other races it will run in 2019 are the natural-terrain road courses of Mid-Ohio, Portland and Laguna Seca.

8. Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing is the fourth consecutive team to move up the order since the end of quarter one but the results have only had a slight tick upward.

After not scoring a top ten finish in the first four races, the team had a double top ten finish with Spencer Pigot in fifth and Ed Jones in sixth in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The team continued its Indianapolis 500 qualifying success with all three cars making the Fast Nine with Ed Carpenter, Pigot and Jones qualifying second, third and fourth and Pigot was fastest after the Saturday qualifying session.

In the race, Carpenter was at the front for almost the entirety of this race but was not as much as a threat for the race victory. Both Pigot and Jones slid back as the race went on. Carpenter picked up a sixth place finish while Jones and Pigot were 13th and 14th.

Pigot had a tenth place finish in race one from Belle Isle and a terrible accident with Bourdais in race two that ended what could have been a top ten result. Jones had a run in with the tires and a nondescript 14th place finish in the Motor City. Both ECR cars struggled and dropped like rocks at the start of Texas. Carpenter was able to reverse it and get back to 13th, where he started, but Pigot finished 14th after starting sixth.

9. Harding Steinbrenner Racing
The darling of spring wilted the closer we got to summer.

Colton Herta may have a race victory but when you have three retirements and your best finish is 12th from five races and have dropped to 16th in the championship after being fifth after Barber and tenth after Long Beach you are going to fall down this order as well.

It hasn't all been bad for Herta and a lot of it has been out of his control. Hinchcliffe hit Herta from behind at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, ending his race. The gearbox broke on him after three laps in the Indianapolis 500. He may have been a bit too aggressive at Texas when he and Dixon got together but he has shown the same promise we saw in the first two races.

Herta was fifth on the grid for the Indianapolis 500. He definitely had a quick race car only for it to let him down before he could complete ten miles. He was in the top five for most of Texas and I know he was trying to get more and maybe even thought he could win the race but that might have been a case where he needed to be more patient after his string of retirements.

The crazy thing is Herta's qualifying results. He has an average starting position of 6.9 and his worst starting position this season was 11th at St. Petersburg, a race where he appeared he was going to be in the Fast Six before he got docked his fastest lap for interference on Charlie Kimball's qualifying run. The problem is he has completed only 630 laps, 15 fewer than Ed Jones, who has made one fewer start and only four more than Jack Harvey, who has made three fewer starts. Herta has completed only 63.6% of the possible laps from his nine starts. The only drivers in all of IndyCar to complete a lower percentage of laps are Ben Hanley at 62.5% in three starts and Kyle Kaiser, who has completed 50.4% of the possible laps in his two starts.

That is terrible for Herta! That means all the Indianapolis 500 one-offs, Pippa Mann, Jordan King, Oriol Servià, J.R. Hildebrand and Sage Karam have completed a higher percentage of laps than a full-time driver through nine races!

It has to turn around and it almost has to come down to the team telling Herta to settle for fifth or eighth or ninth. The team cannot tear up more race cars and it needs results. Austin was great but the last three months have been crap and the team needs a respectable result even if it means telling a 19-year-old kid to settle.

10. A.J. Foyt Racing
The Texas team gets off the bottom after Matheus Leist finished fourth in the wet and after timely pit stops in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Tony Kanaan finished ninth in the Indianapolis 500.

Outside of those results, Leist has finished 15th, 21st, 20th and 22nd with three consecutive retirements. Kanaan has finished 20th, 15th, 22nd and 16th with an unfortunate lap one retirement in the second Belle Isle race.

The team has already turned its attention to the 2020 season but we got to start seeing changes in 2019 and I am not talking in terms of race results but in team personnel. Leist may have been rushed into IndyCar but if Foyt wants to set the team up for 2020 it better find a veteran driver to pair with Kanaan to get the team back on course.

Charlie Kimball is a smart driver and we have seen this year with Carlin him get more out of the car than his teammates. That would be a smart hire and Kimball could a driver Foyt could continue on with in 2020. Oriol Servià is still on the sidelines. He would be a veteran option that could work with Kanaan but I feel like Foyt needs a veteran driver that could be a long-term option and Servià is older than Kanaan. Conor Daly is available but, like Kimball, he might have other options. James Davison has been a quick driver in his Indianapolis 500 one-offs and he doesn't have a regular gig. J.R. Hildebrand is available.

Foyt might be focused on 2020 but we are going to have to see some improvements in the summer of 2019.

11. Carlin
When all three of the cars that failed to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 had ties to Carlin, you are going to the bottom.

Carlin is already experimenting for the future. Max Chilton is stepping away from the ovals. Patricio O'Ward is turning his attention to Europe and will not run Iowa or Gateway after those were on his initial schedule. Conor Daly filled in for Chilton at Texas. Kimball is signed for Pocono and Laguna Seca.

Daly and Kimball both did well at Texas. Kimball was up to 12th before he had to retire due to a right rear bearing issue. Daly ended up finishing 11th but he was ahead of Will Power and Marco Andretti most of the night.

I wonder how O'Ward does now that he is in the Red Bull development program. This could be a case of split interest and there is nothing really for him to gain in IndyCar. He has had some good races since the announcement. Even after he served a penalty for running into Rossi at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis he was in position for a top ten finish before the tire pressures were wrong when he switched to the wet tires and it forced him to make another stop. He was unfortunate at Belle Isle and got hit at the start, which cost him a few positions.

Chilton still hasn't found his stride. My hope is now that he doesn't have to worry about oval races he can focus on the road courses and he can start pulling out respectable results.

Who Is Out Now?
After Long Beach, we wrote off Pigot, Kanaan, Veach, Jones, Chilton and Leist.

Let's add Graham Rahal, Santino Ferrucci, Sébastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe, Felix Rosenqvist, Marco Andretti, Marcus Ericsson and Colton Herta to that list. No champion since 1947 has not had a top five finish in one of the first five races and that fact eliminates Ferrucci, Hinchcliffe, Andretti and Ericsson. Rahal and Bourdais both meet that criteria but they are 156 points and 177 points behind Newgarden respectively. Rosenqvist and Herta have both been respectable but both are too far behind with too few races remaining.

We are going to keep Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay alive for now but both drivers have to start winning races to have any hope in a second championship.

How Does the Third Quarter Shape the Championship?
The next four races are two road courses, Road America and Mid-Ohio with the 7/8-mile oval at Iowa and the Toronto street course.

Newgarden and Rossi won at Road America and Mid-Ohio last year, Newgarden dominated Iowa before he was caught with his pants down and he started on pole position at Toronto and gave that race away after he brushed the wall coming to the green flag on a restart.

Rossi was set for a podium finish at Road America before the left front camber shims fell out and forced him to pit and lose a lap. He stalled on a pit stop and it cost him a possible top five result at Iowa and he finished ninth. He ran into the back of Power at Toronto while in the top five and had to make an extra pit stop and finished eighth.

Pagenaud has finished in the top ten at Mid-Ohio in the last seven years, at Toronto and Iowa the last three years and Road America the last two years. The one of the four tracks Pagenaud has won at is Mid-Ohio but he was runner-up finisher at Toronto last year and he has only finished in the top five twice at Iowa.

Dixon has finished first and third the last two years at Road America and he won at Toronto last year but he has not won at Mid-Ohio since 2014 and that is the last time he has stood on the podium at that track. He has only two podium finishes at Iowa with his best finish being third.

In the 12 races at these four tracks the last three years, Sato has only four top ten finishes but all those finishes were top five results including a third at Iowa last year and fourth at Road America. His average finish over those 12 races is 12.0 with six finishes outside the top fifteen.

Chevrolet has won two of the last three years at Road America, Iowa and Mid-Ohio and it won five consecutive Toronto races before Dixon won last year for Honda. Chevrolet has had the advantage in terms of horsepower, which should play into its favor at Road America but Honda has had the upper hand on street courses. Chevrolet has won the two oval races this season and Team Penske has won ten of the last 14 oval races dating back to Pocono 2016.

Newgarden lost ground in the championship from Long Beach to Texas but he by no means lost a step. The next four races appear to shape up into his favor. He is the only active driver in IndyCar to have won at all four tracks that make up IndyCar's third quarter.

Rossi is the main challenger but after a May and June that saw him arguably be the quickest driver but in the mirrors of Penske entries he will need to convert and replicate his street course prowess at Toronto, his Mid-Ohio dominance from last year and have career best finishes at Road America and Iowa if he wants to take control of the championship before we get into August.

Champions From the Weekend
The #8 Toyota of Sébastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima won the World Endurance Drivers' Championship

The #36 Signatech Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet won the Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers.

The #92 Porsche of Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre won the World Endurance GT Drivers' Championship.

The #56 Team Project 1 Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti won the Endurance Trophy for GTE-Am Drivers

Winners From the Weekend
You know about the 24 Hours of Le Mans but did you know...

Marc Márquez won MotoGP's Catalan Grand Prix, his fourth victory of the season. Álex Márquez won the Moto2 race, his third consecutive victory. Marcos Ramírez won the Moto3 race, his first career victory in 53 starts.

Dani Sordo won Rally Italia Sardegna, his second career World Rally victory with the other being the 2013 Rallye Deutschland.

Scott McLaughlin swept the Supercars races from Hidden Valley Raceway and he has won five consecutive races and 12 of 16 races.

Christopher Bell won the NASCAR Grand National Series race from Iowa, his fourth victory of the season. Brett Moffitt won the Truck race after the disqualification of Ross Chastain. It is Moffitt's first victory of the season.

Coming Up This Weekend
IndyCar starts summer at Road America.
NASCAR Cup Series will run the full course at Sonoma while the Trucks head to Gateway.
Formula One has another French Grand Prix.
24 Hours Nürburgring and the World Touring Car Cup has three races around the Nordschleife.
Misano continues to be busy with World Superbike visiting the track.
Formula E is back in Switzerland but this year it goes to Bern.
Super Formula will be at Sportsland SUGO.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Toyota Takes Second Consecutive Le Mans Victory But Not Without Drama

The longest season in FIA World Endurance Championship's short history has concluded and the 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans ended in a Toyota victory for the second consecutive year. It is the 17th time a manufacture has won Le Mans overall in consecutive years and Toyota is the 11th different manufacture to achieve such an accomplishment but in Toyota fashion, it did not come without any drama.

Entering the final hour the #7 Toyota TS050 of José María López suffered a puncture with just over a two-minute gap to the #8 Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima. López limbed to the pit lane but the team only changed the right-front tire when it was actually the right-rear tire that had a problem and a sensor error forced the team to make an extra pit stop. Nakajima lost the led to Nakajima before the Ford chicane coming in for the second stop.

From there, the dye was cast and the #8 Toyota of Nakajima, Sébastien Buemi and Fernando Alonso swept in to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans for a second consecutive year and to clinch the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Drivers' Championship in style.

The title was not a question for the #8 Toyota. It was focused on the title and it appeared second would be good enough on this day but in a season where the #7 Toyota was snake-bitten once again the misfortune of the sister car led to glory for Nakajima, Buemi and Alonso.

It seemed it would be the other guys' day. The less-heralded lineup of López, Mike Conway and Kamui Kobayashi had carried their weight this season; winning two races only to have problems befell the trio at Le Mans last year, Sebring in March and Spa-Francorchamps last month. It felt after all the missed opportunities of the last year the #7 Toyota, the drivers the world had forgotten would get to stand on the top step of the podium and have their hand prints forever stamped on motorsports history.

It was not meant to be and the glory goes to the men who have been in the sunlight. Alonso, Buemi and Nakajima all had their spells in Formula One, they were all darlings of manufactures. Alonso adds a World Endurance Drivers' Championship to his two World Drivers' Championship won in Formula One almost 15 years ago. This is Buemi's second World Endurance Drivers' Championship and it is added to his great success in Formula E. Nakajima becomes the first Japanese world champion in any series, adding to his domestic success.

Conway, Kobayashi and López all took a longer road to this day. Conway had a wishy-washy career in single-seaters. A Honda F1 test driver but at a time when the manufacture was exiting the series and he turned his career to IndyCar. While suffering a devastating injury that would lead him to step away from oval racing, he showed his teeth on the road and street courses and picked up four victories.

Kobayashi scored points in his second Formula One start and then Toyota withdrew from the series. He spent the rest of his career between Sauber and Caterham and while he scored a fair number of points with Sauber, including a third place finish in the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix, he was more or less a homeless man during his Formula One career, living in the hotels the teams stayed at for each grand prix.

After single-seater success in GP2, López returned to his native Argentina and raced touring cars. He quickly became champion and out of nowhere, he was in line for a shot at Formula One when he was signed to drive for the ill-fated US F1 team. That team never got off the ground but López kept winning in Argentina and that success led to a World Touring Car Championship opportunity. He won the WTCC title in his first three seasons, leading to Toyota picking up López.

For three careers, this would have been the greatest summation of their careers. The careers of Conway, Kobayashi and López are that of 100s of drivers in motorsports, guys with plenty of talent but never ending up in the right opportunity. It is a sprinkling of success mixed with lackluster results but once given their break they made the most of it. Those three were one hour from elevating their careers from the meat the diehards digest to iconized in front of the entire world.

When it comes to the winners, Alonso is 2-for-2 at Le Mans. He becomes the sixth driver to win the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the same year. The Indianapolis 500 remains the final crown missing but the 12 Hours of Sebring could also be on his radar.

Toyota was not the only successful defense at Le Mans.

The #36 Signatech Alpine of Nicolas Lapierre, André Negrão and Pierre Thiriet took the LMP2 class victory for the second consecutive year and that will earn those three the 2018-19 Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers. It was the team's second victory of the season; the first one came at Le Mans last year. The team finished on the podium in every race. This is Lapierre's fourth LMP2 class victory in the last five years at Le Mans. The one year he didn't win was in 2017 is when he drove a third Toyota entry in LMP1. This is the second time Lapierre has won the top honors in LMP2, he first took this trophy in 2016.

Ferrari was back on the top step of the podium in GTE-Pro with the #51 AF Corse Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Daniel Serra, the first Le Mans class victories for Pier Guidi and Calado, Serra's second in three starts. Ferrari's victory keeps the streak at five different manufactures to win GTE-Pro in five consecutive years with the order being Corvette, Ford, Aston Martin, Porsche and Ferrari.

The GTE-Pro battle was soured when the #63 Corvette was caught in the pit lane during a safety car period, allowing the #51 AF Corse to gain an enormous gap while the Corvette had to wait for the next safety to come around and join the pack. The #63 Corvette would have a spin and take it out of contention for the victory, allowing the #91 Porsche and #93 Porsche to round out the podium. The factory Ford GT effort came in and dominated the class in its first year in 2016. While the program does not end with the same level of success, its four cars finish third, fourth, fifth and sixth in class with the #68 Ford GT of Joey Hand, Dirk Müller and Sébastien Bourdais, the class winners three years ago, leading the way.

It was not all sad for the Ford GT and as the factory program says goodbye to Le Mans, the first privateer Ford GT in this era won in GTE-Am. The #85 Keating Motorsports Ford GT took a popular victory for Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga. It was the first Le Mans class victory for Keating and Fraga with Fraga winning on his Le Mans debut. Bleekemolen's only previous Le Mans class victory was in 2008 driving a Porsche RS Spyder in LMP2. Fraga made it three Brazilians to win in three different classes.

Americans dominated GTE-Am. The runner-up finisher was the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche of Jörg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey and Egidio Perfetti and that will hand those three the 2018-19 Endurance Trophy for GTE-Am Drivers. In third was the #84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari of Rodrigo Baptiste, Wei Lu and Jeff Segal. It is Segal's third GTE-Am class podium finish in four starts. In fourth was the #62 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari of Toni Vilander, Cooper MacNeil and Rob Smith.

The 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans ends a historic season, the "super season" that spanned two calendar years as the series shifts to September-June season, similar to what we see soccer leagues around the world but this year's race also sees the future of the World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans start to take root.

The hypercar regulations have been announced, Aston Martin and Toyota have confirmed their participation and now we wait and see what other manufactures decide to join. After an odd two years with Toyota competing against privateers but with superior equipment there will be one more season before the next chapter of this championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans begins.

Worry has subsided and excitement sinks in with the future laid out.


Wednesday, June 12, 2019

2019 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Preview

The 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans is majority GTE cars, 34 to be specific with it be an equal split with 17 Pro entries and 17 Am entries. Six manufactures are entered in the Pro class with four manufactures represented in the Am class.

In the Pro class, five different manufactures have won the last five years at Le Mans with the order being Ferrari, Corvette, Ford, Aston Martin and Porsche. Ferrari has won three of the last five years in GTE-Am and Ferrari has had at least two GTE-Am podium finishers the last five years with second and third place finishers last year.

This will be the final 24 Hours of Le Mans for the factory-backed Ford and BMW programs.

This preview goes entry-by-entry and gives you each driver with their number of Le Mans appearances, including this year in parentheses, followed by that entry's result on the Le Mans Test Day and a little additional information on each entry.

GTE-Pro
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo
Drivers: Alessandro Pier Guidi (4th), James Calado (4th), Daniel Serra (3rd)
Test Day Result: 8th
About This Team: Calado and Pier Guidi won at Silverstone but their only other podium finish was second at Spa-Francorchamps last month. They are third in the championship on 98.5 points. Calado was a runner-up finisher on his Le Mans debut in 2015 but he has yet to get back on the podium. Pier Guidi has never finished on the podium at Le Mans. Serra won on debut in 2017 with Aston Martin. Serra has won the last two Stock Car Brasil championships and he is the current Stock Car Brasil championship leader.

#63 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
Drivers: Jan Magnussen (21st), Antonio García (14th), Mike Rockenfeller (10th)
Test Day Result: 1st
About This Team: This is the eighth consecutive year and tenth time Magnussen and Garcià are racing together at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Their only victory together was in their first Le Mans together in 2009. They have only stood on the podium twice since. Magnussen has four class victories at Le Mans, all with Corvette. García won in 2008 with Aston Martin and he won in 2011 driving for Corvette with Olivier Beretta and Tommy Milner. Magnussen and García are defending GTLM champions in IMSA and they have finished on the podium in the last three races but despite having ten podium finishes in the last 12 IMSA races, Magnussen and García have not won since May 6, 2017 at Austin. Last year was Rockenfeller's first Le Mans with Corvette. He won the race overall in 2010 with Audi.

#64 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R
Drivers: Oliver Gavin (19th), Tommy Milner (11th), Marcel Fässler (14th)
Test Day Result: 3rd
About This Team: Gavin has five class victories at Le Mans with the most recent in 2015 with Milner and Jordan Taylor. Gavin and Milner have one podium finish this year in IMSA, a third at Long Beach. The British-American duo's last two victories have occurred at Long Beach. The last victory for the pair at another track was Road America 2016. This is Fässler's third Le Mans start with Corvette.

#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK Ford GT
Drivers: Stefan Mücke (13th), Olivier Pla (12th), Billy Johnson (4th)
Test Day Result: 7th
About This Team: The #66 Ford won the season opener over 13 months ago at Spa-Francorchamps and this car finished third at Le Mans last year but it has not scored a podium finish since despite winning pole positions at Silverstone and Shanghai. None of these three drivers have won at Le Mans. Pla was runner-up in LMP2 in 2013 and Mücke finished third in GTE-Pro in 2012 and 2013.

#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing UK Ford GT
Drivers: Andy Priaulx (6th), Harry Tincknell (6th), Jonathan Bomarito (2nd)
Test Day Result: 2nd
About This Team: The #67 Ford is three points behind its teammate and Tincknell and Priaulx have not won a race this season. The #67 Ford was second at Silverstone and third at Fuji and Sebring. They finished second in GTE-Pro in 2017 with Pipo Derani as the third driver. Bomarito is the fourth different third driver for the #67 Ford in as many years. Marino Franchitti, Derani and Kanaan were the other co-drivers. This is Bomarito's first appearance at Le Mans since 2013 when he drove the SRT Viper with Tommy Kendall and Kuno Wittmer. Bomarito was a part of the team at Sebring.

#68 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing USA Ford GT
Drivers: Joey Hand (5th), Dirk Müller (8th), Sébastien Bourdais (13th)
Test Day Result: 11th
About This Team: Hand has finished on the podium in three of his four Le Mans starts. Hand missed the last two IMSA rounds due to illness but Müller and Bourdais have run the full season and are fifth in the championship. Bourdais has finished on the podium in five of his last seven Le Mans starts. These three drivers finished runner-up in class at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.

#69 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing USA Ford GT
Drivers: Ryan Briscoe (6th), Richard Westbrook (9th), Scott Dixon (4th)
Test Day Result: 10th
About This Team: Briscoe and Westbrook have yet to finished on the podium in IMSA competition. It is the first time Briscoe and Westbrook head to Le Mans without a podium finish. All three driver have yet to score a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Dixon is coming off his fifth IndyCar championship and he has 46 IndyCar victories, six behind Mario Andretti for second and 21 behind A.J. Foyt for the all-time record.

#71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE Evo
Drivers: Davide Rigon (6th), Sam Bird (6th), Miguel Molina (3rd)
Test Day Result: 4th
About This Team: Rigon and Bird finished third in the season opener at Spa-Francorchamps but their best finish since has been sixth. Bird has had at least one class victory in the previous three WEC seasons. Molina is currently the championship leader in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup and Blancpain GT World Challenge America.

#81 BMW Team MTEK BMW M8 GTE
Drivers: Martin Tomczyk (2nd), Nicky Catsburg (2nd), Philipp Eng (3rd)
Test Day Result: 16th
About This Team: Tomczyk and Catsburg were runner-up finishers at Sebring. Catsburg is also competing in the World Touring Car Cup and he has scored points in nine of 12 races but he has yet to stand on the podium. He is tenth in that championship. Eng won at the 24 Hours of Daytona in the GTLM class and he picked up his first career Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters victory at Zolder last month.

#82 BMW Team MTEK BMW M8 GTE
Drivers: Augusto Farfus (3rd), Antonío Félix da Costa (2nd), Jesse Krohn (1st)
Test Day Result: 17th
About This Team: Da Costa had a runner-up finish with Tom Blomqvist at Fuji. In Formula E, da Costa won the season opener in Abu Dhabi but he has only two podium finishes since and he is fourth in that championship. Farfus was a part of the GTLM class winning team for BMW Team RLL at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Krohn's best finish in GTLM competition this season is fourth at Sebring.

#89 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE Evo
Drivers: Pipo Derani (5th), Jules Gounon (2nd), Oliver Jarvis (8th)
Test Day Result: 15th
About This Team: Derani enters Le Mans as the championship leader in IMSA's prototype class after he won the 12 Hours of Sebring for the third time in four years. This is Derani's fifth different team in  his fifth Le Mans start. Jarvis was not at Le Mans last year but he won the LMP2 class and finished second overall in 2017 with Jackie Chan DC Racing. This is Jarvis first start at Le Mans in a GTE class. Gounon won the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000kms in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup earlier in the month. He also won the 24 Hours of Spa overall in 2017. Gounon's father Jean-Marc made 12 Le Mans starts and finished second overall in 1997 driving for Gulf Team Davidoff McLaren.

#91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Richard Lietz (13th), Frédéric Makowiecki (9th), Gianmaria Bruni (11th)
Test Day Result: 6th
About This Team: Lietz and Bruni trail the #92 Porsche by 36 points with 39 points left on the table meaning the #91 Porsche has to win for Lietz and Bruni to have any shot at the title. The #91 Porsche won at Sebring and had runner-up finishes last year at Le Mans and at Shanghai. Lietz and Bruni both have three class victories at Le Mans but Makowiecki has yet to score a class victory. Bruni won the title twice in 2013 and 2014 and Lietz won the world championship in 2015.

#92 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Michael Christensen (5th), Kévin Estre (5th), Laurens Vanthoor (4th)
Test Day Result: 13th
About This Team: Porsche has clinched the manufactures' championship and Christensen and Estre sit on 140 points in the World Endurance GTE Drivers' Championship. Christensen and Estre clinch the title with at least a ninth place finish. These three won the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year in GTE-Pro and it was the first Le Mans class victory for all three drivers. Christensen and Estre won at Fuji. The only race the #92 Porsche did not finish on the podium was fifth at Sebring. If Christensen and Estre were to win the title it would be the first for each driver.

#93 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Patrick Pilet (11th), Nick Tandy (7th), Earl Bamber (5th)
Test Day Result: 5th
About This Team: Tandy and Pilet won in GTLM at the 12 Hours of Sebring with Makowiecki, successfully defending that class victory. They also won Petit Le Mans last year. Bamber has won the last two IMSA races with Vanthoor and those two lead the GTLM championship. Bamber has won in every odd-numbered year he has started at Le Mans with his overall victory in 2015 and a GTE-Pro victory in 2017. Tandy has not returned to the podium since the overall victory in 2015. Pilet has never won a class in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

#94 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Sven Müller (2nd), Dennis Olsen (1st), Mathieu Jaminet (1st)
Test Day Result: 12th
About This Team: Müller's Le Mans debut did not got as planned with his Porsche retiring after 29 laps. Olsen heads into coming off a victory at the Bathurst 12 Hours in February and he won in the GTE class at the European Le Mans Series season finale last year at Algarve. Jaminet won the ADAC GT Masters championship last year

#95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR
Drivers: Marco Sørensen (5th), Nicki Thiim (6th), Darren Turner (17th)
Test Day Result: 14th
About This Team: Sørensen and Thiim won at Shanghai but their only other top five finish this season was fifth at Le Mans last year. They won pole position at Fuji. Thiim won on his Le Mans debut in GTE-Am in 2014 but he has not stood on the podium since. Sørensen has never stood on the podium. Turner won the GTE-Pro class in 2017, adding to his two GT1 class victories in 2007 and 2008.

#97 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR
Drivers: Alex Lynn (3rd), Maxime Martin (2nd), Jonathan Adam (4th)
Test Day Result: 9th
About This Team: Lynn and Martin won the most recent round at Spa-Francorchamps and that puts them a half-point ahead of the sister car. It was both their first GTE-Pro victory. Lynn won at Spa-Francorchamps in 2017 with G-Drive Racing in the LMP2 class. Adam has split the season between the #95 Aston Martin and the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin in GTE-Am. He won the GTE-Pro class in 2017.

GTE-Am
#54 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Thomas Flohr (3rd), Francesco Castellacci (4th), Giancarlo Fisichella (10th)
Test Day Result: 3rd
About This Team: They enter the finale second in the Endurance Trophy for GTE-Am Drivers championship, 23 points off the #56 Team Project 1 Porsche. The #54 Ferrari has not won this season and its best finish was second at Le Mans and Sebring. Fisichella has won twice at Le Mans in the GTE-Pro class.

#56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Jörg Bergmeister (17th), Patrick Lindsey (2nd), Edigio Perfetti (2nd)
Test Day Result: 15th
About This Team: Despite winning only one race this season (Fuji), the Team Project 1 Porsche leads the championship with 113 points after five podium finishes. It has been 15 years since Bergmeister picked up his lone class victory at Le Mans. Lindsey could join Gustavo Menezes as the only American drivers to win a WEC championship. Menezes won the Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers in 2016.

#57 CarGuy Racing Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Kei Cozzolino (1st), Takeshi Kimura (1st), Cômé Ledogar (2nd)
Test Day Result: 4th
About This Team: The Asian Le Mans Series GT champions won all four races but James Calado was apart of that lineup. Ledogar made his Le Mans debut last year but that was with Jackie Chan DC Racing in an LMP2 entry. Ledogar did run in LMP2 in the most recent ALMS season and won the season opener at Shanghai with Spirit of Race.

#60 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Claudio Schiavoni (1st), Sergio Pianezzola (1st), Andrea Piccini (4th)
Test Day Result: 5th
About This Team: Pianezzola won five of seven races last year in Michelin Le Mans Cup on his way to the GT3 championship with Giacomo Piccini. Schiavoni and Andrea Piccini were co-drivers last year in Michelin Le Mans Cup and their best finish was fourth on two occasions. It is Piccini's first time at Le Mans since 2009. Piccini was apart of the Aston Martin lineup that finished second in GT1 in 2006.

#61 Clearwater Racing Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Matt Griffin (8th), Matteo Cressoni (2nd), Luís Pérez Companc (6th)
Test Day Result: 2nd
About This Team: The team finished third in both Spa-Francorchamps races but that is the only time the #61 Ferrari has finished on the podium this season. Its other four finishes are fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh. The car had an accident at practice in Sebring and was not able to start the race. Pérez Companc returns to Le Mans for the first time since 2014. Cressoni is back at Le Mans for the first time since 2015.

#62 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Cooper MacNeil (5th), Toni Vilander (11th), Rob Smith (2nd)
Test Day Result: 1st
About This Team: Vilander has two Le Mans class victories and he enters leading the Blancpain GT World Challenge America championship and won over the weekend at Sonoma. This is the first time Vilander is competing in the GTE-Am class. MacNeil was third in GTE-Am in 2017. MacNeil and Vilander are competing full-time in IMSA's GT Daytona class. They finished third in class at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

#70 MR Racing Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Olivier Beretta (24th), Eddie Cheever III (2nd), Motoaki Ishikawa (2nd)
Test Day Result: 8th
About This Team: This team's best finish this season was fifth on three occasions. Beretta has six class victories at Le Mans. This is the first time Beretta has had the same two co-drivers for consecutive Le Mans starts since he drove with Oliver Gavin and Max Papis with Corvette in 2007 and 2008. Beretta is going to become the ninth driver with at least 24 Le Mans starts and he will tie Jan Lammers, Claude Ballot-Lena and Emmanuel Collard for sixth all-time.

#77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 GTE
Drivers: Christian Ried (10th), Matt Campbell (2nd), Julien Andlauer (2nd)
Test Day Result: 7th
About This Team: After disqualification after Fuji and being stripped of all its points from the first three rounds of the season due to manipulation of data for refueling, the team has responded and won all three races since the penalty. The team has amassed 83 points and has an outside shot at the title, 30 points out with 39 points on the team. This is the defending Le Mans class winner. Campbell won the Dubai 24 Hours and the Bathurst 12 Hour earlier this year and Andlauer was a part of that Dubai winning team. Last year, Andlauer became the youngest class winner in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at 18 years and 352 days old.

#78 Proton Competition Porsche 911 GTE
Drivers: Vincent Abril (1st), Louis Prette (1st), Philippe Prette (1st)
Test Day Result: 11th
About This Team: Abril won the 2015 Blancpain GT Sprint Series championship with Maximilian Buhk but his only victory since that championship was the 2017 Circuit Paul Ricard 1000kms. Louis Prette won two races in the 2017-18 Asian Le Mans Series season in the LMP3 class. Louis and his father Philippe have been racing in Ferrari Challenge and Philippe has won Ferrari Challenge Asia-Pacific Trofeo Pirelli the last two years.

#83 Kessel Racing Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Rahel Frey (2nd), Michelle Gatting (1st), Manuela Gostner (1st)
Test Day Result: 9th
About This Team: Frey returns to Le Mans for the first time since 2010 when she drove a Ford GT1 with Natacha Gachnang and Cyndie Allemann but that entry only completed 59 laps. They finished second in the ELMS season opener at Circuit Paul Ricard and they are fourth in the championship after two rounds.

#84 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 488 GTE
Drivers: Rodrigo Baptista (1st), Wei Lu (1st), Jeff Segal (4th)
Test Day Result: 13th
About This Team: Segal won at Le Mans in GTE-Am in 2016. Segal and Lu were teammates in Pirelli World Challenge SprintX last year. Baptista has spent the last few seasons in Blancpain GT World Challenge America and he has won twice this season with K-PAX Racing Bentley and he had four victories last year.

#85 Keating Racing Ford GT
Drivers: Jeroen Bleekemolen (14th), Ben Keating (5th), Felipe Fraga (1st)
Test Day Result: 16th
About This Team: This is the fifth consecutive year Keating and Bleekemolen are competing together at Le Mans and it will be the fifth different car they have driven. The previous cars were an SRT Viper, an Oreca-Nissan, a Riley-Gibson and a Ferrari 488 GTE. Last year, they finished third in GTE-Am. Fraga competes full-time in Stock Car Brasil and won the championship in 2016 and was vice-champion last year.

#86 Gulf Racing Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Michael Wainwright (5th), Ben Barker (4th), Thomas Preining (1st)
Test Day Result: 6th
About This Team: This team has yet to finish on the podium this year in GTE-Am competition. The team's best result was fourth at Fuji and Sebring. Preining joined the team at Fuji replacing Alex Davison. Preining won the Dubai 24 Hours earlier this year.

#88 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Matteo Cairoli (3rd), Giorgio Roda (2nd), Satoshi Hoshino (1st)
Test Day Result: 14th
About This Team: This team's best result was third at Shanghai but neither Roda nor Hoshino was apart of that driver lineup.

#90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GTE
Drivers: Salih Yoluç (3rd), Euan Hankey (3rd), Charlie Eastwood (2nd)
Test Day Result: 12th
About This Team: Yoluç and Eastwood has four runner-up finishes this year in WEC competition but the #90 Aston Martin has yet to break through for that first victory and that has them third in the championship, 26 points off the #56 Porsche. Yoluç and Eastwood would be the first Turkish and Irish driver to win a WEC championship.

#98 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GTE
Drivers: Paul Dalla Lana (7th), Pedro Lamy (20th), Mathias Lauda (5th)
Test Day Result: 10th
About This Team: The defending champions have to win to retain the title and they have not won since the season opener last year at Spa-Francorchamps. Despite all the success the #98 Aston Martin has had in the previous three seasons, this car has yet to finish on the podium at Le Mans.

#99 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR
Drivers: Patrick Long (16th), Niclas Jönsson (14th), Tracy Krohn (14th)
Test Day Result: 17th
About This Team: Long has two class victories at Le Mans, in 2004 and 2007. This is his seventh consecutive year competing in the GTE-Am class. Long is competing in the GT Daytona class in IMSA and in Blancpain GT World Challenge America and he won over the weekend at Sonoma in Blancpain GT World Challenge America. Krohn and Jönsson have competed together for 14 consecutive years at Le Mans and they have three class podiums but have yet to pick up a Le Mans class victory. Long is the ninth different driver to pair with Krohn and Jönsson.

A four-hour practice session is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday June 12th with the first qualifying session taking place at 4:00 p.m. ET later that day. There will be two qualifying sessions on Thursday June 13th with the first two-hour session scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET with the final qualifying session at 4:00 p.m. ET.

The 45-minute warm-up session takes place at 3:00 a.m. ET on Saturday June 15th with the race starting at 9:00 a.m. ET.


Tuesday, June 11, 2019

2019 24 Hours of Le Mans Prototypes Preview

The 87th 24 Hours of Le Mans will double as the final round of the 2018-19 FIA World Endurance Championship season. This year's race sees a record number 62 entries set to contest the twice-around-the-clock French classic.

This preview will look at the two prototype classes, both of which have championships still up for grabs. The LMP1 class will have eight entries while LMP2 is the largest class in the year's race will 20 cars slated to compete. This preview goes entry-by-entry and gives you each driver with their number of Le Mans appearances, including this year in parentheses, followed by that entry's result on the Le Mans Test Day and a little additional information on each entry.

LMP1
#1 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R13-Gibson
Drivers: André Lotterer (11th), Neel Jani (11th), Bruno Senna (7th)
Test Day Result: 3rd
About This Team: Lotterer and Jani were runner-up finishes at Silverstone and finished third at Fuji. Lotterer could become the ninth driver to have four overall Le Mans victories. This will be Jani's final start in sports cars as he will focus on Porsche's Formula E program. Senna could become the first Brazilian to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall. Senna has yet to even stand on a class podium in this race. Rebellion Racing could become the first Swiss team to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

#3 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R13-Gibson
Drivers: Gustavos Menezes (4th), Thomas Laurent (3rd), Nathanaël Berthon (6th)
Test Day Result: 5th
About This Team: The #3 Rebellion is the only non-Toyota to take an overall victory in the 2018-19 season. It was elevated to the top spot after both Toyotas were disqualified. Last year, Menezes became the second American driver in as many years to finish on the overall podium. Laurent has finished on the overall podium in both his Le Mans starts. Laurent will become Toyota's reserve driver for next season. This is Berthon's first time competing at Le Mans in the LMP1 class. The last time the overall Le Mans winner featured multiple French drivers was in 1998 with Laurent Aïello, Stéphane Ortelli and Allan McNish for Porsche. This is the final year Laurent could become the youngest overall winner. Laurent will be 21 years, two months and 11 days old when race ends and that would break Alexander Wurz's record at 22 years, four months and one day old.

#4 ByKolles Racing Team ENSO CLM P1/01-Gibson
Drivers: Oliver Webb (6th), Tom Dillmann (2nd), Paolo Ruberti (7th)
Test Day Result: 8th
About This Team: ByKolles switched from a Nissan engine to a Gibson engine mid-season. The team has not had a classified finisher since the team made its debut in 2009 with two Audi R10 TDIs. The team's best finish this season was fourth at the Spa-Francorchamps season opener. This is Webb's four consecutive Le Mans start with ByKolles. Ruberti returns to the 24 Hours of Le Mans for the first time since 2015. This is his first time competing in a prototype class.

#7 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid
Drivers: Mike Conway (6th), Kamui Kobayashi (5th), José María López (3rd)
Test Day Result: 2nd
About This Team: Conway, Kobayashi and López are second in the World Endurance Drivers' Championship, 31 points behind their teammates. The #7 Toyota has to win this race to have any shot at the title. The #7 Toyota has won twice this season, Fuji and Shanghai and it had runner-up finishes at the first Spa-Francorchamps round, Le Mans and Sebring. Conway could become the 33rd British driver to win the 24 Hours Le Mans, extending the country's record. López could join José Froilán González as the only Argentine drivers to win the race. González won in 1954 with Maurice Trintignant for Ferrari.

#8 Toyota Gazoo Racing Toyota TS050 Hybrid
Drivers: Sébastien Buemi (8th), Kazuki Nakajima (8th), Fernando Alonso (2nd)
Test Day Result: 1st
About This Team: This is the defending Le Mans overall winners and these three lead the FIA World Endurance Drivers' Championship heading into the final round. If the #8 Toyota finishes in the top six overall it will clinch the championship regardless of where the #7 Toyota finishes. The #8 Toyota has won four of seven races with two runner-up finishes and a disqualification. Buemi is going for this second World Endurance Drivers' Championship while Nakajima and Alonso are going for their first. They could become the first trio to successfully defend a Le Mans overall victory since André Lotterer, Benoît Tréluyer and Marcel Fässler in 2011 and 2012.

#10 DragonSpeed BR Engineering BR1-Gibson
Drivers: Henrik Hedman (3rd), Ben Hanley (3rd), Renger van der Zande (2nd)
Test Day Result: 7th
About This Team: This will be DragonSpeed's final LMP1 race as the team will shift its attention to its IndyCar program and focus on its European Le Mans Series LMP2 entry. This entry has finished only three of five starts and DragonSpeed's WEC LMP2 entry has outscored the LMP1 entry by 28 points in the World Endurance Drivers' Championship standings. DragonSpeed's best LMP1 result was sixth at Shanghai. The team did not contest the Spa-Francorchamps round last month. Van der Zande enters off a victory in the 24 Hours of Daytona, a runner-up finish at the 12 Hours of Sebring and he won Petit Le Mans last year. Hedman could become the oldest overall winner at 51 years, four months and 11 days. Luigi Chinetti holds the record at 47 years, 11 months and nine days old.

#11 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1-AER
Drivers: Mikhail Aleshin (5th), Vitaly Petrov (5th), Stoffel Vandoorne (1st)
Test Day Result: 4th
About This Team: The #11 BR Engineering BR1 has finished third overall in the last three races and each race has had a different third driver alongside Aleshin and Petrov. Jenson Button was with the team for Shanghai but stepped down prior to the 2019 races to focus on his Super GT commitment and to focus on his family with he and his fiancée awaiting their first child. Brendon Hartley ran the Sebring round and Spa-Francorchamps was Vandoorne's first race with the team. Vandoorne could become the sixth different Belgian to win Le Mans overall and first since Bertrand Gachot in 1991.

#17 SMP Racing BR Engineering BR1-AER
Drivers: Sergey Sirotkin (2nd), Egor Orudzhev (2nd), Stéphane Sarrazin (18th)
Test Day Result: 6th
About This Team: This entry finished third at Silverstone and fourth last month at Spa-Francorchamps but it has retired from four races and was not classified for the other. Sarrazin has finished runner-up four times in this race and he finished third overall another year but he has yet to stand on the top step of the podium.

LMP2
#20 High Class Racing Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Mathias Beche (7th), Dennis Andersen (1st), Anders Fjordbach (1st)
Test Day Result: 17th
About This Team: Beche ran last year at Le Mans with the #3 Rebellion Racing entry that finished third overall. This is the third time Beche has competed in the LMP2 class at Le Mans. This is a full-time European Le Mans Series entry with Andersen and Fjordbach and they finished ninth in the season opener and last season their best finish was ninth.

#22 United Autosport Ligier JS P217-Gibson
Drivers: Phil Hanson (2nd), Filipe Albuquerque (6th), Paul di Resta (2nd)
Test Day Result: 15th
About This Team: This trio ran last year at Le Mans but did not finish the race. In the first two races in the 2019 European Le Mans Series season this entry has finished sixth and fourth. Albuquerque has not finished on a class podium in his Le Mans career. Albuquerque won the IMSA Long Beach round in April. Di Resta has been competing for Aston Martin in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and his best finishes have been seventh and eighth through the first six races.

#23 Panis Barthez Competition Ligier JS P217-Gibson
Drivers: René Binder (1st), Julian Canal (11th), Will Stevens (4th)
Test Day Result: 13th
About This Team: The #23 Ligier has finished tenth and ninth in the first two ELMS races this season.  This is Canal's eighth consecutive Le Mans in the LMP2 class. Binder moved over to sports car racing this year and running a handful of IndyCar races in 2018. Stevens won the GTE-Am class at Le Mans in 2017. Stevens won in the LMP2 class at the 1000 Miles of Sebring earlier this year driving for Jackie Chan DC Racing.

#25 Algarve Pro Racing Ligier JS P217-Gibson
Drivers: Andrea Pizzitola (3rd), David Zollinger (3rd), John Falb (1st)
Test Day Result: 10th
About This Team: Pizzitola was apart of the G-Drive Racing entry with Romain Rusinov and Jean-Éric Vergne that finished first on the road in LMP2 last year at Le Mans but was disqualified for an illegal modification to the refueling equipment. Zollinger was not at Le Mans last year and his prior two starts came in 2010 and 2017. Falb has spent the last few years in the LMP3 class in the European Le Mans Series. In 2017, Falb won the LMP3 class title with Sean Rayhall. Last year, Falb won at Spa-Francorchamps with Scott Andrews.

#26 G-Drive Racing Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Romain Rusinov (9th), Jean-Éric Vergne (3rd), Job van Uitert (1st)
Test Day Result: 6th
About This Team: As stated above, last year G-Drive Racing crossed the line first only to be disqualified. Rusinov is still looking for his first class victory at Le Mans. Vergne enters this race as the Formula E championship leader, as he looks to successfully defend that title. Rusinov and van Uitert won the most recent ELMS race at Monza. Van Uitert won the LMP3 championship in ELMS last year with RLR Sport after winning two races.

#28 TDS Racing Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: François Perrodo (6th), Matthieu Vaxivière (3rd), Loïc Duval (9th)
Test Day Result: 5th
About This Team: This entry has finished fourth in class in three race this season. This is Perrodo's third consecutive Le Mans in LMP2 and in all three Vaxivière has been one of his co-drivers. This entry was disqualified from last year's race for an illegal modification to its refueling equipment and the entry was originally handed a one-lap penalty for Perrodo exceeding maximum drive time of running more than four hours within a six-hour period.

#29 Racing Team Nederland Dallara P217-Gibson
Drivers: Frits van Eerd (3rd), Nyck de Vries (1st), Giedo van der Garde (3rd)
Test Day Result: 7th
About This Team: This entry has finished fifth in class in five races and seventh in the other two. De Vries has been splitting LMP2 competition with Formula Two and he is second in the Formula Two championship on 94 points, one behind Nicholas Latifi. De Vries has won twice this season and he has scored points in all eight Formula Two races.

#30 Duqueine Engineering Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Romain Dumas (19th), Nico Jamin (1st), Pierre Ragues (12th)
Test Day Result: 8th
About This Team: This is Dumas' fourth different team at Le Mans in the last four years. Dumas just set the lap record around the Nürburgring Nordschleife for an electric vehicle in the Volkswagen I.D. R. Ragues scored a fourth overall finish in his most recent Le Mans start in 2017 and it was his second class podium in this race. After racing in the Road to Indy from 2014 to 2017, where Jamin won the 2015 U.S. F2000 title, won two Pro Mazda and three Indy Lights races, Jamin joined ELMS last year and finished third on debut at Circuit Paul Ricard. Jamin, Ragues and Richard Bradley were third place finishers at this year's ELMS season opener at Circuit Paul Ricard and they finished sixth at Monza.

#31 DragonSpeed Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Roberto González (3rd), Pastor Maldonado (2nd), Anthony Davidson (11th)
Test Day Result: 2nd
About This Team: After three consecutive podium finishes, González and Maldonado have an outside chance at the Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers. This team won at Spa-Francorchamps last month.  González could join his brother Ricardo as Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers championship. Ricardo won the title in 2013 the same year he won the LMP2 class at Le Mans. Davidson was not in last year's race as he was Toyota's reserve driver.

#32 United Autosport Ligier JS P217-Gibson
Drivers: Will Owen (3rd), Alex Brundle (6th), Ryan Cullen (1st)
Test Day Result: 9th
About This Team: Owen shifted to IMSA competition with Juncos Racing in the Prototype class after spending two years in ELMS where he finished second in the championship in 2017. Brundle ran a Ginetta G60-LT-P1 last year with CEFC TRSM Racing in the LMP1 class and completed 137 laps before retiring. Cullen scored victory in the LMP2 class at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January driving for DragonSpeed.

#34 Inter Europol Competition Ligier JS P217-Gibson
Drivers: Nigel Moore (3rd), Jakub Smiechowski (1st), James Winslow (4th)
Test Day Result: 19th
About This Team: Smiechowski won the Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 class championship in February with Inter Europol Competition. Smiechowski won two of four ALMS races He also won the LMP3 class in the ELMS season finale last year at Portimão. Moore is running in the LMP3 class this year with Inter Europol and he has finished on the class podium in the first two races this season. Winslow has not finished better than 17th in class in his prior three Le Mans starts.

#36 Signatech Alpine Matmut Alpine A470-Gibson
Drivers: Nicolas Lapierre (12th), André Negrão (3rd), Pierre Thiriet (9th)
Test Day Result: 3rd
About This Team: Lapierre, Negrão and Thiriet leads the Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers championship with 143 points. The #36 Alpine has finished on the podium in all seven races this season but this team's only victory was at Le Mans last year. Lapierre has won the LMP2 class at Le mans three of the last four years. Lapierre won the 2016 Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers championship.

#37 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Ricky Taylor (6th), Jordan King (1st), David Heinemeier Hansson (7th)
Test Day Result: 12th
About This Team: King and Heinemeier Hansson won the LMP2 class at the 1000 Miles of Sebring in March. King is focused on Formula Two but he made his Indianapolis 500 debut last month. Taylor and Heinemeier Hansson drove together last year at Le Mans with Côme Ledogar but retired after completing 195 laps. Taylor sits third in the IMSA Prototype championship after three podium finishes from the first five races.

#38 Jackie Chan DC Racing Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Ho-Pin Tung (7th), Gabriel Aubry (2nd), Stéphane Richelmi (3rd)
Test Day Result: 1st
About This Team: Tung, Aubry and Richelmi trails the #36 Alpine by four points in the Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers championship. While this team has won three races its worst two finishes were fourth at Le Mans and sixth at Sebring. Richelmi was apart of that 2016 Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers championship team with Lapierre and Menezes.

#39 Graff Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Vincent Capillaire (6th), Jonathan Hirschi (7th), Tristan Gommendy (10th)
Test Day Result: 4th
About This Team: This trio was the LMP2 runner-ups last year at Le Mans. Gommendy has finished runner-up in LMP2 the last two years and in three of the last five. Hirschi and Gommendy have finished fifth in the first two races of the ELMS season.

#43 RLR Msport/Tower Events Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Norman Nato (2nd), John Farano (1st), Arjun Maini (1st)
Test Day Result: 14th
About This Team: Farano was apart of the LMP3 class champions last year in ELMS with RLR Msport. Farano and RLR Msport moved up to LMP2 this season and paired with Maini and Bruno Senna. Maini raced in Formula Two last year and scored 16 points with his best finish being fifth. Nato is competing in ELMS with G-Drive Racing but moves to RLR Msport for Le Mans due to the entrance of Vergne at G-Drive and Senna's Rebellion Racing commitment. Nato and G-Drive Racing won the most recent ELMS round at Monza.

#47 Cetilar Racing Villorba Corsa Dallara P217-Gibson
Drivers: Roberto Lacorte (3rd), Giorgio Sernagiotto (3rd), Andrea Belicchi (10th)
Test Day Result: 16th
About This Team: These three raced together in 2017 and finished seventh in class, ninth overall. They ran the Monza ELMS race but retired. Last year, Lacorte and Sernagiotto ran with Felipe Nasr and finished 11th in class, 19th overall.

#48 IDEC Sport Racing Oreca 07-Gibson
Drivers: Paul Lafargue (3rd), Paul-Loup Chatin (5th), Memo Rojas (4th)
Test Day Result: 11th
About This Team: These three drivers has finished runner-up in the first two ELMS races this season. These three retired from last year's race after completing 312 laps. Chatin finished third in LMP2 in 2014, his Le Mans debut and he won the ELMS LMP2 championship that year.

#49 ARC Bratislava Ligier JS P217-Gibson
Drivers: Henning Enqvist (1st), Miroslav Konôpka (4th), Konstantin Tereshchenko (1st)
Test Day Result: 18th
About This Team: Konôpka returns to the Le Mans for the first time since 2017. Tereshchenko has spent the last two years in ELMS and he drives for Panis Barthez Competition full-time. He picked up his best finish in the most recent round at Monza when he finished seventh. Enqvist drives for Algarve Pro Racing in ELMS. Enqvist ran all six races last year in ELMS but he ran for four different teams in the LMP3 class and ran the final two races in a G-Drive Racing Oreca with James Allen and Julien Falchero.

#50 Larbre Compétition Ligier JS P217-Gibson
Drivers: Erwin Creed (2nd), Romano Ricci (3rd), Nicholas Boulle (2nd)
Test Day Result: 20th
About This Team: Boulle made his Le Mans debut last year with Jackie Chan DC Racing and he finished eighth in class with David Cheng and Pierre Nicolet. Ricci made his second Le Mans start last year, 18 years after his debut. He and Creed were the final LMP2 finishers with Thomas Dagoneau as their third driver.

A four-hour practice session is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. ET on Wednesday June 12th with the first qualifying session taking place at 4:00 p.m. ET later that day. There will be two qualifying sessions on Thursday June 13th with the first two-hour session scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET with the final qualifying session at 4:00 p.m. ET.

The 45-minute warm-up session takes place at 3:00 a.m. ET on Saturday June 15th with the race starting at 9:00 a.m. ET.