The Automobile Club de l’Oueste (ACO) released the entry list for the 2012 World Endurance Championship in an almost-webcast press conference Wednesday morning (technical difficulties stopped the English-language feed.)
Thirty cars have signed up for the 2012 WEC season—nine each in LMP1 and LMP2, five in GTE-Pro and seven in GTE-Am.
P1 could be an all-Audi show; no one really believes the ACO has balanced performance between diesels and gasoline-powered cars, but possibly with Peugeot gone, ACO will give the gasoline cars a break.
Peugeot is gone, of course, but Toyota has opted in, though the team will skip Sebring and debut at Spa. Audi will race a pair of hybrids, Rebellion will be back with a pair of Lola-Toyotas, and Oak Racing, Pescarolo, Strakka and JRM will all enter a single car.
Pescarolo will race what it’s calling a Pescarolo 03, which is a rebodied and re-engined 2011 Aston Martin AMR-One. The AMR-One apparently had good low-speed handling, but a weak engine and too much drag. Henri Pescarolo has redone the aero and inserted a Judd powerplant.
Oak will run an Oak Pescarolo-Judd, and Strakka and JRM will both campaign HPD-ARX03as with Honda motors.
Nissan will be powering two thirds the P2 field, and Judd two of the remaining three (though one will be badged Lotus.) Five chassis and three engine builders will be represented in the nine-car field.
2011 P2 champs Signatech will return in 2012 with its Oreca-Nissan. Oak will run a Morgan-Judd (actually a new Oak Pescarolo renamed.) ADR-Delta and Pecom Racing will run Oreca-Nissans, Gulf Racing Middle East, a Lola-Nissan, and Greaves Motorsports, a Zytec-Nissan. Lotus has entered its Lola-Lotus (which is really a Lola-Judd.)
The surprise entry is American team Starworks, which nearly won the Rolex 24 last weekend. Starworks will campaign an HPD-ARX-03b Honda.
In GTE-Pro, 2011 winner AF Corse and Luxury Racing have entered Ferraris, Felbermayr-Proton is back with its Porsche, and Aston Martin Racing is bringing a V8 Vantage. Ferrari would seem to have the advantage here; BMW won’t be back, choosing to focus on DTM, and Porsche seems to be saving its resources for other series as well.
2011 champ Larbre Competition will return with its pair of Corvettes in GTE-AM. AF Corse, Krohn Racing, and Luxury Racing will all be back with Ferrari 458s, and JWA-Avila and Felbermeyer Proton will campaign Porsches. Three Ferraris, two Corvettes, and a pair of Porsches run by several experienced teams should lead to some good competition in this class.
The season kicks off with the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 17, followed by Spa, Le Mans, Silverstone, Sao Paulo, Bahrain, Fuji, and finally Shanghai, not Zhuhai, for the season finale.