The European Le Mans Series has revealed a 43-car provisional entry list for the 2021 season including a large 33-car contingent of prototype vehicles across LMP2 and LMP3.
A total of 16 cars will race for outright honors in the LMP2 division, while the LMP3 and GTE categories hold 17 and 10 entries respectively.
The car count resembles other full-season ELMS entry lists from recent years, although there have been some team and driver updates within the bumper 40-plus figure.
Most of the full driver lineups shown on the entry list have already been announced, including the updated crews for defending LMP2 champion United Autosports and Team WRT’s full-season debut with an Oreca 07 Gibson for ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica.
The LMP2 grid is exclusively made up of Oreca 07 Gibsons, including the two G-Drive Racing Aurus 01 Gibsons which are rebranded versions of the French-built package.
Seven entries have been signed up for the new LMP2 Pro-Am classification, which is a sub-championship reserved for lineups involving FIA Bronze-rated drivers.
IDEC Sport, DragonSpeed, G-Drive, Ultimate, Racing Team Turkey, Cool Racing and Graff have all committed to the new competition.
WRT, Ultimate and Racing Team Turkey – which is run by TF Sport – are the three new entrants in LMP2 this season, although WRT made one cameo in the class back in 2016.
LMP3 is the largest of the three categories with 17 entries committing to the seventh year of the secondary prototype formula.
All but two of the cars are Ligier JS P320 Nissans, with Racing Experience and last year’s Michelin Le Mans Cup champion DKR Engineering fielding the only Duqueine D08s.
Wayne Boyd and Rob Wheldon are back to defend their drivers’ titles with United Autosports, which is one of four teams arriving with two-car operations. Their co-driver from last year, Tom Gamble, has been promoted to United’s LMP2 squad.
Graff, Nielsen Racing and Inter Europol Competition have also filed double entries.
Nielsen’s Ligier setup includes a car for 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series champions Colin Noble and Tony Wells, and another involving 2019 IMSA Prototype Challenge title-winner Austin McCusker.
Former Cetilar Racing program operator Villorba Corse returns to the ELMS after one year out while M2VS Racing and Racing Experience are new to the competition.
The GTE grid features many familiar names from the category’s recent ELMS seasons.
Spirit of Race, Kessel Racing, JMW Motorsport, AF Corse and a three-car entry from Iron Lynx form a seven-car Ferrari 488 GTE Evo contingent.
Reigning WEC GTE-Am champions Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard form part of the AF Corse Ferrari lineup alongside Italian GT champion Alessio Rovera.
JMW Motorsport is reunited with Jody Fannin, who helped the British team win the 2017 class title, while former JMW driver Wei Lu is now driving for Kessel.
Proton Competition is running two examples of the Porsche 911 RSR-19, which is making its series debut this year.
The German squad, which is also competing full-time in the WEC and IMSA, has Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender and team owner Christian Ried nominated as the mandatory Bronze-rated drivers in each of its cars.
Fassbender made his ELMS debut last year teaming up with Richard Lietz and Felipe Fernandez Laser, while his 2021 co-drivers have yet to be announced.
TF Sport completes the double-figure GTE class entry with its single Aston Martin Vantage GTE that was announced earlier this week.
The 2021 season is due to start at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on Apr. 16-17.
“The European Le Mans Series has become the standard for all continental endurance racing championships,” commented championship CEO Frederic Lequien.
“It’s not just about the size of the 2021 grid, there is so much quality as well, in both the driver line ups and amongst the teams.
“This makes the challenge of becoming a European Le Mans Series champion an extremely difficult one, but for those who make it to the top, one that is all the more worth winning.
“Finally, this grid is proof of the success of the endurance ladder, giving a clear path up to the FIA World Endurance Championship and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”