2014 Le Mans 24 Hours LMP2 Preview Part 2

After previewing the first half of the LMP2 field earlier, now it’s the turn to preview the second half of this eclectic entry. Like I’ve said before any number of cars can win the class and with diverse entries from the likes of Oreca, Morgan and Alpine alongside Nissan, Honda and Judd Power anything is possible, especially as 2014 see’s the most competitive driver line-up across the class for a long time. Fireworks are guaranteed!

SMP Racing:

#37 Oreca 03R-Nissan: Kirill Ladygin/Nicolas Minassian/Maurizio Mediani
The second of the SMP racing entries seems to be more likely of the two to attain a good result in the 24 Hours, with the perfect blend of speed and experience in Nicolas Minassian, to partner newcomers Kirill Ladygin and Maurizio Mediani. Mediani is brought in through the AF Corse collaboration as he is the Ferrari GT test driver.

Ladygin is a solid silver rated driver yet his pace will decide how far up the class the car finishes. Sensibly the relatively new start up prototype team has followed the proven Oreca-Nissan package which should ensure reliability. If the team can run trouble free the talents of Minassian alone should be enough to ensure a good result for the team.

Jota Sport:

#38 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan: Simon Dolan/Harry Tincknell/Marc Gene
The Jota sport have so far had a successful 2014 in the ELMS, something they’ll be hoping to repeat at Le Mans. The team would have two ELMS wins if it wasn’t a massively unfortunate accident in the opening round at Silverstone. The Zytek-Nissan package is well proven at Le Mans therefore any reliability problems for the team would be a surprise.

On the driving from Simon Dolan will be one of the quickest Am drivers in the class, with young single seater convert Harry Tincknell improving with every race and on loan Audi factory driver Marc Gene, replacing Filipe Albuquerque. The only question mark around this team is they will fare with the increased challenge of being competitive in the class at Le Mans compared to the ELMS, something that should not be a major problem for this experienced team.

Greaves Motorsport:

#41 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan: Michael Munemann/Alessandro Latif/James Winslow
Greaves Motorsport are back for more in 2014 after a successful few years for the team in the LMP2 category. This time around the team has two entries with this #41 entry alongside the Caterham racing entry their running also. The driver line-up appears the weakest leak for this entry however with silver driver Michael Munemann as a solid if unspectacular silver, partnering Le Mans debutants Alessandro Latif and James Winslow.

Winslow is experienced and proven racer based in Asia with Latif a young charger who is climbing the ranks of lower level prototype and GT racing,watch for him to surprise with his pace at the 24 Hours. Whilst this entry won’t win on outright pace a reliable run should be enough for them to easily be in the mix for a class podium.

Caterham Racing:

#42 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan: Tom Kimber-Smith/Matt McMurry/Chris Dyson
The second Greaves entry for the Le Mans 24 Hours may not carry their name but it’s their entry in every other sense. This link up with the Caterham group benefits both parties, with this entry seemingly more likely for a decent result than the #41 car. Again the Greaves Zytek-Nissan is a quick,reliable option with a decent line-up comprised of experienced racer’s Kimber-Smith,Dyson and the young Matt McMurry.

He will be the one stealing the headlines as he bids to become the youngest driver ever to race at this event at 16 years old. He’s shown well in the two ELMS races so far and should help this team to a good result if they avoid drama.

Newblood by Morand Racing:

#43 Morgan LMP2-Judd: Christian Klien/Gary Hirsch/Romain Brandela
Newblood by Morand racing are a perfect example of a young,inexperienced team performing admirably so far in 2014. After suffering very cruel luck which prevented a win in the last ELMS round at Imola, this team will be hoping lightning doesn’t strike twice in that respect at the 24 Hours. Their Morgan-Judd package will be perfectly suited to the Circuit de la Sarthe, resplendent in a brilliantly simply livery.

Ex-Peugeot factory driver Christian Klien will inevitably lead the charge for this team, being ably backed up by steady drivers Gary Hirsch and Romain Brandela. This is a young team who will hoping to finally deliver on the promise they’ve shown so far in 2014. A definite dark horse for a podium.

Thiriet by TDS Racing:

#46 Ligier JS P2-Nissan: Pierre Thiriet/Ludovic Badey/Tristan Gommendy
This is largely the same team that broke out in 2012, winning the ELMS drivers and constructers titles that year. Although star driver from that year Mathias Beche has since been snapped up by the Rebellion LMP1 team, this entry still has real quality behind the wheel in experienced Sport car racer Tristan Gommendy and one of the best silver drivers in the class in Pierre Thiriet.

Ludovic Badey is improving all the team and his contribution should help the team to a respectable position. The team will still be learning their brand new OAK built Ligier JS P2 racer come race day, and the reliability of this car should be determining factor in whether this team has a good or bad result next Sunday afternoon. This is for sure an entry that will sneak under the radar for a good result if they can stay healthy and avoid dramas.

KCMG:

#47 Oreca 03R-Nissan: Matt Howson/Richard Bradley/Alex Imperatori
KCMG return again for another shot at the Le Mans 24 Hours after a steady run last year. This Asian based team have been solid rather than spectacular in the WEC so far this year, although they have a knack of having trouble free run’s. This team is very much still learning at top level European sports car racing and their Oreca-Nissan is a very solid package which will hopefully mean a trouble free run for the team.

The team’s driving talent is underrated as they are based in Asia with Alex Imperatori and Richard Bradley being very quick and consistant drivers, with Matt Howson they also have a solid silver driver too. A podium may be a stretch too far but a top 5 is definitely attainable for this young team.

Murphy Prototypes:

#48 Oreca O3R-Nissan: Nathanael Berthon/Rodolfo Gonzalez/Karun Chandhok
The ever popular Murphy Prototypes team return to Le Mans hoping to improve both on their result in last year’s 24 Hours, and the so far frustrating campaign they’ve suffered in the ELMS. In both rounds so far they’ve suffered reliability issues, a strange occurrence given the longevity of the Oreca-Nissan package. When the team have been running however they’ve shown their potential and if things run smoothly expect this team to be fighting for a class podium at the very least.

Their driver line-up is inspired with the ever quick and reliable Karun Chandhok providing some experience to complement the raw single-seater pace of Rodolfo Gonzalez and Nathanael Berthon. Amazingly the team spotted a loophole meaning 2013 Marussia F1 tester Gonzalez counts as their Silver rated Am driver. GP2 racer Berthon is no slouch himself and if the pair of them can quickly get to grips with the track this team will fly.

Larbre Competition:

#50 Morgan LMP2-Judd: Pierre Ragues/Ricky Taylor/Keiko Ihara
The famous Larbre Competition team have struggled so far as they have stepped up from the GTE-Am ranks to the LMP2 class for the first time. They’ve only managed to race their Morgan-Judd once so far in the ELMS, so the team will be unlocking the secrets to this car as the week progresses. The OAK Morgan was designed for Le Mans and that team with the Judd power plant is a reliable package.

On the driving front the team has blended the immense experience of Pierre Ragues with the coup of signing Corvette racing factory driver Ricky Taylor to partner him. He doesn’t have much prototype experience but expect him to fly in this car. Completing the line-up is Am driver Keiko Ihara, a steady driver whom much will depend on. If she can prove respectable the team has a chance of a top 6 with a clean run. Expect this entry to fly under the radar during the 24 Hours.

That’s the LMP2 field previewed this should be a battle to watch out for amongst the other classes during the 24 Hours. For sure this is the best LMP2 entry at Le Mans for a while. Thanks must go to http://www.Motorsport.com for it’s brilliant photos which can be viewed here.http://www.motorsport.com/#!/lemans/photo/main-gallery

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