ELMS All Set for Le Castellet Showdown

After an enforced break of nearly three months, the 2023 European Le Mans Series resumes with a mammoth 42 cars due to line up for Round 2, the 4 Hours of Le Castellet at the Circuit Paul Ricard on the 14-16 July.

The grid will see 122 drivers and 26 different teams from 30 different nations from around the world go head-to-head in the South of France. In addition, 4 French teams and 17 French drivers will be racing for glory at their home event.

LMP2 and LMP2 Pro/Am
There are 18 LMP2 cars entered with 7 in the LMP2 category and 11 in the LMP2 Pro/Am class. While there are two distinct classes in 2023, the cars are identical and with three of the top four finishers in Barcelona coming from the Pro/Am category, including the overall winner, these 18 cars are going to be mixing it up at Le Castellet.

The overall championship leaders after Round 1 is the no34 Racing Team Turkey Oreca of Salih Yoluc, Charlie Eastwood and Louis Delétraz, with the 4 Hours of Barcelona winners taking the Pro-Am victory as well, 2.3 seconds ahead of the current LMP2 championship leaders, Nico Pino, Rene Binder and Neel Jani in the no30 Duqueine Team Oreca-Gibson. The Duqueine Team are based just 200km from Paul Ricard in Saint-Martin-de-Valgalgues and will be hoping for another good haul of championship points at their ‘home’ event.
French drivers Francois Perrodo and Matthieu Vaxiviere will also be hoping for another strong performance at their home event after finishing third overall and second in LMP2 Pro/Am in Barcelona in the no83 AF Corse Oreca alongside their British teammate Ben Barnicoat.

The LMP2 and LMP2 Pro-Am grid features plenty of star names including Juan Pablo Montoya, Nelson Piquet Jr, Guy Smith and Jose Maria Lopez, as well as ELMS champions past and present.

The LMP3 category will feature 12 entries and 33 drivers, with COOL Racing heading to Le Castellet as the championship leaders, with France’s Adrien Chila, Argentinian Marcos Siebert and Mexican Alejandro Garcia heading the driver’s championship.

The no17 COOL Racing Ligier-Nissan finished second on the road in Spain but a post-race penalty for the no31 Racing Spirit of Leman Ligier dropped them from first to third and promoted the no17 COOL Racing Ligier and the no13 Inter Europol Competition Ligier into first and second place respectively.

The no31 Ligier is one of two cars that features an all-French driver line up, with Jacques Wolff, Jean-Ludovic Foubert and Antoine Doquin driving for the Swiss team, while the French team Ultimate will also feature an all-French line up of brothers Matthieu and Jean-Baptiste Lahaye and Eric Trouillet sharing the driving duties.

The LMGTE grid will also feature 12 cars and there are plenty of contenders for the top step of the podium in Le Castellet.

The no16 Proton Competition Porsche of Ryan Hardwick, Zac Robichon and Alessio Picariello heads to the Cote D’Azur as the championship leaders after finishing ahead of the no50 Formula Racing Ferrari of father-son duo Johnny and Conrad Laursen and their fellow Dane Mikkel Mac in Barcelona. For Le Castellet Mac will be replaced by Ferrari factory Hypercar driver Nicklas Nielsen.

Matt Griffin will be challenging for his 5thclass win at Le Castellet since 2013, the Irishman having won more times at the Circuit Paul Ricard in the ELMS than any other driver. He will be competing in the no55 Spirit of Race Ferrari alongside Duncan Cameron, who has won three time at Le Castellet with Griffin, and South Africa’s David Perel.

Local interest in the LMGTE category will be focused on the no72 TF Sport Aston Martin with an all-French crew of Arnold and Maxime Robin and Valentin Hasse-Clot. Julien Andlauer will make it four French drivers in LMGTE, who is racing alongside reigning ELMS Champion Christian Ried and Italian Giammarco Levorato in the no77 Proton Competition Porsche.

Irish-German Hollywood actor Michael Fassbender will be taking part in his fourth 4 Hours of Le Castellet alongside Richard Lietz and Martin Rump in the no93 Proton Competition Porsche.

The 4 Hours of Le Castellet is the second round of the 2023 European Le Mans Series and is the only venue to have featured on the ELMS calendar every year since 2010.