The Michelin Le Mans Cup will start this coming week at the Paul Ricard circuit in France.
LMC, as the series is known in short form, is a support series for the European Le Mans Series, and that might end up being an even more unpredictable season than the ELMS itself.
31 cars have entered the first round of the championship. LMC has the huge prize, that the winner of the GT3 category will be handed an entry for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2020. There are LMP3 cars in the series as well, but the organizers don’t hand out any tickets for them just yet.
There are 10 cars in the GT3 category, with a good mix of Ferrari 488 GT3, Mercedes AMG GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Porsche GT3 and Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
The defending GT Open Champion, Mikkel Mac, is one of the competitors, where he will team up with Fabien Lavergne in the Luzich Racing Ferrari #71. Their aim is to convert a GT Open title last year to a LMC title this year.
Luzich Racing is one of the ELMS teams, who has a car in the GT3 category. Kessel Racing, Ebimotors and Spirit of Race are the other three.
There will be a total of 21 LMP3 cars on the track, where a big part of the ELMS teams have a “junior” team.
Nielsen Racing, Cool Racing, Graff, Eurointernational, RLR MSport, BHK Motorsport and United Autosports already have one or more cars running in the LMP2 and/or LMP3 cars on the starting grid in the ELMS, but expands their programme with an LMP3 car in this series.
Several of the drivers are double duty. One of them is Christian Stubbe Olsen in the RLR MSport #14. Christian will team up with his dad Tom Olsen, so it will be a Danish only line-up.
They won’t be the only father/son combination on the grid, where AT Racing #90 with Alexander Talkanitsa Snr and Jr have switched to the LMC after a couple of season in the ELMS, where Mikkel Jensen often teamed up with them. Since LMC is a two-hour race with just a single pitstop at the halfway point, there is no need for a third driver in this series.
There will be a Danish entered team in LMP3. KEOP Racing #43 enters with Danish driver Michael Markussen and Swede Joakim Frid. The team has had a Ligier JS P3 since late 2016, and has participated in a few LMC outings since then. Markussen has been running in the Danish Thundersport Championship for the last few seasons, but has international aspirations of participating at Le Mans in the coming years. While Markussen is new to the LMP3 category, other than some testing, we have Joakim Frid both having done some testing and racing in the car type.
Tony Well and Colin Noble in the Nielsen Racing #2 is, on paper, the strongest line-up. The pair has raced in the Asian Le Mans Series 2018/19 together, and showed quite good speed, but was often hampered by technical issues. It’s important for them to do a race with any kind of errors, since there will be 20 other teams ready to grab the win and podium positions.
All races will be done in two days, with practice on the Friday, followed by qualifying Saturday morning, and a two-hour race late Saturday afternoon, after the ELMS qualifying has concluded.
The Michelin Le Mans Cup will run over six rounds, and will usually follow the ELMS. There is an exception at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the Michelin Le Mans Cup will race in the Road To Le Mans Race, which is run before the big race. We won’t see LMC at the Silverstone round, where FIA WEC will take up a lot of the schedule there.
The first round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup will run on 13 April 2019 at Circuit Paul Ricard.