Photo: John Brooks
By: Kobe Lambeth
As the season opener of the 2016 European Le Mans Series approaches, defending champions, Greaves Motorsport, is ready to take on Silverstone.
The opening round of the championship starts with the 4 Hours of Silverstone on April 16th as many LMP2, LMP3, and GTE machinery battle for glory at the historic circuit. The competition this season will be fierce and intense, so minimum mistakes will be the difference between 1st and 2nd place in the championship.
If Greaves Motorsport wants to be victorious once again, they must be flawless and hold off fantastic competition in the LMP2 class this season. Team principal, Jacob Greaves, is very optimistic about their chances in the European Le Mans Series.
“We are defending European Le Mans Series Champions and are keen to retain our titles, so we go into the season expecting to do so, that is natural,” said Greaves.
“However it is clear that the opposition from last year, Jota Sport (now G-Drive), Thiriet by TDS Racing, and the other teams in LMP2 will be very strong and looking to claim our crown, to beat them we will have to be at the top of our game.”
The pre-season test at the Paul Ricard Circuit certainly gave the team plenty of confidence heading into the 2016 season.
“We went to Le Castellet with a program of areas to test and evaluate, the Ligier JS P2 chassis is new to us even if the Nissan power and Dunlop tires are not,” said Greaves.
“Aside from a few minor issues, the test went to plan and we have data that will give us a good basis for racing. The three drivers really gelled as a team and they were also able to develop a good relationship with the crew, and, perhaps most importantly, they were fast. This leads us to believe that we will be competitive but there will be no easy races.”
It appears that it will be another competitive season for Greaves Motorsport in the European Le Mans Series. Although they have had much success in Europe, could the team be on the move to America with IMSA’s intriguing new Daytona Prototype International (DPi) formula set to debut next season to replace the current Daytona Prototypes and open-cockpit LMP2 cars? Current LMP2 coupes will be grandfathered one year, but it is unknown if they will be competitive against the DPi and ACO-spec cars.
Team principal, Jacob Greaves, had plenty to say about IMSA’s plans for the future of American prototype racing.
“It is difficult to say without seeing the new regulations in detail and they have not been available till just recently. However, we certainly feel that the direction that IMSA and the WeatherTech series is taking is one that will satisfy needs of manufacturers and professional teams in creating a platform for racing that is credible in marketing and financial terms. We also believe that the regulations will generate close competition on these fantastic tracks, that should keep the fans happy, it is a very promising prospect.”
With the exciting prospect of choosing from the four LMP2 constructors, having the opportunity to join forces with a manufacturer, and designing custom bodywork, DPi has the potential to take off in many years to come.
Along with staying in the European Le Mans Series for the immediate future, could we see Greaves Motorsport move to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship for the full season or a program based around the NAEC rounds?
“It is no secret that we are examining the possibility of adding a North American element to our 2017 season, that much has been reported in the media already,” responded Greaves.
“We would seek to retain our activity in Europe that has been the foundation of the team’s successes to date and build on this in the IMSA series which, as I have already said, is an attractive platform. The program would be based on the aims of our partners and that might be just confined to the NAEC or a full season, it is too early to speculate further.”
How cool would it be for a European team like Greaves Motorsport to join the competitive IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship next season? Hopefully, everything will come together, so many sportscar fans will have the opportunity to watch them race on American soil.
Photo: John Brooks
Long-time IMSA driver, Memo Rojas, will lead the charge for Greaves Motorsport in 2016. After spending time in America, Rojas will make the transition to Europe. Although he might be racing in a different series, Jacob Greaves had many positive things to say about Rojas.
“Memo has a fantastic track record in North America as a multiple champion and a winner at the classic endurance events at Daytona and Sebring, this does not happen by accident,” said Greaves.
“So, we have a champion in the car and he is seeking fresh challenges in Europe and, most importantly, I would suggest, at the Le Mans 24 Hours. We have to respond accordingly and give Memo the car, and the opportunity, to be as successful his side of the Atlantic as he has been before. We also have to do this for his team-mates as well, they also have racing records that command respect including victories and titles. Endurance racing is a team sport and we all have to perform to best of our abilities to succeed, it is part of the challenge.”
Rojas spent the majority of his sportscar racing career driving Chip Ganassi Racing’s Daytona Prototype, and the Deltawing last season in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship. It appears that Rojas is definitely ready for the challenge driving an LMP2 car on European circuits.
Rojas said, “It’s a big change, the European racing culture is very different than the American racing culture, but I really like it!”
“The biggest challenge will be adapting to the new circuits, but I’m happy to be a driver for one of the best teams which will definitely make the transition easier.”
According to Rojas, an LMP2 car is different compared to previous prototypes that he has driven.
“The Ligier JS P2 is very different from the Daytona Prototypes I had been driving in America,” said Rojas.
“First of all, the car is a full carbon monocoque and it has state of the art technology. The Daytona Prototype had a technology a bit older and was heavier. Both cars are really fun to drive, they are just different.”
Along with running the full European Le Mans Series season with Greaves Motorsport, Rojas will join the team for the 24 Hours of Le Mans this summer. He has very high expectations when it is time for the twice around the clock French endurance classic.
“My goal is to win! I know it will be tough and there are many good teams and drivers but we’ll certainly do our best to achieve that goal.”
Rojas has the talent and Greaves Motorsport has the experience at Le Mans to make those goals a reality when June zooms around the corner!
It was previously mentioned, Greaves Motorsport could join the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship next season with a DPi program. With the experience of Rojas in America, could he be the lead driver if the European squad decides to take their talents across the pond?
“That would be something for me to consider, although it’s still too early to know,” said Rojas.
Life is good if your name is Memo Rojas.