Audi Sport Team Joest/North America Audi R15 TDI
#1 Allan McNish, Tom Kristensen, Rinaldo Capello
#2 Lucas Luhr, Mike Rockenfeller, Marco Werner
#3 Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard, Alexandre Premat
Audi goes into Le Mans week as the pre-event favourite: it has a new car that's two years younger than Peugeot's 908; it has won a thrilling Sebring 12 Hours with that car; and its record of eight Le Mans wins this decade speaks for itself. However, don't expect Audi to enjoy the kind of performance advantage that Peugeot did last year. All evidence suggests there's little to choose between the R15 and 908 in lap time.
The three Audi crews all have the potential to win, which wasn't the case last year. A betting man would look no further than the superteam of McNish, Kristensen and Capello, last year's winning squad, but the arrival of Dumas and Bernhard on loan from Porsche is intriguing. Their ALMS record marks them out as two of the world's best sportscar drivers and together with Premat they may well be the best Audi line-up. Expect Luhr, Rockenfeller and Werner to be more of a force this year.
Team Peugeot Total/Peugeot Sport Total Peugeot 908 HDi
#7 Nicolas Minassian, Pedro Lamy, Christian Klien
#8 Franck Montagny, Stephane Sarrazin, Sebastien Bourdais
#9 Marc Gene, Alex Wurz, David Brabham
Peugeot blew its big chance - its easiest chance - to win the Le Mans 24 Hours again last year, and admitted it straight after the race. This time, the appearance of a new Audi and the loss of Peugeot's clear performance advantage is going to make it much harder. Yet the French manufacturer remains very much in contention: it has the proven car; the latest version of the 908 was evenly matched with the R15 on their head-to-head confrontation at Sebring; and the Peugeot Sport team looks, as one driver put it, "more fluid" than last year.
It's sharper in the pits and there's a new aura of calmness in the Peugeot camp. The driver line-up is largely unchanged, but the two additions are worthy ones. Bourdais, a current F1 driver making a rare Le Mans appearance, returns to the squad after a year away, while Brabham gets a chance to win the big race at the age of 43.
Pescarolo Sport Peugeot 908 HDi
#17 Jean-Christophe Boullion, Simon Pagenaud, Benoit Treluyer
Peugeot has bolstered its line-up by placing a 908 with Pescarolo Sport. Not a bad choice when you consider that the French squad has taken the 'best of the rest' position behind Audi in 2000, '04 and '05 and the diesels in 2006-08. That is a phenomenal record for what is a low-key team with limited resources. The Peugeot isn't quite the latest spec - it is an updated older car with an '08-engine - and is on the grid, according to team boss Henri Pescarolo, to "help Peugeot win".
The Pescarolo Peugeot's driver line-up is more than capable of doing that job and, in fact, would not look out of place in one of the factory cars. Boullion is back at the top his game, Pagenaud has already proved his skills as a sportscar driver on both sides of the Atlantic and Treluyer is always quick on his annual European beano at Le Mans.
Pescarolo Sport Pescarolo-Judd 01
#16 Christophe Tinseau, Joao Barbosa, Bruce Jouanny
The 2009-spec Pescarolo 01 is a flier - witness its speed in the first two LMS rounds. There's firm evidence to suggest that the rebodied car, the result of the Le Mans-based team's first proper windtunnel programme, is the fastest petrol-engined LMP1 on this side of the Atlantic. That doesn't mean the team's solo Judd-powered entry is a clear favourite for petrol honours behind the diesels, but would be if its cockpit boasted Pescarolo's front-line driver squad.
The combination of Tinseau, Barbosa and Jouanny is strong rather than stellar and may struggle to keep up with the line-ups in the best of the AMR Lola-Astons and the lead ORECA. In Pescarolo's favour as it bids to be the best-placed petrol finisher is the amazing reliability record that has allowed it to notch up that sequence of impressive Le Mans results throughout this decade.
Kolles Audi R10 TDI
#14 Narain Karthikeyan, Andre Lotterer, Charles Zwolsman
#15 Christijan Albers, Christian Bakkerud, Giorgio Mondini
German-based entrant Colin Kolles has expanded into the sportscar ranks with a pair of Audi R10 turbodiesels, modified by the factory to the latest aero regulations. This is very much a privateer effort, with paying drivers being the order of the day. A lack of sportscar experience on the side of both the team and the drivers, in addition to some poor luck, has restricted its results in the LMS to date.
DTM convert Albers has proved to be Kolles' best driver so far. Some of his less-experienced team-mates have struggled in a car that was always challenging to drive. The best of the rookies has, ironically, been the least experienced - but National Class Formula 3 graduate Andy Meyrick will not be in the car for Le Mans.
Aston Martin Racing/AMR Eastern Europe Lola-Aston Martin B09/60
#007 Tomas Enge, Stefan Mucke, Jan Charouz
#008 Jos Verstappen, Darren Turner, Anthony Davidson
#009 Stuart Hall, Peter Kox, Harold Primat
With a great-looking car, a great livery, great engine note and, above all, a great name, AMR is the team every British fan at La Sarthe will want to win. This bold programme put together hook or by crook by Prodrive has already yielded results, Mucke, Enge and Charouz taking victory at the Barcelona LMS opener. AMR's reworked Lola chassis is up there with the new Pescarolo and ORECA contenders as the fastest petrol-powered LMP1 and the straight-line speed it showed at Spa suggests it could have the edge on raw pace at Le Mans.
Gauging the Lola-Aston's reliability isn't so straightforward: there were issues when AMR attempted a Le Mans simulation. The upset AMR craves is a long shot, but bringing in Verstappen and Davidson shows it's serious.
Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola-Aston Martin B08/60
#13 Andrea Belicchi, Neel Jani, Nicolas Prost
This Anglo-Swiss squad expands into LMP1 after taking the fight to Porsche in P2 in the LMS last season. Its graduation has come via the acquisition of one of the '08 Lola-Astons run by Prodrive under the Charouz banner last season. The programme looks good on paper, but niggling problems - gearbox at Barcelona, engine at Spa - have stymied its LMS campaign so far.
The loss of Marcel Fassler to Corvette Racing for the 24 Hours isn't an ideal situation and has taken something away from Sebah's driver line-up. Belicchi is a sportscar star in the making, who perhaps deserves a chance with a factory, while former A1GP champion Jani, a Le Mans rookie, looked good on his first acquaintance with an LMP1 car in testing in March. Prost Jr, meanwhile, has yet to match the speed of his team-mates in the LMS and has only one year's experience at La Sarthe on which to call.
Team ORECA Matmut AIM ORECA-AIM 01
#10 Bruno Senna, Stephane Ortelli, Tiago Monteiro
#11 Olivier Panis, Nicolas Lapierre, Soheil Ayari
Hugues de Chaunac's quest to win the Le Mans 24 Hours in his own right takes another step forward in 2009. His ORECA team has an engine deal to use the Japanese-funded, Judd-built AIM V10 and a car that retains little more than the monocoque from last year's Courage-ORECA. He's also pulled off a coup by signing Formula 1 aspirant Senna for the first half of the season.
ORECA has to be considered one of the favourites for petrol honours - remember its 'best of the rest' placings behind the Audis and Bentleys in 2001 and '02. The new car flew at Barcelona, even without its latest bodywork, and starred again at Spa. Gearbox gremlins in the opening LMS race are a worry, however. De Chaunac has assembled a superb driver line-up that also includes former grand prix winner Panis and GP2 frontrunner Lapierre.
Team LNT Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S
#6 Richard Dean, Nigel Moore, Lawrence Tomlinson
Ginetta owner Tomlinson, who is now a major shareholder in Zytek's motorsport arm, has entered what is essentially a factory car under his LNT banner. The boss, a winner in GT2 with an LNT-run Panoz back in 2006, lives out the dream by driving a prototype at Le Mans.
He's joined by his managing director, Dean, no mean pedaller in his day, but the big news on the driver front is the decision to blood teenager Moore in the world's biggest sportscar race. The 17-year-old British GT racer, who's won in everything he has driven so far, is set to become the youngest driver to contest the 24 Hours since Ricardo Rodriguez in 1959.
Strakka Racing Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S
#23 Danny Watts, Peter Hardman, Nick Leventis
Strakka, surely the first team named after a brand of olive oil, steps up from the GT1 ranks to the top prototype division with a new Ginetta-Zytek. It was a big ask for the Silverstone-based squad, but lead driver Watts silenced the doubters by claiming pole position at the Barcelona LMS opener.
Petrol pole at Le Mans is not out of the question, but the Ginetta-Zytek is likely to prove less suited to the flat-out blasts of the Circuit de la Sarthe than the twists and turns of Barcelona. Qualifying is Strakka's only chance for glory. Hardman, an occasional Mika Hakkinen-beater 20 years ago, isn't the equal of Watts, while Leventis, whose family back the team, is still learning at this level.
Signature Plus Courage-ORECA-Judd LC70E
#12 Franck Mailleux, Pierre Ragues, Didier Andre
Signature, a winner in the World Series, Formula 3 and Formula Renault, follows in the footsteps of a line of French single-seater teams - ORECA, DAMS and Graff - in tackling its nation's biggest motor race. Team boss Philippe Sinault says he is approaching his move into the sportscar ranks with humility and is billing 2009 very much as a learning year.
His chosen approach - steady and unspectacular - resulted in an out-of-the-box fourth-place finish, albeit an inherited fourth, with his '08-spec Courage-ORECA in the LMS opener at Barcelona. Signature has a pretty good driver line-up, which boasts the speed of F3 Euro Series race winner Mailleux and the experience of Andre.
Creation Autosportif Creation-Judd CA07
#4 Jamie Campbell-Walter, Romain Ianetta, Vanina Ickx
A team that once challenged for victories in the Le Mans Series returns to the track for the first time this season in the wake of a troubled 2008. Team boss Mike Jankowski has got the band back together for what he hopes is a relaunch of this plucky British squad.
Creation has reverted to Judd engines after losing its AIM deal, but the CA07 is unchanged apart from the necessary aero mods, although the shift from Dunlops to Michelin should provide a fillip. The car is well-proven, which means the team's target of a top-10 finish is not out of the question. Team regular Campbell-Walter leads the line-up.
Navi Team Goh Porsche RS Spyder
#5 Sascha Maassen, Seiji Ara, Keisuke Kunimoto
This former Le Mans-winning team returns to the scene of its overall triumph in 2004 after a decision to buy and then enter the Porsche RS Spyder that won the class last year in the hands of the Van Merksteijn team. Stalwart sportscar entrant Kazumichi Goh is returning to La Sarthe after an absence of four years with the intention of giving his new purchase its second victory in the race, and has assembled a driver line-up capable of doing just that.
In Porsche factory contractee Maassen, 2004 winner Ara and Macau F3 winner Kunimoto he has the correct mix of experience and speed, which combined with the Goh team's knowledge of Le Mans must make the Japanese squad pre-event favourite for P2 honours. A lack of experience with the RS Spyder could count against the team, however. The decision to abandon plans to race the car in the Spa LMS round last month might prove to be a mistake. Goh has had only five days of testing with the Porsche.
Team Essex Porsche RS Spyder
#31 Emmanuel Collard, Casper Elgaard, Kristian Poulsen
The Danish Essex squad, the only P2 team to beat the all-conquering Van Merksteijn Porsche in Europe last year, returns for another crack at Le Mans. A switch to Michelin tyres and the loan of factory driver Collard (a podium finisher with Pescarolo at the 24 Hours) and Owen Hayes, who successfully engineered the Dumas/Bernhard Penske Porsche in the ALMS, should boost its chances against Goh.
The big question mark, however, is over Poulsen, who helped revive a programme that looked dead and buried over the winter. The Danish touring car specialist has had only limited mileage in the RS Spyder so far, and on the evidence of the Spa LMS round he has yet to get to grips with a high-downforce prototype. What's more, he's a Le Mans rookie and with no Test Day this year he faces the prospect of going into the race with a dozen laps of the place under his belt. It might prove to be a long night for Collard and his team-mate Elgaard.
RML Lola-Mazda B09/80
#25 Tommy Erdos, Mike Newton, Chris Dyson
RML used to put together one of the best LMP2 assaults in Europe - witness its class wins at Le Mans in 2005-06 and its former domination of P2 in the LMS. Things have moved on in LMP2, however, and that's not just down to the arrival of the RS Spyder in Europe.
The team's decision to upgrade to a Lola coupe late last year means it has one of the best chassis, but question marks remain over the AER-built Mazda engine. The switch to E10 biofuel has hindered the turbo unit in terms of power and reliability, though a restrictor break could redress the former. Erdos leads the line-up, while Dyson makes his second Le Mans start as he fosters links between Mazda's US and European operations.
KSM Lola-Mazda B07/40
#39 Hideki Noda, Matthew Marsh, Jean de Pourtales
Stalwart German endurance entrant Kai Kruse's ambitious plans to upgrade to a new Lola coupe had to be put on hold early in the year, which means a return this year in its well-used, open-top version of the British manufacturer's P2 contender, once again powered by the AER-built Mazda turbo engine.
This is the ex-Fernandez ALMS car that hit the headlines last year when Noda took off in qualifying at Le Mans approaching the Dunlop Chicane. That the car was repaired and reached the finish shows that KSM is a determined and well-run team, but without up-to-date machinery or a top-line driver roster, it is unlikely to trouble the Porsches or the likes of Speedy, ASM or Racing Box.
Racing Box Lola-Judd B09/80
#30 Matteo Bobbi, Andrea Piccini, Thomas Biagi
When someone says Racing Box, ignore last year's disastrous LMP2 campaign with the uncompetitive Lucchini chassis and think back to its successes in FIA GTs running Carsport-entered Chrysler Vipers. The Italian squad proved its credentials when it made a flying start to its 2009 campaign with a class victory in the Barcelona LMS opener.
It then got egg on its face when it had to withdraw from round two at Spa when it didn't have the necessary spare body panel to repair the car after an early clash. Arguably the best non-Porsche car/engine combination and a strong line-up comprising three experienced Italian sportscar hands makes the Racing Box Lola a potential frontrunner in class.
Speedy Racing Team Sebah Lola-Judd B08/80
#33 Jonny Kane, Xavier Pompidou, Benjamin Leuenberger
This British-based, Swiss-backed team returns to La Sarthe with the same Lola-Judd combination it ran last year and is once again a class frontrunner in the LMS, narrowly missing out on a first P2 victory at Spa last month. That should give Speedy/Sebah the momentum to enable it to put a disappointing 2008 Le Mans behind it.
Former British F3 driver Kane (who you may recall was once a Bentley reserve driver) and team stalwart Pompidou (an LMS champion with Sebah in GT2) lead the driver line-up and are capable of running right at the front in the P2 field. Leuenberger, on the other hand, doesn't have that potential, at least on the evidence of his first race outing in the car at the Spa LMS race.
Oak Racing Pescarolo-Mazda 01
#24 Richard Hein, Jacques Nicolet, Jean-Francois Yvon
#35 Matthieu Lahaye, Karim Aljani, Guillaume Moreau
The Magny-Cours-based Oak squad, which competed as Saulnier Racing in 2007-09, returns with a pair of rebodied Pescarolos, both now in LMP2 spec, and the backing of Mazda France to go with its use of AER's latest turbocharged in-line four. It's a worthy programme by a professional-looking team, but Moreau is the only stand-out driver in its line-up. Lahaye, 24, has showed flashes of pace, while the fifty-somethings in the second car means that it is little more than a backmarker.
Quifel - Team ASM Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S
#40 Olivier Pla, Guy Smith, Miguel Amaral
Arguably the best LMP2 team in the LMS over the past three seasons has stepped up a gear with the acquisition of a new Ginetta-Zytek to replace its well-used AER-powered Lola. It looks like a good decision on the evidence of ASM star driver Pla's pace in the opening two rounds of the LMS. The well-drilled Portuguese squad finished second at Barcelona, but getting a good result at Le Mans will be more difficult: the opposition is stronger and there are still question marks over the P2 Zytek's durability.
GAC Racing Team Zytek 07S/2
#41 Philipp Peter, Karim Ojjeh, Claude-Yves Gosselin
The name is new, but the team organisation is the same and so is the machinery. The French-based, Swiss-entered squad formerly known as Trading Performance now runs its Zytek under the GAC banner. New for 2009 is the arrival of Peter, a podium finisher at Le Mans with Audi in 2002. A GT specialist, he has been quick in the car despite his lack of prototype experience, but with Ojjeh and Gosselin sharing the GAC Zytek this outfit is never going to make its mark over the full race distance at La Sarthe.
Barazi-Epsilon Zytek 07S/2
#32 Juan Barazi, Stuart Moseley, Phil Bennett
Le Mans stalwart Epsilon, which is based near the circuit, got a late call to return to a race in which it has competed on and off since 2001 in the wake of a string of withdrawals that promoted it off the reserve list in May. This car notched up LMS class victories back in 2007 and, last year, was often best of the rest in qualifying behind Porsches with Michael Vergers at the wheel. This season, however, it hasn't shown the same kind of form.
Bruichladdich Bruneau Radical-AER SR9
#26 Pierre Bruneau, Tor Graves, Marc Rostan
The factory Radical squad returns to provide welcome variety in LMP2, having teamed up with long-time Le Mans entrant Bruneau for its 2009 campaign in the LMS and at the 24 Hours. This squad needs to pay its way, which means no stars in this reasonably priced LMP2 car. That probably doesn't matter too much to a team looking for a finish with a car that hasn't always been the most reliable.
Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
#63 Jan Magnussen, Johnny O'Connell, Antonio Garcia
#64 Oliver Gavin, Olivier Beretta, Marcel Fassler
The factory GT1 Corvettes should bow out of competition in fine style at Le Mans. Only an act of god can prevent the Pratt & Miller-run cars' return to the GT1 winner's circle after two years away. In the absence of Aston Martin Racing, GT1 winners in 2007-08, there is no real opposition in this poorly-supported class.
That doesn't mean there will not be a race in the last year of GT1 as we know it: on the evidence of past ALMS campaigns Chevrolet will let its two cars race - and race hard - deep into the event. The addition of Fassler and Garcia, in place of Fellows and Papis, seems unlikely to upset the balance in either car.
JetAlliance Aston Martin DBR9
#66 Alex Muller, Lukas Lichtner-Hoyer, Thomas Gruber
The 'winningest' team in FIA GTs in 2007-08 has taken a financially-enduced sabbatical from that series, but the Austrian squad has stayed together for its first attack on the Le Mans 24 Hours with a warm-up at Spa along the way. Don't expect the kind of form that took Karl Wendlinger and Ryan Sharp to six FIA GT wins in two years: the level is higher here and Jetalliance's campaign weaker.
Team boss Lichtner-Hoyer and GT3 racer Gruber are amateurs of varying competence who shouldn't disgrace themselves, but are unlikely to be on the pace. Muller, who is emerging as driver with a decent future in GT racing, will shine, and could well get near the factory Corvettes in qualifying.
Luc Alphand Aventures Chevrolet Corvette C6.R
#72 Luc Alphand, Patrice Gouesland, Stephan Gregoire
#73 Yann Clairay, Xavier Maassen, Julien Jousse
Former ski champion Alphand's team is back at Le Mans with a pair of Dunlop-shod Corvettes and has every opportunity of notching up a first class podium in the 24 Hours since 2006. The Le Mans-based squad showed its worth by winning the LMS GT1 title last year and should lead the chase of the factory 'Vettes over the distance. Formula 2 driver and World Series runner-up Jousse is an intriguing pick, and joins fellow single-seater convert Clairay and seasoned sportscar pro Goueslard in a pretty strong line-up.
JLOC Isao Noritake Lamborghini Murcielago R-GT
#68 Marco Apicella, Atsushi Yogo, Koji Yamanishi
The Japanese Lamborghini Owners' Club is back for another stab at Le Mans two years on from its disastrous 2007 campaign. It has announced that it has built up a new Murcielago R-GT around parts supplied by the German squad that developed the car, Reiter Engineering, and put that car through its paces during a two-day test at Suzuka at the end of May.
The German-based T2M team, an occasional competitor at Le Mans down the years, is providing the technical support necessary to run the Yokohama-shod car. Apicella is due to return and Yamanishi and Yogo complete an unchanged line-up from 2007.
Endurance Asia Team Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#75 Darryl O'Young, Philippe Hesnault, Plamen Kralev
Veteran Le Mans entrant Thierry Perrier runs a Porsche, on loan from Felbermayr, under the banner of Endurance Asia Team in advance of an assault on the Asian Le Mans Series with his own car at the end of the year. Hong Kong-based O'Young, who's also racing in FIA GTs with the factory-backed ProSpeed squad, gives this French team its Asian flavour, along with a Chinese entrant's licence.
The Le Mans rookie is joined by amateur driver Philippe Hesnault, nephew of sometime Renault Formula 1 racer Francois. The team's chances will depend on whom Perrier has signed up for a seat still vacant at press time. Uniquely for a Porsche at Le Mans this year, the Asia Team 911 runs on Dunlop tyres.
IMSA Performance Matmut Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#70 Horst Felbermayr Jr, Horst Felbermayr Sr, Michel Lecourt
#76 Patrick Pilet, Patrick Long, Raymond Narac
Factory-backed Imsa team, which is based up the road from Le Mans in Rouen, enters two cars, one with a real chance of repeating its 2007 GT2 class victory at the 24 Hours. Pilet, who races with Imsa in the LMS, is joined by fellow factory driver Long. Team boss Narac completes the line-up in the lead car, which is why they are likely to fall short of the Felbermayr-Proton Porsche driven by Lieb, Lietz and Henzler. He's a handy pedaller, but not in the same class as his team-mates. A link up with arch-rival Felbermayr has resulted in father and son pairing Horst Felbermayr Jr and Sr racing Imsa's second entry.
Team Felbermayr-Proton Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#77 Marc Lieb, Richard Lietz, Wolf Henzler
Felbermayr-Proton has come a long way since, as separate teams, they trailed around near the back wherever they raced. Joining forces and landing Porsche factory backing transformed their fortunes and quickly led to class victories in the LMS. This is the team's big shot at a GT2 Le Mans victory.
The latest 911 GT3-RSR appears to have leapfrogged the Ferrari 430 GT and its straight-line speed advantage will tell down the multiple flat-out blasts of the Circuit de la Sarthe. The combination of Lietz and Lieb has already resulted in LMS success this year and the likely addition of fellow factory driver Henzler gives Felbermayr-Proton a line-up that is only rivalled in GT2 by Risi.
Flying Lizard Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#80 Jorg Bergmeister, Darren Law, Seth Neiman
The Lizards are already class winners in the ALMS this year, but a GT2 victory in the 24 Hours has to a long shot. Factory driver Bergmeister, a three-time ALMS class champion, leads the US team's one-car squad, but he is paired with the Lizards' B-team. It would be wrong to underestimate Law, after all he is a winner in the ALMS, but team owner Neiman is strictly an amateur who races for fun.
The Lizards' chances will depend on how much time Neiman wants to spend in the car over the course of the 24 hours. The team is well-drilled and tactically astute, so it would be wrong to write off the Lizards altogether, but the competition is likely to overwhelm them.
AF Corse/Advanced Engineering Ferrari 430 GT
#78 Gianmaria Bruni, Matias Russo, Luis Perez Companc
#81 Joe Foster, Patrick Dempsey, Don Kinch Jr
FIA GT2 title winner AF Corse makes its first serious assault on Le Mans. Lead driver Bruni is joined by Argentinians Russo and Companc, race winners in FIA GTs last year. It's not the best line-up in the class, but it could be good enough to mix it with Felbermayr, Proton and JMW. The second car, entered under the Advanced banner, has a trio of Americans including actor-cum-racer Dempsey, a primetime star in France with Grey's Anatomy.
Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT
#82 Jaime Melo, Pierre Kaffer, Mika Salo
#83 Eric van de Poele, Nic Jonsson, Tracy Krohn
The US-based Risi squad returns to Le Mans looking to repeat last year's GT2 victory. The team has the experience, the resources and the drivers to lead the Ferrari challenge and do just that. Melo needs little introduction as a Ferrari GT2 driver, while Kaffer is a worthy replacement for Salo as full-time number two in the team's ALMS squad. The big question will be how the Ferrari stacks up against the new-and-improved Porsche. The second Risi Ferrari won't trouble the frontrunners and on past form will adopt a steady approach.
Team Modena Ferrari 430 GT
#84 Leo Mansell, Pierre Ehret, Roman Rusinov
The British Modena team has pensioned off its well-used - and successful - Aston Martin DBR9 and stepped down a class to GT2. It's been in the mix in the LMS, inheriting victory at Spa after scrutineering. The problem for Modena is that result came with Antonio Garcia and Jaime Melo on board.
Garcia is on Chevrolet duty at Le Mans, while Melo is back with Risi. Sportscar rookie Mansell faces a steep learning curve on his Le Mans debut and will do well to outshine seasoned amateur endurance racer Ehret, while the third seat is filled by sometime F1 test driver and Lamborghini GT1 racer Rusinov.
Hankook - Team Farnbacher Ferrari 430 GT
#89 Allan Simonsen, Christian Montanari, Dominik Farnbacher
This car has been one of the revelations of the LMS, though you might wonder why that can be said of a Farnbacher-run Ferrari driven by the likes of Simonsen, Montanari and Pierre Kaffer. The reason is the tyres the car runs on. The South Korean Hankook rubber hasn't quite proved a match for Michelin and Dunlops, but it's not far off, either on pace or durability - witness its two third place finishes. With Kaffer over at Risi, Montanari returns to the line-up to share with Simonsen and Farnbacher.
JMW Motorsport Ferrari 430 GT
#92 Rob Bell, Andrew Kirkaldy, Tim Sugden
The key elements of the 2007-08 LMS title-winning Virgo team - drivers (at least in the LMS), car, engineer and Dunlop tyre deal - now compete as JMW. The 'new' squad has been right up there in the two LMS races so far, which means JMW should be in the mix at Le Mans. It has a top-line driver squad in Bell and Kirkaldy, while Le Mans old-hand Sugden trades the team manager's headphones for his helmet.
Virgo Motorsport Ferrari 430 GT
#96 Michael Vergers, Sean McInerney, Michael McInerney
Virgo has split with former backer Jim McWhirter but continues racing in the sportscar big time with Ferrari. The need for paying drivers, however, means its glory days are behind this Essex-based squad, at least for now. Father and son Michael and Sean McInerney are enthusiastic amateurs who have brought in experienced hand Vergers to show them the way. Consistent speed isn't going to get them a result, but reliability could. The close-knit Virgo team is capable of a good finish.
BMS Scuderia Italia Ferrari 430 GT
#97 Matteo Malucelli, Paolo Ruberti, Fabio Babini
This ex-Formula 1 team now plies its trade in GT2 and again fits in a Le Mans attack around an FIA GT campaign. Its Ferraris run on Michelins in that series, but it remains Pirelli's development squad, which means a return to the Italian rubber for the 24 Hours. That proved crucial in the team's GT2 victory in last year's Spa 24 Hours, which followed hot on the heels of a second-place finish at Le Mans. It has assembled a strong driver line-up that could make it a contender this time around.
JMB Racing Ferrari 430 GT
#99 Christophe Bouchut, Yvan Lebon, Manuel Rodrigues
The French JMB squad isn't the force it once was in European sportscar racing: remember its title successes with the 333SP prototype in the late '90s and then the 360 N-GT racer early this decade... and that's not counting a pair of Porsche Supercar championships. Harsh economic realities mean that this French-based team that flies the Monaco flag has to rely on paying drivers these days - but it has recruited the still-rapid Bouchut to lead its squad.
Drayson Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT2
#87 Paul Drayson, Jonny Cocker, Mario Franchitti
Politician Drayson has set up his own team to fulfil his ambition to race at Le Mans and embarked on a sizeable programme with his pair of Astons. Drayson is not just competing in the LMS and at the 24 Hours, but has selected ALMS races and the new Asia Le Mans Series on its schedule. The team, which has former Petersen/White Lightning boss Dale White at the helm, has run in the top six in class in the LMS, but it remains to be seen how competitive the Vantage will be on its debut in the 24 Hours.
Snoras Spyder Squadron Spyker C8 Laviolette
#85 Tom Coronel, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Jarek Janis
Dutch supercar maker Spyker's in-house team is improving its GT2 contender year on year. For this season, it has taken a step forward in the engine department, while new aerodynamics have given the car more front-end bite.
The problem for Spyker is that its rivals haven't stood still either, which means its solo entry is likely to still lag some way behind the best Porsches and Ferraris despite the talents of Coronel and Bleekemolen. Doubts remained at press time on Janis's participation as he battles to recover from a back injury.
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Gary Watkins has, for reasons best known to himself, devoted all his working life to covering sportscar racing. This season is his 25th as a motorsport journalist, during which time he has reported on major long-distance events on four continents and approaching 60 24-hour races. He reckons a degree in political philosophy makes him well qualified for covering the sometimes Machiavellian world of international sportscars.
Gary, who also writes for RACER, Autoweek, Motor Sport, Autocourse and others, lives in Surbiton but spends more time on the road than at home for most of the year.