Peugeot Sport - Peugeot 908 HDi FAP
#1 Anthony Davidson (GB), Alexander Wurz (A), Marc Gene (E)
#2 Stephane Sarrazin (F), Franck Montagny (F), Nicolas Minassian (F)
#3 Sebastien Bourdais (F), Simon Pagenaud (F), Pedro Lamy (P)
Peugeot is an incumbent Le Mans champion returning with a proven car, and for that reason alone the French manufacturer has to be favourite.
The 908 should be unburstable by now. This is its fourth Le Mans and Peugeot has continued its routine of 24-hour simulations since last year's victory.
What's more, it's far from certain that its big rival, the new Audi R15-plus, will be the faster car. The jury is out on that one. Few would argue that Peugeot had the stronger driver line-up last year, but even so it has bolstered its squad for 2010.
The replacement of David Brabham and Christian Klien with Pagenaud and Davidson appears to have added pace to the 908 team up. The best line-up on paper looks like the combination of Sarrazin, Montagny and Minassian, but don't put your house on them. A safer bet would be Sarrazin for four poles in a row. That's a PR opportunity Peugeot surely won't miss.
We say: Last year's winner has to be a narrow favourite.
Audi Sport - Audi R15-plus TDi
#7 Allan McNish (GB), Tom Kristensen (DK), Rinaldo Capello (I)
#8 Marcel Fassler (CH), Andre Lotterer (D), Benoit Treluyer (F)
#9 Romain Dumas (F), Timo Berhnard (D), Mike Rockenfeller (D)
Audi proved it was fallible last season: it got it wrong with the R15 on more than one count, which is why it barely offered a challenge to Peugeot over the 24 hours. That's why Audi went away and came up with a largely-new car in an attempt to regain its Le Mans crown.
No fair comparison can be made between the R15-plus and the 908 ahead of Le Mans week, but the last time Audi got it wrong in sportscars, it bounced back in style. Remember its maiden attack on the 24 Hours in 1999? Audi may have come away with a podium, but it wasn't remotely competitive. A year later it's new car, the R8, dominated.
Audi's driver line-up has undergone some major changes, with the three drivers in the #9 car racing a factory Audi at Le Mans for the first time. It remains to be seen if the combination of Fassler, Lotterer and Treluyer is a potential winner.
We say: It all hinges on whether the R15-plus leapfrogs the 908 on pace.
ORECA Team Peugeot Matmut - Peugeot 908 HDi FAP
#4 Nicolas Lapierre (F), Olivier Panis (F), Loic Duval (F)
The French ORECA team's decade-long quest to repeat its overlooked 1991 victory with Mazda continues, this time with a factory-supported Peugeot. And just five years after it raced an Audi at Le Mans!
Its 908 HDi is reputedly in exactly the same specification as the factory cars and the driver line-up looks strong, if not quite a match for the best of the factory cars. (Lapierre, in particular, is a sportscar star in the making.)
That means ORECA boss Hugues de Chaunac's promise that his squad is much more than a back-up to the works team should be taken at face value. He is insistent that it is operating as "part of one team" with Peugeot Sport. "Our joint target is to beat Audi," he says, "but if it is just a battle between the Peugeots, it is not a problem for us to be involved in that."
We say: There's no reason ORECA can't be right in the mix.
Aston Martin Racing - Lola-Aston Martin B09/60
#007 Stefan Mucke (D), Adrian Fernandez (MEX), Harold Primat (CH)
#009 Darren Turner (GB), Sam Hancock (GB), Juan Barazi (DK)
Aston Martin Racing returns for a second campaign at the 24 Hours with its reworked Lola coupes, though it's not the all-guns-blazing attack that yielded an impressive fourth place last year. This time around, it's a much more modest programme; you only have to look at some of the drivers to understand where the funding is coming from for this two-car assault.
A repeat of a best-of-the-rest result behind the turbodiesels, rather than an upset against Peugeot and Audi, has to be the target for the Prodrive-run team, with Mucke/Fernandez/Primat most likely to do the job.
The good news is that AMR has maintained a presence in the LMP1 division, suggesting it is serious about returning with a bespoke Aston when new rules come into force next season. And Le Mans fans get one last chance to see the beautiful Gulf-liveried coupes out on the Circuit de la Sarthe.
We say: AMR is going to struggle to repeat last year's fourth place Kolles - Audi R10 TDi
Kolles - Audi R10 TDi
#14 Christijan Albers (NL), Scott Tucker (USA), Manuel Rodrigues (F)
#15 Christian Bakkerud (DK), Oliver Jarvis (GB), Christophe Bouchut (F)
Le Mans is the seasonal debut for the German Kolles squad, which entered the sportscar arena for the first time with a pair of Audi R10s in 2009. The involvement of team boss Colin Kolles in the Hispania Racing Team in Formula 1 meant his sportscar plans had to be put on the backburner.
The cars have undergone just one shakedown test at Paul Ricard in the run-up to the big race. Expect a shake up in the driver roster during Le Mans week: Bouchut is set to move over, subject to the permission of the race officials, to join Tucker and Rodrigues.
We say: Albers, Jarvis and Bakkerud should challenge for a top six. Beechdean Mansell Motorsport - Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S
Beechdean Mansell Motorsport - Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S
#5 Nigel Mansell (GB), Greg Mansell (GB), Leo Mansell (GB)
The Mansell family has thrown its lot in with former British GT driver and entrant Andrew Howard to create what is effectively an all-new team for an attack on the LMP1 division in Europe. It's billed as a 50-50 partnership and is much more, says Mansell Sr, than a vehicle for the racing aspirations of sons Greg and Leo.
Beechdean Mansell was set up late and didn't make a sparkling debut at the Paul Ricard LMS race. On the strength of that, it decided to skip the Spa round of the series in order to focus its resources on Le Mans and get some more test miles under its belt.
It's difficult to assess its chances ahead of the 24 Hours, but if the latest Zytek aero package works at Le Mans, star driver Greg should be up there in qualifying right behind the best of the petrol LMP1s.
We say: It's probably too early for this new team to score a good result AIM Team ORECA Matmut - ORECA-AIM 01
AIM Team ORECA Matmut - ORECA-AIM 01
#6 Soheil Ayari (F), Didier Andre (F), Andy Meyrick (GB)
ORECA's focus this season has switched from its own Courage-based chassis to its on-loan Peugeot 908, but it brings out one of its AIM-powered open-top LMP1s for Le Mans with an eye on next season. It is building its own car to the new 2011 prototype regulations, which will be powered by a Peugeot engine. Outright victory will be its target then, but for now it has to be content with challenging for the unofficial petrol class.
On the evidence of the final races of 2009, the ORECA-AIM is a match for its rivals in the right hands. Ayari leads a trio of drivers that may not quite have the pace to run with the best entries from Aston Martin Racing and Rebellion. Briton Meyrick, who impressed in a Kolles Audi last year and a Dyson Lola this year, gets to make his first attempt at Le Mans.
We say: A decent outside bet for petrol honours. Drayson Racing - Lola-Judd B09/10
#11 Emanuele Pirro (I), Jonny Cocker (GB), Paul Drayson (GB)
Drayson Racing - Lola-Judd B09/10
#11 Emanuele Pirro (I), Jonny Cocker (GB), Paul Drayson (GB)
Lord Drayson's team made a giant leap before the end of its maiden season in 2009, grounding its GT2 Aston Martin and jumping up three classes after purchasing a LMP1 Lola coupe with Judd V10 power. The team, run by former White Lightning boss Dale White out of premises in Gloucestershire, has already proved that its not a step too far, showing its worth with a pole position at the Okayama Asian Le Mans Series event last year and a finish, albeit a delayed one, in this years Sebring 12 Hours.
Le Mans is a challenge on a much bigger scale, and not only because there's more real opposition than in the American and Asian series. The recruitment of five-time Le Mans winner Pirro to bolster an inexperienced driver line-up could turn out to be a canny move and provide some of the short-cuts this ambitious new team is looking for.
We say: This team doesn't have the drivers to challenge for petrol honours. Rebellion Racing - Lola-Judd B10/06
#12 Neel Jani (CH), Nicolas Prost (F), Marco Andretti (USA)
#13 Jean-Christophe Boullion (F), Andrea Belicchi (I), Guy Smith (GB)
Rebellion Racing - Lola-Judd B10/06
#12 Neel Jani (CH), Nicolas Prost (F), Marco Andretti (USA)
The team that raced as Speedy Sebah last year has returned this year with a new name and a new focus. Rebellion Racing, named after team owner Alexandre Pesci's watch company but still run out of Surrey by Sebah, fields two Lola coupes with best driver line-up of any of the petrol LMP1 squads.
It even has its own badges on the Judd engines courtesy of a switch of engine electronics on the V10s from EFI to Motech. It wasn't far off the Aston Martin Racing coupe at the Paul Ricard LMS opener, though gearbox problems deprived the team of a decent result at Spa.
We say: Rebellion will be up there in the race for petrol honours. Autocon Motorsports/Michael Lewis - Lola-AER B06/10
Autocon Motorsports/Michael Lewis - Lola-AER B06/10
#19 Michael Lewis (USA), Tony Burgess (CDN), Bryan Willman (USA)
ALMS stalwart Autocon returns to Le Mans in its own right: its previous campaign in 2008 with a Judd-powered Creation was masterminded by the British constructor. This time it's back with the ex-Chamberlain-Synergy Lola that it's been running since the end of 2008.
This car is not in its first flush of youth, and nor are the drivers. The line-up in this car isn't going to trouble the frontrunners, not even in the LMP2 class. The good news for Le Mans fans is that Hugh Chamberlain acts as a kind of sporting director. His experience could prove invaluable.
We say: The kind of privateer that has been omnipresent at Le Mans down the ages.
Signature Plus - Lola-Aston Martin B09/06
#008 Franck Mailleux (F), Pierre Ragues (F), Vanina Ickx (F)
The French Signature squad has exchanged its Courage-ORECA for one of the ex-works Aston Martin Racing coupes for its second crack at the Le Mans 24 Hours. That in itself is a statement of intent by Signature after a low-key, perhaps even conservative, introduction to sportscar racing that belied the team's single-seater origins.
The decision to run the AMR coupe on Dunlop tyres, rather than the Michelins around which the car was developed, looked the wrong one at the Paul Ricard LMS opener but the new relationship appeared to bear fruit at Spa.
We say: Signature doesn't have the pace to trouble the best petrol P1s. LMP2
OAK Racing - Pescarolo-Judd 01
#24 Richard Hein (F), Jacques Nicolet (F), Jean-Francois Yvon (F)
#35 Guillaume Moreau (F), Mattieu Layhae (F), Jan Charouz (CZ)
#24 Richard Hein (F), Jacques Nicolet (F), Jean-Francois Yvon (F)
The ambitious OAK team returns to Le Mans with an improved package and driver line-up. Its Mazda-badged AER turbo engines have been replaced by Judd V8s, there's an aerodynamic update on its Pescarolo chassis and veteran engineer Ricardo Divila is on-board for the full year.
The signing of Moreau, who made a one-off with the team at Le Mans in '09, for the whole season has injected some of the pace that was previously missing. OAK's LMS form suggests that it can nip at the heels of the LMP2 frontrunners.
We say: Expect Moreau to shine in a team capable of a podium. RML - Lola-HPD B08/80
RML - Lola-HPD B08/80
#25 Tommy Erdos (BR), Andy Wallace (GB), Mike Newton (GB)
RML has improved its chances of repeating its 2006 LMP2 victory by swapping from the troublesome AER-built Mazda turbo engine to the HPD normally-aspirated V8.
The combination of the new package, which includes Dunlop tyres, and RML's engineering capabilities means the car has a decent chance of making the finish without significant delay. That in itself gives the team a shot at victory in a class battle that has so often turned into a race of attrition.
Full marks to RML for giving sportscar legend Wallace the chance to add to his tally of Le Mans starts.
We say: A potential winner if the HPD's trip up. Highcroft Racing - HPD ARX-01c
Highcroft Racing - HPD ARX-01c
#26 David Brabham (AUS), Marino Franchitti (GB), Marco Werner (D)
The best prototype team in the ALMS, and last year's LMP1 title winner, finally comes Le Mans. Highcroft's record in the US, its driver line-up and possession of the best LMP2 package make it a clear favourite.
Not only is the latest version of the car formerly known as an Acura the fastest thing in class, but it should be the most reliable, too. Highcroft has come the closest to doing a 24-hour test of any of P2 team: it stayed on at Sebring to run for another 12 hours after the ALMS series opener.
We say: Highcroft is favourite by every measure. Racing Box - Lola-Judd B09/80
Racing Box - Lola-Judd B09/80
#29 Luca Pirri (I), Marco Cioci (I), Piergiuseppe Perazzini (I)
This Italian team has a decent sportscar pedigree (it was a winner in FIA GTs under the Carsport Holland banner) and finished second in class in last year's LMS with the best of its Lola-Judds. So far this year, its competitive edge has been blunted by a decision to sign up with Pirelli for the Italian marque's return to the LMP ranks.
Finances dictate that the team contests Le Mans with a trio of gentleman drivers, meaning there's no place for the Piccini brothers, Andrea and Giacomo, the stars of Racing Box's LMS line-up.
We say: Good team doesn't have the drivers to challenge. Gerald Welter - WR-Zytek LMP2008
Gerald Welter - WR-Zytek LMP2008
#37 Philippe Salini (F), Stephane Salini (F), Tristan Gommendy (F)
Long-time Le Mans entrant Gerard Welter's team, now funded by the Salini family, returns to Le Mans after an absence of one season. Its Zytek-engined contender has shown flashes of speed in Gommendy's hands, but should be more competitive around the Circuit de la Sarthe than on the LMS trail.
It's a low-downforce machine, like all Welter's designs (remember his WM GTP and Group C cars of the 1970s and '80s?), and should fly down the Mulsanne Straight. Another similarity with Welter's previous creations is poor reliability, which is likely to mitigate against a decent result at Le Mans.
We say: Famous name is unlikely to trouble the frontrunners. Pegasus Racing - Norma-Judd M200
Pegasus Racing - Norma-Judd M200
#38 Julien Schell (F), Frederic da Rocha (F), David Zollinger (F)
This French team, a regular in the LMS over the past two seasons, makes its Le Mans debut in 2010 with a new LMP2 chassis built by Norma Auto Concept. The fact that it signed up with the French constructor certainly helped Pegasus to gain an entry, but question marks about the car remain.
Norma may be successful a notch below this, but its previous attempts to cut it in the big time have not been successful. The new M20 is unraced ahead of Le Mans, but Pegasus had a healthy amount of testing scheduled.
We say: A finish would be a miracle, but Norma is based near Loudres. KSM (Kruse Schiller Motorsport) - Lola-Judd B07/40
#39 Hideki Noda (J), Jean de Pourtales (F), Jonathan Kennard (GB)
KSM (Kruse Schiller Motorsport) - Lola-Judd B07/40
#39 Hideki Noda (J), Jean de Pourtales (F), Jonathan Kennard (GB)
The German KSM squad, a regular at Le Mans for the past six seasons, has gained a late entry for its well-used ex-Fernandez Lola via the reserve list. This isn't the best-funded team on the grid, witness its failed attempt to upgrade to a Lola coupe, but it has shown flashes of form down the years.
A switch from the AER-Mazda engine to the Judd V8 could herald an upturn in fortunes and ensure that the team isn't best remembered for Noda's horrifying shunt in qualifying at Le Mans two years ago.
We say: If only enthusiasm and determination won races. Quifel/ASM Team - Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S
Quifel/ASM Team - Ginetta-Zytek GZ09S
#40 Olivier Pla (F), Miguel Amaral (P), Warren Hughes (GB)
Consistently the best team in the LMS since it signed up for LMP2 back in 2006 returns for another crack at Le Mans with its Ginetta-Zytek.
The Portuguese team, run by sometime British Formula 3 racer Antonio Simoes, is desperate to finally get a good result at Le Mans, but probably doesn't have the package to take the fight to the HPDs of Highcroft and Strakka. The latest version of the Zytek has been nowhere near the Strakka car in outright speed in the opening LMS races and isn't anywhere near as well tested either.
We say: Should be best of the rest behind Highcroft and Strakka. Team Bruichladdich - Zytek 07S
Team Bruichladdich - Zytek 07S
#41 Gary Chalandon (F), Tim Greaves (GB), Karim Ojjeh (SA)
What was formerly the factory Radical team takes over the running of the Ojjeh family Zytek in a deal that works for everyone. Ojjeh's car is run by a professional team and the Bruichladdich squad gets its hand on a competitive LMP2 machine.
The British team, engineered by former Bentley man Paul Thomas, appears to be getting the most out of the Zytek: it qualified fifth in the LMS race in the hands of Thor-Christian Ebbesvik and together with his team-mates, solid amateurs Greaves and Ojjeh, brought the car home in the same position.
Formula Le Mans frontrunner Chalandon replaces Ebbesvik, who sustained a back injury in the Spa LMS race.
We say: A top-six runner, but not an outright contender. Strakka Racing - HPD ARX-01c
Strakka Racing - HPD ARX-01c
#42 Danny Watts (GB), Jonny Kane (GB), Nick Leventis (GB)
Strakka has already proved its worth in the LMS, winning first time out with its ex-Fernandez HPD at Paul Ricard in April and should be right up there on one-lap pace. Its odds are, however, significantly longer than those on Highcroft because, unlike its American rival, it doesn't have an all-pro line-up.
Team owner Leventis won't be near the pace of Watts and Kane and needs to put two shunts at the Spa LMS round in May well and truly behind him if the team is to pick up a decent result.
We say: Watch out for a pole shot from Watts.
Race Performance - Radical-Judd SR9
#28 Marc Rostan (F), Pierre Bruneau (F), Ralph Meichtry (CH)
Le Mans Series newcomer Race Performance is a late addition to the grid. The Swiss squad was one of a number of teams to apply to join the dwindling reserve list and ended up getting an 'extra' 56th entry for the 24 Hours.
The team has stepped up from the world of the Megane Eurocup one-make series and Formula Renault 2000 and hasn't disgraced itself at the higher level with the ex-Rollcentre/Embassy Radical. Old sportscar hands Rostan and Bruneau should help the learning process on the team's Le Mans debut.
We say: This car won't trouble the class frontrunners but is a worthy entry nonetheless. GT1
Larbre Competition - Saleen S7R
#50 Roland Berville (F), Gabriele Gardel (CH), Julien Canal (F)
Le Mans perennial Larbre, a two-time class winner in the 1990s, is back with a Saleen modified to the new GT1 rules after a season away. The car was right in the mix against the Ford, Aston and Chevrolet at the Spa LMS round, but the French team probably doesn't have the drivers to challenge for victory.
We say: A reliable run could get the Saleen on the podium.
Young Driver AMR - Aston Martin DBR9
#52 Tomas Enge (CZ), Peter Kox (NL), Christoffer Nygaard (DK)
Young Driver, a Danish-backed team run by the German Fischer squad, takes in Le Mans in its first year in the big time. It's proved its worth in the FIA GT1 World Championship, winning (on the road, at least) at Silverstone.
The DBR9 is well-proven over 24-hours, but problems caused by the spec GT1 engine electronics interrupted its run at Spa.
We say: If engine problems are sorted, Young Driver is class favourite.
Matech Competiton - Ford GT
#60 Thomas Mutsch (D), Jonathan Hirschi (CH), Romain Grosjean (CH)
#61 Cyndie Allemann (CH), Rahel Frey (CH), Natach Gachnang (CH)
The Swiss Matech organisation brings the new Ford GT developed for the FIA GT1 World Championship to Le Mans. It's already a race winner in the world series and proved its reliability over six-hours in the Spa LMS event.
We say: Apparent reliability suggests Matech will be in the mix.
JLOC - Lamborghini Murcielago R-SV
#69 Atushi Yogo (J), Yutaka Yamagishi (J), Hioyuki Iiri (J)
Cynics question why the Japanese Lamborghini Owners' Club deserves an entry after its disastrous performances in 2007 and '09, but it should fair better this time.
It has bought a new-look GT1 Murcielago from Reiter, which has proved the worth of the R-SV in the world championship. The car was due to test for the first time at the end of May.
We say: Doubts remain about JLOC despite the purchase of a new car.
Marc VDS Racing Team - Ford GT
#70 Bas Leinders (B), Markus Palttala (FIN), Eric de Doncker (B)
The team owned by Marc van der Straten, son of 1970s and '80s Formula 5000 and Can-Am entrant Rudi, is taking in Le Mans for the first time, just like the works Matech team.
The Belgian team won the GT1 class at the Spa LMS round and should be right in the mix at Le Mans with Leinders and Palttala leading the way.
We say: A potential winner if the Ford can last 24 hours.
Luc Alphand Aventures - Chevrolet Corvette C6-R
#72 Stephan Gregoire (F), David Hart (NL), Jerome Policand (F)
#73 Julian Jousse (F), Patrice Goueslard (F), Xavier Maassen (NL)
Alphand returns to Le Mans after notching up a podium in 2009 with its best chance yet. It fields two cars in conjunction with the Belgian Selleslagh team, with the 'vette driven by Jousse, Goueslard and Maassen likely to lead its attack.
We say: With two cars, Alphand starts among the favourites. GT2
ProSpeed Competition - Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#75 Paul van Splunteren (NL), Niek Hommerson (NL), Louis Machiels (B)
The Porsche team that won the GT2 title in last year's FIA GT Championship with Richard Westbrook takes in the Le Mans 24 Hours for the first time.
Despite that kind of pedigree, ProSpeed won't be a challenger in the ultra-competitive GT2 class: it has opted to sell rides in its solo 911 GT3-RSR to paying amateurs rather than run with the pros that race its solo LMS entry. A reliable run and a finish is all it can aim for.
We say: This line-up won't do ProSpeed justice.
Imsa Performance Matmut - Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#76 Patrick Pilet (F), Patrick Long (USA), Raymond Narac (F)
The French Imsa squad, based up the road from Le Mans in Rouen, is back for its fifth attempt at the big race and aiming to repeat its 2007 class triumph.
Its driver line-up is one of the best in the six Porsche 911 GT3-RSRs. Pilet, a Porsche factory driver since last season, is a star in the making, while Long is a versatile sportscar pro who is at home in a prototype or a GT car. Team boss Narac is a handy pedaller, though he can be prone to mistakes.
We say: A potential winner for Porsche, though not its best shot. Team Felbermayr-Proton - Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
Team Felbermayr-Proton - Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#77 Marc Lieb (D), Richard Lietz (A), Wolf Henzler (D)
#88 Horst Felbermayr Sr (D), Miro Konopka (SV), Horst Felbermayr Jr (D)
Felbermayr-Proton, Le Mans Series champion in 2009, returns to the 24 Hours looking to make up for last year's disastrous assault. Both its cars went out early, the fancied Lieb/Lietz/Henzler entry after only 24 laps.
This trio of factory drivers has been reunited now that Felbermayr-Proton has gained a second entry and should lead the Porsche attack. The second car is unlikely to do much more than make up the numbers.
We say: This car is up there with Chevrolet and Risi among the favourites.
Flying Lizard Motorsports - Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#80 Jorg Bergmeister (D), Darren Law (USA), Seth Neiman (USA)
This multi-championship winning team in the ALMS has everything required to emulate that success at Le Mans: it doesn't make mistakes in the pits, it has an enviable reliability record and is always tactically strong. That begs the question why it has yet to do the business in GT2 at least.
The reason is that the Lizards go to Le Mans with one hand behind their backs. Team boss Neiman always chooses to drive at Le Mans and, this year more than ever, that will be a major handicap to overcome.
We say: Don't bet against Bergmeister leading the Porsche charge in qualifying.
Risi Competizione - Ferrari 430 GT
#82 Gianmaria Bruni (I), Jaime Melo (BR), Pierre Kaffer (D)
#83 Nic Jonsson (S), Eric van de Poele (B), Tracy Krohn (USA)
Risi is bidding for a hat-trick of GT2 victories at the 24 Hours as it attempts to extend its unbeaten sequence of wins in the big enduros. Melo and Bruni are teamed full-time at Risi in the ALMS, while Kaffer (who Bruni replaced this year) returns to take up the third seat for the three enduros. Risi once again fields a second-string car in Krohn Racing colours.
We say: Life will get harder for Risi with arrival of Chevrolet. Corvette Racing - Chrevrolet Corvette C6.R
Corvette Racing - Chrevrolet Corvette C6.R
#63 Jan Magnussen (DK), Johnny O'Connell (F), Antonio Garcia (E)
#64 Oliver Gavin (GB), Olivier Beretta (MC), Emmanuel Collard (F)
The most successful GT1 team of the '00s steps down a class for this year's Le Mans and looks well placed to continue its winning ways in the lower division. The Pratt & Miller-run Chevrolet squad has already tasted the champagne in GT2 since joining the class in the middle of last season's ALMS and has a car that is faster than its rivals down the straights, suggesting it will have a performance advantage at Le Mans.
Corvette Racing is a well-funded factory team that can afford the kind of endurance testing its rivals can only dream of, which means the C6.R should have reliability to match its pace. With two cars, each with an experienced Le Mans line-up, Chrevrolet has to be favourite. The only thing to remember is that this is the GT2-spec C6.R's first time at Le Mans.
We say: The odds are stacked in Corvette Racing's favour.
BMW Motorsport - BMW M3
#78 Jorg Muller (D), Augusto Farfus Jr (BR), Uwe Alzen (D)
#79 Andy Priaulx (GB), Dirk Werner (BR), Dirk Muller (D)
BMW returns to Le Mans after an absence of 11 seasons with a revised version of the V8-powered M3 that Rahal Letterman has raced in the ALMS since the beginning of last season. The car is a winner in the US, but Le Mans has probably come too early for the M3 project.
The Schnitzer team's time and resources have been split between the Le Mans and an attack on the Nurburgring 24 Hours in May. That means the European-spec M3 (the cars for the 'Ring are closer to the US examples) have barely tested, though Schnitzer has already shown some decent form.
A holed radiator deprived it of a podium in the LMS opener at Ricard and it came within a second of third at Spa. There's still more to be learnt about the near rear-end mandated under Le Mans rules: it makes the car tricky to drive and difficult to exploit the peak of BMW's Dunlop tyres.
We say: It may be a year too early for this project.
Jaguar RSR - Jaguar XKRS
#81 Paul Gentilozzi (USA), Scott Pruett (USA), Marc Goossens (B)
Jaguar's 15-year absence from Le Mans is brought to an end by the American RSR squad, shades of Group 44 ending a previous hiatus back in 1984. Gentilozzi's team, a new venture that has grown out of his successful Rocketsports organisation, has developed the XKR for the ultra-competitive GT2 division in America and has so far struggled.
The car was late and hasn't been competitive or reliable, though there were signs that the project was beginning to turn around at the Long Beach and Laguna Seca ALMS rounds. RSR's decision to bring in Riley Technologies to aid the programme appeared to be paying dividends, even so the car is not going to be a front runner: the big frontal area of the XKR will take its toll on the four 200mph stretches at Le Mans.
This is a long-term venture, however, so this year's Le Mans attack should be seen as a toe-in-the-water. Shades of 1984 again.
We say: Every sportscar fan should rejoice that Jaguar is back.
Spyker Squadron - Spyker C8 Laviolette GT2-R
#85 Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Peter Dumbreck (GB), Tom Coronel (NL)
Spyker is now a fixture on the Le Mans entry list after missing only one year since its debut in 2002. The Dutch manufacturer had its best 24 Hours yet in 2009, finishing fifth and only 10 laps behind the class winner.
There's a raft of improvements to the Laviolette GT2-R for 2010 and the team has assembled its best driver line-up to date, but ever-stronger competition in the GT2 class means that it will be difficult to improve on last year's result.
We say: A potential top-six finisher rather than a true podium contender.
Hankook Team Farnbacher - Ferrari 430 GT
#88 Dominik Farnbacher (D), Allan Simonsen (DK), Leh Keen (USA)
Farnbacher is best known for its exploits in the Porsche Supercup, but it does have Le Mans form: it was third in class back in 2008. Its programme with Hankook started last season and yielded two podiums in the LMS.
The South Korean manufacturer's tyres are improved for 2010, but the increase in competition in the LMS means it hasn't achieved the same results so far this season. There's evidence that Hankook has a very competitive intermediate tyre, but who knows if Farnbacher will get the chance to use it.
We say: Hankooks will have to come good if Farnbacher is to shine.
JMW Motorsport - Aston Martin Vantage GT2
#92 Rob Bell (GB), Tim Sugden (GB), Bryce Miller (USA)
The British JMW squad has been lured away from Ferrari, with which it was a race winner in last year's LMS, to become the factory-supported Aston Martin team in GT2 in Europe. It's a bit of gamble that has yet to pay dividends: the team hasn't troubled the scorers in the LMS.
Le Mans could be tough, too, because the large frontal area of the V8 Vantage will take its toll on the Mulsanne Straight. Miller, an experienced sportscar driver stateside, has signed up to make his Le Mans debut with the team.
We say: It will be tough for JMW to repeat its fourth place from 2009.
AF Corse - Ferrari 430 GT
#95 Giancarlo Fisichella (I), Jean Alesi (F), Toni Vilander (FIN)
#96 Mika Salo (FIN), Matias Russo (RA), Luis Perez Companc (RA)
The most successful Ferrari team in Europe for half a decade returns to Le Mans with two cars for the first time and arguably its best chance yet of getting on the GT2 podium.
The Fisichella/Alesi/Vilander car, which gained a late entry for the race via the reserve list, is a potential front runner. This trio has been on the podium in the first two LMS rounds.
We say: AF has two cars that could fly the Ferrari flag if Risi hits trouble.
BMS Scuderia Italia - Porsche 911 GT3-RSR
#97 Timo Scheider (D), Richard Westbrook (GB), Marco Holzer (D)
It's all change at Scuderia Italia in the team's bid to improve upon its second-place finishes in GT2 in 2008-09. The Ferrari 430 GT has been replaced by the Porsche 911 GT3-RSR and Pirelli tyres by Michelins. There's also a new, and impressive, roster of drivers composed of Porsche regulars Westbrook and Holzer and two-time DTM champion Scheider.
The only problem is that all three are Le Mans rookies. Scuderia Italia is only doing two races this year, but it has a real chance at Le Mans.
We say: If this trio take to Le Mans, they are potential winners.
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