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Briscoe convinced privateers like Vanwall can still succeed in WEC

Daytona 24 Hours winner Ryan Briscoe is confident that smaller constructors like Vanwall can still put up a fight against manufacturer heavyweights and enjoy a great degree of success in the World Endurance Championship.

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680: Job van Uitert, Esteban Guerrieri

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680: Job van Uitert, Esteban Guerrieri

JEP / Motorsport Images

The WEC is witnessing an unprecedented level of manufacturer involvement in the top Hypercar class, with five major manufacturers competing in the 2023 season and three more poised to join the category next year.

Independent teams like Glickenhaus and Vanwall have struggled to remain competitive against increased competition from their better-funded rivals, with the former’s fifth place result at the Le Mans 24 Hours the only time a privateer entry finished inside the top five this year.

But former IndyCar racer Briscoe, who contested six races for Glickenhaus between 2021-23 and also drove for Vanwall in this month’s Bahrain finale, feels the gap between the top and the bottom half of the grid can be closed down.

He feels that the Balance of Performance system that is designed to put all Hypercar teams in the same performance window can give privateers a genuine chance to go up against the giants of endurance racing.

“It's difficult for a privateer here but at the same time there is always an opportunity because we are racing in a class that is limited on performance,” Briscoe told Autosport.

“There's the BoP. You have to be in a window on downforce and with your power output. So even with all the money in the world you can't develop a car with twice as much downforce because you are not allowed to do that. 

“Maybe you can optimise where you sit in the window and in all conditions to be there at all times. 

#11 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 6 LMH-C: Marco Bonanomi, Jean-Karl Vernay

Photo by: Isotta Fraschini

#11 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 6 LMH-C: Marco Bonanomi, Jean-Karl Vernay

“Even for privateer teams running on a much smaller budget, you can always be close and still knock on the door. And if you can build a car that is reliable… who doesn't want to see the small guy win?

“I think from my first impressions talking to [Vanwall boss Colin] Kolles here [in Bahrain], that's their goal, they are here to win. Their plans are long term and he wants to be and he wants to win races. I don't think it's impossible.”

The influx of big manufacturers has threatened the future of independent teams in the WEC's top class due to the limited number of grid slots available.

Glickenhaus has elected to exit the championship following three seasons after failing to get the sponsorship required to upgrade its 007 LMH, while Vanwall’s entry in 2024 could depend upon Ferrari’s plans regarding a third, customer-run car.

But Gabriel Aubry, who has tested Isotta’s Tipo 6 Competizione LMH car and is expected to race for the team next year, doesn’t think Hypercar will become a domain of large manufacturers.

Asked if the championship should reserve some entries for privateer or independent teams, multiple LMP2 race winner Aubry told Autosport: “I think by nature we will reserve some slots to privateers because manufacturers cannot just come and get the whole thing. 

“Maybe it will happen for two or three years but I don't think it's absolutely sustainable.

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680: Esteban Guerrieri, Tristan Vautier, Ryan Briscoe

Photo by: Shameem Fahath

#4 Floyd Vanwall Racing Team Vanwall Vandervell 680: Esteban Guerrieri, Tristan Vautier, Ryan Briscoe

“We have survived in this championship with the privateers since the '60s, so it means that it is natural. We are a part of this and we will remain part of the championship.”

Aubry stressed the importance of independent teams in WEC, including those who compete in the championship with customer cars.

“Privateers have also been part of the history of Le Mans,” he said. “We have seen how many Porsche privateers have won Le Mans.

“It's part of Le Mans, it's part of what makes Le Mans so unique. You have the David vs Goliath fights. I'll be very happy for it to remain and keep that history of Le Mans so unique.”

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