Yorkshire racing firm will produce World Endurance Championship (WEC) prototype as part of wider expansion plans

As many as six Ginetta LMP1 (Le Mans Prototype 1) cars may compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year, the Leeds-based company’s commercial director has revealed.

Speaking to Autocar at Ginetta’s media day at Brands Hatch, Ginetta's commercial director, Nick Portlock, said the firm is on course to supply Manor and potentially two other customer teams with a pair of cars each in the 2018 World Endurance Championship (WEC), which the Le Mans race is part of.

“The contract with Manor is in its final stages, so we should hopefully be confirming that soon,” he said, “but we’re also looking at working with more customer teams.”

Portlock refrained from mentioning names, but Ginetta LMP3 customers ARC Bratislava and PRT Racing are likely candidates in with a shot of running the British firm’s most advanced machine yet, which will sit above the G57-P2 (pictured below) in its line-up.

“We have a top design team with experience from Le Mans and Formula 1 working on the new car,” Portlock said. “We’re using an F1 wind tunnel for development, although I can’t confirm which team’s yet, and Paolo Catone [who designed the 2009 Le Mans-winning Peugeot 908 HDi FAP] is having a big impact.”

Ginetta’s new Le Mans prototype will use an engine supplied by French firm Mecachrome. The unit will share some technical parts with the V8 Mecachrome produces for Formula 2, but Ginetta is yet to confirm exact specifications. An output of around 800bhp is expected.

Portlock said the engine had already been tested on a dyno and that the car would begin running in the coming months, with development now into an advanced stage. “It’s a really exciting time to be at Ginetta,” he said. “You come into the office one day and see the drawings and then another day you see the new parts for the car.”

Ginetta’s factory racing drivers will be directly involved in finalising the car’s setup once testing begins. Mike Simpson and Charlie Robertson, who have extensive experience racing and winning with the G57-P2 prototype in Europe’s V de V series, and 17-year-old Ginetta Young Driver Programme graduate Jordan Sanders, are all expected to have significant input.

“The LMP1 car could effectively be the fastest customer car on sale in the world,” commented 20-year-old Robertson, who has successfully worked his way through Ginetta’s ranks to race in its most senior team.

The company’s Le Mans ambitions come as part of a wider growth plan that’s being championed by chairman Lawrence Tomlinson, which could lead to the company fielding more cars in racing series around the world. Portlock suggested championships that require cars to be based on road legal models could spur Ginetta to expand its production car line-up beyond that of the G40, which could mean reviving cancelled plans to sell the G50 in road form.

“In the future, you might see more cars that have a road derivative, but that’s purely so that you can have them homologated for racing,” he explained. “Our aspirations are to make Ginetta as successful a business as possible. We’re a British manufacturer based in Yorkshire that wants to take on the world.”

Ride on board the G57-P2 below

Audi quits Le Mans and WEC for Formula E

Our Verdict

Ginetta G40

The Ginetta G40R stands alone in offering balance and ability in a closed-roof, track-focused road car.

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