Button enters World Endurance Championship and Le Mans with SMP

World Endurance Championship

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SMP Racing has announced Jenson Button will race for them in the 2018-19 World Endurance Championship.

The 2009 world champion will drive the team’s BR1 chassis in the LMP1 category.

“As you imagine it’s always been a dream of mine to race at Le Mans,” said Button. “I think it’s every driver’s dream to take part and hopefully go on to clinch that win at Le Mans and I am definitely no different.”

Button will compete against former McLaren team mate Fernando Alonso, who is driving for Toyota in the championship. The series begins at Spa-Francorchamps next week.

Earlier this month Button made his debut in Japan’s Super GT championship. He finished second in the season-opening race at TI Aida, sharing a Honda NSX-GT with team mate Naoki Yamamoto.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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17 comments on “Button enters World Endurance Championship and Le Mans with SMP”

  1. If they want mediocrity, I guess they have achieved it.

    1. much salt

    2. @bukester Button had an exemplary career in F1 and he was a world champion in his chosen craft and you have the temerity to call that mediocrity. If I want mediocraty then I will look up your posts and read them.

  2. What class is this? I could not understand what Montoya has done going to the GT or LMP2 class when its the Le Mans overall win you want?

    1. they are racing in the top LMP1 class and its the one u actually want.

    2. Button has got an LMP1 seat. Montoya probably couldn’t secure a contract for LMP1. Sadly, he’s been out of F1 far too long for him to be considered a big name, regardless of the second Indy 500 victory. His doing LMP2 and IMSA might be to showcase that he can still race.

      1. jamesluke2488
        27th April 2018, 13:11

        Montoya is doing a full season of IMSA which is effectively LMP2 regulations, hence the Le Mans entry into LMP2 not LMP1.

        Button could win overall Le Mans with SMP, strong outfit and with balance of performance restricting the Toyota’s its is a very likely.

        1. I don’t think IMSA Prototype drivers are barred from driving in P1. Besides, his drive in Le Mans is with United while he drives for their competitor Penske in the NAEC – no connection there. For all we know, he probably just bumped into Brown in the paddock and got to talking for a Le Mans drive.

          1. FlyingLobster27
            27th April 2018, 14:21

            I found it quite uncanny that Zak Brown hired the person who was best-placed to beat Alonso to the Triple Crown for his P2 team, while his man goes for the overall win.

  3. Too bad by the looks of things rules are way in Toyota’s hybrid favour. Maybe next year they’ll fix things.

    1. I wouldn’t count out a win by a privateer team. Toyota are only bringing two cars, and their history in this race is hardly what you’d call stellar. In their favour, it looks like they’re not going to be pushed too hard on pace, so they’re unlikely to have to run at a pace which puts the cars in danger, but 24hr is a long old race and it only takes one tiny mistake to put the car out of it.

      Personally if I were a betting man, I’d have a cheeky bet on Rebellion taking the overall win.

      1. I think it depends on how the EoT rules are applied. I’m not too hopeful for the privateers, looking at how they’ve been gimped for the 6 hours of Spa. But let’s see.

        1. jamesluke2488
          27th April 2018, 13:15

          Pre season test (excluding Toyota running cars outside the regulations) had other teams ahead of Toyota!

          1. But Toyota took a completely weird approach to the pre-season test, driving their cars on three wheels and whatnot. Its like they weren’t even considering the privateers as competition.

  4. What’s most interesting to me is that this could very well be an unofficial declaration by Button that he’s gunning for the Triple Crown too. While chances of winning with a privateer LMP1 team, much less a team that IIRC is entering LMP1 for the first time, are low, a good performance could put him on the radar of Toyota, Rebellion, ByKolles, etc. Also, his relationship with Honda, unlike Alonso’s, is intact, and he could score a Honda seat for the Indy 500 next year.

    Montoya’s on the back foot with only an LMP2 seat, and his distinction of being the closest active driver to the Triple Crown is very well under threat. I hope that his season in IMSA and LMP2 will pay off with a P1 seat at a competitive team for the next season, so that he can fight for an overall victory too.

    1. OmarRoncal - Go Seb!!! (@)
      27th April 2018, 13:35

      Would be great to see it happening!!!

  5. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    27th April 2018, 13:40

    They’re all having a shot at the triple crown, aren’t they? Button, Alonso and Montoya. WEC is starting to get some big names, just what they need after Porsche and Audi left.

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