Frenchman Dillmann has been named alongside Esteban Guerrieri as one of two development drivers for the Gibson-powered Vanwall Vanderwell LMH, having been part of ByKolles’ LMP1 line-up in the FIA World Endurance Championship since 2018.
The team aimed to compete in the 2022 WEC season, only to be denied an entry, and are now undertaking a test and development program ready for 2023.
Dillmann was absent for the car’s first track test at the Most Circuit in the Czech Republic in April due to conflicting duties for the Jaguar Formula E team, but he is confident the Vanwall-branded car represents a major step up from compared to the CLM P1/01 LMP1 car.
“I haven’t driven it yet; they did two days and everything went well so they haven’t done another test since,” Dillmann told Motorsport.com. “No issues on the car. They passed all the crash tests and they started working on the road car.
“Also it’s hard to get the right tyres, and with the road car [version being simultaneously developed]it’s not a team with unlimited resources, so they had to focus on that for a while.
“I think the car looks good, they’ve taken the time. It’s a much better piece of engineering I would say, compared to the LMP1, a big step forward and well finished.
Dillmann added that he expects to race with the team if ByKolles does indeed secure an entry for the 2023 WEC season, dismissing speculation that Vanwall brand issues could halt the team’s run.
“If you’re doing a Hypercar, it’s not to keep it at home,” said the 33-year-old. “Of course they are in contact with the organizers and it looks like we will be racing next year. That’s why we are testing.
“It’s my plan to race with them, but if there are other opportunities I’m always open.”
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Return to FE racing headquarters, Japan unlikely
Dillmann, the 2016 Formula V8 3.5 champion, hasn’t had a top-tier racing seat since the end of the 2019/20 WEC season.
He combined his ByKolles WEC duties with a season in Formula E for NIO in 2018-19, but was dropped after failing to score points, although he later became a reserve driver for Nissan before joining Jaguar. last year.
At one point Super Formula racer Dillmann was also in line for practice in Japan’s SUPER GT series after testing for the JLOC Lamborghini team at Okayama in early 2020, only for this opportunity to disappear in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
After spending two years without racing in Formula E, Dillmann acknowledges that a return to racing is now unlikely – and has also played down the chances of a return to Japan.
“It would be very difficult [to race again in FE],” he said. “I’m well involved in Gen3 for Jaguar, doing both simulator work and track testing, and I feel ready to race, but for sure it’s little likely if I’m realistic.
“I think my future is more in endurance, and the future is bright for this discipline.”
He added: “I was going to run with JLOC to stay active because I knew we would only be testing the [ByKolles] hypercar and not racing. But the day after my return from Okayama, the confinement began! It was not the right time.
“I loved racing in Japan, but I think it’s more something you do when you’re young and try to build a career there, instead of going there now when you have a life. in Europe.”
Dillmann remains busy this season, however, sharing a Ligier JS P320 LMP3 with gentleman racer Alexander Mattschull in the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
The duo won the first stage of the Road to Le Mans support race at the recent 24 Hours of Le Mans, which followed another victory earlier in the season at Paul Ricard.
“The team needed a professional driver and they contacted me to see if I was interested,” Dillmann explained. “I tested the car and I was happy to do so.
“I work well with my teammate, I trained for many years in F3 and F2, and now I can use this knowledge to improve my own results, which is quite fun!”