WEC: ByKolles becomes Vanwall Racing, imbroglio to come?

Since ByKolles’ announcement of wanting to line up in Hypercar at the WEC, we have been watching for announcements. Here is a big one since the team takes the name of Vanwall.

Vanwall, this name probably means nothing to you if you are not a motor racing historian or if you did not live through the year 1958. Vanwall is the very first manufacturer to officially win Formula 1 in 1958. Indeed, if the Formula 1 championship dates from 1950, the constructor’s title was not awarded until 1958. The Vanwall drivers of the time were called Sir Stirling Moss, the « uncrowned champion » (he should have been in 58) and Tony Brooks. Vanwall left F1 in 1960 but the name still resonates with motorsport enthusiasts.

And so, now ByKolles takes the name of Vanwall Racing. The Hypercar prototype is shown in 3D model while the assembly of the first rolling prototype continues. He should hit the track soon. The Vanwall evolves from the first 3D renderings presented. The changes are for example on the front with a redesigned splitter, as well as the fenders which accommodate the lights which are different. We can also notice that the wings descend further on the sides. The upper part of the cockpit, or the shark fin. are also different. Finally, the rear wing has its uprights fully integrated into the end of the rear fenders.

A road version still being considered

ByKolles, sorry, Vanwall, obviously still plans to produce a road car from the race prototype. For that, congratulations! On the other hand, the reuse of the name seems subject to controversy. Some media claim that there is no link between Vanwall Racing and Vanwall 1958. The latter restores vintage Vanwalls, and has launched the construction of 6 Vanwall VW5 single-seaters from 1958 in « continuation ». This Vanwall 1958 company has registered the brand in many regions of the world. If PMC Gmbh (partner company of ByKolles) seems to have registered the brand, it is later. This could cause a legal battle over this ownership and use of the name.

The Vanderwell family would not be behind this entry in the WEC World Endurance Championship either. So would ByKolles do the trick of Lotus F1 Racing which became Lotus Racing, then Team Lotus and finally Caterham F1? The big British and other names in motorsport are always image bearers and arouse appetites. Inheritances are often complicated with sometimes torn heir families, or brands that have simply passed into the hands of associations.

We should know more in a few weeks, both about the car and the name of the team. On the other hand, we should not see the prototype at the 24 hours of Le Mans this year. Maybe Colin Kolles will get a waiver for a few run-ins this season before a full commitment in 2023.

Illustration: ByKolles

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