Harlow Confirms Ricardo Tie-up
Following a highly successful run in the European Le Mans Series last season UK-based Harlow Motorsport has confirmed a return to international competition in 2002 in association with Ricardo plc.
The Harlow Motorsport squad made a powerful debut beyond British shores last year with consistent front-running in the now-defunct ELMS, recording the team's first-ever international GT victory at Vallelunga in September. They then entered into negotiations with engineering specialists Ricardo, and subsequently reached an agreement to prepare for a joint assault on the 2002 season.
The first fruit of this partnership sees Harlow Motorsport confirming a single Porsche 911 GT3-RS entry for the 12 Hours of Sebring (March 16) and the Le Mans 24 Hours (June 15/16). Former class-victor at Le Mans and 2001 ELMS champion Mike Youles is set to drive in both events, while Harlow regulars Terry Rymer and Magnus Wallinder are both earmarked to co-drive during 2002. Robin Liddell, who partnered Youles last year, is also in the frame, although the third seat for both Sebring and Le Mans is still available to an appropriately qualified and funded driver.
Harlow director Adam Simmons was confident about the venture's prospects. "Our alliance with Ricardo is a technology development partnership," he explained. "Both companies have the same focus and there is a great deal of synergy between our goals for the forthcoming season and beyond. We've embarked on an extensive re-engineering programme using Ricardo's facilities and I'm confident that we will be even more competitive this year as a result."
Speaking for Ricardo, Mike Youles added: "Ricardo wishes to expand the areas of development of the Porsche 911 GT3 in 2002, particularly in terms of engine development. To this end Harlow Motorsport was the obvious partner, as they already have their own engine programme in place. There are now a number of teams in the FIA, ALMS and British GT Championships utilising Ricardo-developed chassis enhancements. Once proven in testing and racing these enhancements will be available to an expanding group of customers, giving access to the kind of technology normally only available in F1."
Simmons confirmed that Harlow has additional plans to extend their race programme. "Competing at Le Mans is the key focus for us this season, but we will also be giving serious consideration to the Spa 24 Hours and additional races within the ALMS, including Miami - this will of course be dependant upon budget and the appropriate driver interest." He is very optimistic about Harlow's chances of securing a Le Mans entry. "We have an excellent line-up of drivers in Youles, Rymer and others - several with significant international titles - and a good track record in European competition. We have also received endorsement from the ALMS organisers and we will be submitting a very strong proposal to the ACO."
"With so many cars pledged for the British GT Championship this year we will also be entering selected high-profile rounds of the national championship. It is important to us as a team that we still compete on home ground, building upon the successes of last season. These are exciting times for everyone involved," concluded Simmons, "and having Ricardo join forces with Harlow Motorsport creates a formidable presence at both national and international levels in 2002."