Only a few days from the Official Test of the European Le Mans Series at the Paul Ricard Circuit, Team Endurance Challenge has announced two of the three driver lineups taking part in the 2013 edition. With Nicolas Minassian as mentor, the team directly managed and directed by ORECA will rely on gentlemen drivers eager to discover endurance racing in a Le Mans Prototype, promising young talents and experienced drivers alike.
Soheil Ayari / Anthony Pons
With numerous titles and lots of experience under his belt, most notably two LMP2 podiums in the last two editions of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Soheil Ayari knows the European Le Mans Series well (he was GT1 champion in 2007 with Team ORECA.) "I’m very happy to be back with ORECA with Team Endurance Challenge" he admits. "I know the team and their strengths well. It’s a pleasure to return to the ELMS, a series which I enjoy a lot, and 2013 begins a new adventure with Anthony Pons, on a sporting and human level. When we met, we immediately got along well. It’s his first year in prototypes but we are aiming to take the title. We will have to be sharp on our setups and how I help him will be very important. I’m very motivated by the challenge!"
His teammate Anthony Pons will be making his debut in LMPC after winning the GT VdeV series championship in 2011 and having a successful 2012 season in GTE-Am : ELMS champion, 2nd place in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and winner of the 6 Hours of Spa. "This partnership with Team Endurance Challenge is part of a medium-term project, of which a Le Mans 24 Hours participation in LMP2 is the primary goal" explains the Frenchman. "After my season in GT, I wanted to take on a new challenge and I needed to get back to basics. I think that the ORECA-FLM 09 is the right tool for that and it’s also what led to Soheil being my teammate. He has a lot of experience and the objective is to win. I’ll be discovering a new team, a new teammate and a new type of car, in a series that is in the middle of a rejuvination. The thought of it is very good."
Alex Loan / Matthieu Lecuyer
At only 17 years of age, Alex Loan will be the youngest member of Team Endurance Challenge. After a season in French F4 and another in Formule Renault 2.0 Alps, the Andorra-born driver will be discovering the discipline. "The tests at the Castellet in February went well. I enjoyed the car, especially the downforce and carbon brakes" he explains. "The team, whether it be the engineers or mechanics, is very professional and the experience with other drivers was good. For me, I’m physically and mentally ready to take on this challenge. The LMPC class allows young drivers to show their talents and I think this program can help me progress in my goal to become a professional and compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a dream of mine."
Alex Loan will be joined by Matthieu Lecuyer. From Peugeot ladder, he drove in GT1 in USA, in BRS 4.0 and in Peugeot THP Spider Cup before spending two seasons in Endurance VdeV driving a Norma. "I had already had talks about driving the ORECA FLM-09 and this time all the elements were united" underlines the Bordeaux native. "I was at Sebring when ORECA won overall and I was attracted by the fact that the team which builds this car also runs it directly. I couldn’t wish for a better environment. It’s simply the right moment. This project fits perfectly within my goal of participating in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in LMP2, with Nicolas Minassian as mentor too. The team will be competitive and Alex was on a good pace during our tests. The program will be exciting and enriching."
The third lineup for Team Endurance Challenge will be unveiled in the next few days. The team’s three ORECA-FLM 09 cars will be on hand for the European Le Mans Series Official Tests.
Team Endurance Challenge