Elton Julian Goes Dutch for Le Mans Racing Return
30-year-old American Elton Julian will make his return to international motorsport at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race driving an LMP900-class Dome S101-Judd entered by Jan Lammers' Racing for Holland team. Julian will have his first outing with the team at this week's Dunlop tyre test at the Paul Ricard HTTT circuit in the south of France in preparation for the official Le Mans test day on June 5th and race on June 18-19.
Julian will drive with team owner Jan Lammers himself a Le Mans winner in 1988 with Jaguar and fellow Dutchman John Bosch, a standout in Barron Racing's FIA GT series Ferrari and Lammers' Le Mans co-driver in 2003. Racing for Holland's combination of the Japanese-built Dome chassis and British Judd V10 made its Le Mans debut in 2001 and has finished 8th, 6th, and 7th in the last three runnings of the Sarthe classic. For 2005, the car will sport a revised version of its famed black-and-white `block' livery featuring Holland's national colour, orange. The team's second car is currently second reserve for the 24 Hours.
Elton Julian burst upon the international scene in 1992 in the British Formula 3 Championship, a major stepping stone to Formula 1 since the 1960s, and remains that series' youngest-ever race winner. A season and a half in French F3 earned Elton a test with the Larrousse F1 team at the end of 1994. Faster than one of Larrousse's regular race drivers after just 20 laps, he was immediately signed as test and reserve driver only for the team to go bust soon after. In 1995, Elton excelled in two endurance racing appearances in Euromotorsport's Ferrari 333SP, finishing second at Daytona after driving for over 13 hours and setting a new track record at Sebring. Since a frustrating 1996 season in Formula 3000, Elton's on-track activity has been limited to a series of highly impressive one-off races and tests with Formula Nippon, Formula Atlantic, and American Le Mans Series GT teams.
Elton's drive is being funded by private investors and a slate of sponsors to be announced in May. "My backers and I considered very carefully the best way to relaunch my career, and it became clear that sportscar racing was the way to go," said Julian. "There are a lot of talented drivers who didn't make it to or in F1 but still made successful careers in sportscars. In fact, at Le Mans I'll be up against a bunch of my old `classmates' from French F3 and F3000."
The California-based Julian visited Racing for Holland's headquarters near Amsterdam on April 13th for a seat fitting and to get acquainted with the car and the team. "The team and the technical package are very solid, just what you need for Le Mans," said Julian. "For myself, I'm back in my element. I'm getting the track time I need to be ready for the race, and the team has made me feel really welcome."
Racing for Holland principal Jan Lammers said, "I raced against Elton at Daytona in 1995. As far as I'm concerned, if he was quick then, he's quick now. I've had a few ups and downs in my own career, so I can relate to his determination to come back. He's already struck up a nice rapport with the team and we're all looking forward to running him."