Former European Formula 3 racer Gustavo Menezes will move in to the World Endurance Championship with the Signatech Alpine LMP2 team this season.
The 21-year-old American will race the new closed-cockpit Alpine-branded ORECA 05 for the 2016 season alongside two as-yet unknown teammates.
“I have had a few dips in to endurance racing doing the Daytona 24 Hours and Sebring too," Menezes told Motorsport.com.
"But it is really nice to do it in the biggest championship WEC which has grown in to a fantastic competition. I can’t wait to get out there with my new team.”
Menezes tested for the team at the Sakhir circuit in Bahain last November in the open-top Alpine A450b LMP2 car, and was impressed with the way the Signatech team operated.
“I felt comfortable straight away with the team which is important because it is a big change of direction for my career,” said Menezes.
“I had seen the team working in F3 and they were great in helping me adapt at the test last year. They were awesome to work with and I think we will be one of the strongest teams out there in LMP2 this season.”
For the last three seasons Menezes has competed in Formula 3, but like many other young drivers is now intent on making it in endurance racing.
“I guess it most likely is [a farewell] to single-seaters,” he admitted. “I have to look at the reality of the situation and the WEC is such a strong championship that is going up and up every year, and I want to be part of this.
"Honestly, if in five years' time I can get to race in LMP1 or with a major team in GT, then I will be a happy guy.”
Le Mans will be a new experience for Menezes, who is relishing the prospect of making his La Sarthe debut in June, especially for a French team.
“You know, I had the opportunity to go there just as a spectator a few years ago with some friends, but I said to myself; ‘no. wait until you are there as a driver for the first time!’
"Now, I will be there and I am just going to soak up the whole experience with a French team which will be special."
Motorsport.com understands that Signatech aims to shake down its new Alpine-branded ORECA 05 at Paul Ricard just before the official Prologue test at the end of March.
Interview by Basile Davoine