Caterham confirm liveried entry into 2013 Le Mans
- Credit: Archant
Hingham-based Caterham have expanded their motorsport sights to include this year's iconic Le Mans 24 Hours.
The yellow and green marque will take on the famous series later this month with a Caterham-liveried Zytek Z11SN Nissan in the LMP2 category – at the same time helping them to investigate whether they can enter their own car into the race in future.
Caterham's Formula One reserve and GP2 driver Alexander Rossi will join double LMP2 class winner Tom Kimber-Smith and Eric Lux at the controls on June 22-23 for the race's 90th running, with the project headed by Norwich engineer Mike Gascoyne.
'We have the tools, talent and heritage to do the job in a marketplace that is currently light on existing players, so it makes sense for us to go and see first-hand how we might take advantage of business opportunity that fits with our capabilities,' said Gascoyne – who admitted on Twitter: 'At the shakedown of the Caterham LMP2 entry for the Le Mans 24 race; Good to be at the track again.'
Gascoyne added: 'Within the Caterham group, we have a great deal of experienced personnel with a wide range of technical expertise – from power train development to carbon composite design.
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'While there won't be any specification changes we can apply to the car for this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, because the car is homologated for the whole season, we will be looking in more detail at how our various areas of expertise across both Caterham Technology and Innovation, and Caterham Composites, can be applied to a customer sports prototype programme in future.'
The move is the latest from a Caterham outfit keen to be taken seriously in motorsport.
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Having finally shaken off the Lotus battles of their formative time on the Formula One grid that started in 2010, the Hingham and Leafield-based constructor already has a GP2 team operating in F1's feeder series as well as plans with Renault to build its first new road model in 20 years and redevelop the Alpine rally marque.
Caterham engineers and technicians will help run the Greaves Motorsport entry at Le Mans, which will carry the number 41 car.
Meanwhile, Caterham's academy has helped develop almost 1,000 racing drivers since its inception in 1995, while it will begin its new karting series in 2014.
Rossi, who's running will be his first in international sportscar racing, said: 'Straight after driving in free practice one for Caterham F1 in Montreal, I'll be back in Europe to start my Le Mans work. I'm excited about the challenge ahead and honoured with the opportunity to represent Caterham and the US at one of the most prestigious motorsport events of the year.
'On a personal level, taking part in Le Mans has always been another goal of mine. F1 is my main target and I'm fully focused on that, but to run at Le Mans is important to me and for my CV. It's a special race and to have the chance to compete with a team that's already had success in endurance racing makes it all the better. In addition, I can help the guys at Caterham who I already know very well.
'Just as in F1, my goal for the first few days with the Le Mans team will be to learn as much I can, building up the performance levels needed for qualifying and the race itself. My immediate focus is still F1 and FP1 at the Canadian GP with Caterham F1 Team, but as soon as that's done it'll be all about Le Mans.'
Caterham's runner will make its on-track debut at the official test at Le Mans next week.