They say ‘competition improves the breed’, well if that’s the case then the partnership between Caterham and Renault’s Alpine brand has just received an extra boost with news of the British sportscar maker’s entry in this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.
Racing under the Caterham Motorsport banner, the specialist car maker will run the #41 Zytek Z11SN-Nissan in the LMP2 category, facing off with partner Alpine which runs a Signatech LMP2 car powered by the same 4.5-litre Nissan V8 engine.
Caterham Racing GP2 (and Caterham F1 Team Reserve) driver Alexander Rossi will join double LMP2 class-winner, Tom Kimber-Smith and gentleman driver Eric Lux in the driving seat.
“Straight after driving in FP1 for Caterham F1 Team in Montreal, I’ll be back in Europe to start my Le Mans work,” said Rossi. “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.”
“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.”
When I spoke with Caterham Car’s CEO Graham Macdonald in March he spoke of the friendly rivalry between Caterham and its new partner Renault. Last November, Caterham Cars announced a 50:50 partnership with Renault to develop and build a joint sports car under the Alpine and Caterham names, a project which is being led by Caterham Technology CEO Mike Gascoyne.
Gascoyne is also leading the brand’s Le Mans entry. He said: “Within Caterham Group, we have a great deal of experienced personnel with a wide range of technical expertise – from powertrain development to carbon composite design.
“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 & Innovation and Caterham Composites can be applied to a customer Sports Prototype programme in future.
“We have the tools, the talent and the 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 [a] business opportunity that fits with our capabilities.”
The Caterham Motorsport #41 LM P2 car will make its on-track debut at this weekend’s official ACO test at Le Mans (June 8/9), followed by the race itself on June 22/23.