Newly crowned European Le Mans Series champion teams Signatech Alpine and Ram Racing are aiming to graduate to the World Endurance Championship next season.
Signatech, which won the LMP2 teams’ and drivers’ crowns with Pierre Ragues and Nelson Panciatici at Paul Ricard on Saturday, and the Ram Ferrari team, which sealed the both GTE crowns with Johnny Mowlem and Matt Griffin, have both revealed their desire is to enter the 2014 WEC with two cars.
“We expect to go to the WEC with at least one car,” Signatech boss Philippe Sinault, whose team contested the WEC in 2012, said. “It is natural for us as a team and for Alpine [which brands the Signatech ORECA-Nissan 03] as well. The idea is that Alpine will become a worldwide brand in the future.
“In the perfect world we would run two cars and we do expect to have two at the Le Mans 24 Hours. We could also run one car in the WEC and one in the ELMS.”
Signault said that Paul-Loup Chatin, Alpine’s junior driver who took the LMPC one-make prototype title with Gary Hirsch at Ricard, could be part of the plans. Ram Racing boss Dan Shufflebottom explained that the team, which ran two cars in the ELMS, intended to move up for 2014 after claiming the ELMS titles in its debut season.
“Winning the ELMS titles is mission accomplished for us and now were are relishing the opportunity to move up and challenge more established teams,” he said.”The way we are planning at the moment is to run one GTE Pro car and one Am car in the WEC. It would be a big challenge racing the factory teams in the Pro class, but we are up for that challenge.”
Platinum driver Mowlem and silver-rated Griffin, who dominated the GTE class with three wins and two second places from the five ELMS races, are both strong candidates to remain with the team. Shufflebottom explained that Ram could also remain in the ELMS and run a car “on a commercial basis” for paying drivers.
The Belgian ProSpeed Porsche team, a class winner in the FIA GT Championship in 2009, is also looking to expand from the ELMS to the WEC with amateur driver Francois Perrodo. It plans to remain in the ELMS with one GTE car and one GTC entry.