GT specialist Damien Faulkner will race a prototype for the first time in 15 years in this weekend’s European Le Mans Series opener at Silverstone. The 39-year-old Irishman, a two-time runner-up in the Porsche Supercup, will contest Saturday’s four-hour race on the World Endurance Championship support bill in the Murphy Prototypes LMP2 ORECA-Nissan 03R together with Shaun Balfe and Sean Doyle.
Faulkner’s only previous prototype start came in the FIA Sportscar Championship at Mondello Park in 2001, in which he triumphed in the SR2 class at the wheel of a Lola-Nissan B2K/40.
Team boss Greg Murphy told Autosport: “I’m friends with a guy who helps Damien out and we were looking for a quick driver, so it came about that way.”
Faulkner, who has raced internationally only three times since the beginning of last year, described the last-minute chance to race a P2 car “as too good to turn down.”
“I know I’m going to be on a steep learning curve, because it is not ideal to jump straight into the car in free practice,” he said. “I’ve been on the simulator already this morning and I’ve watched a lot of in-car footage on YouTube to try to learn as much as I can.”
Winner of the Spanish GT Championship in 2004, Balfe came into the equation after being sounded out as a driver for Murphy’s ELMS entry in LMP3.
Twenty-two-year-old Doyle has links with the Murphy team and is making his international sportscar debut after a season in the Irish Supercar silhouette series. Michael Lyons had appeared set to remain with Murphy for a second season, but his deal has fallen apart.
Murphy said that he expected that other drivers would be seen at the wheel of the ORECA over the remainder of the ELMS season. The car will be raced at Le Mans by Jeroen Bleekemolen, Marc Goossens and Ben Keating.
Former Ferrari Challenge racer Michael Cullen has joined the line-up in Murphy’s Ginetta-Nissan LMP3, which it is running at Silverstone in place of the Riley-Ave chassis that will come on stream later in the season. He joins Doug Peterson as the second bronze-rated driver in the car alongside gold Tony Ave.