Ahead of the European Le Mans Series test next week in Monza, Algarve Pro Racing announced that the two top drivers who will partner with Italian Andrea Roda for the season in the team’s Ligier JS P217 will be 19-year-old American Matthew McMurry and Frenchman Andrea Pizzitola.
The trio of drivers is familiar with each other and the team, as they drove together during various parts of the Asian Le Mans Series, which team principal Stewart Cox thinks is an asset going into an ELMS season where there are numerous new teams and driver combinations among the LMP2 ranks.
“It’s taken three years to put a team together that will enable us to go racing instead of just taking part. The whole team are motivated to start the ELMS championship as we left Asia fighting for wins, and with the 3 drivers we now have, we have never been in in a better position,” said Cox. “The team has improved leaps and bounds over the last six months and so have the drivers.”
Roda, 26 (pictured at right), won the Asian Le Mans Series driver’s championship at Sepang in January – while Algarve Pro Racing secured the team championship – and was announced for the ELMS season during the ACO’s February live stream that also revealed entries for WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I’m so happy to join Algarve Pro team after the championship victory in ALMS. I’m looking forward to driving again with Matt and Andrea; we did a very good job together. The lineup is strong to compete in ELMS and I’m sure everybody will give 100% to make a great year,” added Roda.
McMurry, 19 (pictured at left), competed in ELMS and 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2014 in LMP2, and has continued in that category and the LMPC class over the last two seasons with multiple podiums in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship and ALMS. He is also in his second season of GT racing via Porsche as the additional driver for Park Place Motorsports during the four major U.S. endurance events.
“I’m really looking forward to being back in Europe, while also continuing my work in the U.S. It’s going to be a very busy year, but busy is good,” said McMurry. “ELMS will be more competitive than ever with 13 entries in LMP2, so the competition will be strong and that’s for the best.”
Pizzitola, 25 (pictured, middle), is a Nissan factory driver who showed strong pace during the three ELMS rounds in which he ran with Algarve last season, and who sat on the pole multiple times during the recently completed ALMS season. He is a product of the Renault ladder system, including Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, Formula Renault 2.0 NEC, Renault Sport Trophy and Sport Endurance Trophy.
“I am really happy to be part of the adventure again with Stewart and Samantha (Cox), I am so touched and glad that they give me this confidence and they trust me,” said Pizzitola. “I will give the maximum as always to get the best result with the team. They did a great job last year, we improved a lot during the season and the car was really good at the end. I am confident for this year. I think we have a very good line up altogether and I can’t wait to be in the car for the first test.”
Algarve has an auto-invite to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Cox said that the team is in the process of evaluating driver combinations, and hopes to confirm its lineup for the classic after the Monza test.”