Algarve Pro Racing, which won the 2016-17 Asian Le Mans Series Teams’ and Drivers’ titles, will support G-Drive Racing with a sole AURUS 01 Gibson LMP2 for Roman Rusinov, Leonard Hoogenboom and James French, who all step across from solid campaigns in the 2019 European Le Mans Series (ELMS).
Rusinov – a long-term competitor in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and winner of the FIA Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers – has entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans several times and also has European Le Mans Series titles on his illustrious racing résumé.
The Russian is used to competing at the sharp end of LMP2 fields that are big in both quality and quantity, and he’s looking forward to taking on a new challenge in Asia, saying: “It’s good to be doing some racing during the winter months, because you don’t usually get many opportunities. That’s one of the main reasons why Algarve Pro Racing’s proposal to enter the Asian Le Mans Series was so interesting.
“I’m happy that we’ve been able to put this programme together so quickly and I’m looking forward to visiting cool countries like Thailand, Australia and Malaysia. I’m also pleased to be part of another Automobile Club de l’Ouest series and I believe we will have the package to fight for some results, although the priority is to gain good experience and stay fresh for 2020.”
For Hoogenboom, the Asian Le Mans Series represents an opportunity to clock up more meaningful miles in LMP2 machinery, following a partial ELMS campaign.
The young Dutchman achieved victories and podiums upon stepping up to Formula 4 single-seaters and made a splash in endurance sportscar competition when he won three races on his way to the 2018 Michelin Le Mans Cup.
In 2019, he successfully dovetailed ELMS appearances with victorious outings in the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup, but he's keen to build on his LMP2 baptism in the Asian Le Mans Series, saying: “This was my first year of racing LMP2 cars and, following a successful test with Algarve Pro Racing in Portimao, I’m feeling really good about starting the 2019-20 Asian Le Mans Series.
“It’s a good series that visits some nice circuits, and I’m confident I will adapt quickly. The possibility of securing an entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans makes Asian Le Mans a very attractive proposition and my aim is to finish at the front; we have a good team, good drivers and a strong package with the AURUS 01 Gibson, so we should be a force from the start.”
French, meanwhile, remains within the Algarve Pro Racing fold, having just completed his maiden European tour with the Albufeira-based team.
The 27-year old from Wisconsin achieved a great deal of success in the USA and acquitted himself well while acclimatising to “ the European way of racing”, revelling in the opportunity to compete at the historic “bucket list circuits” on the ELMS calendar.
However, the European experience has inspired him to broaden his horizons further, and he has subsequently signed up to G-Drive Racing by Algarve’s Asian programme, which commences with the 4 Hours of Shanghai on 22-24 November.
“It’s a great opportunity after a season in the European Le Mans Series, where we achieved solid finishes in every single race,” said French. “I’m more than excited to be working with Algarve Pro, and although I’ll have a lot of learning to do, I’ll have a good chance of fighting at the front by applying all the lessons I’ve taken from the ELMS. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the big motivation is the 24 Hours of Le Mans entry and, while I’d never underestimate the challenge we face, it’s great to have such a big prize to chase.”
Algarve Pro Racing – the only team to have contested every season of the Asian Le Mans Series – was very close to fielding a Ligier JSP2 for a run at the 2019-20 Am Trophy.