One of the fastest-growing sports car teams is planning an expansion onto the world’s stage for 2014.
Sportscar365 has learned that SMP Racing has laid out plans for a two-car LMP2 attack in the FIA World Endurance Championship, while also submitting a pair of entries for the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the GT Daytona category.
The Russian squad, which won last year’s European Le Mans Series GTC division, has joined forces with Extreme Speed Motorsports for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season-opener, which will see the team utilize ESM’s existing GRAND-AM spec Ferrari 458 Italia and a second car converted from SMP’s ELMS program.
Team co-principals Sergey Zlobin and Boris Rotenberg are set to be joined by Maurizio Mediani and Mika Salo in the lead Prancing Horse, with the second car, entry-permitting, to be driven by an all-Russian lineup.
Zlobin, Rotenberg and Mediani drove ESM’s Ferrari in TUDOR Championship pre-season testing at Daytona this week, while plans are being put in place to have a joint effort with the Florida-based squad in January, possibly under the SMP Racing by ESM banner.
Zlobin will also be part of the team’s expansion into the WEC, with the former Minardi F1 test driver set to share an Oreca 03 Nissan with Mediani and a to-be-determined third driver.
He said they are currently in talks with Nic Minassian, who currently drives for Pecom Racing, which will not return to the series in 2014.
SMP’s second Oreca-Nissan will be driven by the all-Russian lineup of Victor Shaitar and brothers Cyril and Anton Ladigin.
The team also plans to defend its ELMS GTC title with three Ferrari 458 GT3 cars, while also entering a GTE-spec Ferrari as well.
The French-based squad, carrying the sponsorship of SMP Bank, burst onto the sports car racing scene earlier this year, initially competing in the ELMS, Blancpain Endurance Series and International GT Open.