JMW Motorsport will join forces with GB Autosport at next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, which will see a stacked driver lineup for its GTE-Am class Ferrari F458 Italia.
Porsche Supercup front-runner Kuba Giermaziak and GB team principal Michael Avenatti, both regulars with the American squad, will team with Abdulaziz Turki Al Faisal, who will make his third consecutive Le Mans start with the British-based JMW operation.
For Giermaziak, who becomes the first Polish driver to compete at Le Mans since prior to World War II, and Avenatti, it will mark their respective debuts in the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.
“The entire team is super excited,” Avenatti told Sportscar365. “GB Autosport being able to put this deal together with JMW Motorsport is really our first step into the WEC. It’s the first of a much bigger effort in the years to come. Seeing that come to fruition is really positive and exciting for us.”
The effort will see GB Autosport team manager Cole Scrogham and chief engineer Mario Prezel work alongside the Jim McWhirter-led JMW crew at both the Le Mans Test Day on May 31 as well as race week.
It will be the second consecutive year JMW has joined forces with a TUDOR United SportsCar Championship team, having worked with Flying Lizard Motorsports and drivers Seth Neiman and Spencer Pumpelly in 2014.
Avenatti and Giermaziak got their first impressions of JMW’s Prancing Horse during the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue test at Paul Ricard in March and are both coming off last weekend’s Porsche Supercup season opener in Barcelona.
For Avenatti, who came close to making his Le Mans debut in 2013 with Dempsey-Proton Racing, the chance this time around to do it with members of his own team makes it an even sweeter opportunity.
“This effort, compared to the effort of a couple of years ago is really night and day,” he said. “We’ve been really impressed with the quality of the people we’re associated with.
“I think our driver lineup is very, very strong. Kuba is going to be as good as any other Gold or Platinum driver across GTE-Am. The Prince [Al Faisal] is a solid Silver driver and has performed very, very well there in years’ past. We think we have as good of a shot as anybody.”
Avenatti said the team is exploring possible test options prior to the Le Mans Test Day, with the only Dunlop-shod car in GTE-Am this year, although a final decision has yet to be made.
He confirmed Le Mans is likely only the first step of a larger partnership between the two teams. Additional FIA WEC races are on the radar screen for later this year, ahead of a targeted full-season effort in 2016, either with a Ferrari of Porsche 911 RSR.