After receiving an automatic invite, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing team owner Greg Pickett has confirmed his entry for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Sportscar365 has learned that the two-time ALMS P1 champions will make its return to Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time in five years, competing in the LMP2 class with its Oreca 03 Nissan.
Pickett, 66, will be part of the driver lineup, pairing with full-season TUDOR United SportsCar Championship pilots Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr in the twice-around-the-clock French endurance classic.
“It was so emotional and a point in my life with going to Le Mans in 2008,” Pickett told Sportscar365. “[It’s great] going back with Klaus and Lucas with the relationship I have, and with a really nice car that we think can fight for a really good finish in P2.
“I’m very excited about it. We’d been hoping that if everything went along and worked out OK, then we’ll go. I told Hugues [de Chaunac], ‘Count us in and start all of the logistics!'”
The Indianapolis-based team debuted its new P2 contender this weekend at the Roar Before the Rolex 24. The car will be air-freighted to Le Mans immediately after the Grand Prix of Detroit on May 31.
Through its new relationship with the French constructor, Pickett said they will lease an Oreca 03 Nissan to use for the test day on June 1. Both Graf and Pickett will be required to complete a minimum of 10 laps in order to qualify for the race.
Graf is expected to fly overnight from Detroit to Le Mans, to join the team owner in France for testing duties. It’s unclear if Luhr will do the same since he’s already pre-qualified through last year’s participation with Jota Sport.
Pickett, meanwhile, will return to the wheel of a top-flight prototype for the first time in more than two years. His last ALMS start came at Petit Le Mans in 2011.
The former Trans-Am ace, who fulfills the ACO’s requirement of at least one Bronze or Silver-rated driver per LMP2 lineup, plans to begin testing the team’s PC car to prepare for his Le Mans LMP2 drive.
“I really had to get my family comfortable with that idea,” he said. “They’re more comfortable with a P2 car as it won’t go 215 down the Mulsanne. These are very strong, little cars.
“Tucked in with the ORECA guys, we’re doing it ten-tenths. The team with Lucas and Klaus, I’d love to share that experience with those guys.”
Despite not gaining a full-season entry, Pickett said he wouldn’t rule out running the PC car later in the TUDOR Championship season, with a potential for another program to come online as well.